Class of 2017: BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Print graduate Hannah Zahran
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the moment you knew you wanted to study fashion?
I was born in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, then moved to England when I was 7 and was raised in Blackburn, Lancashire. Quite the contrast ‘ey! I knew I wanted to do textiles when I was at school, I made this fantastically embroidered frog in year 9 that I was absolutely elated with, it was then I became interested in the art of making and creating something from 2D to 3D.
Talk us through your final collection…
The theme throughout my work has been inspired by the notion of taste, questioning what is defined as good and bad taste. My initial starting point was exploring concepts such as social class, postmodernism and hybrid cultures in relation to domestic interiors. I was moved by the powerful work of photographer Nick Hedges – Make Life Worth Living series, exposing poor housing and abject poverty across Britain in the 1960s, something that I feel is slowly creeping back into modern society today.
I began researching into working class culture and exploring kitsch objects that are often associated with low-brow taste such as vintage doilies and Staffordshire pottery. The Bloomsbury group have been very influential throughout my work, I wanted to combine naff objects with romantic mark makings inspired by the Charleston House. I began collaging objects capturing the essence of working class Britain with picturesque sceneries of the countryside in the North.
What is the story behind your final piece of work?
Holes In Our Roads is a luxury print collection that is homage to the countryside of Lancashire. I’ve created four different print ranges associated with four streets in Blackburn that are a reminiscent of my past, creating a seasonal mood for each street.
￼I’m proud to have grown up in Blackburn, although it’s portrayed as quite a deprived town now, it was one of the most important towns in the world for the production of cotton and linen in the 18th century. Arte Et Labore is Blackburn’s traditional motto, the translation means By Skill and Labour, there is poverty in the town just like anywhere else but there are also some incredibly talented people who live there which should be celebrated! That’s why it frustrates me that tuition fees have risen and grants have been slashed because it then ostracises a whole group of people which is upsetting. Throughout the final print collection I wanted to create beautiful intricate textile samples that are mostly hand rendered, I love the whole print process and craft, for me there’s a different relationship you have with the fabric you’ve created.
What techniques or theories did you use to create your final piece of work?
I’m obsessed with process, I love using a combination of techniques, although it is time-consuming and there is a lot of problem-solving, there’s an immense satisfaction when a print sample turns out the way you want it to. I have mainly focused on experimenting with a range of techniques together, I have used cross dye devoré on silks and velvets using acid dyes, procion P and procion MX. I have also experimented with printing with procion P on the front of the fabric, then devoré, then screen printing opaque binder at the back to create a multilayered surface.
Have you won any prizes?
I was initially going to say no but I won the Clara and Michael Freeman Award yesterday which is amazing! I was also shortlisted to represent LCF with my collaboration partner in the FAD X Missoni competition in November, and I was shortlisted for the Kering Award for Stella McCartney in collaboration with Centre of Sustainable Fashion. It’s been such a busy yet really rewarding year for me to have had the opportunity to be involved in some really exciting projects!
Have you undertaken any work experience or done a placement whilst at LCF? Where and how did you secure this work experience or placement?
I’ve interned at ISSA, Claire Barrow and Fyodor Golan, based at Somerset House, as a textile development intern for the Resort 17 collection, LCF Careers posted many job opportunities and gave advice on cover letters and CV’s which was useful, I secured it by emailing the company with my CV.
I also interned at Charles Tyrwhitt as a Buying Admin Assistant to get more experience in a different field of the industry. A woman came into the clothing shop I work at and was looking for a specific bridesmaid dress for her sisters wedding that was sold out in our store, I rang round the whole of London trying to locate them for her which I did successfully. Turns out she was a buying manager and offered me some work experience!
￼Have you met or been inspired by any speakers from the industry whilst at LCF?
I’ve attended a few different talks, Better Lives for Fashion – Positive Psychology in Fashion discussion was really interesting as it was about using fashion as a discipline to drive change and improve the way we live.
Describe your work and aesthetic in five words…
Romantic, expressive, sophisticated, colourful and empowering.
Do you have a muse? If so, who and why?
I don’t really have a specific muse, I work in a Womenswear shop in the city and I love seeing all the confident powerful women who come in. That is kind of my muse, women who are bold that like to challenge and question things!
What influences your style and work?
I’ve always been interested in sociology and how people are internalised in society. Throughout my work there is always a slight political stance, inspiration for projects have always been drawn from questioning current affairs in today’s society. Key concepts that inspire my projects are social class, religion and disruption. The prints I create have an underlying message about positive change and optimism through playful print design.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to be working in a creative environment as a print designer for a fashion house. I want to be a part of the design process and see the prints I have designed come to realisation. Eventually I would like to be able to start up my own business focusing on experimental print design for fashion.
How do you think your course and LCF will help you achieve this?
The unique thing about the course is the ability to collaborate, every year I’ve done a collaboration and I think it’s so good that you get the opportunity to do that, because that is essentially what you need in industry – the ability to work as a team, problem solve and move forward with decisions as a group. The textiles tutors are fantastic and I’m very grateful to have been taught by them. They care so much about what you do, which is really motivating, they constantly push you and challenge your thoughts.
Have you heard that LCF is moving to east London? What do you think about the move?
I think it’s such a good idea that everything is going to be on one campus, especially for design students who are renowned for travelling with so much stuff!
What music do you listen to whilst you’re working? Is there one particular track or artist that you like?
I absolutely love listening to music whilst I work, I have so many favourites I can’t choose! It depends how I feel, If I’m feeling in a good mood I like listening to Ikarus – Ladi6 or Fire N’ Rain – Kaytranada. If I need to get myself together and get motivated I listen to Turn The Page – The Streets.
What do you think Brexit means for the fashion industry and studying in London?
There’s a lot of uncertainty about Brexit which is worrying and if Britain can’t secure a free trade deal with the EU I think it’s going to be detrimental for the fashion industry.
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