Fashion Folio is an intensive fashion programme at Central Saint Martins for students wishing to develop a portfolio of work in order to apply for undergraduate or postgraduate courses, or for personal development and employment. For some, it’s an entryway into one of the most prestigious art and design institutions in the world; for others, an injection skill and confidence in their practice. We asked Folio students Margaux Lavevre, Conner Ives, Davide Carrano and Irina Tsoy to share their portfolios as well as their thoughts on what inspires them, the future of fashion and the industry, and the best and worst things about living in London.
“..for my portfolio, I really didn’t want to fake anything. I treat it just as work and my process, but maybe make it look a bit prettier.” – Conner Ives
What brought you to London, where were you before?
Margaux Lavevre: Before coming to Folio, I studied in Paris. Now, since being here, everybody asks me why I left Paris. I think that London is the best place to study fashion, because people take a crazier approach to fashion design. I feel a kind of freedom that can sometimes be lost in Paris.
Conner Ives: I come from upstate New York and grew up in a rural farming town called Bedford. It’s about an hour from the city, so I really grew up having the best of both. I preferred the farm, however. London always seemed like something really exciting, a big city thousands of miles away. People will always ask why I left New York and will romantically describe their vision of the city to me. However, their description never matched my experience in New York. I realized that we’ll always want something that we don’t know much about, and that I probably felt the same way about London as they did about New York. I think I felt that it was too close to home. I wanted to escape.
Davide Carrano: I have lived in London since I was 18. I wanted to escape from my village in Italy and expand my experiences. It feels good to be working in an open-minded environment. I come from a little village above Cinque Terre, with only 200 people living there. My parents have a family-run hotel. I grew up inside the hotel, in one of the rooms. I ate in the restaurant every day alongside a group of strangers. It certainly helped me to open myself. Just before coming here, I lived in Berlin. I originally went for a 6 month exchange program as part of my B.A. in Fashion Studies, but I ended up staying for 4 years. I guess I needed it.
Irina Tsoy: I was born and grew up in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. I finished Fine Art at the local art school and suddenly realized that I prefered fashion and creating clothes, especially tailoring.
Irina Tsoy’s portfolio
“Seeing men in suits makes me very excited.” – Irina Tsoy
How would you describe your vision for your portfolio?
ML: I focused on a woman who travelled around the world in the 19th century. It’s about constraining and releasing parts of the body. The woman deconstructs or takes apart her garments for functionality, for ‘comfort’, to make it her own. My print is influenced by maps, the works of Basquiat and Karel Appel. I expressed this inspiration through spontaneous drawings and paintings.
CI: I’ve always struggled with the idea of a “portfolio”, because I would want anyone who wants to see my work to really just look at what I was working on at the moment! It feels really synthetic to me, to have all of your work neatly catalogued on boards or pages; organized for someone to flip through. So for my portfolio, I really didn’t want to fake anything. I treat it just as work and my process, but maybe make it look a bit prettier. I like to leave the paperclips in, and the scribbles and eraser marks. It makes it feel a bit more authentic to me. I’d want my portfolio to be honest, above all.
DC: I think that my work so far relates to the big weight which I feel in fashion at the moment. So I started to take ropes, and as I would hang clothes on my friend to dry, I would wrap the ropes around and around. I wanted the clothes to look heavy and overwhelming compared to the body weight. I like old bed sheets and pillows. They have a very soft feeling, but they also look worn out. Some parts of the fabric have mould, but still very nice colours. But somehow now, it’s starting to look like romantic bondage to me.
IT: This portfolio is about farm people. I was very obsessed with delicate undergarments, and thought it would be a great idea of presenting a female farmer’s beauty ”under the garment”. The aggrandisement of delicate materials are draped and wrapped around the models in the style of deconstruction. This combines multiple aesthetics, producing a new form which playfully makes the look, meaning and presence of the original silhouettes.
“I hope the new wave of designers will work in the way they did in past decades — making fashion that they feel attached to, spending time to create and enjoy it — not only for the economy.” – Margaux Lavevre
What inspires you?
ML: I’m really inspired by the book of Peter Zumthor: Atmosphere. The way he thought of architecture is really how I would like to make fashion.
CI: I think it’s become a bit of a dirty word, but passion really inspires me. I love to see people so consumed by what they’re doing. It causes such eccentricity and it’s such a raw emotion. I get so consumed in my own work and feel so attached to it, that I really love to be around other people and things that carry that same weight.
DC: I find self-deprecating people very inspiring. There is something very light and dark. And I don’t like anything that looks or feels ‘’established’’, so I would say I like the opposite.
IT: I am mainly inspired by menswear silhouettes, especially on the streets; seeing men in suits makes me very excited.
Davide Carrano’s portfolio
“I find self-deprecating people very inspiring.” – Davide Carrano
Where do you see fashion and the fashion industry in general over the next decade?
ML: I’m not sure you want to know… A former tutor that I really respect gave me hope and conviction, but like everyone we are all afraid about ‘fast fashion’. It kills everything, especially creativity. I hope the new wave of designers will work in the way they did in past decades — making fashion that they feel attached to, spending time to create and enjoy it — not only for the economy.
CI: It’s a very scary thing to think about. I don’t know where it will go, but I could tell you where I would want it to go. I’d love to see people have a deeper understanding of the industry, seeing both the good and the bad. Maybe don’t give it as bad of a wrap as it often gets. A lot of what is allowing the bad things — like fast fashion and over production/consumption — to happen is purely ignorance. People write off designer clothing because they say they don’t care about it. But then to write that off and then shop at place like H&M or Zara bewilders me. Don’t they just steal the ideas of the people you’re writing off, mass produce it in horrible working conditions and then only sell a fraction of what they actually produce, the rest ending up in a landfill? There’s such a problem here, and I feel like no one knows what to do about it. I’d love to see that change.
DC: I do not know if it will sound strange, but I think that many buyers of the fashion industry should get a better education. Maybe one day designers will strike and say that they won’t make another pretty dress — a designer/artist riot. It would be amazing… I think designers struggle for this reason. Society tells you not to risk. I think that fashion and science will also be closer and closer to each other.
IT: Well, it will become more and more conceptual. But interpretations of the past and well-known silhouettes will be always ‘in’, I’m sure.
“I think it’s become a bit of a dirty word, but passion really inspires me.” – Conner Ives
What is the best and worst thing about living in London?
ML: The best thing: social development. The worst thing: UNDERGROUND!
CI: Best thing: A Franco Manca pizza/wine dinner. Worst Thing: Capitalism.
DC: I think London keeps you awake. I find streets very sparkly here. But financially sometimes I am not sure it’s worth it.
IT: The only bad thing I can say about living here is that I cannot get a nice sleep, but my experience in London is the best in my life.
Words by Aric Michael Miller
Featured images by Davide Carrano