Holly Fulton, Graduate Fashion Week Ambassador and notable British designer, recently sat down with Annabel Waterhouse-Biggins, Digital Editor at GFW, to discuss what makes a memorable collection, and the importance of supporting home grown talent in the current climate.
As Graduate Fashion Week is the largest showcase of BA graduate talent in the world, it can be tempting to produce the most extravagant collection in pursuit of being seen above the noise. Fulton discourages this, stressing the importance of creating a collection with substance and a clear thought process. It is the progression, from concept to collection, that showcases talent and results in success.
Fulton has spent many years perfecting her practise, through many collaborations and an exploration of the limits of her favoured print and knitwear. Having recently released a collection in partnership with River Island, the designer cited her inspiration to be "Baba Beaton from the 20s, Biba girls in the 70s and Kate Moss in the 90s... all high on life and champagne.” To find out how to capture the designers attention at GFW17, read on!
What made you want to be involved in Graduate Fashion Foundation?
I have always been closely affiliated with GFW and very keen to input back into the industry. I benefited from a lot of assistance from a wide variety of mentors and institutions when I started my business and when I was at college. So I'm very keen that now I am lucky enough to have my own label and grown a bit as a brand to input into that and help anyone who is starting out in their career. I think it is incredible important as a UK practitioner that we support the industry within this country and we foster and nurture that talent.
Which university did you attend and what did you learn there?
I went to Edinburgh College of Art. It gave me a wee solid grounding and allowed me to develop my style as an individual. I'd say that this was a real strength of that course as it is quite small, it allowed you to have time with tutors, it was really fantastic in technical facilities. It had a very strong focus on drawing and that was a very core part of my practice, and I subsequently went on to do a lot of print work, from that love that was fostered at that time. It gave me an understanding of design as an all-rounder at the start, also my confidence in my own abilities as a creative individual designer.
As a judge on the FatFace Graphic T-Shirt Competition, you chose a winner, to have their designs sold in FatFace. What encouraged you to pick the winning design? What caught your attention?
I am naturally drawn to things that are quite graphic, quite colourful and I was looking for something that was possibly quite simplistic in the types of graphics' that were used, that would give quite a nice, strong, clear message for FatFace as a brand. Something that for me encapsulated the sort of times and energy of being a student and a graduate and also has the FatFace ethos. I wanted to make sure that it was colourful, strong, confident and dynamic and had an energetic presence. It was a subtle kind of reference to the nature and outdoors and ethos of the FatFace brand.
What kind of things are you looking for at Graduate Fashion Week? What advice would you offer to current students that are about to embark on a GFW journey?
To me it is more about the interaction with the designer, the way that they represent their personality within their work. Really the passion, and amount of time, will be evident when you see the kind of work that goes into the collections. I am naturally drawn to things that are quite textile based, so it is more the details and it can even be the collections that are the most simplistic. That designer has had the confidence to really finesse those and have a clear and consistent message throughout.
There are some that are some that are showstoppers and always catch your eye, but it is not necessarily the loudest ones that will be the most successful. I love print and embellishment and I am naturally drawn to things that incorporate that. I think anything with a strong sense of colour and an unusual colour palette will probably attract my eye.
In terms of advice to the graduates, I’d probably say be ready to change things on the way up to your final collection. When we are doing collections, things can evolve and change quite close to the end. So I think it’s about allowing that buffer of time to do so.
Be very prepared to talk about your work and in all kind of aspects, it’s the people that you meet at these events, that can often be the most useful and beneficial. All the opportunities that presents themselves and be proud of what you have done and what you have achieved. It is an incredibly exciting platform to designer showcase their work at, it is the start of their careers, it is an amazing time. When I think back to that point, the freshness and freedom you have then, you really can achieve whatever you want within the industry, and it’s about having that confidence and building that network.