In every year, countless of fashion graduates present their best collections and for us, we are always on the lookout for the one whose designs truly stand out in a sea of fantastic talents, and for this time round, it is Archana Ravivarma, who has just graduated from the London College of Fashion, that truly catches our eye.
Her graduate collection for Spring/Summer 2013, entitled “A Multitude of Hybrids” is simply one that is overflowing with boundless creativity as well as strong inspirations from her culture – one that is truly interesting.
Having born and lived in London, with Indian/Sri Lankan as her race, she has used her inclinition to the culture and myths of the India as a background for her collection.
While it may not be obvious from first glance, her designs are concoctions of the stories of Medieval Bestiaries and the beautiful, mythical creature therein, as well as the Composite Hindu Gods. The end result is a splendidly well-conceived collection of textile prints that merges textures, colours and hues in a seemingly vibrant manner.
Instead of the usual digital printing, what’s noteworthy and fresh about her collection is her combination of techniques to weave up those eclectic-coloured prints, ranging from discharge to colour discharge to pigment to foil and even the weaving in of the tanaka machinery to create embroideries, echoeing the act of reincarnation, a sense of rebirth in this collection of sportswear-silhouette looks.
Nothing truly comes quite close to the sheer sublimity in the sleek yet individualistic style as depicted in this wholesome collection of printed clothes and sweeping eyewear. If this gets you very excited, you’ll be piqued, as we speak to the designer herself, the lovely Archana as she shares more about herself and some sensational in-depths of her collection:
Hi Archana, first off, a big congrats on your graduation! We really like how you have concocted such prints that are so rich in hues. Tell us more about yourself and what fuels you to do textile prints.
I have recently completed my degree in BA (hons) Fashion Design Technology: Surface Textiles, specialising in print from London College of Fashion. I am very interested in how prints can make a garment instantly unique and love that I am able to create something that has not been seen before. For example taking one drawing and creating hundreds of exciting different print concepts through the use of multimedia techniques such as collage, computer manipulation and experimental mark making.
Colour is also another aspect that is very important in my design process; it can create a different mood and atmosphere instantly, connoting a variety of different things to different people. I really feel print and colour combined can create a very powerful statement and this is really what ultimately draws me to a garment.
Your collection is both vibrant and richly energetic. What was the reaction like for you when you pitched forth your design ideas to your lecturers?
They were very intrigued as I started off with lots of abstract mark making inspired by the textures of medieval bestiaries, which are quite dark and monochromatic, but I had the idea to infuse this with influences from my culture. I am Half Indian and Sri-Lankan and also a Hindu and have developed a real admiration for the rich and luxe use of colour and fabrics within my culture.
My collection is about hybrids so I began to question this and ask myself what would be unexpected with the traditional use of silks. I then began to look at street style to discover new and innovative combinations and was fascinated with how people put together outfits. I was especially interested in sportswear and the casual silhouettes used; I thought this could create an unexpected combination.
- Some sketches and print swatches that Archana has so kindly shared with us
How was the preparation for this collection like? Name some of the challenges you’ve faced and how you’ve overcome them. (eg. Process in preparing prints etc)
I specialise in print so I knew from the beginning that this is what I wanted the focus of my collection to be on.
All the prints are screen printed by hand; I opted for this technique over for example digital print to give my garments a unique and luxurious feeling. The process of the print development was time consuming but the most enjoyable. This is the aspect I find the most exciting; playing around with scale, colour, lines and texture.
Tell us about the methods that you’ve used to create your prints (eg. Tanaka embroidery, discharge etc) and how it has helped in helping you achieve the vibrant hues.
I decided to use a range of textile techniques through my collection to convey a sense of wealth and luxe. I used a specialised embroidery machine called Tanaka, which fuses fabrics together without the use of any thread. I was totally excited about this technique because it allowed me to be very experimental with my colour and fabric choices as each fabric reacted differently to each other.
Through research and development I decided to convey the concept of reincarnation within my collection, which is spoken about a lot within Hinduism. When you are reincarnated what you are born again as is dependent on what you did in your past life. I decided to show this by using the print technique called discharge, this contains a type of bleach, which strips back the colour from fabric but also can add colour. I found this technique very interesting because the colour of the print depends on the strength of the discharge paste. However you can always see remains of the original colour and texture of the fabric no matter how hard you try to change it, similar to reincarnation where your past life will always affect your present.
I felt this represented reincarnation in a very conceptual but subtle way and created an eye-catching outcome.
We’ve noticed how you’re very driven by mythical creatures too! What could be the next possible mythical creature to inspire you for your next collection?
Whilst doing research for my collection I read many stories about mythical creatures, which then also inspired me to create my own. I loved doing this because they had a sense of mystery and intrigue, which I loved!
I have yet to begin research for my next collection but I think I would focus on creating a creature that encompasses these traits. A creature that is vibrant and abstract yet draws you in by its beautifully ornate body and captivating eyes, taking you to a far way land full of mystery and wonder.
Since you’re very much a textile print designer, who is your inspiration (existing designers) and how have they inspired you?
I love designers such as Dries Van Noten, Jonathan Saunders, Alexander McQueen, Mary Katrantzou and Michael Van Der Ham. They all use prints and colour in such an innovative way. I am especially inspired by them due to their sophistication and edge, it is clear they all have strong design concepts driving their collections but also an exciting focus on prints.
We love these designers too! So tell us, if you could have your prints on any thing in the world, what would that be?
I think it would have to be a timeless dress housed in a permanent collection at a museum such as the Victoria Albert Museum in London. I design for womenswear so I think this would be the biggest accomplishment for me; to have my prints on showcase in one of the most established museums I have loved and appreciated for so many years for the world to see and be seen as a historical art piece.
What are your future plans and what can we see more from you?
I would love to secure a job as an in-house print designer being in control of colour and print development. I am interested in high street as well as luxury brands and would like to explore all avenues that are open to me. I would love to travel or work abroad because I love visiting new places and indulging in new cultures. I am going to continue to be creative and push my ideas to develop and grow as a print and textiles designer.
We sure can’t wait for that! And now, for a concluding question, between unicorn and fairy, what would you choose?
Definitely a fairy! They have such beautiful iridescent wings and are encrusted in beautiful jewels. They can fly to new and exciting mystical places full of adventure and mystery anytime they like! Who wouldn’t want that?!
Can’t be more than happy to speak with the talented designer herself! As you would have known by now, we are a bunch of people who love all things Asian (because that’s basically where we’re from), and how we truly admire designers whose design is an ode to the beautous culture that we have.
So for that, a big thumbs up for Archana Ravivarma whose Indian culture is undoubtedly evident, even right down to the styling and accessories used in these lookbook photos of hers!
If you are as excited as we are about her, do check out the rest of her collection at her London College of Fashion’s profile! Can’t wait to see more from Archana Ravivarma, truly one to look out for!