Jennifer Healy, graduate of Manchester School of Art, was awarded the Tu Womenswear Scholarship at GFW 2018. With a penchant for the 1960's and charmed by the abstract movement in the art, Jennifer worked digitally to retain the essence of a brushstroke, and keep the individuality of handcrafted pieces in her final collection.
We caught up with our award winning alumni to hear more the culture of the northern city that shaped her university experience, abstraction, and the political silhouettes of the swinging sixties.
Firstly, a huge congratulations on winning at Graduate Fashion Week 2018! What award did you win?
I was won the Tu at Sainsburys Womenswear Scholarship 2018.
How did it feel when your name was read out?
Completely shocked and overwhelmed! I’d managed to convince myself that I definitely wasn’t going to win so I was really shocked and emotional. My family were streaming the gala show live which made the experience even more exciting.
Which university did you attend, and how do you think they prepared you for graduation?
I attended Manchester School of Art which prepared us in so many ways! We had amazing facilities, technicians and personal tutors to keep us on track and motivated whilst nurturing and pushing our ideas. We were also lucky enough to have Robin Kerr as one of our tutors who sent us competitions and job openings almost daily which was great. It was Robin who put me [up for the scholarship] with Tu.
On a footnote, I was brought up in a small rural town in the North East of England so Manchester was a big contrast but nevertheless a fantastic experience for me. So cosmopolitan and so much culture, always something happening.
Describe the inspiration and concept behind your work
My work is mostly inspired by abstract artists and sixties culture.
After studying Fine Art at college I’ve never lost my love of expressive painting. I created my prints by looking at different abstract artists and tried to learn from their techniques and mark making. I then applied this to my own prints which were also quite heavily sixties inspired. I didn’t want any of my prints to be repeated and, by enlarging and digitally printed them to fabric, you can see the brush strokes in the print. This I really love and gives the print a more tangible feel.
As for the shape of my garments I’m constantly inspired by the sixties- both in terms of shape with A-line/trapeze shapes and length but also with the mood of the sixties. I wanted my collection to be really fun and over the top with varying opacities and clashing prints.
Photography by Becky Mukerji
What one thing would you recommend our readers do whilst at the event?
Whilst attending GFW I think it’s great to go and see a catwalk show, you can appreciate the garments so much more when you see them move down the catwalk in the bright lights in addition to seeing the whole collection together.
What do you plan to pursue now, and where do you hope to be in five years time?
I will be starting my year’s scholarship with Tu in September. This is going to be such a great learning experience which will inevitably shape my ideas for the future. However at present my dream would be to work for a high street womenswear design team or print house or possibly start my own brand featuring crazy expressive prints.
If you could give one piece of advice to yourself in first year, what would it be?
I’m certainly wiser looking back at my 3 years at university. I think it’s important to realise that fashion is very subjective. One person may have a totally different take on an item or collection to the next person. So I would advise anybody to be true to yourself and your style, take criticism with a pinch of salt and believe in yourself.