• Anita Hirlekar’s Oddly Seductive MA collection

    Aug 28, 2014 • Fashion, MAComments (0)

    Applying for an MA at Central Saint Martins because it’s mental and drives people insane? It’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but Anita Hirlekar liked the taste of it. Hirlekar applied, got in, and graduated this year. We spoke with the Icelandic designer -who calls her collection oddly seductive – about being ‘playfully intelligent’.

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    Thinking back about why she applied for the MA, Anita says that she remembered hearing people say how hard the experience was, how intense the workload is and how you can ‘go mental’. “In the end, I thought the standard was so high; it must bring something out of you, beside tears.”


    Anita wanted to see how far she could push herself on the MA, “There’s so much going through your head when you’re finishing your BA; thinking about what to do next. I just remember wanting to be really good at what I loved doing,” she says, and notes the importance of being ‘professional’  and making a good presentation. “Poor presentation can make good work look really bad.”


    When I ask her what she’s learnt during her 6 years at Central Saint Martins, she tells me how you get to know how to defend- and present yourself, and discover your strengths and weaknesses. “I think studying in St. Martins [means that] you have to face up to your identity and get to know who you are, and what you can offer. Don’t waste time thinking about what others are doing, just nurture your creativity and be as good as you can be.”


    “I was charmed by this fashion fantasy world, and how clothes can make you feel, but I never followed fashion.”

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    While Rothko and Richter inspired her final BA collection, she’s mainly drawn references from Gert and Uwe Tobias for her MA collection. Anita’s eyes are drawn to colour and texture, so she doesn’t just look at art, but also includes photography and film in her design process, which she says gives her ‘a quite unexpected angle on her direction.’


    She calls her collection ‘oddly seductive’, mainly because she was looking at lots of Guy Bourdin photographs that carried a seductive attitude which she liked. “To have a powerful presence is something I wanted to explore. And, of course, using color. In my case, it’s the colour which I try to clash; using odd combinations – colours you wouldn’t think of matching, and different textures together in an irregular motif. People always think that the collection is really heavy, but in fact it’s super light and flows really elegantly.”


      “Poor presentation can make good work look really bad.”


    When she did her BA, she thought that felting techniques had a bad reputation of being really uncool and dated. “It was like this old women technique which I thought was really strange. I wanted to embrace it, and use it really artistically, with modern colours and fabrics like lace and knit,” she says. The felting technique ended up being the main concept of her BA collection. Her MA collection, on the other hand, was all hand embroidered, which shows how much she admires intrinsic handcraft. “I love to raise the question of how the textile work is created, I think that once people start asking how you did it, it feels like the mission is accomplished.”


    Her fondness of handcrafts can certainly be explained if one looks at her background. She grew up in Iceland, where she was practically born into a history of craft. “There are so many techniques that were developed by older generations – some of which you cannot find anywhere in books; you just have to see it for yourself. I feel that we need to maintain these traditions, so they won’t get lost. Just modernizing them and make them look fresh and new.”


    During her placement year on the BA, she want to Jaipur in India and took a block printing course with [print pathway leader] Natalie Gibson. “We were in an old factory, printing with wooden blocks and mud, something that was really amazing to experience,” she says.


    “I love to raise the question of how the textile work is created, I think that once people start asking how you did it, it feels like the mission is accomplished.”
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    She continues to talk about Iceland, which has got a big DIY culture, “you learn from a really young age to knit, crochet, felt, woodwork, ceramics. All these craft skills are among everyone. I was always making things when I was younger, but there wasn’t a big fashion scene – there wasn’t a big access to fashion magazines. If people wanted to look different, they would make their own clothes or rework them.”


    Her grandmother was ‘a real lady and very stylish’, and always spoke about Dior and Louis Vuitton. “In my memory, all her clothes were from these labels, but later when I saw they weren’t, I knew it was a fantasy. I was charmed by this fashion fantasy world, and how clothes can make you feel, but I never followed fashion.”


    “Bad taste is something that is connected to my gut. It’s a reaction and the feeling when something just doesn’t look right, is awkward and makes your tummy spin.”


    When Anita was younger, she travelled abroad quite a lot, and thus had access to fashion, but only bought her first Vogue when she was 18. “That’s when I started thinking about fashion designers a lot. After being in London for some time, just reading about designers and CSM, I was convinced that this was something for me. When I got back to Iceland, I finished my social studies at college, and moved to London.”


    She says that nowadays, there’s a lot more interest in fashion and design in Iceland. There’s a festival in Reykjvik in March every year – Design March, “where a lot of designers from different fields come together and celebrate design. Iceland is a great place to go to escape, to just get lost in nature with no Wi-Fi or technology, and just be by yourself…and of course with elves and hidden people.”

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    What does the view look like from your parents’ house in Iceland?

    It’s mainly covered in trees…

     Do you paint in your spare time, or do you have any odd hobbies?

    I definitely don’t paint in my spare time. If I’m not making things in my spare time, I like to just be in nature, with no phone, no internet and picking blueberries.

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     Miuccia Prada has always been a source of inspiration for Anita, mostly in the way that she can make ‘playful seem intelligent’. However, some people call Prada bad taste, from time to time. When I ask Anita what she thinks is bad taste, she finds it impossible to define. “To me, bad taste is something that is connected to my gut. It’s a reaction and the feeling when something just doesn’t look right, is awkward and makes your tummy spin. It’s hard to define. For me, it’s something that feels forced, almost as if you’re wearing another person’s knickers – just wrong.”


    While wearing someone else’s knickers is something you won’t see Anita doing anytime soon, she does have another ritual: ‘never go without lipstick’. I wonder if that’s true even after days of sleep deprivation. “Yes! I highly recommend adding some colour to your face after an all-nighter when you look like a ghost. And it takes about two seconds to put on! I’m not one of those people who say ‘I feel shit, so I’ll dress shit.’ The more shitty and tried I feel, the more I need to glam up. My Monday mornings were like ‘the new Saturday nights’; after a weekend of full-on embroidery, I needed to dress-up.”


    Anita’s oddly seductive collection has been shot by Nick Knight for our second print issue, which is for sale as of today! You can buy a copy here, or tomorrow from the SHOWStudio shop (and worldwide from Monday).


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  • 1 Granary Magazine: the second issue is out!

    Aug 27, 2014 • Fashion, Inside CSM, Issue 2Comments (0)

    They say making a magazine feels like being in labour, and hell that’s true, but Louise Wilson helped us to give birth to our second print issue, and we will be forever grateful for her help, support and wisdom. This issue, we wanted to focus entirely on students, and therefore Louise Ballou – fashion design student – is gracing the cover, dressed in Christopher Kane, the designer who we managed to feature in our issue with the help of Louise. We dedicate this issue to the woman who fought for this cover, who battled for better education and left behind a legacy of legends.

    Can we tantalize your fashion taste buds? Here’s some namedropping, of what can you expect from issue two: Interviews with Christopher Kane, Lee Swillingham, Simon Foxton, Dylan Jones, Alex Fury, Joe Wright, Alistair O’Neill, Craig Green, Antonio Berardi, Quentin Jones, Grayson Perry, and photoshoots by Nick KnightLaurence Ellis, HART+LESHKINA,  Nikolay Biryukov, Kirill Kuletski, and Rachel Chandler-Guinness. And… that’s just a fraction.

    Issue two is for sale on our website now and exclusively in the SHOWStudio shop from tomorrow, the 28th of August. It will hit the newsstands and other shops starting from Monday  1st of September. List of all stockists coming soon. 

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    Photo by Laurence Ellis


    Being a creative is hard at the moment, right? With the highest university fees on record, investing in yourself as a creative is pretty risky business. In light of sweeping cuts to arts education, and indeed to the arts as a whole, it’s not looking like the best time to commit to a career as an artist or designer.

    What then for the waves of people who still hold hope of making it in the creative industries today? It’s certainly not the easiest route. But where there’s a will, there’s most definitely a way. Tough challenges breed the greatest victors. The pages in issue 2 are a testament to that, featuring the first generation of Central Saint Martins students, who fought through money issues to produce something original, and do something new.

    However, it’s important to remember that it’s not always about the money. More often, fighting difficulties for a positive outcome is actually about support. It’s about the people who recognise the times that we are in and are in a position to stand up and help creativity flourish. We started 1 Granary as a platform to try and bring established artists, image-makers and designers together with us, the students. But this magazine’s not about how we do it, but why we do it: to be able to have a graduate collection seen and shot by Nick Knight, and styled by Simon Foxton; to have up-and-coming Central Saint Martins designers sit alongside Christopher Kane; to be able to just shoot the collections of, and talk to the creatives whose work we respect. Thanks to those individuals’ support, we’ve been able to do just that and create our own space for creativity to prosper. For that, we’re grateful. Thank you to those who have helped us and to those we’ve featured.

    Love, Team 1 Granary

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  • Breakfast on Pluto with Henrik Vibskov

    Aug 26, 2014 • Industry, Interviews, Issue 1Comments (0)

    Henrik Vibskov should be the product of the Central Saint Martins dream – a fashion designer who does more than just design, who works in a collaborative, non-traditional way and whose creativity is as focused on music as it is on fashion and design. Yet the Danish designer’s name isn’t quite treated with the same high-minded reverence as many of the programme’s other alums. Why not? Maybe because Vibskov is a self-proclaimed dabbler, not sitting still long enough to be seen in full as a designer, an artist or even a musician – Vibskov moonlights as a drummer for producer and electronic musician Trentemøller. At least, when he finds time out from churning out men’s and women’s collections in Copenhagen and Paris.


    What started as a young man’s eclecticism and taste for experimentation has turned into a global enterprise, with international stockists and his own Henrik Vibskov stores in New York, Oslo and Copenhagen. Presentations often feature bizarre theatrics, and the clothes themselves are characterised by a sort-of magpie approach to design – a bit of this, a lot of that and capped off with some cut-outs and wacky prints. Did his time at CSM help foster this experimentalism? “Yes. One of my school projects was “the egg” – a blown up egg shaped suit with a built-in blower in a rucksack.” But Henrik believes the college, where he studied alongside fellow Dane Peter Jensen, also taught him more than that. “[It gave me] a more artistic point of view towards the commercial business. And also the ability to answer the What, Why and How of concept researches, etc.”


     Cross-discipline is in Henrik’s blood, it seems. While we think of Scandi fashion as maybe a little more minimal, the kind of austere hip you’d expect from say, Acne, Henrik’s style is something different. He thinks this comes from his long-running musical background.


    “When I was studying, my bank manager was my friend’s little brother, so the first 4 years in London were great fun. Suddenly I got a new bank-lady and paradise shut down. It was Disneyland after dark.”


    “I have been playing music for nearly 30 years now, so that definitely started my creative process,” he explains. “14 years later I got into art and design, from which I take form and colour with me. But I don’t even think about it as cross-discipline – a bit more like walking, but you have to use the ears and eyes to balance it.” Working as a musician, an artist and a designer concurrently could be bewildering for some people. Henrik looks at the examples set by other 21st century talents: “Is Woody Allen a better musician than director?” he asks. “Is Kanye West a better designer than musician? Is Bono a better hotel owner than politician?”


     While the music has always been in Henrik’s life, Central Saint Martins came later, after Henrik caught the eye of a girl who said she was applying to the school. He applied to the menswear program to impress her, he got in, and got the girl, too.


     London became his playground, and he confirms that there was a lot of partying during his time there. “Yes, I did [party],” he tells me, before launching into one late-night tale. “I was on a date at Brixton Academy at an Autechre concert – loud noise electronica – not particularly date music but anyway, my date, a Scandi girl, went up to the bar to get drinks. In the meantime some bouncers came with a completely drugged-out guy who couldn’t move. I was standing at some staircase and they were fighting a bit with him to get him out. Afterwards the person in front of me turns around asking me if I lost my plastic bag – I couldn’t see what she had in her hands in the darkness so I took it. Inside were 200 Superman pills! I quickly put the bag in my pocket when I realized the massive amount. The Scandi girl came back and I showed the bag from my pocket and was trying to explain what just happened. In the loudness and darkness it all suddenly felt wrong and not really date-suitable – and she didn’t really get the story – we never got together and I left the Superman pills in the corner.”


     “Is Woody Allen a better musician than director?” he asks. “Is Kanye West a better designer than musician? Is Bono a better hotel owner than politician?”


     After graduating from CSM Henrik stuck around London a little while longer. But in the end Copenhagen won his affections in the end. “I was completely broke and hungry and needed a cigarette break – many thought it was the worst move I could ever have done,” he explains. “When I was studying, my bank manager was my friend’s little brother, so the first 4 years in London were great fun. Suddenly I got a new bank-lady and paradise shut down. It was Disneyland after dark.”


    Denmark is home for Henrik Vibskov now, but he is a little more globally-minded than that. “It would be a lie to say that I’m not a Scandi, through learning in an old school socialistic system in Denmark,” he tells me. “But I’ve grown up with a certain eclectic focus and learning that’s deep down in my membrane. So my way of thinking in concept, colours, installation – it’s all from somewhere else – more jungle chaos from Pluto, maybe, if they have jungle up there?”


     Words by Ana Kinsella

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  • A First Time for Everything: Katie Grand

    Aug 25, 2014 • IndustryComments (0)

    As our second print issue is coming out very soon, we dive into issue 1 to revisit our feature of fashion styling’s great goddess: Katie Grand, who styled the rare shoot, as well as designed all the knitwear in it, when she was a 2nd year student at Central Saint Martins.

    All success stories start somewhere. At Central Saint Martins, legendary British fashion editor Katie Grand turned her hand to everything before finding her calling as a stylist. Working at The FacePOP, and now as editor of bi-annual publication LOVEKatie has helped to define the visual identity of a generation. Katie’s friend Gary Wallis, a current CSM tutor, worked with her whilst they were both still studying. Here, Gary and Katie present her very first shoot from the 1990s; at the time Katie was a second year knitwear student trying to find her feet within fashion.

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    Model Jason Halsey Photography Gary Wallis

    “The shoot was so Katie”, says Gary, “She was getting [model] Jason to do animal impressions, pretending to be a horse and a monkey wearing her jumpers. We shot it in the cancer research lab at Birmingham University where her father worked.


    We left college at five o’clock, drove to Birmingham, shot through the night and then drove back to London in the early hours. That was the first shoot she had ever done. It was good fun! We’d look at the labs and she would say ‘let’s shoot in here!’ and when we’d leave we’d notice the signs saying ‘do not enter’ and ‘danger of contamination’– all these Petri dishes where they were growing bacteria, and we were in there taking pictures.”


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  • Charlotte Tydeman’s Demure Couture

    Aug 25, 2014 • BA Final Collections 2014Comments (0)

    Charlotte Tydeman is the personification of her collection, or rather, her graduate collection is a physical manifestation of her personality: it’s sweet, dreamily but also punchy and dares to ask questions.

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    During her fashion design studies, Charlotte spent time working at Giles and Alexander McQueen. At the latter, she worked on the first show after Lee McQueen had died. She says that “everyone just seemed to really want to make it work. It was a nice atmosphere at the time.” Thinking back about her internships, she says that she’s learnt to appreciate and stick to what she likes in terms of design. “What’s the point in wasting time doing other stuff? I just concentrate on the things I like and things I’m good at, and I just do that.”


    What she particularly liked this year, was the idea of a fantasy/dream woman. For her graduate collection, she looked at dream catchers and then tried to abstract them. After that, she wanted to find out more about the actual meaning behind dream catchers in native Indian culture. “It was, at one point, going down a very costume-y, native Indian route. Something that just felt so not me, and so, ‘just for the sake of it’, trying to make a cohesive idea. But the more I started doing that, the more everyone was like ‘why are you doing this?’ It made more sense to just focus on the aspects of the fantasy of the dreams.”

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    She wrote her dissertation about ‘the Performative Nature of Girlhood’, in which she explored “how girls are prescribed a certain role, or certain ideals that they have to conform to, that contradict what they actually might want to do.” It also shed some light on how social media has inscreased our performative nature. “[It's about] How girls are just performing and becoming an image, and not really existing in reality. Everything’s messed up for girls.”


    Charlotte says that she has been reading a lot about feminism, over the past two years, so her ideas eventually translated into a her design work. But, she thinks feminism has become a fad. “To say you’re a feminist is kind of now a hipster thing, it’s now cool. Like Beyoncé’s a feminist, we’re all feminists, let’s all hate Terry Richardson


    And that’s why I think fashion has jumped on board with it. And, now with this retouching thing, it’s really weird. Yes, it’s a nice idea to put disclaimers on pictures and advertisements, stating they’re retouched, but then you’re gonna have to do that on every single image that exists. Then again, people are retouching reality. People wear makeup, and they enhance themselves. It’s hard to draw the line between the retouching thing and this idea of portraying women’s bodies properly, and ideals. I think feminism in fashion has really become a fad. Everyone – even those who truly mean it – is now part of a club that exists. I don’t know how seriously people take it. Even if they do take it seriously.


    The meanings behind some of these things are lost, because feminism is just used as an image; it’s just used for superficial purposes. Which is sometimes fine, it’s nice. I think it’s nice that Meadham Kirchoff say that they’re feminists, when they’re two gay men – I hate it when men think that they can’t be feminists. There are so many girls, young girls who know nothing about fashion, and then Meadham Kirchoff will be like ‘ooo, feminism is cool, let’s read about feminism’. I’m happy with that.”


    “I think people learn, when they’re at CSM, either you’re going to be a superstar or you’re not.”

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    We continue the conversation about trends, and she says, “I have got no clue how to identify trends. I just don’t even get why magazines or fashion and the media try to promote trends, still.”

    It’s money…

    It’s money, and I suppose there are people who need to be told [what to wear], but I’m sure that even those people would get away without having someone say every year that colour blocking is a thing, and monochrome is a thing.

    It’s not a fucking thing – it’s continuous!

    Yeah! It’s part of fucking life, people are going to wear black and white together, people are going to wear colours together. You need to get over it. It’s really exhausting.

    The word trend is a bit dead, I don’t think there really are trends anymore, because everybody is doing something ‘similar’.

    I actually really want to know more about this trend forecasting stuff. I know that high street brands go to forecasting seminars, and they know prints and colours are in season…

    They’re like years ahead…

    Yeah, it’s crazy to me. Because, as a CSM student, you’re never going to hear about any of this stuff. When you hear about it, it’s like a weird fantasy world. It’s a weird, crazy elite, telling people what to do. I mean, who knew this existed. It’s amazing. Not like it’s a taboo thing, but it would never occur to you to look up what colours are going to be on trend. You would just never think to do it. If you did that, the tutors would be like ‘what the hell are you doing?’ Just do whatever the hell you like.”

    Her own perspectives on fashion have changed during her time at Central Saint Martins. “My idea of success and my vision has changed so much since I’ve been here. I’m so much less ambitious and my idea of success is literally just me being happy and doing what I want to do. I think at CSM, they want to make superstars. It’s important to have people do well and carry on the brand; and then also to have people who will be working in companies. I think people learn, when they’re at CSM, either you’re going to be a superstar or you’re not. So, you better just figure out what you enjoy doing, and do that.”


    “I really want to work in couture. I like the pace of it. I like the mentality behind it. Yes, I just want to make pretty dresses.”

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    I ask her what she’s planning to do now that she’s graduated, and she’s pretty straightforward about it: “I really want to work in couture,’ she says, “ I don’t know if it will happen any time soon, but it’s just the only part of fashion that I really like. I like the pace of it. I like the mentality behind it. Yes, I just want to make pretty dresses.”


    “Even if it’s like crazy clothes, why do you have to over-intellectualize everything?”

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    What’s the most amusing description somebody’s said about your collection?

    Someone said that all the sponge pieces were like armour. It’s not amusing, but it was just like, ‘well that’s not what it’s about’. But then, I would much prefer someone make their own decisions about it and decide that it was about armour with something soft underneath. Rather than me having to explain every fibre of what it’s about. That’s the point of it: we shouldn’t have to understand what everything’s about. It used to just be what you see, and if you like it you’d buy it.”

    True, it does seem to be a lot about ‘finding the meaning behind it’; when you go to the Prada show, everyone’s trying to find the secret messages, and it’s like, it’s just clothes actually.

    Again, even if it’s like crazy clothes, why do you have to over-intellectualize everything? Especially clothes.


    Want to try and over-intellectualize some more clothes? Take a look at our interviews with this year’s Fashion Design graduates.

    Words by Jorinde Croese

    Editorial shoot by Eleanor Hardwick

    Lookbook by Masha Mel

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  • Angel Chen revives Galliano vibes on Central Saint Martins’ runway

    Aug 22, 2014 • BA Final Collections 2014, FashionComments Off

    A Galliano-revival is what many fashion journalists desire to see during a Central Saint Martins BA Fashion graduate show, and this year, Angel Chen gave them precisely what they longed for, with a twist that’s reminiscent of Chanel’s same-sex gowns

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    I meet Angel Chen in the Grain Store, and, in tune with the clothes she designs, she is wearing a colorful Pleats Please dress. Her smile, which doesn’t disappear throughout the whole hour, is infectious, as is the energy with which she talks about fashion.


    She gives me a small lookbook, and while we go through it and chat, I ask her what her favourite look is. She points at the girl with the massive yellow dress, and says, “She’s my girl, because yellow is the most representative colour for me.”


    Her collection is based on the two girls’ marriage – a pretty bold continuation of Karl Lagerfeld’s closing (lesbian) wedding look for Chanel couture last year, though Angel doesn’t say this is an inspiration.


    “At Vera Wang, the designers would just be sitting and chatting to each other, ‘how did you get the green card,’ and that kind of stuff. It’s not about design, but about show-show.”


    “My friend once said, “Angel, I feel like you’re a planet in the sky,”  and when I asked her which one, she said ‘the sun’. After that, I found another girl, and she’s the moon. We love each other.”  Each yellow piece in the yellow skirt is a star, and they’re all connected. There’s more behind the story though, more of a tale. It’s about two girls who are travelling together in a North-African forest. They meet each other when they’re building up a camp (that’s why the skirts look like you can live in ‘em). They decide to do something fun with building up their little habitat, and decide to wear the tents. So, they build one tent, make them separate, and both wear one half. Apparently, the dresses (in real life) can also be inserted into one another.


    The waiter comes, and Angel orders an earl grey tea. Then she decides to go for a carrot cooler. After that, she asks what kind of snacks they have. She chooses a croissant, then orders an earl grey, after all.


    “I really want to stay here for another one or two years, but I’m gonna have to go back [to China] and probably run my own business,”  she says. What about doing an MA? She doesn’t think it suits her style. “MA style and my style are totally different.”  I wonder if her designs have always been so colorful, and surprisingly, they have not. “Before, I would’ve done something very girly; not much color. It was a lot of embroidery and a lot of textiles. This is the first time that I’ve gotten in touch with menswear.”

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    During her placement year, Angel has worked for Marchesa, which fueled her strong interest in bridalwear. Thinking back about the experience, she says that it was a lot like going to school. “There were different graduates from Central Saint Martins working there; there were a lot of British people. We could do whatever we wanted, at the beginning of the research. Then, we’d start draping and detailing; making flowers; embroidery and deciding on colors. I had lots of freedom.”


    The experience was very different from her internship at Vera Wang, where “the designers would just be sitting and chatting to each other, ‘how did you get the green card,’ and that kind of stuff. It’s not about design, but about show-show.”


    She goes on to talk about interning at Alexander Wang, which she says also gave her a lot of freedom. The difference, however, was that the ‘design’ focus was mainly on the finishings. “We had to try a lot of different finishings, which is something that I hadn’t worked with before. Different fusings; how you do hems; finishing collars, and necklines. You’re not actually designing a whole look, because that’s already been designed, but the finishings.”


     “I’m actually a designer, not an artist. I’m more into the business part, and I can’t think like an artist, because I have to build up the company.”


    How come she decided to work for those three brands? In the beginning, Angel had planned to just finish her BA, without doing a placement year, until her tutor asked her: “Don’t you want to go to New York? You can pop into an interview with Marchesa, they’ll come.” She agreed, even though Marchesa is more into celebrity, and Angel’s focus was more on real design work. What has she learnt from all these experiences? “I learnt the most from Alexander Wang and Marchesa. I know how to make designs that people will love. They really care about the finishings, and how you wear it, and the feel of it – not just something beautiful.”


    We briefly talk about the ‘designing 8 collections per year’-ethic that’s in place with a lot of fashion houses, and she starts to spill the beans about starting her own brand. “I’m so stuck with my new collection. I started researching for my spring-summer collection. I need 21 looks,”  she says. Will she make them as crazy as this graduate collection? Angel admits that she’ll have to start making money first. But, how does she feel about doing more commercial stuff, after having studied at Central Saint Martins? Angel’s answer reveals she’s got a flexible mind, “I’m not a person that says ‘oh no no no, I don’t want to do it,’ but I think I can change a way of thinking. I can collaborate with artists and do crazy stuff. I can do an exhibition, photoshoots, and a lot of fun things. I’m actually a designer, not an artist. I’m more into the business part, and I can’t think like an artist, because I have to build up the company. I design clothes that are commercial, but with my own textiles and in my own creativeness.”

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    When we talk about designers from her class, who made it to the press show, I ask who she’s fond of. The names Quoi Alexander, Harry Evans and Gracie Wales-Bonner come up. Though the latter isn’t necessarily her style, Angel says, “I like her sense. I love her work, I want to wear it! When I was doing the show, it was all about crazy, but now I also look back, and think about the things that people actually want to wear.” Which, is usually a down-to-earth color, like black – the opposite of Angel’s collection. “I’m super happy with what I’ve done, so I’m afraid that I won’t be good next season. I’ve done this collection, and so many people were giving me opinions. Too many opinions. When I’m doing the next collection, I want to stay focused, and I have to satisfy myself first.”


    Does she have any regrets? “Yes, maybe I would’ve gone out more, during the first term.”


    Thinking about her business-focused sensibility, I wonder what her dissertation was about. The tea has arrived, yet no croissant, but she doesn’t make a fuss of it.


    “You guys should feel super happy. The Chinese tutors teach the students to work like robots. They are so stuck up. They only want them to do copies, and to pass the course. It really stops your brain from being active.”


    The dissertation was about the Chinese luxury market. After interning in New York, working for a couture brand in China was next up. “They have a creative idea about how to run the business with their clients. Each VIP can buy their ‘fund’ of the company (like a share), and they can get their couture dress done, travel around the world, and also get a yearly bonus if the company grows. So it’s a cool business plan.”


    For the rich Chinese customer,  luxury is about service. “They want someone to come and clean their clothes, and someone to come in and design clothes for them. It’s about experience.”


    What’s the future of the Chinese market? “I think that the big houses, like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel, will still own the market. But, a third of the population in big cities (Beijing, Shanghai, etc) is starting to change their mind. They don’t want to be ‘logo people’. The aesthetic changes. China is changing, too. Before, China’s mass production was the best. We hired people super cheaply, and worked very fast. But, we would have bad quality and do copies and things like that. Now, nobody wants to wear copied thing. People want to wear something unique. The people who only come to China for production, are making less and less profit, because Chinese people want more money and less sewing. So, the production is probably changing to Thailand or other countries. It’s developing. It’s like Japan in the 70s: it’s booming.”

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    Though the production-side of fashion is changing, the fashion education in China still seems to be pretty rigorous. Angel showed the course director of a Chinese Fashion school around the college, and he said, “You guys should feel super happy. The Chinese tutors teach the students to work like robots. They are so stuck up. They only want them to do copies, and to pass the course. It really stops your brain from being active.” Apparently, if a student would do something creative, they would stop them and shout ‘stop it, think about reality!’


    Now that we’re talking about education in China, I ask her, what was your education like before your went to Central Saint Martins? “I was in high school for two years. In middle school, I was always flicking through magazines. Then, I saw Galliano and I thought: he’s what I want to be in the future. So, at that time, I said ‘mom, I want to be in that school.’ When my family had a better financial situation, they said ‘maybe we can try and migrate to Australia,’ and I was like ‘No! Fashion can’t be there!’ So, my mother said, ‘ok,you go to the UK.’ It all started with Galliano.”


    With Galliano, a university degree started, developed, and ended. Let’s hope it will persevere and continue to stay in Angel’s future collections. Once a Galliano devotee, always a Galliano devotee. It’s a religion.


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    alex wang

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