Next up on LCFBA16 is BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Development. The course is celebrated for its ability to make commercially viable garments to the highest creative and innovative specifications. Hear LCF News speaks to Rhiannon Waugh and Vilde Sorum in the latest Class of 2016 feature.
Give us one interesting fact about yourself…
Rhiannon: I have been a vegetarian for seventeen years.
Vilde: I kicked cancer’s butt.
Talk us through your final collection…
Rhiannon: My collection is an exploration and collation of handmade liquid latex pieces to form alternative womenswear ready-to-wear fashion.
Vilde: My final major collection is inspired by my experience with cancer. The feeling of being sick, and losing your hair and identity with it. When you get a serious disease like cancer the only thing you wish for is for everything to go back to normal, but that’s not always possible. So I have deconstructed what is defined as ‘normal’ and mixed it with hair.
What do you love about what you do?
Rhiannon: I love being able to create something that excites people and evokes their emotions.
Vilde: I love the process of being creative, from the very first idea to the final outcome. I love being able to express myself through art while also telling a visual story.
What is the story behind your final piece of work?
Rhiannon: It is a conceptual investigation into a future planetary society post human where the species are able to alternate shape and form between species and sexes. It is an extension of the human form, like a second skin.
Vilde: This is a very personal project. At the age of 11 I was diagnosed with leukaemia. I’ve always been creative, but this is when it started for real. I spent a lot hours at the hospital so I started making jewellery out of buttons and beads for all the nurses in my clinic to colour up the white surroundings. Creativity became my therapy! I was going to the hospital for treatment, my mother always focused on the bead shops down town, she use to say, “We just had to drop by the hospital first to get the chemo.” This is what got me through it, and I had my own jewellery brand for six years.
March 2015 my mother got diagnosed with cancer, and in October she passed away when I was just about to start my final year. It all came back to me, but in a new perspective and I found inspiration. It’s about getting something positive out of an extremely negative situation. Finding passion in depression, comfort in sadness, beauty in ugliness… When you get cancer and lose your hair, you lose yourself. Inspired by the feeling of being sick, trapped inside your own body in a hospital behind white walls, this collection is about looking deeper than skin, hair, nails and lips. Your hair does not define who you are – you are who you are in your bones.
What techniques or theories did you use to create your final piece of work?
Rhiannon: The collection consists of experimental pattern cut pieces all made from liquid latex lace, inked latex or pleated latex molds.
Vilde: I used hair extensions as the main element throughout my collection as a symbol of identity mixed with metal and jumprings, and deconstruction of hospital scrubs, jersey basics and tights to make it more wearable.
What’s the best thing about LCF?
Rhiannon: The best thing about studying at LCF, I think is the fact it is such an esteemed university with so many contacts. Therefore it can open many doors for students whilst studying and post-graduation.
Vilde: The creative environment among the students and the energy at Curtain Road. I’ll miss that when I graduate!
What’s the best thing about your course?
Rhiannon: I just love the whole design aspect of fashion, but my course really forces us to look beyond that and into the business side of the industry. Without learning this on my course I wouldn’t have any idea where to begin. It’s really vital knowledge to know and be aware of, particularly if working on a start up fashion brand.
Vilde: The best thing about my course is that it takes you through so many different aspects of the industry, from business, marketing and consumer understanding to everything technical and the design process. It really gives you a realistic perspective of the industry, but also the freedom to be creative.
Have you won any prizes?
Vilde: I was one of the winners of the LDNY-competition in my second year with my first menswear collection. Parts of my collection were showcased in NYC and London during fashion week, and were in Liberty window display.
Have you undertaken any placement whilst at LCF? Where and how did you secure this placement?
Rhiannon: I did two placements through my industry placement year. The first one was Giles Deacon, where I stayed one month in the run up to fashion week, and the second was at Viktor & Rolf for nine months working in the Atelier on the Haute Couture collections in Amsterdam.
Vilde: I did my placement year at 3.1 Phillip Lim in New York and had the time of my life. The university has a great and helpful LCF Careers department, but you have to work hard for what you want. I sent out a lot of applications!
What did you learn on your placement?
Rhiannon: The most valuable lesson I took from the experience was how the garments all came together when seeing them from pattern to toile to final piece. Also, the amount of different fabrics and alternative materials used within the collections. It helped expand my knowledge of garment construction and development that has been vital for my progression into my final year at LCF.
Vilde: I don’t know where to start, it was the best experience I’ve ever had in any way. I was assisting the design director so I learnt a lot about research methods, and I can put together a mood board so quickly now. They knew I was there to learn so they let me work across all the different departments from womenswear to menswear, or fabrics to accessories. It was great!
Have you met or been inspired by any speakers from the industry whilst at LCF?
Rhiannon: My course has had two industry practitioners teach us in two separate years. We had, William Tempest and Christopher Raeburn, who both have developed their own fashion labels. This is something I’m very keen to do, so I wanted to hear them share their journey’s with us. Their pitfalls and high points were also very inspiring and educational in itself.
Vilde: Bill Cunningham, wow!
Describe your work in five words…
Rhiannon: Provocative, innovative, experimental, bizarre and confrontational.
Vilde: Hairy, distortion, destruction, passion and strength.
Do you have a muse? If so, who and why?
Rhiannon: Currently I look a lot to FKA Twigs. To her music, her style and her look. She epitomises strong women with a contemporary outlook on life directly correlating with the Rhiannon Waugh woman.
Vilde: I usually don’t, but for this particular project the actress Clare Bowen caught my interest. Before Christmas she cut her long hair off and explained why she did it on social media. She also had cancer as a child, and reading her story was like reading my own.
What inspires you?
Rhiannon: It can be anything really, although I like to start with developing quite complicated concepts where my ideas will then always link in some way to the original spawned vision. For example, the starting point for this collection was Iain Bank’s novel, The Wasp Factory, and from there it has been on a journey through alternate points of my imagination whilst gathering outside ideas along the way.
Vilde: Everything! I have over 12,000 photos on my phone at any moment because I always see something that I might be inspired by later. It’s a bit annoying, it never stops.
Where do you want to be in your career in five years’ time?
Rhiannon: I’m hoping that in five years I’ll either be running my own label successfully, creating the work I want to create, or designing at a company I truly believe in and can envision my future there. The progression to the next step is very important to me.
Vilde: I take one day at a time, it is important to enjoy now and live in the moment, but dreams and aspirations are also important, and I hope I’ve built a solid foundation for my own brand in five years time. Before that I hope I’ll be able to go back to NYC and work there for a while, that city makes me feel alive!
How do you think your course and LCF will help you achieve your plans?
Rhiannon: I feel LCF has made me more prepared now, I’ve also gained some really valuable contacts through my industry placement, peers and teachers. It’s allowed me to gather research for my own brand, and how to develop and build it. This may be fundamental to my further development after graduation.
Vilde: LCF is a great place to start a career within fashion as it gives you a solid foundation, and prepares you very well to enter the industry. The placement year has been particularly valuable, and I will recommend everyone that gets the opportunity to take it.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to study your course?
Rhiannon: I would advise them to go for it. One of the key parts that led me to choose my course was the Placement Year option. This is so vital for prospective fashion design employees and can really help you understand the industry, and how a team works together putting you ahead of the competition.
Vilde: If you really want this, with all your senses, then go for it, enjoy it and trust the process.
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