Vancouver Fashion Week SS19 - Interview With Designer Jessica Tierney of Chained Couture

Please share a bit about your journey to embrace fashion design as a career. 

I have always had a Passion for Fashion. As a child, I would sit for hours and make clothes for my dolls from paper and fabric pinned together. When I was 6 years old I learned to sew, helping mum make costumes for our school plays. I have always had a natural talent for style and design. I have a talented family history in design and dressmaking, so perhaps I have inherited their skills.

How did you learn your skills? 

I first studied Textiles and Design at High School, where my teacher taught me the skills to produce a wedding gown for my final assessment. This ignited my desire to study fashion design, so I enrolled at the Whitehouse Institute of Design in Sydney Australia, where I completed a Bachelor of Fashion Design. Learning how to make my designs a reality at Whitehouse sparked my ambition to create my own label. After I graduated, I thought it was time to take the leap and I created Chained Couture.

What comes easiest for you as a designer? What is hardest?

The easiest thing as a designer, and the most enjoyable, is finding the creativity and inspiration to fuel my designs. I love creating the story behind the collection and from there watching the collection come to life.

The hardest thing would be finding the right outsourcing to successfully run a business. It’s hard to find people that understand you, your designs and your business and are as passionate about it as you are. I believed when I started Chained Couture I could manage everything; patternmaking, sewing, social media, graphic design etc. When you try and do everything yourself you end up with all the jobs not completed to 100% of your ability. 

Where do you find inspiration for new collections? How important is colour to your design process?

I am mostly inspired by the architecture and culture of different cities I visit. For my latest collection, Chained: 40.7128° N, 74.0060° W, my inspiration was New York City. I spent hours walking around, experiencing the city and meeting the local people. I then used aspects of the architecture to create the design lines for my collection. I predominantly use a monochromatic palette in this collection, opting to use different fabrics and textures to create depth in the design. My designs are accentuated with stainless steel accessories that compliment this palette.

Readers would love to know more about the current collection you showed at Vancouver Fashion Week. 

After travelling to NYC for the first time in 2015, I have constantly felt myself being drawn back to it for inspiration. I wanted to express my emotional connection to the city and the idea of literally being chained to it. Hence the use of the global co-ordinates CHAINED: 40.7128° N, 74.0060° W.

The collection is motivated by structure vs deconstruction, elegance and sophistication. I wanted to combine the masculinity of the hard steel with feminine fabrics to create a contemporary look. Sustainable fashion is important to me, so my accessories are created from recycled stainless steel. I am also proud to promote Australian products so this collection included both Australian wool and leather.

I personally designed, pattern-made and sewed every garment in this collection, which is something I am very proud of. 

Do you have a favourite look in this collection?
Each look in the collection is named after a “location” in NYC that inspired the look. The streets and avenues have been used to identify the particular location.

I actually have two favorites. The first look in my collection titled: 5th Ave & 82nd St, was the first garment I designed for the collection and it became the focal point or “hero look” of the collection. This look was inspired by the Met Gala and the Avant Garde looks that hit the red carpet every year at the Metropolitan Museum. It combines hand beading, asymmetry, stainless steel hardware and a mixture of textures and fabrics.

My second favorite look titled: 5th Ave & W 34th St was the 5th look of the collection. I love how many textures and fabrics I was able to combine to create it. I hand wove stainless rings and ribbon to create the fabric for the skirt. An asymmetrical leather jacket featuring an Australian lambs wool sleeve finished off the look, which was then secured with a stainless steel belt and yacht shackles.

Where can readers purchase your designs?

As a couture designer, each garment is created individually for my client. The collection can be ordered through my website I am also available to work personally with clients to design a custom look for any upcoming event. 

What's next for you as a designer and your brand?

I have started sketching for my next collection and I will be travelling overseas in the next few months to source inspiration.  

I have been invited to collaborate with an Australian Swimwear Label, to design the accessories for their Runway Show in New Zealand and Miami, which I am very excited to be a part of.

I am also working with clients, both in Australia and overseas to create unique couture gowns for their upcoming social calendar.  

I am always on the lookout for the next opportunity to promote Chained Couture, to collaborate with other designers and to show at fashion weeks around the world.

Anything you'd like readers to know about you and your brand that isn't included above? 

I am inspired by the creative directors Anthony Vaccarello (Saint Laurent) and Olivier Rousteing (Balmain). I would love to one day live in New York or Paris (I have already started French lessons) and have the opportunity to work with these amazing designers.  My goal is to one day have my collection shown at Fashion Week in New York, Paris, London and Milan and be photographed in the pages of Vogue Magazine.

When I’m not designing, I love surfing at our beautiful beaches, reading a good book and catching up with family and friends.

What advice do you have for young fashion artists just beginning their journey to become designers?

Be passionate, work hard and believe in yourself. If you’re struggling don’t be afraid to ask for help because you can’t be good at everything. Surround yourself with people that have the skills you don’t.  In the end, the only person that stops you following your dreams…is you!

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