Ever dreamed of being transported to a new realm, planet or even just a place in your mind? Timothy has, and continually manifests these imaginations through his experimental and fantastical designs. The womenswear student has a penchant for flying and envisioning worlds beyond our present human earth, but is simultaneously adamant that we must try — as a fashion industry — to actively fix the current exploitation of our planet. Obsessed with taking objects apart, repurposing waste and finding fashionable ways around mechanics, we find out what Tim is working on for his graduate collection, which will hit the runway in only a few months time.
When you’re not at school, what’s your idea of fun?
The Cinema and car boot sales! I also like traveling and discovering the unknown.
Where would you travel for inspiration?
Tokyo and Patagonia.
Perhaps the journey would be more important than the destination? When we met in December you spoke about your interest in voyage: what’s your favorite mode of transportation?
Absolutely! It would be essential. I love to fly. You feel the force of the craft when it takes off and lands, yet the flying part always feels effortless. The view is by far often the best, and you get a different perspective of what life on earth resembles from above.
So if you could be transported absolutely anywhere, where would it be, and what would you do or eat there?
I would operate an Evangelion or start a commune on the moon. There will be an ‘all you can eat’ food replicator from Star Trek!
How do you incorporate ideas of clothing as vehicles into your work?
I see clothes as habitable vessels: light, stretchy, tough or sometimes fragile ‘crafts’ for the body to be protected from outer matter: the elements and people. They are in a constant flux of movement. We are the motors, transporting them, and they are like the fairing on a motorbike or the tires on a car. We need them to enter the outside world; for us to communicate with it.
Do you feel that your designs are utopian?
I believe they are, in some ways. When I make them, I see them rising out of necessity, which can feel quite dystopian. However, I believe that much clothing which has a dystopian feel, for me, has the opposite effect. There is a touch of constructionism and self assemblage that gives me the impression of a world rebuilding itself, and the unity of community taking part in it, utilizing all of what is left. There is great energy and optimism in that. With the garments I construct, I imagine that men and women are entering the clothes to be transported and taken to a better place — they are modes of escape, and I see a romance in that.
Is there room for utopia in the fashion system, where there is arguably so much dystopia?
There is a lot of room for the innovation and new perspectives that come with it. The system that’s currently in place is a destructive one; it is pushing people and resources to their extremes. I don’t know how long the system — as well as the planet — can endure such a strain, but with new practices, a responsible design ethos and people willing to stand up and change the flow, minds can be changed and a whole industry can set an example for the rest.
You explore ideas of the synthetic within your work, focussing on mass production systems: is this a critique of unsustainable design?
Not directly, it’s more of a recognition towards mass produced designs that serve us well. I’m interested in the way industrial machines operate, and repurposing them towards creating the singular as opposed to the mass produced. It brings up the ideology that with good operating systems and good design, one can use diverse materials. A strong and considered design can mean a longer life span, leaving room for the product to be repurposed or reconstituted, and to allow it to communicate a message or to serve a different need. It’s about understanding the materiality of things, its provenance and utilizing all its potential. Unsustainable design usually doesn’t pursue this practice.
What are you currently working on?
At the moment I’m creating garments with materials that can sustain extreme forms and colour.
Tell me about an artist or designer who inspires you?
I’m very much inspired by the works of Lee Bontecou and her brutal mechanistic sculptures, and also Pierre Huyghe’s ‘living systems’, which live beyond our presence.
You spoke to me about how you enjoy vacuum forming in your work. Has the breadth of resources available at the RCA been particularly liberating as a designer?
It has. I believe that designers are always looking for new systems and ways of creation which they can identify with. Often it’s hard work to make these systems work for you, as you are pushing them to do things that they are not built for, and thus re-purposing them. But it’s a great feeling when it works!
Would you categorise your work as fashion design, or do you see it more as something object-related?
I see them standing for both. They are efforts of ideas, trials and tests. On a hanger or a stand, they are but speculative objects. But on a person, I believe they change their properties into fashion. On a live form, they transition to something extreme and obscene.
I like how your work alludes to romanticism and futurism, and I’m interested to hear what your plans or aspirations for the future are?
I would like to build upon the systems and ways of practice I have devised whilst on this MA. What happens in the future, for now, is quite abstract. No one knows which direction the wind will take you. I’d like to set my sails through directing my work towards growing into some greater totality of my vision, and communicating it as much as possible.
You study womenswear: how important is the role of the wearer in your work and do you think it’s important to look at ideas of femininity?
The wearer is crucial; it activates the clothing into being, like a Gundam suit! But for me, the magic of fashion happens when you see the garments on the wearer. They become alive and they distort and mould the woman (or man) into a new likeness of being.
On a more grounded level, my work can be very speculative and experimental at times. However, it’s crucial to consider the wearer, the woman, the person, how they move, what they do and how they live. Femininity transcends in many different forms and variations. In my work, I aim to find new levels of tension in it; enlarging the field further. The pieces I’m developing are constructed to make the wearer reinforce their strength, to elevate them and hopefully provide a further stance of femininity.
You described yourself as a keen dumpster diver. Do you prefer to work with found materials?
It has become increasingly so in my practice. I enjoy giving found materials a new meaning and use. When I find a piece of wood or some interesting shard of plastic, together they become my material, like my paints or draping cloth. I like to reform it, bend it and mutate it into something new. Extracting their new properties and injecting it onto the body.
What’s the best thing about studying at the RCA?
Well, there are many things. Firstly, there are a lot of fresh perspective from tutors and students. The facilities are good, too, and everyone here is really into what they’re doing. Everyone is really dedicated to their work and committed to making it happen. It’s a nice and special environment to participate in!
Lastly what’s your favourite object?
And what’s the most under-rated piece of design?
Words by Lilah Francis