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KowGirl: BA Illustration student Kathryn Brammall tells us about her first fashion collection     


Written by
Grizelda Kitching
Published date
20 November 2018

A long-term cowboy fascination combined with a project brief in her first year of BA Illustration at Camberwell to ‘create your own being – inspired by something you love’, led Kathryn to first explore her hand-crafted creations that she calls ‘lumps’. These spray-painted ‘lump’ objects, constructed by stuffing hosiery became the basis of her upcycled fashion collection, Kowgirl which also saw her practice branch out into fashion styling.

A model wearing a dress made of pink stuffed tights.
left: Create your own being project – Kathryn’s original ‘lump’ being. Right: development into Kathryn’s Kowgirl Collection , shoot by Julia Sabiniarz.

We spoke to her about what inspires her work, her interest in cowboys, and how she marries fashion and illustration.

Kathryn cites her main artistic influence as Yayoi Kusama: “as a child, I visited Tate Modern, viewing Kusama’s piece Aggregation: One Thousand Boats Show, 1963.”. The similarities between this piece and Kathryn’s ‘lump’ forms are clear.  She created the original 130 ‘lumps’ over just a few days, later adding them to items of clothing, with a particular stand out piece being a ‘KowGirl’ jacket fringed with lumps.

Work by Yayoi Kusama
Work by Yayoi Kusama
Work by Yayoi Kusama
Work by Yayoi Kusama

“I’m interested in taking something, changing it and making it your own”,she says, of up-cycling and fashion styling. And studying Illustration has allowed her to be more creative with clothing. “The beauty of Illustration is it has so many forms, I wouldn’t have wanted to study fashion. This course allows you to be free, I respect the fact the tutors haven’t been hesitant. Johanna and Darryl (Senior Lecturer BA Illustration and Design Programme Director) have believed in me and the Kowgirl collection from the start – from just an idea, I have been supported to achieve the Kowgirl runway show.”

Two photographic portraits of females dressed as cowgirls.
Runway looks: KowGirl Collection by Kathryn Brammel.

The ‘lumps’ jacket and other pieces from her KowGirl Collection were showcased to the public earlier this year as part of a fashion runway entirely organised, illustrated and designed by Kathryn – while friends and course peers modelled each look. The runway took place at Old Spitalfields Market, the location for another BA Illustration project – first year students working together to produce concepts for stalls which they manned over the three day event. Kathryn’s collection, including models painted directly onto and pieces modelled by Kathryn, caught people’s attention.

Following the showcase, Camberwell BA Graphic Design student Julia Sabiniarz approached Kathryn expressing interest in organising a photoshoot to exhibit the Kowgirl Collection. Julia shot the full collection and in October the fashion shoot was published by Elegant Magazine.

Two photographic portraits of women wearing garments made our of pink stuffed tights.
KowGirl Collection by Kathryn Brammel, shot by Julia Sabiniarz.

Kathryn started to develop her creative ideas while studying for her Foundation Diploma at Camberwell. “The Foundation course helped me understand that all my ‘weird’ interests could be combined into one person and practice”.  Her interest with cowboys ranges from the stereotypical image to the very real experience. “I’m interested in the queer-take on cowboys,” she says. “They can be so masculine yet camp, like, for example, the cowboy from Village People. It can be a performative masculinity. However, she explains that in reality cowboys might come from a background you might not expect and that they still exist now. In the summer of 2018 she visited a cattle ranch in a very remote area of Colorado, USA. Horse trainer, Curt showed Kathryn the ropes, giving her the opportunity to herd cattle just like a cow girl. She spent time learning all about a ranch and modern-day cowboys and girls which has also fed into her work.

Kathyrn is currently in her second year of studying, as well as working as a freelance fashion and wardrobe stylist. Her interest with upcycling and cowboys is ongoing, so we look forward to seeing what is next for her..

Kathryn’s success is a great example of just how diverse and explorative our BA Illustration course can be whilst also demonstrating the collaborative nature of Camberwell: students from different course subjects regularly work together on external student led projects.

If you would like to see the workshops, studio spaces and hear more about our BA Fine Art and Design Courses, please attend our next Open Day on Saturday 8 December 2018.

Book a place here

Related links

Kathryn’s Instagram

Julia Sabiniarz Instagram 

Julia Sabiniarz Website