Zoe Sherwood graduated from Central Saint Martins (CSM) in 2010, from the BA (Hons) Fashion Design: Womenswear course. During this time, she also began to design accessories and hats, and she now runs her own successful line of 3D printed jewellery and accessories, Zoe Sherwood. Last year Zoe was part of Spotted at Top Drawer, UAL's stand at the UK’s leading design-led trade show for gifts and interior products. We caught up with her to find out more about her designs, as well as what it was like taking part in Top Drawer.
Why did you choose to study at Central Saint Martins?
I always wanted to go. Mainly because of the alumni and the idea of studying there. I knew there was nowhere else like it. The freedom of expression and the standard of work was and is the best of the best.
People told me not to bother to try to get in because it was so difficult, especially the womenswear course.
I remember walking into the old building on Charing Cross Road and by reception there was a blue plaque saying in 1971 the Sex Pistols played their first gig here. I remember turning to my mum (she came with me to help me carry all my interview things) and said ‘I want to go here!’
My interview was quite short, it was with Howard Tangye (who turned out to be my tutor) I remember him looking at my portfolio and asking ‘why do you want to do fashion, why not fine art?’ I turned and said ‘because I want to create pieces to wear’. He smiled closed my portfolio and said thank you, my interview was over.
What was my favourite thing about the BA (Hons) Fashion Design: Womenswear?
How did you transition from fashion design to jewellery? What was your journey?
I have always liked to create a whole look. When I was on my year out in placement at Diane von Furstenberg in New York, I met the wonderful Elisa Palomino (now fashion print tutor at CSM) and it was here that I started playing around more purposefully with accessories, creating hats and jewellery. On my return to London I sold a collection of headpieces to Liberty for the Christmas, a year before I graduated. I was finishing the order and starting my final collection at the same time!
After graduating, through saying yes to nearly everything that came my way I met, worked with and made friends with a range of creatives such as Barry Kamen, Judy Blame, Katie Grand and Alexandra Bryne to name but a few. Those lead from one project to another, including creating sculptural headpieces for Puma Black label ad campaign, and making a costume for Eva Green in the film 300: Rise Of An Empire.
In 2014 I was given the opportunity to show in the LFW showrooms, which I did for the next 3 seasons. The experience was really positive; I learnt a lot and I decided that I wanted to create pieces that were more accessible to a wider audience allowing the conversation between myself, art and others to develop even more visually. This is when I started designing jewellery and hair accessories that made and told stories.
I started looking to different ways of producing a collection, and I heard about 3D printing and quickly realised the potential for my designs. After nearly 2 years of researching companies, designing and development before I was happy with the quality and finish of the first product to bring to market. 3D printing has allowed me to continue the self-empowering and expressive narrative from my headpieces, to create a wider range of jewellery and accessories which are made and hand finished in London.
Your jewellery tells a story; what was your inspiration behind this?
The story starts with my headpieces. I come back to this paragraph I discovered when creating my final collection for CSM.
In the 19th Century the hat was an essential item of adornment.
The idea was that it shielded her pure and private thoughts retaining her conventional femininity. To be seen outside without a hat was a sign of emotional instability and mental disorder.
The stiffer the men’s hat the higher the social class of the wearer the conventional shape expressing the conventionality of the mind.
I make pieces to empower the wearer. A reminder to be yourself. To take time for yourself, ‘Me Time’. To remind you that you are enough. This Is ‘Me’. I am ‘Me’ and I can do this. The process of finding yourself is an ongoing journey.
Along the way, a ‘Me’ meets a ‘You’. ‘You&Me’ go on adventures together finding and spreading ‘Love’ and ‘Peace’ along the way!
You were recently in the Top Drawer trade show with UAL; what was that experience like?
Top Drawer was really positive. The wholesale and retail climate has changed and is changing so much right now. Meeting people face to face, and getting feedback on my collection (the display was also very popular) was a fantastic opportunity. I met people I couldn’t meet anywhere else and look forward to building on those relationships over the coming months and years.
What are your plans for the future?
I have had an exciting few months with my first order from the iconic department store Selfridges, going into the Oxford Street store and online in November 2019. Also my second order for my Japanese stockist went out in December 2019.
I look forward to growing and developing the narrative in my collections spreading empowering conversations around the world.
I am always open to exploring different collaboration opportunities and look forward to partnering with more iconic brands in the future.
See more of Zoe's collection on her website: www.zoesherwood.co.uk
Follow Zoe on Instagram: @zoe_sherwood