Representing the creative future

The Masters: Joshua Beaty

A conversation between art and fashion, and the monstrosity of overinterpretation.

Joshua Beaty is a synonym of art and creativity. He is not looking to challenge the definition of fashion, nor does he dictate his own. He is only interested in creating, and his designs welcome any interpretation from the audience. Like a performance that some people hate, and some people love. There is no right or wrong for Joshua because in his words: “the real monstrosity is the excess in interpretations. It’s more about what people see in my work than what I’m trying to say.”

Words have always had a special place in Joshua’s live. Born and raised in Nottingham, the British designer learned French from an early age, at school and from his mother. A career in Languages was the path that Joshua would most likely end up in, and fashion design was never part of the plan. However, after he took the foundation course at CSM, his destiny changed drastically.

Although he was aware of the reputation that Central Saint Martins had, Joshua Beaty never felt intimidated to pursue his newfound dream. That is not Joshua; he doesn´t think too much about what other people say or suggest. With no high expectations of getting in, he decided to at least try, and applied for the BA Fashion with Knitwear. Now, seven years later he has graduated from the MA Fashion, where the best part for Joshua “are the tutors and the students and having the opportunity to establish that kind of dialogue.”

A conversation between art and fashion can be read in Joshua Beaty’s signature, and is the reason why he is here today. “I did fashion because I like art, not because I like buying clothes or something like that. What I like about fashion is that it gives a purpose, and you can use it, and you can wear it. Fashion is something that gives a life almost.”

During his time on the BA, like any other young fashion student, Joshua was trying to find his voice. It wasn’t that easy and, therefore, he struggled separating his multidisciplinary artistic projects from what it was meant to be purely fashion. It was during the MA that he understood when the two have to be separated, and when they can cross over. He admits: “Sometimes that outcome can cross over and has to be aligned somewhere, so you have to differentiate what functions respond to purely fashion. You have to be super creative with what you are doing to get these ideas because fashion also has a function; it is not just to look at a photo. You have to be able to sit down and think about the human needs and how to implement them into your work.”

Joshua is more focused on looking for the best way to expand his art, but he does see the purpose of fashion and its potential as a language. “People have to be able to use it, and as a designer, it has to be more product-based, but personally, I try to discuss beauty through my work,” he confesses.

In his graduation collection that he showcased last February at London Fashion Week, the theatricality was served. A surrealistic touch came with accessories and decorations suggesting intestinal tubes and orifices, creating a visual metaphor of consumption, which, as he said recently to 1Granary, “was kind of what’s going on politically at the moment and uncertainty for young designers.”

With the normal stress that comes from presenting a collection during fashion week, Joshua felt equally relieved as deflated after the show: “It’s a bit anti-climax because you’ve been waiting for something to happen for such a long time. It’s always quite depressing the day after because you’ve spent all your time in something that suddenly is done.”

However, unlike other young designers, the pressure of potential critics doesn’t affect Joshua much. He believes that everyone will always say something different, or at least something. For Joshua Beaty, that is part of the game and, even more so, the primary purpose of what he does. “I think it’s hilarious that everyone, especially in fashion, likes to say ‘this is this, and this is that.’ I think everyone would say something different, which was also the point of this collection. I wanted people to think it’s about something else.”

The day after the show Joshua went straight to the library to start researching his next project. Just like his ideas, his creative process never stops. It always starts with drawings, sometimes unrelated to clothes or fashion. Drawing helps him to be constantly looking and allows him to see properly, with perspective. Textile manipulation and experimenting with different techniques are also part of this continuous creative process. Joshua never hits ‘pause’ because his work lives in him and his art is the language that he is most fluent in.

When thinking of his future, Joshua Beaty admits that he would like to work on his own projects that mix fashion with other aspects that he is interested in, like art and film. He also considers moving back to Paris where he has done a few performance and art projects before.

Regardless of what’s next for Joshua, fashion, art, and performance will inevitably feed off each other in his work. They are all in his DNA. Sometimes we will love the outcome and sometimes we will hate it. In any of those cases, Joshua would have succeeded. He never meant to please the audience anyway. “Even if people hated it, I rather them hated it than forgot it. As long as it provoked some reaction that is what is important to me.”