Central Saint Martins MA Fashion graduate Jack Pittard begins our interview by telling us that he comes from a textile background, but he needn’t have, because faced with his collection, the textural surfaces of his garments are practically leaping off the rails. The garments feel very much ‘alive’, embodying a theatrical energy that is almost infectious. Traditionally a Menswear designer, Jack views his collection as being exclusively about the textile rather than having a specific male or female muse in mind. The collection incorporates tactile pieces with something very wearable, where his intention is to keep the looks clean and away from a gendered form. Having studied BA Textile Design at Chelsea College of Arts, he absorbed a more ‘artistic’ approach to design than some of his peers. Chelsea’s heavily art-directed environment fed him a variety of influences and mediums through which to realise his ideas, and this was where he discovered a particular love of embroidery and print.
“Constantly having yourself and your work questioned forces you to push forward with only your best ideas.”
The garments in Jack’s collection have a soft and natural richness whilst concurrently appearing distressed and dishevelled. They are rugged yet beautiful, with a monochromatic colour palette that echoes his own attire. Steering away from anything too overworked or over-embellished, it is instead the fabric that speaks volumes; where the idea that you don’t necessarily know what you’re looking at is a bonus for Jack. The clothes are then able to have their own life, their own mood; and this, Jack explains, they can bring to the wearer.
Focusing on his small home village of Teynham in Kent, Jack captured images with his Polaroid camera that explored the textures and surfaces he felt connected to. With his camera always by his side, it is the subtleties in the landscape and nature of his surroundings that inspire him; the weathered and eroded surfaces, or scraps of materials or objects that lend themselves to the textural qualities that he was in pursuit of. Working with these images and materials, he would later translate their qualities into fabric, creating surfaces which looked naturally worn or beaten with the suggestion of their having had a previous function or life. He tells me that film is another great influence on his work; where the ability engendered by the medium to encompass such a wide span of visual information in single frame shots never tires him. Film director David Lynch is at the top of his list, with Mulholland Drive being one of his most loved films. “It’s dark and theatrical, and after watching it numerous times I’m still not entirely sure what is going on.” Mean Girls, paradoxically, is another of his favourites – but whose isn’t it?
“Using a chemical process on mixed-fibre materials to dissolve cellulose fibres, Jack uses a devoré technique on viscose and cotton to create a ‘burnout’ effect.”
The materials that we wear every day, such as cotton and denim, are those which Jack finds the most valuable. He finds that their existing qualities are rich enough, that by simply using them in a less linear way he is able to make us look at them through a new perspective, in which their natural qualities become their asset. Through the manipulation of these fabrics such as bleach, print and devoré processes, Jack builds texture upon texture to create complex surfaces. Scraps of found fabrics and materials will later be mimicked in the studio. Using natural fibres and pure cotton denim, Jack manipulates their yarns to create entirely new surfaces. He shows me one example, where he has intricately woven together alpaca yarns and subsequently burned away the fibres to leave a bruised effect on the fabric’s exterior. One sample swatch can take Jack up to 20 hours to create; each yarn meticulously hand-woven.
During the final year of his BA degree, Jack interned with menswear designer Craig Green. Juggling his dissertation writing with interning, he spent one month between the library and Green’s studio. Prioritising the experience of working with an established designer, he was able to pick Green’s brains about continuing his studies to MA. Green, who had previously studied at Central Saint Martins from foundation through to MA, provided guidance for Jack to make the decision to continue at university. Awarded with the Alexander McQueen scholarship at the beginning of his degree, Jack was allowed an endless freedom while creating his work, avoiding the innate restriction that money so often places on creativity. As a great McQueen fan himself, he describes his fascination with the effortless ability that the notorious designer had to create an entire, fictional world within each collection; much like the director David Lynch creates within each of his films.
Jack’s first tutorial on the MA was with Central Saint Martins’ infamous Louise Wilson, just one week before she sadly passed away in 2014. Studying at Central Saint Martins, he tells me, has been incredibly valuable. “Constantly having yourself and your work questioned forces you to push forward with only your best ideas; questioning yourself, and what you really want from your work. The difficulty of course can be sticking to your guns.”
Words by Holly Delaney
All images courtesy of Jack Pittard