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LCFBA16 with BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear student Joanna Berling


Written by
Josh De Souza Crook
Published date
06 June 2016

The LCFBA16 Catwalk show opens the BA16 season of events celebrating this year’s graduating cohort. The catwalk will showcase 35 designers who have have collaborated on 17 different collections. You can watch the live stream show at 7pm GMT tonight.

Over the coming week LCF News will be speaking to the designers involved in each collection. Next up is BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear student Joanna Berling, who collaborated with Jade Gellard for their catwalk collection. We previously featured Jade in our Class of 2016: BA (Hons) Fashion Contour last month.


BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear student Joanna Berling collaborated with BA (Hons) Fashion Contour student Jade Gellard for LCFBA16 Catwalk. Photographer: James Rees, Creative Direction: Rob Phillips, Hair: Ezana Ové, Beauty: Kirsty Gaston

 Give us one interesting fact about yourself… 

I have a condition called monocular vision which means, although both of my eyes work perfectly fine I can only see with one of them at a time. Because of that, I can’t physically see 3D. The world I see is more flat, more like a painting in which I perceive shapes through shadows and highlights and through delicate colour variations. Furthermore, my colour perception is very well developed. Only recently have I realised how this affects my work on so many levels. 

Talk us through your final collection  

My final collections explores the ideas of beauty and bad taste. I wanted to create pieces that would be somewhere on the border between these two things. It is a very emotional collection, there is darkness and sadness underneath the layers of pink organza, the ruffles seem to be rotten and the Mickey Mouse ears stick out from leather bondage masks. I think the story it tells is different for everyone, it can be about the loss of innocence, the passing of youth and how beauty is not always what it seems. But it is not a sad collection. I think I managed to balance the strange beauty of my pieces with something lighter, there is humour and irony which is underpinned with painful self-awareness. My clothes say ’let’s have fun and go crazy because all of this beauty and youth will fade soon, in a blink of our perfect smokey-eye’. It’s an ultimate fashion memento mori.

Joanna 2

What do you love about what you do? 

Fashion allows me to express myself and create pieces that go beyond being just visually pleasing. I want people to feel something while looking at my work, be it, wonder, surprise or disgust. I love pushing myself to create things that are challenging for the viewer, things that take you out of your comfort zone, even if only for a moment. 

What is the story behind your final piece of work?  

As a child my mother would often dress me in boys’ clothes, they were all mostly navy or black, very chic and very French. She was never a fan of all the bad taste girly 90s clothes that all my friends would be wearing. My final collection, amongst many things, is about the clothes I never got to wear as a child. It’s my princess fantasy, all grown up and gone out to party. 

What techniques or theories did you use to create your final piece of work?  

 I approach my clothes as original objects, more like paintings or sculptures. Making is, for me, a response to the subject, a process of recording my emotions and thinking through layering of materials. My garments help me define what is abstract or hidden. 


BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear student Joanna Berling collaborated with BA (Hons) Fashion Contour student Jade Gellard for LCFBA16 Catwalk. Photographer: James Rees, Creative Direction: Rob Phillips, Hair: Ezana Ové, Beauty: Kirsty Gaston

What’s the best thing about LCF? 

I think one of the best things about LCF is how it prepares you for the reality of the fashion industry. We are encouraged to be creative but we are also expected to channel this creativity into something that will have a commercial value. 

What’s the best thing about your BA Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear?  

I like the freedom we are given to create pieces that are less commercial, less ’sellable’ but at the same time we learn all the skills to make beautiful and completely wearable pieces. Studying womenswear allows me to create my poetic fabric sculptures and make a perfectly tailored jacket, all within one collection. 

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 did work experience at Peter Pilotto as a part of our placement term in the second year of the course. 

What did you learn on your placement? 

It was a good opportunity to get some insight into the reality of working in the industry. It was my first experience of this sort and it opened my eyes to many things I wasn’t aware of before. 

Joanna 1

Describe your work in five words…  

Beautiful, poetic, strange, cool, challenging 

Do you have a muse? If so, who and why? 

My muse it a very cool and very strange girl who goes out and then gets a little messed up on her way back from a party. Her clothes get ripped and she manages to steal somebody’s jacket on her way out and she just couldn’t care less. I often describe her as a Disney princess on the night bus. 

What inspires you? 

A lot of my inspiration is very personal, in my work I deal with past experiences and memories, my passions and dreams. While designing I often reference the things I am interested in, my favourite music, artists I admire or films that captured my imagination. There is no boundary between me as a person and me as a designer, seeing my collection is like looking inside of my head.   

Joanna 3

Where do you want to be in your career in five years’ time? 

I’d love to be running my own successful business and showing in LFW schedule. My work is extremely personal so I really hope to develop that. For me, fashion is about creating beautiful images and I think I would be really happy working as a Creative Director for a big brand. In a perfect world I would be doing it all… but maybe not in the next five years. 

 How do you think your course and LCF will help you achieve your plans? 

Everything I know about fashion I learned during these last three years as LCF. I gained practical skills that allowed me to turn art into something more tactile as well as the awareness of the industry I am about to go into. 

What advice would you give to someone wanting to study your course? 

Work hard, never give up, and most importantly: believe in yourself. You will hear lots of opinions, not all of them positive but as long as you believe in what you do, every criticism is just another opportunity to improve. In the end there are no failures, only lessons.