Hayley Grundmann is the CSM graduate whose structural and bold knitwear got us all excited about some rather everyday objects. Made from woven foam tubes, knitted laundry bags and a scattering of crystal, her collection left us all eager to see what else she could imagine within the world of DIY fabrics, knit and textiles.
Having already worked with Gareth Pugh and John Galliano before even leaving CSM, and with a horde of press following her every collection, the knitwear maverick was bound to do something great. After two seasons as the junior womenswear designer at Acne, Hayley felt the need to express something entirely her own, and launched her label. 1 Granary caught up with her to see what mundane objects have been inspiring her creative designs recently.
How are you feeling about your first capsule collection and how long has this all been in the making?
The idea for the collection came when I was back at Acne, so probably around 2015. That is when I really started considering it as my next step. I just kept having these ideas in my head of things I wanted to experiment with. Things were changing at Acne and I had learnt so much from the team there, I felt like it was the right time to just go for it. But it has been something that has been in the back of my head for a while, being able to create my own work.
What was the main thing you learnt at Acne? Would you recommend working for a company first to other budding designers?
I left the MA with a really open mind because you just can’t predict what might be your journey afterwards. For me I knew I needed just a little bit more time to develop. I learnt so much at Acne in terms of understanding how you can start with the most outlandish and personal research, and turn those ideas into something that really works as a garment. I learnt a much more refined and simple design aesthetic and started to understand how I could use my ideas in a more modern way. There is absolutely no downside to learning that.
You got a lot of press for your MA collection. Did you ever want to step away from those ideas and that way of working?
I think at that time in my life in regards to my BA and MA what I was creating must have been true to me. Of course, you always look back and think, oh, I could have done some things differently, but as a designer you have to always have conviction in your work and final outcomes. My graduate collections, although different, had similarities when it came to my way of working and fabrications, so this must be my way!
So was the natural next step always going to be a continuation of previous ideas?
This collection is different from my previous work but it does have the same concept. Though I do think my work now is getting more and more refined and perhaps more realistic. It is important to me to always be true to my vision and myself, but now I think, ‘Yes, I would actually wear that’. Since graduating I have started to find that middle ground between really experimental textiles and pieces that can actually be worn.
“…that moment after a night out when you’re still a bit dressed up, but you also have a hoodie on and then your plastic bag filled with corner shop treats. I love that; it feels very British to me.”
Your work is all very textiles focused; when designing do you start with the silhouette or fabrication, and where do you usually find your inspiration?
I usually come up with ideas from just being out and about, everyday environments, British culture and personal memories. I always see things that inspire me and then think about how I could fabricate that by using the actual material or replicating a texture. So yes, I always think of the fabrication first, and then that determines the shape. I then always like to create a contradiction between the fabrication and silhouette. If one element seems quite feminine I like to play that off against something more masculine. Since graduating I have liked designing things that perhaps are not either, but sit in the middle instead. I think I picked that up from Acne.
What is your inspiration behind this collection?
The initial idea came from a plastic bag. Just your standard, mundane classic blue and white bags, and then the commercial waste bags I kept seeing around Shepherds Bush. I was still in Stockholm but was on a break after the first collection so took a trip back to London, and picked up these two incredible traditionally Jewish jackets. I fell in love with them and ended up wearing them all the time. I just thought, I need to do something with these. So I started thinking about these jackets and these blue plastic bags and it lead me to researching women in the 50’s who had this sort of Edwardian/rockabilly style. This clash of cultural references and everyday style, mixed with uniformity, really related to what I had in mind. The images where a mixture of tailoring and sportswear with feminine accents and something just really appealed to me. I liked all the juxtapositions. The images made me think of that moment after a night out when you throw on a coat and go and get orange juice from the corner shop in the morning and you’re still a bit dressed up, but you also have a hoodie on and your plastic bag filled with corner shop treats. I love that; it feels very British to me, like Lily Allen in her prom dress and trainers all those years ago. So it started from there really. I wanted to keep this collection really small, just a few outfits, focussing on the bags and playing around with new fabrication techniques.
What’s your next step?
I am currently working on some knitwear to follow on from this collection. This one went up online on my website and I just wanted to see the reaction to it first before moving forward. This capsule was a first step to knuckling down this year. I have been assisting Serena Gili, who is a close friend I studied with at CSM, with the Ports 1961 knitwear this season. Moving forward we are planning on working together and setting up our own label. We have been talking about it for a while and we think that now is the right time to put our heads together! I want to keep working on collaborative projects and just keep creating my own work so I am really excited to start working with Serena!
Words Naomi Barling Images Courtesy of Hayley Grundmann