LCF News spent an afternoon with BA (Hons) Fashion Contour students at the Curtain Road studios to see their LCFBA16 work and learn about their time at LCF.
The atmosphere in the studio was lively as the students were preparing their final collections. We grabbed a few minutes with Class of 2016 students, Hannah Jobbins-Hone and Louise Strudwick to find out about their work.
Where are you from?
Louise: A small town called Heathfield in East Sussex
Give us one interesting fact about yourself…
Hannah: I’m a black belt in jujitsu
Louise: Before I started my degree, I was training to be a tattoo artist and body piercer
Talk us through your final collection
Hannah: My final collection is based on my love of travel and the main inspiration for it was Balinese art and traditions. My brand is called Wanderlux which connotes an ever wandering travel lifestyle. The key details of the looks are the deep tropical colours with flattering cut outs and rose gold flashes of foiling on the lace.
Louise: My collection is about acknowledging and celebrating the victories of women from all walks of life, with a strong focus of feminist values and body positivity. My collection includes extended size ranges for customers who are gender transitioning, alongside core sized garments. I have undertaken extensive research into understanding the emotional and physical journeys of individuals in the transgender community by conducting interviews with them and also looking into the physical demands for lingerie. My collection is called Victory Intimates and I seek to challenge social norms within the fashion world, and bring equality to the lingerie industry by offering lingerie for all customers.
What do you love about what you do?
Hannah: I love the technical aspects of lingerie and mastering the balance between support and adornment.
Louise: I love the intimacy of designing lingerie, you have to be able to build trust with your customers, and the design can be very personal. I enjoy working close to the body and the challenges that come with engineering support with such delicate fabrics and components.
What is the story behind your final piece of work?
Louise: My friend who is transitioning from male to female asked if I could design and make her a bikini to wear on her first holiday as a transgender woman since she had struggled to find anything on the high street. There really is a lack of lingerie and swimwear represented by, or even wearable for the transgender community at the moment so I wanted to challenge this through my work.
What techniques did you use to create your final piece of work?
Hannah: Cuts out and foiling were the main techniques I experimented with and they came to me by accident as I discovered a gorgeous lace that I couldn’t get the minimums for so I had to think on my feet and find a method to recreate the look of the lace.
Louise: I have mainly focused on design techniques to ensure the right fit for both cis and transgender pieces. I have experimented mainly with style lines and fabrics to enhance the female form, by using layered sheer tulle with contrasting binding, framing the body to create the illusion of enhanced curves. I chose a neutral colour palette to highlight the human form, rather than hiding it under bright colour and elaborate fabrics.
What’s the best thing about LCF?
Hannah: LCF allows you to be creative and offers a placement year so you can get some hands-on experience. I really had a positive experience on my placement.
Louise: The opportunities and connections to industry have been amazing. I’ve really benefitted from this and feel it has pushed my career even further than I had thought it could go when I first started here.
What’s the best thing about your course?
Hannah: Catherine Fuller, the course leader. Catherine joined towards the end of our first year and she organised amazing industry projects with M&S, Debenhams and La Perla.
Louise: Really, the best thing about my course has been the support network. Catherine, the tutors and the technicians have all been extremely supportive throughout. They’ve provided us with industry links, sourced specialist materials for us and given us hands on guidance throughout the past 3 years. As Contour is such a small specialist course, students get a lot more one to one time, making the learning more personalised.
Have you won any prizes?
Louise: Playful Promises ran a student design competition and I was one of the three winners, my prize was to have my design put into production and sold as a limited edition set in their range, as well as getting my design made in my own size to keep.
Have you undertaken any work experience or done a placement whilst at LCF? Where and how did you secure this work experience or placement?
Hannah: I spent over a year out in industry. I started at Vollers, a corset company and they taught me so much about sewing on an industrial machine and the construction of corsets. I even saw a traditional whale bone corset. I also did work for Beautiful Bottoms, working on new nightwear and loungewear patterns for their factories in China. Whilst I was there they were re-branding so it was interesting to see that business side of things.
My final placement was at Coco de Mer and I spent a year working there which was great because I was given a lot of responsibility and I learnt so much. I learnt to grade which was also something I was interested in and had not covered at university. I also got to run fit meetings and I even got to go to shoots.
Louise: I undertook a placement year with London based lingerie company Playful Promises. One of the LCF technicians mentioned to me that my design aesthetic would fit well with the company’s and she had worked for them herself so passed on their contact details to me. I then got an interview and was offered a 3-days a week internship which turned into a full time job as a design assistant for the brand after the first month.
Have you met or been inspired by any speakers from the industry whilst at LCF?
Hannah: For me, BJ Cunningham was the most memorable speaker we have had at university. He put the real world into perspective and he explained the risks he took to develop his career.
Describe your work in five words…
Hannah: Handcraft, ornate, intricate, contemporary, tropical
Louise: Body-positive, experimental, contrasted, sensual, eclectic
What inspires you?
Hannah: I get really inspired when I travel to beautiful countries.
Louise: I often feel inspired by a problem, or an untouched gap in the market. I strive to design for opportunity and I love using my skills to solve problems and help people, as well as changing people’s ideas and working towards shifting ‘social norms’ within the fashion world.
Where do you want to be in your career in five years’ time?
Hannah: After graduating, I would like pursue a career in pattern cutting and grading within the lingerie industry.
Louise: I would like to work with a few different lingerie companies to further my professional development. Once I’ve gained enough experience, I plan to launch Victory Intimates.
How do you think your course and LCF will help you achieve your plans?
Hannah: I think having a wide skill set and sought after contour knowledge makes you unique. Contour opens up so many opportunities.
Louise: My course has provided equal amount of disciplined technical and design knowledge needed for industry, as well as teaching me how to set up and manage every aspect of my own brand. I feel this has helped me develop myself as a professional in all aspects. LCF has given me the opportunity to get a taste for the industry I’ve chosen to pursue, before graduation, by offering a placement year which led to me securing a graduate job with Playful Promises. The connections and opportunities available to me has pushed me to challenge myself and discover myself as a professional as well as where I sit within the competitive industry.
What advice would you give to current contour students and also, someone looking to study contour?
Hannah: Contour allows for so much creativity. My advice to current students would be to always toile in correct fabrics and be precise with everything, as every millimetre counts. When it comes to underwear, cutting off 5mm can be the difference between a bra size.
Louise: To those looking to study contour, I would say, be absolutely sure you want to pursue this path, it takes a lot of dedication and is an extremely disciplined profession to go into. Your heart really must be in it to pursue a career in lingerie design. And to current students, I’d say, make sure you take up as many opportunities as you can, whether it be internships or going to guest speaker lectures, because it really will benefit you.