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Izzy McKinlay: Where sculpture meets sportswear

An ode to Australian landscapes through unconventional materials

Heading from down under, Izzy McKinlay first did a degree in Politics and international relations before finding her feet in Fashion. Upon graduating from the Central Saint Martins womenswear pathway this summer, she interned for the likes of Loewe and received scholarly support from Sarabande, The British Fashion Council and Swarowski. Her work is distinct, it could be described as a marriage between sculpture and sportswear. She herself describes it as a blend of conceptual fashion and sustainable ready-to-wear pieces. “It explores the interaction between minimalistic garments and the human body in motion,” she says.

Diving into her process, Izzy usually starts with a functional garment, which might be seen as the opposite of fashion per se. Yet still, she finds her inspiration in tank tops or trousers. From then on, she manipulates and distorts their pattern. “I want to convey a sense of movement, often incorporating unconventional materials like discarded mechanical pieces and fibreglass. It’s a playful dialogue between the object, the body and the memory,” she adds. Her graduate collection performed a playful twist on functionality within artful clothing, combining very wearable garments like trousers and skirts with sculptural tops, created with a 3D printer.

“My graduate collection is an ode to Australia’s landscapes,” she says, referencing the beaches, the blue mountains and the endless nature in the outback. It’s a nostalgic exploration of memories and the time passing by. In Izzy’s world, there is no distinction between the surreal and the practical. Her mission is to find ways to unite them, rather than separate them. She loves abstracting a conventional silhouette and playing with its proportions. “In the collection, there is a mix between ready-to-wear pieces made from reclaimed and recycled fabrics and more abstract garments that incorporate experimental techniques in 3D printing and fibre glass sculpting,” she adds.

“My advice would be to stay true to your perspective and embrace experimentation. Collaborate with others and learn skills beyond just fashion.” – Izzy McKinlay

Starting out in fashion or any artistic practice can be daunting – especially in a world dominated by commerciality, sales and KPI’s. Yet still, there are many prospective students taking the leap, and starting their education in the creative field. With her approach, Izzy is pioneering a very experimental, yet wearable approach to fashion. “My advice would be to stay true to your perspective and embrace experimentation. Collaborate with others and learn skills beyond just fashion,” she advises. Izzy has a point – in today’s climate, just fashion seems to be not enough. You can be a great pattern cutter, but if you also know how to sculpt, you might be more employable. Additionally, combining fashion with other skills, related to other disciplines can only make the work better and more nuanced.

Now, Izzy works full-time for Givenchy in Paris, after completing an internship for the French Maison, where she is simultaneously based. She describes Paris as very different to London, being pretty much on the opposite end of the spectrum. London is known for punk, and Paris is known for craft and tradition. Whilst finding her feet in Paris, the designer is focussed on continuing to expand her skills, especially when it comes to sculpting and 3D generation, which are definitely her USP, as one would say.