Kelly Fieldhouse is a perfectionist in every sense of the word. Starting with her design process, which is more than meticulous: “I put a garment onto the mannequin, then go get a cup of tea. When I come back if I smile, I know it’s right. If I don’t, I have to take it off and start again,” the womenswear designer explains. Keeping herself and her work tucked away in a corner of the MA studio, she is an inconspicuous character.
Having grown up in Birmingham, Kelly came late to being a fashion student. Once she started though, she knew that CSM was the only place she wanted to do her Masters. Celebrating her 30th birthday while on the course, her dream is well underway.
Her aesthetic is minimal, and she cites Margiela, Rick Owens and Haider Ackermann as her major style inspirations. The influences are clear in her work, where voluminous black and white silk and leather create a similar mood. Kelly has an obsession with Antwerp and throughout her course she visited as many times as she could for inspiration. Part of her portfolio is made up of photographs she took while at the Margiela archives, and she carries them wherever she goes.
However, Kelly’s journey through her Masters was not always an easy one. For a while, she struggled to keep up with even self-imposed deadlines, and her first lookbook shoot did not go to plan. The model was not the right style, the fire alarm went off during shooting, and two of the garments ripped. Luckily, her second lookbook shoot was everything she had hoped for. “It’s just more me. The model is perfect, and the photographer and I collaborated so well together” she explained happily.
Her final collection has a tough, grungy aesthetic, even though some of the garments are made from lightweight, nude and pale silks. This attitude especially comes through with the imagery from the second lookbook, as the photographs are shot in muted tones. They are desexualised, images filled with defiance in a similar way to Kelly herself.
Throughout her career as a designer, Kelly has had a particular interest in leather, something that set her apart from many other students. Her leather jackets were a key part of her final line-up. They were the garments that really defined her as a designer. “If someone was to describe me in a piece of clothing, these jackets would be that,” Kelly says. Not only did she need to learn to design and pattern cut in a slightly different way to accommodate for the leather, she also had to get the jackets finished at a factory, as her sewing machine was not manufactured to stitch such a thick material.
The jackets are the perfect mix between her grungy personal style, and the ethereal silk garments she makes. The cut is neither classic or edgy, and the waterfall draping on parts of the jackets makes them stand-out pieces.
More than anything, the most remarkable thing about Kelly is her unwavering enthusiasm and good nature she shows to everyone around her. Even during her most stressed times she would always see the positive things and refer to the “good times” that were soon to come.
She was right with this phrase – only a few months on from finishing her MA, there are exciting job prospects in the pipeline for Kelly, no doubt due to her resolute commitment to achieving what she wants in life.