Having won the Sainsbury's Tu Scholarship Award last year, Genevieve Devine, a graduate of Northumbria University, is preparing to launch her nine piece collection created in collaboration with Sainsbury's Tu. We spoke with Genevieve Devine ahead of the launch to chat about her excitement for the future, time spent with Holly Fulton as a mentor, and what to remember about personal creative identity.
Hi Genevieve! Thanks for your time with us, we know you must be so busy preparing the launch. Firstly, lets go back to where it all began! How did your experiences at Graduate Fashion Week influence you?
Having the opportunity to showcase my collection at such a prestigious event made all of the hard work worth it, seeing our designs coming down the runway was electrifying! I can imagine it being quite addictive. Winning the prize was so unexpected and it has propelled my career in a way I would never have imagined during final year. It was a humbling experience to be in the company of such diverse and amazing talent.
Your collection is set to launch in Sainsbury's in March. You must be so excited! How does it feel to know people will be buying and wearing your designs?
I am! The thought of seeing someone walk by wearing one of my designs is really wonderful. If that does happen I can imagine that I will blush frantically and try not to follow them. It’s a really special feeling knowing that my garments will be accessible to so many women from all walks of life across the country.
Would you recommend scholarships as a good platform to launch yourself into the industry?
Definitely! It’s a unique opportunity to gain exposure within the industry whilst learning so much from the experienced people around you.
How did Holly Fulton, your mentor, help you to get to this point in your career?
Holly has been incredibly supportive, giving me thoughtful advice and an invaluable insight to the ins and outs of the industry. I am so grateful for all the time she has given me and her wicked sense of humour! Having access to her wealth of knowledge is an amazing platform for the next steps in my career.
Do you have a favourite moment from the past couple of years?
Going up to accept my award at the Graduate Fashion Week Gala Show with a boilersuit around my waist and ketchup on my sleeve was a surreal experience! I was not expecting to win! That or having dinner at the launch event of my collection, sat between the editors of amazing magazines discussing my designs, I couldn't play it cool if I tried.
Or maybe going to India to work with suppliers directly on my collection, I learned so much in a week, I still can't believe I had that opportunity! I can't choose!
How do you feel about the future of the industry?
Despite the uncertainty of current affairs inside and out of the industry, the creativity coming from young designers is really exciting, and the support available to them is producing some truly unique labels. The awareness of responsible sourcing and the need to slow the fashion process down is becoming more popular. I am hoping that this becomes a standard across the industry rather than just a selling point.
Do you have any advice for people graduating this year?
Don't spend time comparing your work to others, everyone has their own pace. When Graduate Fashion Week comes around you want to know that your collection is a true representation of yourself, and seeing the vast variety of talent at the event is so exciting.
What is the most valuable thing you've learnt since graduating?
The industry can seem quite small in the sense that everyone knows someone everywhere! Being genuine and kind goes a long way.
What was your inspiration for this collection?
The garments for Tu has been developed from my graduate collection. They were excited to use some of the pieces that would sit in a commercial spring capsule collection for their customer, without taking away from the original designs.
My graduate collection came from an exploration of fashion as a form of fantasy with functionality. It was inspired by a modern day tale of Orpheus in the Underworld and the private lives of artists. Painters overalls and artists smocks with hardwearing finishes are combined with feminine embroidery and delicate fabrication. The oversized proportions are a playful reference to childhood dressing up! I created the garments themselves with secret details and pockets to be discovered only by the wearer. The process of the collection was also a reaction to the innate throw away nature of fast fashion. I reworked waste fabrics and vintage linens, hand crafting them into garments with a focus on attention to detail, inside and out. I was fascinated with the idea of heirloom pieces that can be added to by each generation, slowing the process of fashion down.
We reworked the garments,and reimagined the scale to create wearable pieces that can be accessible and beautiful, with a sense of humour and attention to detail.
How did you find merging your creative preferences with that of such a large company with an established identity, such as Sainsbury’s?
It has been a really interesting experience- I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of work and detail that can put into the garments that they produce. Working with such a huge company, I have learnt a lot about where compromises may need to be made when working with so many people towards the same goal. It has also taught me a lot about the way that this side of the industry is run, which I had no idea about beforehand.
Under the mentorship of designer Holly Fulton, Genevieve created a collection, taking inspiration from her award winning graduate collection showcased on the GFW catwalk in 2016. The collection will launch in stores nationwide and online on the 19th March, and features an array of spring time pieces such as oversized dungarees, several embroidered pieces and a lace crop top. The collection is honest to Genevieve's aesthetic with very feminine shapes in light colours and hues of white. It is most notably a modern collection, appropriate for many, yet upholsters itself through traditional techniques. We can't wait to buy our favourite pieces!
Graduate Fashion Week is all about giving opportunities to the freshest, most original talent coming out of universities today. Genevieve is but one of those young designers that has greatly enjoyed experiences made possible through her participation in GFW. Heed her advice, and stay original, no one can create things that are more you, than you! Graduate Fashion Week is such an exciting few days because it brings together the most innovative and genuinely new in the industry. Buy your tickets now!
Words by Annabel Waterhouse-Biggins