Fashion Interview Interview

There’s definitely something in the water in London. Known for being a hotbed of exciting fashion talent, this city has been the stomping ground of some of the most innovative, industrious and rebellious designers of the past few decades. And in looking to where they got their start (school), we can get excited about the next generation rising up now.

London College of Fashion’s freshest crop of BA graduates will showcase their collections on 5th June. Here we take a look at some of the standout students set to make waves.

Xiuxuan Li

“The inspiration come from plastic toy kits such as Transformers toys or Gundam toys, I started to notice the similarities between the process of making those toys and making a garment, from 2D to 3D, from pattern to a human-shape covered outfit. And the most attractive point for me is the concept of ‘process’ – kids buy transformers toys not only because of the eye-catch character setting but the process of transforming, the process of playing with the toys. When we say ‘process’, it is a concept of time, not a concept of space. I started to think about how to use a garment to express the concept of ‘process’, a period of time, by designing space (the garment for me is a concept of space). 

The most exciting thing about the future, for me, is that I feel like we are in a turning point of human history, and also in a balance point between past and future. We start to create the new intelligent creature who may has the same level or probably higher level of intelligence than human kind itself by using technology and science, we explore the universe from the beginning to the end and try to find out the answer of life. We approach the answer much more closely than ever before. Those things happened in old sci-fi films became reality, the world became one piece connected by internet. We are at a point before everything and after everything, I quite wonder how long we will stay at this ‘point’ and which direction we will finally go.”

Clothes by Xiuxuan Li, photography James Rees

Alexandra Afanasyeva

“My EX90°00′00′′ men’s jewellery collection is dedicated to polar expeditions. Conceptually the collection evokes the spirit of exploration which is closely linked to such notions as identity and rite of passage. Climbing gear, survival equipment and various tools including ones from Inuit tribes and those dating back to the Ice Age are the main basis for the collection.

The pieces are made of pewter and steel encrusted with marble, raw quartz, metal teeth and Swarovski crystals that are reminiscent of extreme cold. The unevenly self-braided and self-dyed rope is cast with the same materials set in silicone. The same techniques are also applied to jeans and shoes prepared specifically for the catwalk show.

For me Rick Owens is a true style icon especially when it comes to menswear. I absolutely love his approach and if liked my collection that would be a true honour. LCF’s Creative Director Rob Philips is another person who I always look up to and whose taste and creative drive have always fascinated me starting from the first lecture he gave us in year one. Since then I have dreamed of becoming part of the LCFBA17 Showcase and now my dream has come true.”

Jewellery by Alexandra Afanasyeva, photography by James Rees

Nensi Dojaka

“For some time, I wanted to explore the idea of the unconscious mind. While reading many books (starting from Freud), I got dragged into the world of surrealist art. This is how the research initially started. Later on, I went to the V&A exhibition, Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear, where I was really fascinated by the 20s aesthetic. I decided to take this research further by looking into archives. Essentially, this project contrasts the visual essence of femininity with the unexpected lines of surrealism. The surrealism represents the distortion of society’s expectations of a perfect woman.

I played with seam line placements and continuation of lines which are then unexpectedly broken. At the same time, everything is really fitted much like lingerie, accentuating the female body. I used a lot of sheer fabrics and layering them to create shadows and a delicate feeling. The combination of all these brought a collection that is fragile as much as it is strong. 

What would excite me about the future is being able to have the opportunity to make a statement by telling people that fashion is not about trends, it is about making clothes that embrace the nature of women and that empower them. Through my collections, I want to be able to re-paint the image of women: showing both sides; the vulnerability but mainly, the strength that characterises them.”

Clothes by Nensi Dojaka, photography James Rees

Michael Rhodes

“This collection is about stereotypes of black men and how that limits or hides true personality and essence. In this case a soft, gentle, fragile essence. The inspiration for this collection came from three main places. My personal experience feeling people’s passive and direct desire for me to be more masculine, stories and experiences of black gay men dealing with stereotypes and fetishisation within the gay community and a reflection of my thoughts about the prison of masculinity through societal views and my rejection of its confines. 

I created muscles as part of the clothing and I wanted to try and make a fabric that looked like skin to use for the muscle sections. I explored this through painting different types of fabrics in the beginning, until I got to my final selection. I think someone like Frank Ocean and Sampha could add new dimension to the clothing. 

I also sing and write songs and I’m excited about what my musical ambitions are bringing my way. Masculinity is a deeply stressful and suffocating bind and I want to continue exploring the concept and reality further, through music, fashion and any other way I can.”

Mask by Adefolarin Michael Rhodes, photography James Rees

Daseul Kim

“This project, ‘A Princeless Mermaid’, is born from the controversial social issue that happened in South Korea. In July 2016, a well-known game company fired a voice actress just for standing up for women. The voice actress posted her selfie wearing a T-shirt says. “Girls do not need a prince.” The shirt is part of a fundraising campaign for the Korean online feminist network called Megalian. Still, people are bound to the invisible shackles of gender and sexuality. With my collection, I wanted to speak out for women and sexual minorities, saying that there is no sin in our bodies. 

I explored a leather moulding technique for this collection, and used the technique to make a mask inspired from Klimt’s’ painting, ‘Serpent’. Also, I moulded body with leather to make a ‘Body Not A Sin Top’.

Fashion is what helped me to identify who I am in society. I want to keep studying to contribute to challenging the gender norms with fashion and fashion media. Not only for the country where I come from, I want to explore different cultures and want to speak out for them.”

Clothes by Daseul Kim, photography James Rees

Julie El-Bacha

“My collection began with my love for John Everetts Millais’ interpretation of Shakespeare’s ‘Ophelia’ drowning in a river (‘Ophelia’, 1851-52). The way in which this painting was something so beautiful and yet portrayed a morbid scene of a ‘muddy death’, was why I felt so captivated to create a collection which gave a familiar feel and impact. Millais’ masterpiece spurred my intrigue into pre-Raphaelite painting and garment research into mid-late nineteenth century court dress for women and men. 

I have used a lot of organza and georgette, which I found challenging to work with when it came to the technicalities and the sewing. For the outerwear I used very good quality suiting cloths which carried some weight to allow draping. 

I’d love to see Grimes wearing my collection. I listen to her music repeatedly and her style is alternative, current, and unexpected.”

Clothes by Julie El-Bacha, photography James Rees

Ingrid Kraftchenko 

“‘Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown’ is about representing archetypes of women, named after [Pedro] Almodovar’s film [the 1989 film of the same name]. The basis of research for this collection are his characters and my own performance piece dressing up as each persona, a masquerade. His films were based in La Movida, a radical counterculture movement.

My collection therefore seeks to address current important social and political questions within our youth culture and is sort to be empowering for all women and identifying, a celebration of all archetypes, a freedom to be whichever you want to try on for size.

Each character is inspired by one of my friends and made bespoke for each one. The newspaper print is assigned purposefully to each archetype as a comment on why each is prominent in their resistance today. The CCTV of the Matriarch films the seven sisters through the eyes of the female gaze, a contemporary surveillance. These are the models modern society holds out to me: La Femme Fatale, La Boss Bitch, La Femme Next Door, La Lesbian Goddess, La Bio Bride, La Riot Grrl and La Boss Bitch.. A drag for all the victims of Patriarchy.”

Clothes by Ingrid Kraftchenko, photography James Rees

Samuel Lucas

“The collection I have produced is primarily inspired by archival military and utility photographs. I wanted to communicate this point of inspiration, whilst exploring traditional notions of masculinity and sexuality. The main goal for me was to produce a luxury men’s underwear range that has true design value as well as beauty. 

I wanted to introduce luxury fabrics synonymous with intimacy and sensuality. Men’s underwear is usually restricted in its composition so using various silk fabrics allowed me enhance its intimate tactility and improve the feeling when worn. It was also important to use a variety of hardwear to enhance and juxtapose the delicate nature of the fabrics used within the designs. Despite the introduction of metal elements, I think that each design detail complements another and balances the feminine and masculine connotations of each, whilst channelling the initial points of inspiration.

I am excited mostly about my own future and where my body of work will take me. My graduate work has been a journey of self-exploration to hone my own design aesthetic and truly reflect that within garment form. I hope that the future is prosperous and allows me to continually develop myself creatively.”

Clothes by Samuel David Lucas, photography James Rees

Georgina Lily Rouse

“I took inspiration from the enchanted forest – the idea that dark and mysterious fantasies of decay come back to life with the magic of decadence. The dreamlike power of nature is developed through the art of fabrication, movement and texture that illustrates the conflicting elements evolved through decay and Decadence. The finest sheer fabrics were assembled together to create a misty glance that creates depth illustrating the contrast of decay and growth. The art of fabric manipulation is developed to create light and dark – shadow and sheen. Crawling bugs, slimy weed, downy flies came to life through heavy embellishment, layered upon the sheer mist. Textual fantasy and exclusive identity was purely assembled through the intricate detailing that evokes the essence of nature.

I’m really looking forward to focusing entirely on creating new collections and to see where these will take me in the future. I want to make show pieces, pieces which illustrate art through the art of manipulation and fabrication. I’m also looking forward to meeting other creatives and maybe having the change to collaborate. I feel that it is important to work with and support other creatives to create new and exciting discoveries.”

Clothes by Georgina Lily Rouse, photography James Rees

Maximilian Davis 

“My main research is focused around northern renaissance, looking at the portraits of courtesans and aristocrats. Another key source of inspiration which really influenced the mood of the collection was the works of visual artist Markus Schinwald.

I think what excites me the most about the future is the unknown. Looking at the last few years of my life, I really couldn’t have called half of the things that have happened, so, I’m just excited to see what happens next.”

Clothes by Maximilian Davis, photography James Rees

Amber Capewell

“My final collection is based on Marrakech, a place full of colour, patterns and textures. I visited Marrakech in April 2016 to get my primary research. I was able to do this as I won the Fashion Matters Cordwainers travel bursary, a Scholarship from LCF which gave me some of the money to travel there. I have always been mesmerised by this place, so when I won this bursary, it gave me a drive to go there and use it for my final collection. I explored all the places and elements to get as much inspiration as I could. 

Both of the shoes are mules, and both use original techniques. Laser cutting was a technique that I wanted to explore but see how I could interpret it in a different way. My first shoe is a lace up, nude colour mule with mother of pearl inlaid into the upper for the eyelets and then a laser cut design all over the heel with mother of pearl inlaid into the diamond shapes that have been engraved. Islamic jewellery boxes inspired this design. The next shoe has a fully woven upper and heel. All has been hand dyed, using five colours inspired by the colours seen in Marrakech, and then hand striped and woven together using a copper metallic thread.

I am excited about what is ahead in my future. I hope to find a job in the industry to gain as much experience as I can, learning more about business and building my design skills. However, the future holds so many possibilities, and the path that I go along could change depending on what opportunities come my way, but my end goal and ambition is to have my own company.”

Footwear by Amber Capewell, photography James Rees

The London College of Fashion BA17 show will take place at 6.30pm on Monday 5th June, and will be available to live stream on the LCF website