My phone buzzes glowing with a message… “Hello! Just checkin…. you’re still okay to come at 11?” Cecily’s doing me the favour of inviting me into her flat for a shoot, and she’s the one messaging me to check if I’m still available. I arrive 5 min early and after a quick message, I see a blur of wild red locks appear before me. Chocolate kale smoothie in hand, golden boots unzipped and flapping, Cecily shows me up to her flat.

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Walking into her room is like entering a warm treasure chest of precious keepsakes and childhood toys. Not a single opportunity for visual expression is left unused. Every object oozes personality, from the yellow-faced puppet hanging from the ceiling to the layers of white knits, to the popsicle sticks she had draped on her dress form. The gem of her room is her wardrobe, which is filled with prizes from exploring charity shops, precious handmade pieces, and sentimental objects lovingly re-possessed from her mother.  

“I don’t know why I love colours,” she says. “I just do, they make me happy, I guess. I couldn’t ever wear an entirely black outfit. I have all these great pieces from my mum in her wilder days. It’s so sad that when people get older, they kind of shy away from wearing things that are too loud. Everyone starts to wear the same things. I think uniqueness is very important.”

The objects in her room each tell an interesting story, echoing the play in clashing references and the love of handwork found in her designs. “My summer project was an outfit inspired by lawn furniture,” she tells me. It was knitted with white, cream and light yellow yarns, with popsicle sticks and pops of red paint, to set off the combination. Consolidating the plethora of ideas, sketches and references bursting out of her sketchbook, the design resonated 50’s hotdog stands or dutiful husbands grilling on lush backyards in suburban America.

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What is your most treasured object?

I am an extreme hoarder, so I tend to treasure pretty much everything. My collection of puppets is pretty special, though.

Who is your favourite designer and why?

Walter Van Beirendonck, for the way he uses fashion to confront his audience with a conscience, and for his futuristic approach to presenting his collections.

What music do you listen to?

80’s new beat, Grace Jones remixes and ambient music.

If you could be any animal what would you be?

A liger: you get the mane and stripes, what more could you ask for?!

What is your favourite colour?

Red.

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If you weren’t pursuing fashion, what other occupation would you like to have?

Either a drummer or travel the world as a carnival performer (if that’s a thing).

Where does your inspiration come from?

Tribes, cults and outsiders.

What would you change about the world?

Our attitudes towards excessive consumption

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you pick?

Full English breakfast.

Words and photography by Lydia Chan 

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