Up next in our Class of 2017 series, is BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology Womenswear student Xenia Telunts. Xenia talks us through her final collection which explores sustainability and the role that clothing played in the lives of citizens of the now former, USSR.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the moment you knew you wanted to study fashion?
Having studied various creative disciplines such as architecture, sculpture, fine art and textiles in Moscow at a young age, I found fashion to be the most natural expression of my aesthetic vision. I started my higher education at CSM, from which I progressed to BA Womenswear at LCF, so I feel I’ve had a balanced education combining both the creative and technical aspects of the design process.
Talk us through your final collection…
My final collection consists of six looks. All of the garments are made using natural and sustainable materials. The collection consists of several outerwear pieces, shirts and trousers. Through this collection I tried to deliver my idea of a ‘modular wardrobe’.
My concept came from studying the role that clothing played in the lives of citizens of the USSR, from the pre-war period until the years following the death of Josef Stalin when western influence became more prominent. The conditions at the time meant that innovation was necessary to achieve even the most basic quality of life. The ‘fufaika’, which is a quilted padded jacket, originally worn during the war by men would later be given out during the cold Russian winters to help women stay warm.
In my project I am drawing a parallel between the research of deficit and limitation behind the Iron Curtain and political philosophy ‘Utopia’ by Thomas More, which depicts a fictional island society and its controlled political and social customs much like communism in the USSR. The perpetual reworking and up cycling of attire and other products informed my collection of utilitarian, unisex garments that are durable, multi-functional and sustainable.
What techniques or theories did you use to create your final piece of work?
Over the course of my degree I became very concerned by the effects the fashion industry has on our environment and future. My final womenswear collection represents my view on how the fashion industry should aim to produce clothes. The objective was to use minimal resources and the simplest of means to achieve long-lasting and high quality results, clothing should not be created to satisfy short-term needs, but everything should be planned and designed carefully for the long term in the hope that what is made will last for generations and the resources are saved for our children’s future.
I applied zero waste pattern cutting techniques, which I combined with organic natural fibre textiles and locally sourced materials, upcycling materials where possible. But my main focus was to design a collection without compromises due to using sustainability techniques but actually use them to enhance my aesthetic and understanding of pattern cutting.
Have you undertaken any work experience or done a placement whilst at LCF?
I did a work experience placement at YMC in sales and as a visual merchandiser, and I also interned with the atelier of J.W. Anderson for three months.
Have you met or been inspired by any speakers from the industry whilst at LCF?
This year I attended the talk with Lionel Vermeil, Kering’s Director of Fashion and Luxury Intelligence, in conversation with Lou Stoppard. I found it incredibly inspiring. He talked about how sustainability in the luxury sector is all about longevity and high quality. He believes that it’s much more sustainable to invest in a product that will not only last, but also remain timelessly stylis, so you would want to wear it again and again and even pass it on to your grandchildren.
Describe your work in five words…
Conscious. Clean. Utilitarian. Sustainable. Unisex
Do you have a muse?
A tough, hard-working Soviet woman who works in a field all day, and sustains herself in hard weather conditions and experiences product and material deficit. She is innovative about how she mends her clothing and ways of upcycling found pieces to make them fit. I am influenced by vintage workwear, constructivism, minimalism, quality of the fabric
What are your plans for the future?
I hope to develop a sustainable fashion brand model that fights the current environmental and waste issues of the fashion industry, whilst offering its customer a range of products that are both culturally relevant and highly functional.
It’s been a great experience being at LCF for the past three years where I have been constantly challenged to develop my aesthetic, and understand the importance of garment research and experimentation with innovative techniques. The LCF library is also an amazing tool – full of archives and an incredible textile collection.
Have you heard that LCF is moving to east London?
Yes – I think its great! It is a huge university that needs its own space. Having all of the courses under one roof will enhance creativity and lead to some amazing collaborations.
What do you think Brexit means for the fashion industry and studying in London?
I hope that Brexit will allow for a more fair and equal immigration policy, that means International designers have a better opportunity to work in the city and International students are able to live and work in the city longer after graduation. Currently the government has extremely strict regulations on immigration from outside of the EU, to balance the net migration figures which does mean a lot of international talent is unfairly excluded.
If the UK has some control over freedom of movement from the EU, there will hopefully be the opportunity there to have a more global outlook. I am lucky enough to have leave to remain in the UK through marriage to my British husband, but many of my fellow international students from around the world will never get the opportunity to work in this country, due to existing measures put in place to lower overall immigration numbers.
Ultimately though, it’s impossible to assess the outcome until we have a better idea what the final relationship will look like.
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