Aiming to create long lasting, wearable and classical pieces, Imogen Wright’s graduate collection takes off in a personal exploration of women’s wardrobes. Feeling disillusioned about the relevance of fashion, she began to search for repetitive patterns in the every-day wear of women, and looked at how our different environments are affecting the clothes that we wear. Ranked by Business of Fashion as one of the top 6 Central Saint Martins BA Graduates of 2016, she expresses a wish of moving towards a more sustainable fashion production. “I think as a student it’s important to be aware of the issues facing the planet and how the fashion industry contributes to them. To make a conscious decision about whether your work should respond to this or not, is very important.”
“The concept and visual narrative come hand in hand. They develop and change simultaneously.”
What was the conceptual starting point of your graduate collection?
Whilst I was on placement year, I felt very disillusioned about fashion and what relevance it really has to women now. Then I read the book ‘Women in Clothes’, which is partially a collective memoir, and partially a field study. It incorporates the views of hundreds of women of all nationalities, on how the garments we wear define and shape us, and in extension how the fashion industry affects women’s lives for both good and bad. This started my personal exploration into women’s wardrobes, looking particularly at patterns of repetition in what we wear, and how our domestic environment and working environment affects our clothes.
Is it a challenge to translate a very conceptual idea into something practical?
For me the concept and visual narrative come hand in hand. They develop and change simultaneously.
How did your collection develop during the course of the year?
My collection changed a lot after we did the pre-collection. Time management was a real challenge, I ended up needing more help making the final pieces than I originally thought.
Does every project inspire you?
No, I haven’t always been inspired by every project. Often it’s not because of the project, but the pace of the course and the industry. I’ve had times where I’ve felt burnt out and uninspired. At those moments I just try to keep on looking. I go to exhibitions, take walks, and read, and eventually I find something that inspires me again. Some of my best projects have started that way.
“My industry experience gave me an insight into the business of fashion that I don’t believe is possible to gain by staying in school.”
What does your development process usually look like?
I normally start by taking photographs, and go on to continue my research in the library, at exhibitions, vintage fairs or charity shops. I like to work from real pieces. After I’ve gathered my research, it’s a constant conversation between 2D and 3D. I collage and drape on the mannequin, then I draw and manipulate the 3D drapes in Photoshop, and then I return my ideas to 3D. As soon as I have something that can be worn, I start fitting the garments on a model and then develop from these.
What did you do during your placement year?
During my placement year I worked at Alexander McQueen as a studio intern for a couple of months, then I moved to Paris and worked as a design assistant intern in the Women’s bags team at Louis Vuitton, and after that I worked as a design assistant intern in the pre-collection team at Celine.
Did your experience in the industry give you a better insight into how the business of fashion actually works?
I think it was the most valuable year of my education; my industry experience gave me an insight into the business of fashion that I don’t believe is possible to gain by staying in school. It also helped me understand how I wanted to work in the final year of my degree.
“Fashion is a small world and people are constantly moving from company to company, so always try to be professional.”
What advice would you give to students choosing their placements?
Try to think about what you want to get out of it. Do you want to understand how a design team works in a big company? Or do you want to aim to start your own label? Tailor your choices to those kinds of questions and be open minded to new experiences. Fashion is a small world and people are constantly moving from company to company, so always try to be professional.
What do you think you can do to improve the fashion industry? Is finding systematic solutions to some of the big problems in fashion something that design students should or shouldn’t be concerned with?
I think as a student it’s important to be aware of the issues facing the planet and how the fashion industry contributes to them. To make a conscious decision about whether your work should respond to this or not is very important.
Graduating is about the scariest thing for an undergraduate student to think of. How was that experience for you?
It hasn’t been as bad as I thought.
What are your plans for the immediate future?
I’m currently working on some pieces for a client, and then I’m going to take a holiday.
Do you have any plans for the not so near future?
Words by Matilda Söderberg
Photography by Vincent le Chapelain
Follow @imogen._wright._ on Instagram