“THE CREATION OF SPACES, INSTALLATIONS AND PERFORMANCES ENABLED ME TO TRANSPOSE MYSELF INTO A SPHERE WHERE I COULD REMOVE THE FAMILIARITY OF MY OWN PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS OF CLOTHES, AND HOW WE DRESS AS WOMEN.”
Do you consider your work an extension of your own identity?
My work is very influenced by my upbringing in South London, where cultural belonging and communicating through the clothes one wears is quite present. I would say that my work is indeed about identity and personal growth — when you spend an intense period working on a collection, it is hard not to push personality into the research and construction of a garment. My moves and mannerisms reflect how I would wear the piece. It is important that I frequently wear the clothes I make, especially in the toiling stage, because the garment needs to sit and move in the correct way. It’s like having to constantly refocus in a mirror, creating mini versions of myself through clothing.
How was your experience of the design approach at the RCA?
In the beginning I really tried to remove myself from the making, and instead really appreciated the conceptual process, because nowadays we don’t hold on to it as much. The creation of spaces, installations and performances enabled me to transpose myself into a sphere where I could remove the familiarity of my own preconceived notions of clothes, and how we dress as women. What this allowed me to do was to not reference anything from the outside, and I was able to solely reflect on what I was desperately trying to convey in clothing.
When you look at the entire MA experience, you realise how much you grow in the space of two years. It comes from self exploration and development. There were times when I did not feel like making clothes that day, so I went and sat on the floor in galleries and just listened to David Bowie — you realise that this is part of the process. Taking the time to think, in between moments of intense labour, changed my approach completely. It’s true that when you’re working like a machine you don’t feel your body or mind, so it becomes crucial to walk away and clear your head. I learnt that as much as the RCA developed me as a designer, it also taught me a lot about personal reflection. Having the time to breathe and understand the relationship you have with your work, can inform you of which direction to go next.
How important was it to work with different creative forms?
By using different mediums to document your work, your perspective shifts and you begin to see your work as a second person pronoun, as opposed to being so immersed in the first person. Sometimes when you’re working on a project, it’s hard to see beyond the process. When creating the installation for ‘Pack mentality of I’, there were five cameras pointing at me from different angles. I wanted to see the entire space and the way in which my body moved through this 10m by 7m black vinyl flooring entity — otherwise my form, obscured by masses of material, would have been lost. I was able to see different silhouettes forming, hints and glimpses of what my final collection was to be, so I drew them out. I always return to that footage to readjust my expectations.