We caught up with Manchester School of Art graduate, Louise Clark, to get the latest on her trip to China and the inspiration behind her award-winning collection.
Louise’s collection was influenced and encouraged by the power print and significance of silhouette. Her love for the Chinese calligraphy and the dramatic, abstract marking unfolded when she completed a three month internship in China. Find out how Louise redesigned 19th century clothing by enhancing brighter pops of colour and stacking prints to make her work stand out on the catwalk. Read how Louise embraced her mistakes and refused to change her design identity.
Firstly, a huge congratulations on winning at Graduate Fashion Week 2018! What award did you win?
Thank you! I won the George at Asda ‘Catwalk to Store’ award!
How did it feel when your name was read out?
I couldn’t believe it; it was all a bit of a blur to be honest! There were so many exceptional collections at Graduate Fashion Week that I never in a million years thought I would even make it into the Gala Show never mind win an award. I was very shocked but was very happy to have won!
Which university did you attend, and how do you think they prepared you for graduation?
I studied at Manchester School of Art for the past three years and it was the toughest yet the most rewarding three years of my life. I was given so many amazing opportunities which prepared me for life after graduation, for example I completed an internship in China for three months through the university, which was a great experience and allowed me to see a more commercial side of fashion. I believe that it is vital to work in a few different levels of the fashion industry to really know where you fit in, and the university prepares its students for this by setting both commercial and high end briefs.
They also really make you push your strongest skills to achieve the best possible work you can, and even though some tutorials can be harsh, the tutors really do bring out the best in you. We were also encouraged to collaborate with students from Fashion Art Direction, Graphics and Photography which is so useful as it is one of the most important aspects when working in the fashion industry. As well as collaboration, there was always a strong emphasis on how to portray our individual design philosophy through our portfolios, meaning each one was very different and personal from the next, making them stand out a lot to future employers.
Describe the inspiration and concept behind your work.
My final collection has the name ‘Abstract Romanticism’ and combined two very different themes. One research theme inspired my print and the other my silhouette. My previous trip to China where I completed my internship really inspired my prints as I fell in love with the Chinese Calligraphy and the expressive, abstract mark making which these line drawings captured. I then used this inspiration to create my own prints and experimented using flocking on sheer fabric which was a continuous running theme throughout my collection.
The silhouette came from looking at 19th Century Clothing, as I have always loved the high necks and large gathered sleeves. However, I always knew I wanted to re-create this silhouette in a more contemporary style by using brighter pops of colour and layering up my prints to create an impact on the catwalk. I combined two very different research themes as I wanted to create a very unique collection that had never been done before.
What one thing would you recommend our readers do whilst at the event?
Go to as many talks and presentations as you can! I went to a few very interesting talks, one that stood out to me was a talk by previous students from GFW17 talking about their experiences a year on in the industry. It was really eye opening and made me realise not to stress too much if I can’t get my dream job straight away. Also, the fashion presentations were really good as you could see the details of the garments really close up, I remember one which stood out to me was the Glasgow School of Art presentation as there was some really good talent and pattern cutting in their garments. Also if you love another students portfolio or work, talk to them and let them know as it is great to make friends and also contacts that you might work with in the future!
What do you plan to pursue now, and where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
At the moment I am open to any experiences or jobs which will give me valuable insight into Womenswear Design or Print Design for a Womenswear company!
I would love to move to London if a job came my way, and my dream job down the line would be a print designer for a womenswear Ready to Wear brand. I’d also like to keep my options open in relation to completing a masters as this is something I am very interested in. I have a lot of idea’s so I will have to wait and see what the future holds!
If you could give one piece of advice to yourself in first year, what would it be?
My main piece of advice would be to stay true to yourself and trust your gut! There will be a lot of times where you are told to change your design identity and ideas but these are what make you, you. If you are creating things you want to make, the process will be much more enjoyable. Also, embrace your mistakes because your mistakes are what you learn from the most in the design process!