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Graduate Spotlight: MA Fashion Design Technology Womenswear, Ysabel Lee

Photography by Felix Cooper and styling by Anders Sølvsten Thomsen.
Written by
Published date
17 February 2016

LCFMA16 Graduate Spotlight turns to this year’s MA Fashion Design Technology Womenswear students who will be showcasing their collections on the catwalk, ahead of London Fashion Week, in-front of an audience of press and industry professionals. LCF News caught up with the designers in the build up to the show on on Thursday 18 February 2016, which will be live-streamed at 7pm GMT on the LCF website.

We caught up with Ysabel Lee who’s collection was inspired by the Meiji Ishin restoration, which took place in Japan in the 1860s. She told us what she enjoyed most about living in London and studying at LCF, as well as her hopes for the future.

Photography by Felix Cooper and styling by Anders Sølvsten Thomsen.

Photography by Felix Cooper and styling by Anders Sølvsten Thomsen.

Tell us about your final collection…

My final collection is inspired the Meiji Ishin restoration, which took place in Japan in the 1860s – it was the first time that western civilisations impacted oriental countries. I combined this with the life we are living today – we are getting bored of all the information we are exposed to and we need a breakthrough. I used squares, rectangles and cubes as the elements for my collection. Visually, I took inspiration from the kimono and added some modern clothing language to it. I always like to use black and dark colours – I don’t like patterned fabrics because it can sometimes destroy the structural details that you want to show. Pattern cutting and structure is the key point I want to develop in my collection, and it is also my strength.

Where did you study before your MA at LCF?

I studied Fashion Design and Art at Tsinghua University in China.

What would your advice to prospective MA Fashion Design Technology Womenswear students be?

Firstly I would say, always listen to yourself. At MA level you have a lot to consider – like marketing and advice from your tutors, but I think what counts most is what you really want. Sometimes you can get misled during the research process and throughout the project, but you must always listen to yourself and do what you want – don’t blindly follow others. The other thing I would say is there is no escaping. For me, I was faced with a lot of difficulties – I was in a new city, from a different cultural background but you just have to face it, and sometimes you’ll find a new area that you’re really strong in.

Why did you choose LCF and MA Fashion Design Technology Womenswear?

LCF is a college that really puts importance on the fashion industry as a whole, marketing and what is really practical – it’s not only about being yourself because actually that doesn’t always work in fashion. That’s why I wanted to come here. In my BA I learnt more about the art aspect of fashion, but at LCF I have learned how I can put my own stamp on the market. I decided to focus on womenswear because I like pattern cutting and womenswear offers you more freedom to create shapes. I learnt most of my pattern cutting knowledge during my BA degree which focused on Womenswear, so I thought it would be easier for me to develop my projects more deeply, if I did Womenswear at MA level too.

What did you enjoy most about your course and what did you find most challenging?

What I enjoyed most about the course was the fact that it is non-stop – you do one project after the next, which is really tiring but also really enjoyable. The course helped me develop a lot of skills in research too because the education system is different to China. Research is what I was actually weak at, but at LCF I developed it a lot. What was challenging was the fact that the system and methods are so different. It was my first time out of China so I had to get used to all the new things around me as well as the course, so I think the time it took to get used to it and be part of it was the most challenging.

What was your favourite thing about studying in London?

I think London is a really good place to study fashion. It’s a really historical city, with a lot of interesting street culture that is totally different to China. It’s the centre of the world and you can meet a lot of people from different countries here. It’s also one of the fashion capitals of the world and there are a lot of opportunities, so it’s a good platform.

Have you undertaken any work experience or done a placement whilst at LCF?

When I arrived in London before my MA I did an internship for three months at Hussein Chalayan. I did things like cutting fabrics, altering patterns, sampling and costings. I really enjoyed it because I liked the atmosphere there – they’re very well organised. Whilst I was there I also had the opportunity to go to Paris Fashion Week, which I was very grateful for.

Describe your work in five words…

Dark, clean, neutral, incomplete, self-restrained.

Who inspires you?

I have different muses for different collections. For this one, I was inspired by the model Xiaowen Ju – she is quirky and combines oriental beauty with modernity.

What are your future plans and do you think the course will help you to realise these plans?

I really want to work as a creative pattern cutter in a brand, but I don’t want to quit the design aspect. I don’t think pattern cutting and design can be separated, they can have the best chemistry when they are combined. I learned a lot about technical skills during my MA at LCF and I think this will help me, because in fashion it’s like the art image is something that you can’t touch but here you learn how you can build the steps for people to reach it.