You see, here’s the thing: I love to see new and innovative ideas – ones that have never been done before. And with the recent graduate fashion weeks in all around the world, my wish indeed came true.
It’s times like that, that you can truly witness the fullest potential of a designer; where their designs were borne out of sheer passion for creativity, driven by an utmost adrenaline to reach new heights and to stand-out, rather than for doing just for the sake of money, like the diluted styles of fashion labels these days. Watching graduate fashion shows these days, is no doubt like an embracement of a thickened fashion paste, which is rich in flavouring and spiced-up in taste.
Luckily for me, I managed to spot Ellie Sweeney, a BA (hons) degree student from London College of Fashion, who specialises in Fashion Design Technology: Surface Textiles.
What made her stand out for me, was her off-beat approach to the surface design of her highly innovative clothes, which are unique yet wearable for everyday wear – almost like the best of both worlds, right?
In her graduate collection, ‘Insane in the membrane’, she focuses largely on textiles where she is being driven by one of the most uncanny source of inspiration; the asylum, which some calls it the mad house or the home of the lunatics.
“We felt the degeneration of our own bodies and the erosion of our self-confidence. We were horrified at the thought of what we might become after a year or two of confinement and therapy on Ward 81.”
Folger, Ward 81.
Tapping into this, she relates to the asylum as something that is instilled in all of us, the subconscious self that lives as we breathe; a new layer that is forgotten yet existent.
Here, she brings forth and re-instate a desire of craft in clothes, with utmost inspirations from abandoned mental hospitals and their patients, uncovering what is deemed as a new layer that lies beneath.
Though with such a philosophical source under her belt, she approach her designs in a totally light-hearted and artistic manner. Infusing colours, a lot of experimental techniques in yarns to dyeing to quilting and many more, her collection come off really fun, comical to some extent, and thoughts-provoking in all areas.
Afterall, it was the pills clutch that got me all excited about her. I covet that and love that, but then again, who wouldn’t?
So to sate my anticipation for this graduate who just might be the next big thing in fashion, I caught up with Ellie herself for an interview:
JESS: Hi Ellie, it’s great to meet you. Tell me a little about yourself.
Ellie: I moved to London from Manchester 4 years ago and am now about to graduate from LCF. I’m currently working towards my last ever hand in and can’t wait for a decent nights sleep when it’s all done.
JESS: What does fashion mean to you?
Ellie: Expression! Whether it be in the designs or the way someone wears something, it’s an outlet to portray a mood or narrative.
JESS: How does this graduate collection of yours best showcase & exemplify the definition of your style?
Ellie: My design aesthetic is all about being playful and inventive, I’d like to think that my graduate collection shows a unique approach to embroidery, which is the area of textiles I chose to specialize in.
My work is very process driven and I like to mix traditional craft techniques with unconventional materials, for example the foam and latex’s in this collection.
JESS: The asylum that you have interpreted in your collection, how is it relatable in the everyday life of people?
Ellie: Everyone has a crazy day!
JESS: You have worked with a myriad of different materials, as well as experimentations on textile surfaces. Which material/ technique is the most challenging to you, and why?
Ellie: I would say that the most challenging process was the inside out foam quilting. When up scaling to make enough fabric for the long mesh skirt, I came across an amazing charity based company called Workwise that actually help with the rehabilitation of mental heath patients by training them in craft skills.
They were up for the challenge and I learnt a lot and worked on the production with the volunteers at the centre.
JESS: How does your previous working experience with Jane Bowler help in the conceptualising and creation of your collection?
Ellie: I loved working with Jane! It was such a fun creative environment. I worked on the SS/13 collection through from concept stage to the showcase at fashion week. I learnt a lot about how it’s important to identify you colour-ways and design inspiration early on so that you can start experimenting.
JESS: What are your fashion plans for the future?
Ellie: I’m just going to go with the flow! I’m going to keep designing and hopefully ill be making textiles for a bigger design house one day.
JESS: One word to describe your design style.
Thank you Ellie for the wonderful interview answers!
Now if you love Ellie’s works as much as we do, check out her Showtime page at http://showtime.arts.ac.uk/EllieSweeney
We can’t wait to see more from this talented girl!