Each of my study experiences were very different. Kwantlen laid an incredible foundation of practical and applied knowledge that I've used throughout my career. It's also where I realized my passion and knack for pattern cutting, which has really shaped my path since.
At the start, I had difficulty finding my own creative process. I never really sketched. I would have an idea and then just try to make it and develop it along the way. Pattern cutting became a way for me to be creative in my own way. I find my designs through cut and fabric. I studied Innovative Pattern Cutting at CSM and it really expanded my ability to both realize and experiment with my designs.
Through my studies and career, I've always had a problem coming to terms with the commercialization and commoditisation of fashion. Creating something, then making 100s of thousands of copies and then repeating it all again at an ever accelerating rate just feels so empty and pointless to me. It's part of what has drawn me to custom work and also a big factor in my interest and focus on sustainability. ESMOD's MA Sustainability in Fashion programme brought everything together for me in the end.
Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?
I've always enjoyed the process of creating more than the outcome, so I'm happiest when I can work through many ideas. I tend to do mostly one-off and custom pieces. Generally, my aesthetic has a focus on functionality for the customer. I tend to design around the idea of fulfilling needs - finding what's missing and designing to that. Of course, fabric, texture and cut are key as well. Through 13 Dresses, I've experimented with co-creation and print. I only control the design of the dress silhouettes, the rest is up to the community of designers.
I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how?
I've been upcycling for as long as I've been making fashion. I've used old parachutes in a jacket in my BA graduate collection, remade dresses and leather jackets for my own label and most recently, I designed a trench coat for a serial upcycling collection for Hessnatur in Germany, which was produced in repetition from deadstock garments.
Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?
I would also like to extend a big 'Thank You' to the Berliner Stadtmission, who supplied me with the shirts I'm using for the challenge. They are a Berlin-based charity that provides shelter, and support in many forms including free clothing to the most needy of the city. Like most who receive clothing donations, there is often much more clothing than they are able to use for the homeless and so they often cooperate with local designers to help find new and creative ways to use the extra material that could be used to provide additional funds for other needs like food and housing costs. It is really important for me to be able to also provide a platform for the Berliner Stadtmission, who are making the lives of others better through their work. I will be donating the finished pieces back to them for display or sale in the future.
I believe design should be interactive and that the wearer should have some sort of active involvement in their clothing. Consumers should never be afraid to make their clothes their own. Cut, sew, print, tie, tear, dye, layer... make it in your own vision. Fashion is never finished.
What's next for you as a designer? What are your long term dreams?
Currently I'm focused more on education, as lecturer formerly at Esmod Berlin, and in research and more conceptual design related to sustainability. As always I'm looking for interesting collaborations and ways to push the edges of my design practice.