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From history to fungi: LCF student Hannah Dye finds beauty everywhere

A blonde person smiling and looking to the side.
  • Written byAnnika Loebig
  • Published date 08 December 2022
A blonde person smiling and looking to the side.
Hannah Dye, 2022 BA Fashion Design and Development, London College of Fashion, UAL | Photography: Joe O'Brien

When Hannah Dye discovered the power of fashion at a young age, she used to cut up old curtain fabric to turn them into skirts, tops and dresses after finishing her homework.

Little did she know that this would mark the beginning of a long journey into construction in fashion design.

Today Hannah studies Fashion Design and Development at London College of Fashion (LCF), with the goal of letting the final product empower the wearer.

“I think people tend to really dismiss fashion and say ‘Oh, it’s just pretty dresses, it doesn’t really mean anything’,” she tells us. “But historically, what we’ve worn has always said so much more about our culture than I think people realise.”

A pair of hands sorting out pattern pieces for a garment.
Hannah Dye, 2022 BA Fashion Design and Development, London College of Fashion, UAL | Photography: Kat Smith

It comes as no surprise that Hannah has been deeply inspired by embedding historical references into her work. From garments worn by royalty to clothing that made the suffragettes feel powerful during protests, she’s been looking at the stories clothes have told throughout history and finding ways to pay homage to them in contemporary fashion design.

Recently, much of Hannah’s inspiration has come from looking at female icons throughout history such as French knight and heroine Joan of Arc and seeing how gendered clothing has changed over the years.

“Joan of Arc wore a lot of armour, very costume-heavy [garments] that we would not put on today. But I’m trying to find ways to work those silhouettes into the clothes that we do wear and pull that thread through history and the stories we tell today.”

Despite her deep interest in historical garment construction, Hannah tells us that she doesn’t set herself any limits when it comes to finding inspiration: Her first project right after moving to London and starting her journey at UAL was inspired by the architecture of the city. The capital’s skyscrapers in particular gave her a contrasting lens through which to find beauty in the everyday, as it differs so dramatically from the cobble-stoned streets she was used to in her home town.

Part of the BA Fashion Design and Development course at LCF is to think of sustainable approaches to design, with support from UAL’s Centre for Sustainable Fasion offering introductions to sustainable fashion making. The silhouettes and textile choices for Hannah’s most recent project were inspired by fungi and mushrooms, as she’s intrigued by the momentum in the scientific community that’s looking at how fungi can create sustainable design materials.

One designer at the forefront of using fungi as sustainable biomaterial which inspires Hannah is Central Saint Martins alum Stella McCartney, who’s been experimenting with vegan, lab grown mushroom leather as material for garments and bags.

"[I'm trying to] pull that thread through history and the stories we tell today."

— Hannah Dye
A collage of reference photos showing female statues, buildings, picture frames and the sky.
Ideation, Hannah Dye, 2022 BA Fashion Design and Development, London College of Fashion, UAL

It’s clear that for Hannah, creativity has no limits: “Creativity to me means doing what you love and really allowing yourself to express yourself without saying that what you’re doing is not good enough.”

“I always struggle with high expectations I put on myself. Especially if you finish one project, and you’re really proud of it, that creates a whole new set of expectations for what you have to create next. But I’ve actually found this hinders you and your creativity going forward, because you’re constantly looking back when you need to be looking forward and not worrying about what you’ve done in the past; be really present. That’s what creativity gives you.”

In the future, Hannah aspires to create her own womenswear brand and eventually delve further into unisex clothing.

“The world likes to put a lot of pressure on us in our appearance,” Hannah tells us.

“If I can create clothes that help people feel comfortable in their own skin, without harming the planet, that’s always the end goal for me.”