We talk to BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear graduate Alexander Hammarström from Sweden for LCF BA17. In our latest Class of 2017 feature, we discuss his collection, moving to London and tribal patterns influencing his work.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the moment you knew you wanted to study fashion?
I was born in Sweden in a tiny town called Kungälv near Gothenburg, which is like a forest and formed my love for nature. As a kid I played a lot with my older sister who is two years older, so it was a lot of Barbies and dressing up. And when I was around three I started to wrap fabrics around the Barbies to create dresses, I was obsessed with princesses so obviously they would all have huge gowns. I would create Barbie dresses for many years out of small scraps of fabric the local fabric shops would give me, it was the best thing I knew and eventually I started hand sewing them instead of just knotting and wrapping. After I would do a photoshoot where they would pose and have a catwalk show. Very fabulous, I know. So for me I never had the ‘oh I want to study fashion’ moment because I grew up creating dresses – it was almost as a calling.
Talk us through your final collection…
My collection is very monochrome and dark, it’s about 90% black and grey. It is a combination of workwear with strict heavy fabrics and a lot of pockets, top stitching and straps with massive faux fur coats and even trousers out of fur. I like the combination of serious clothing with a bit of humour. I always think contrasts are the most exciting. I have been looking at British workwear during the 1800s and combined them with a Siberian tribe called the Nenets that wear massive furs, live with reindeers and have a very rich culture.
What is the story behind your final piece of work?
For my final collection I wanted to create a story that would be personal but also very relatable. The concept is about adapting to a foreign environment. For instance when I moved to London three years ago, it was quite weird adapting to British culture as Swedish culture doesn’t share any similarities. So the project is about how you adapt and shape your personal cultural beliefs in a foreign environment, something I believe most people moving to London experience.
What techniques or theories did you use to create your final piece of work?
When I started researching what kind of outcome I wanted, I knew early on that I wanted simplicity, clean and wearable clothes with a lot of details. I love rawness, fraying but in a controlled way, therefore I started experimenting with how to create rawness which is still beautifully finished and worked, and just a raw edge. For instance, I started to fray fabrics, removing thread after thread to create fabrics connected by small sections and the rest just threads. For me, it is really important that everything I do is high-quality. It needs to look professional and not like student work.
Have you undertaken any work experience or done a placement whilst at LCF? Where and how did you secure this work experience or placement?
During second year, we did a placement term where I worked for J.W Anderson for three months. I knew I wanted to stay in London during that time so I made a list of all the places I wanted to intern at and started emailing people like crazy and then I went for an interview at J.W and got offered the place on the spot.
Describe your work and aesthetic in five words…
Clean, Unisex, Craftmanship, Layers, and Contrasts.
Do you have a muse? If so, who and why?
No, I don’t! I suppose it would be easier to design if you had a clear understanding of the person you would like to design for. For me, it has always been more of what I think is flattering and interesting, and designing something I’d like to wear myself.
What influences your style and work?
It can be anything as inspiration always comes unexpectedly. Though I find that I always come back to historical elements as I am really interested in historical clothing and thinking. Overall – I don’t have a specific category I come back to as it changes constantly the more randomly I research. For instance, at the moment I am really interested in foreign tribal wear around the world. When it comes to colour, I always come back to nature. Looking at birds, leaves or flowers and seeing how nature has created such colourful combinations that are so bright and dynamic yet blends and fits in with each other perfectly. I find this amazing.
What are your plans for the future?
A fairly well paid job, haha! It sounds only fair but sadly in this industry you are almost always required to work for very low wages or periods for free, which I think is extraordinary. I would like to go to Paris for a while and work for one of the big fashion houses, that would be amazing. Also, I would love to go to New York as it is my favourite city in the world! There is so many different fields in this industry that are interesting – production, fashion development, styling etc. I would like to get as much experience as possible and keep the paths open and see where life takes me.
How do you think your course and LCF will help you achieve this?
As I have close connections to the teachers and they know I work very hard they could help me with guidance and contacts. It is all about contacts. My course has given skills that are very appealing to this industry as we do everything. Pattern cutting, researching , sewing, drawing, styling, organizing and time management. We come with a technical package of different skills. That is definitely a plus.
Have you heard that LCF is moving to east London? What do you think about the move?
Yes to Stratford! I think it is about time LCF gets a big building connection to all the courses. It will make it much easier to meet people from different courses and collaborations. I am definitely going to visit when it is ready! I think the location could be more exciting, but after studying in Shoreditch for three years I have been spoiled.
What music do you listen to whilst you’re working? Is there one particular track or artist that you like?
Oh gosh it can literally be anything, it depends on my mood. I tend to listen to dramatic musicals like Les Misarables or even Disney as it just makes me happy. This year I have been listening to Harry Potter audiobooks with Stephen Fry. Literally best thing ever!
What do you think Brexit means for the fashion industry and studying in London?
It is a sad chapter that might a great loss for London. For me, London is about coming together. Here all my friends are from all over the world, we all have different backgrounds and cultures in our baggage and it is amazing. You learn so much from other people, other ways of thinking. It is heart-breaking what is happening. It will be harder for all the foreign students to come here and study as I am guessing tuition fees will increase and visas will be required. I think the fashion industry and schools in London will lose some of its diversity in both cultural and economical background. It is awful!
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