Greatest treasures found and salvaged with Anna Melegh
Hey Anna, thank you for taking out your time in speaking with us. We know you’ve been super busy with a lot of buzz around your latest project! Why don’t you tell me a bit more about yourself and your working journey?
Hi! My name is Anna Melegh, footwear and accessories designer/maker turning everyday objects inside out by using the methods of surrealism. I come from an artistic family and have nearly 10 years of art and shoe-focused education. It all started at the Secondary School of Visual Arts in Budapest learning to be a leather goods maker. I finished the BA Footwear and Accessories course in Northampton and completed the MA in Footwear at London College of Fashion in 2022. My work is influenced by consumerism, reflecting on modern society and consumer behaviour.
Can you talk about the final MA22 project you worked on at LCF, the concept behind it and what inspired to get into footwear?
I decided to do an MA to level up my practice as my BA course was more industry focused. The MA was a very intense 15 months, including 3 months of lockdown from December 2021 - the main source of my inspiration - but also a major stress factor as the end of my BA was hijacked by covid and graduated without shoes. This lockdown helped me to move out of my comfort zone and not to think about regular shoes but more conceptual yet wearable ones.
I wanted to challenge myself and use materials and techniques on another level than before, mastering new skills whilst doing my MA. I studied to be a leather goods maker in Hungary and learnt about making accessories and clothing. In the fourth year of the course, I made my first pair of shoes: a Derby based on the illustrations of Alice in Wonderland. I loved working around the last, the patterns and the leathers. The craftsmanship that goes into a pair of shoes. I also got my first Dr Martens around that time! I wanted to continue studying footwear, so looked into countries that offer this subject. This is how I found Northampton first for my BA and later LCF for my MA.
What is HAUTE COUTURE TRASH, how was it born? Why did you decide to focus on sustainable fashion?
The idea of the Haute Couture Trash collection came when we were all in lockdown, and I used to make shoes out of our household waste.
I started to question why things that should last do not, and those which should not, actually do. Could I go ahead a few steps and create a collection based on these items, but using high-quality materials? Could a bin bag be turned into a fashion piece?
I wanted to create a footwear piece that is the opposite of these meanings, taking this common object and turning it into a high fashion piece. Stopping the viewer: is this a shoe or a bin bag?
Congratulations, by the way on your recent awards since leaving LCF, what have been your most memorable achievements?
First was the MA22 exhibition during the London Fashion Week in February that year. In the spring, some of my shoes were on display at JPS with other MA students. Then there was the London Craft Week and after the LCF CRAFT REIMAGINED at LAB-E20.
At the end of June, my animation got into the Fashion Film & Video Category at the FASHIONCLASH Festival 2022 (25th November – 27th November 2022) which I am really proud of it as this is the first animation I have ever done! And now with Artsthread, I am so happy and surprised about getting these three categories: UK Footwear Category winner and Overall winner for the Real Leather. Stay Different. UK and Footwear Category winner for the International Student Design Competition.
Also, some of my shoes joined the Virtual Shoe Museum! So, a lot has been happening recently.
How was your journey through the Artsthread Awards and application process? What would you say to a newcomer who is looking to apply?
I think it was easy to apply as I already had a profile on Artsthread and knew how the platform works. I would say it's important to answer and submit all the required information in the brief first and then thinking about other extra pages that will make the project stand out after.
I encourage everyone studying right now to submit their work to competitions and scholarships! The best way to get noticed before finishing university, it looks really good on your CV and shows proactivity and also helps gain an understanding in seeing who is out there on the same level as you.
What are your hopes and future plans?
I would like to create a footwear brand using purely factory waste. I think in the future, factories should aim for a circular production, working with other factories as one's waste, is another's treasure. I hope the fashion industry and consumers are going towards a more conscious way of production and buying.
I think we should dare to think more outside of the box, in terms of designs and ideas as well as materials. I believe fashion has the power to raise awareness of the various issues, and make the viewer stop and think – just like any other art.