Esme Chancellor, Womenswear
It’s a bit of a cliché but truthfully, I’ve wanted to go to CSM ever since I found out Alexander McQueen studied the MA here. My first term has been intense but still fun! I think CSM pretty much does what it says on the tin, it’s hard work, fast-paced and people expect a lot from you- but that’s what makes it exciting.
My finished look is a dress made of about 15 metres of double-layered, stuffed technical fabric and appliqued with wire ‘tendrils’, a faux suede capelet embroidered with dried French beans and boots to match. I really love to design around a story. I found a second-hand account of The Green Children from 1150 by William of Newburgh in the Faber book of Reportage. It’s a legend which follows two children, completely green in colour who were wandering through a field when they were discovered by local labourers, and they only ate beans . This took place not far from where I’m from in Suffolk, and I thought that it was a really good concept. I began to think about what the children might be wearing and where they might come from. The layering came from the labourers’ sacks, the tendrils from bean stalks, and the cape from shapes of the undergrowth. I also liked the irony of doing the ‘White Project’ on green children was good as well and added a little bit of humour.
I think there is a lot of freedom in having the colour of the garment decided for you, but working with colour is something I really enjoy as I have a background in fine art. So using only white fabric was completely alien to me. I think it really does force you to think in a new way, creating textural contrasts and ultimately focusing on the silhouette. I enjoyed it but I’m looking forward to using colour again! I think the white project has made me manage my time better – all-nighters are not sustainable – as well as more confidence in my judgement as a designer. It has also taught me to not get too attached to initial designs, mine changed quite a bit from toile to garment. I think because of the short time frame of the project, you just had to go for it from the start and not get too caught up in perfecting everything.
I avoided thinking about how much of big a deal the white show is, so I didn’t get overwhelmed, but it was definitely in my mind whilst designing. It’s pretty daunting having the first thing you make at CSM be presented on a runway for an audience to see, but it’s also so exciting. The construction of the garment was really important to me, I wanted each seam to make sense and I also wanted my model to be comfortable. It’s a fashion show at the end of the day so the way the garment moved was crucial.
I think the biggest stress about my fashion career, in the long run, is the Climate Crisis. The world doesn’t really need more clothes and as a fashion student, I find it a bit difficult to not feel like I’m going to become part of the problem. I’m really excited to see how we adapt and change fashion, and what kind of new technologies come into play. Next year hopefully I’m still at CSM, making something strange and beautiful.