Today’s POP is Sue at the RCA Grad Show.
The current running through London’s creative circles buzzed the loudest in the menswear collections at Royal College of Art’s MA fashion show last week. Young graduates from across the globe expressed confidence in staking out a new menswear era, applying the RCA knack for effective product design and tapping into popular desire. Playfulness similarly informed the womenswear, whether it was the clean elegance of Samantha Bushell’s knits or Rachael Hall’s crazed carnivalesque tribe.
At Thursday’s show, the overall mood displayed a willful, unapologetic penchant for fun similar to the Icona Pop soundtrack played over Ryan Mercer’s neo-disco collection: “You're on a different road, I’m in the milky way, you want me down on earth, but I am up in space, I don’t care, I love it!” POP speaks to the designers behind the five collections that caught our eye.
ICHIRO SUZUKI, 33, Osaka, Japan
What was the inspiration of the collection?
The starting point of this collection was an immaculate handmade patchwork from 1856, which I found in the tailor’s where I work. It was just lying in my chairman’s office, covered in dust. I ended up making hundreds of samples, mostly patchwork, inspired by polygon, 3D wire frame and optical arts such as Vasarely, Bridget Riley and Escher.
How would you describe your approach?
My work is always about tailoring that is craft-oriented. I love tracing origins in order to find new wisdom through reviewing the old. For this collection, I did not want to just attach my prints on a garment so I combined advanced techniques of screen and digital printing with the old techniques of craft and hand stitching.
What was the biggest challenge?
It was difficult to translate images that I have in my mind into clothes – how can I embed all those textile and patchwork in a garment? And time management as I work three days a week. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve not slept in a bed for the last 10 days.
Do you feel you are part of a movement or zeitgeist?
I’ve realised that being talented does not mean you will be successful – you have to be in the right place at the right time, especially when hundreds of graduates are struggling to get a job in the industry today. But the more effort you make, the more chances you will get, and the better your luck will be.
BENEDICT HOLMBOE, 27, Bærum, Norway.
What was the thought process of your collection?
It was a combination of various images I’m drawn to, like a photo of a forest or an old knitted jumper, the mood of which is consistently relaxed, confident and comfortable. It’s all very spontaneous and random. But I would then analyse what I saw and how I interpreted it. I also find it intriguing when you cannot instantly see which techniques have been used.
Are your Norwegian roots evident in this collection?
I think you can always see that in my work; whether its because I learned to knit and crochet from my grandmother when I was five years old, or inspired by an old Norwegian knitting pattern, like the white and black crochet and shearling bomber jacket in this collection.
As a young designer graduating today, do you feel you are part of a movement or zeitgeist?
I definitely feel that I am part of something big when graduating amoungst the other menswear graduates from the RCA.
SHUBHAM JAIN, 26, New Delhi, India
What was the inspiration? It was purely based on colour – specifically, a Sony Bravia advertisement where colour is exploding out of a building. The foam bits were to hold the shapes in place and to make it seem like colour dripping.
Tell us about the fabrics you created. It was liquid silicon painted on polyester spandex fabric, which I just brushed on and had fun with. The foam knotting was a bit more complex. I coated the tubes with flock and glitter and it’s all different lengths of hair in parts to add more depth to the colour – flock just flies all over the place so it is an absolute nightmare – but the painting had been so liberating. I hope the contrast showed in the collection.
Future plans? Viktor & Rolf has always been my target. But I would like to be anywhere and have fun really.
CLAIRE ZENG, 23, Shenzhen, China
Where did the prints come from?
I always draw inspiration from my photography, usually of objects that inspire me in colour, mood, or texture. The prints came from images of the view from my kitchen, so for example, images of flowers on the window ledge at midnight as seen through the window’s reflection of lights.
The pieces display a combination of fabrics yet the result appeared incredibly leveled and fluid – can you tell us how you did this?
Chinese ink painting fascinates me; the ink and water penetrating the paper gave me the idea of using silicone to join fabrics instead of sewing them together. It allowed for minimalist design, which is what I like my work to be known for. The cuts were influenced by traditional Chinese flat garments, which suit the casualness of modern life.
What was the biggest challenge?
To make the silicone technique luxurious. As the fluid is temperamental, it was difficult to control the flow in order to achieve the shape that I had in mind. It was a long process finding the best silicone product and developing tricks to achieve perfection.
PETER BAILEY, Bristol, UK, 26
What was the inspiration?
It began by imagining what would exist if Mods and psychedelic hippies clashed. The prints were also inspired by Hornsea pottery; big graphic patterns and different colours stacked vertically. And the sparkles came from this amazing book about 1970’s hippies who used to go to big conventions and spent weeks embellishing denim jackets – so I had everyone I knew come in for three weeks to bedazzle my jackets!
Why were you drawn to the Mods and hippies?
I like to take inspiration from a classic menswear era because I think menswear is nice if there’s something you can refer it to – especially because my work is bright. Also I like the mod 60’s shapes of boxy jackets and clean lines as I think it’s really flattering for men and shows off print well. I started off with Mods but it eventually became a joyous ride to everything, I always want my finished product to be clean chaos.
What was the biggest challenge?
I screenprinted everything myself, and especially on wool it is really difficult to get a good finish. I used a lot of lame georgette as well, which is basically the hardest fabric in the world to sew.
What’s the plan now?
I’d like to work somewhere that’ll allow me to work with bright colours, maybe my own label – but I’ll need to have a few sleeps and check my bank balance first!
- POP 613 Thursday 9 June 2011
- POP 331 Tuesday 29 June 2010
- POP 940 Friday 15 June 2012
- POP 616 Sunday 12 June 2011
- POP 475 Tuesday 14 December 2010