We spoke with three recent graduates from the Fashion Design Technology Graduate Diploma about their projects, inspirations, experiences on the course, and advice for new students.
Hi Chin, Pedro and Zhen. Could you introduce yourselves and tell us a little bit about what you do?
CHIN: My name is Chin Lin, I’m from Taiwan, raised in Shanghai and I’m an artefact designer. Since coming to London I’ve developed my research process and learned how to discover the things I'm interested in and try to combine them into my design work.
PEDRO: My name is Pedro Trindade, I'm a menswear fashion designer from Brazil. I work with gender performances - specifically with masculinity, how it is used as a commodity in social media today and how historically in Brazil it built a lot of our understanding of gender and possibilities.
ZHEN: My name is Zhen Lyu, I'm from China and I want to become a fashion designer. I chose Menswear because I want to create unisex designs. I think there are gender inequalities in fashion. As women we can choose different kinds of clothes, like dresses, but there isn't so much choice for men.
What were you doing before you joined the Graduate Diploma FDT course?
PEDRO: I did my Bachelor in Brazil and then I worked in Surface Design with wallpaper. Then my sister-in-law launched a high-end sex shop brand, with a focus on fashion and I worked with her on that.
CHIN: Before I joined the course I was studying Oil Painting at university. We also did contemporary art so sometimes our homework would be to create some installation art or sculptures. After I graduated, I got a job as a Sculptor and worked at a jewellery design company. This experience gave me a lot of skills and techniques, but I didn’t think that I could make my own creations.
What attracted you to the Graduate Diploma FDT course and why did you want to study at London College of Fashion?
CHIN: LCF is a very nice environment to let me explore many things and display the work I create, and I can also collaborate with other departments. That’s what I wanted to experience from the university, the most important thing is the whole environment, which brings a multi-layered result.
ZHEN: My BA was in Fashion Design and Engineering which is a course that educates students on how to make clothes. I didn't really learn how to design during my BA so that's why I wanted to come to LCF.
PEDRO: I felt like my studies in Brazil were lacking in a lot of things, and that maybe I was not ready to do a Masters. The Graduate Diploma was an in between course that fit very well, covering that gap that I needed to work on.
What was your experience like on the Graduate Diploma FDT course? How did it improve your fashion practice, or help you develop as a designer?
PEDRO: It helped a lot. I think the course was great because we would be guided through our own research and processes. My research is very personal so it's easy for me to get lost in wanting to talk about too many things and explore too many sides of it at once. The course was very helpful in guiding me and making me more critical of what processes I was taking, why I was taking them and how that helped me get more of a clear message.
CHIN: Our tutors were very nice, they encouraged us to try and challenge ourselves, and gave lots of feedback to help us improve and do justice of our own works and make our creations better.
ZHEN: I think the biggest thing that I've learned is how to really feel what I feel. Before I came to LCF I was so used to ignoring my own feelings or trying to please other people. I felt like I was lost in my research process during my first project on the course, and it was the first time I tried to just be honest with myself and use my emotions as the theme of my project.
Could you tell me about your final project and the outcomes?
ZHEN: The name of my final project is Holy Bull****. At the beginning of the project, I didn't know what I wanted to say or express, so I just started to type down my random thoughts like “I'm so hungry but my fridge is so empty, I need to go shopping”. Then I chose some of these to visualize and further develop in order to come to my design. Because of the quarantine, we don't have a physical outcome of these projects. I have about 40 or 50 looks and then I picked eight of them as my final line up.
PEDRO: I love working with photography and my final project started as an exploration of portraiture of men in Brazil in the 70s. I felt like there were images that had a lot of power and a very specific characteristic. They were taken where people had no access to photography, and it was there one opportunity to portray themselves as they wanted to be seen. I then met people that I felt were displaying this heightened masculinity in society today and explored what they were conveying that through. It extended itself to uniforms and service culture in Brazil and how those have very strong iconographies as well as how masculinity is represented. I developed a collection that is masculine, but it plays on women's techniques to enhance the body shape and make it more flattering and sexier, while still maintaining a masculine outlook.
CHIN: My final project was a little bit challenging for me, because it was about smelling and trying to visualize scents. At the beginning I wanted to find a scent that could stimulate the memory of a city. I tried to find what kind of feeling and meaning these smells would bring to people and make something a little bit like a wearable sculpture, where the texture can make people feel and remember the smell. But it wasn’t my favourite project.
What was your favourite project?
CHIN: My favourite project was inspired by an adventure ‘junk’ playground. It was original made by children during the Second World War, when they didn’t have toys or a place to play. At that time they were meeting together and collecting old things like cardboard or pieces of bombed cars. Although adults will treat it like junk, the children think it’s a valuable material. I tried to find real waste items, like old tyres or furniture and some wood pieces or broken sticks on the street to make special artefacts and wearable decorations. I used some luxury materials that look like leather and fur to make an original object. I like to combine things which have opposing ideologies, like the material of valuable items and the shape of junk.
What would you say are your interests as a designer?
PEDRO: My main interest is communicating with people and taking apart elements from iconographies, in a way that makes people rethink how they are behaving. I believe that if we scrutinise those elements and talk about them often, we can take this construction of gender, which is very much operated unconsciously, and bring it to the forefront of how we build our characters so that it is a more conscientious choice. You can be whatever gender possibility you choose to be, as long as it is something you're aware of doing, and not something that just happens naturally - because that's not how we build the rest of who we are.
CHIN: I like artefacts, and I think it is the most interesting way to design, because it’s related to the human body and the space which we live our daily lives in. I want to try to make objects which can be immersive like installation art, but also like a work of fashion.
ZHEN: Well, for now I want to figure out more about myself, because this Graduate Diploma course made me realise I need to be honest with myself to find my own style. I think as a designer, figuring out who you are is really important.”
What advice would you give to any potential students who want to join the Graduate Diploma FDT course?
PEDRO: Be ready to work and listen.
I think it's very easy to have a mindset of what you think design needs to be and should be. It’s great to have an identity, and my tutors never made me change what I wanted to do, but other people understand things in different ways and they're going to guide you to better communicate your ideas.
From there you can make your choices of what's valid and what's not. Do good research and try to think of the things that are relevant to you and the things that you really think need to be talked about.
ZHEN: I think the really important thing is to be honest with yourself. You have to like what you are doing and that is what the tutors keep telling us.
Have your own Integrity, know what you are doing and why you do it and know what you like and why you like it. just keep asking questions about yourself.
CHIN: I think many people will trying to do something that follows trends, but if you do the things you are really interested in then from the research to the process to the result, it will be more like your own style.
As an international student, I wish someone told me which places I could find ideas. Explore often and go to different galleries and museum.
What are your plans going forward now that you’ve finished the course?
ZHEN: I'm going to study MA Menswear at London College of Fashion in October because this Graduate Diploma course is my first professional design education and I still need more practice in how to design and develop my own design logic.
PEDRO: I got into the MA Menswear at Central Saint Martins so I'm going to be starting that in October. I plan to continue developing my research. I've been painting a lot as well. I want to join both of these practices together and have a more holistic project. After that the plan would be to work with a few designers and then start my own brand.
CHIN: I've recently been studying on some UAL Short Courses - How be an Independent Curator and Art, Ethics and Social Change. Every day is very important, and I want to improve myself. I'm very excited about joining the MA Fashion Artefact course at London College of Fashion, to collaborate with new classmates and with other UAL schools like London College of Communication. I’d love to do an exhibition or virtual show.
- Find out more about the Graduate Diploma Fashion Design Technology
- Follow Chin on Instagram
- Follow Zhen on Instagram or check out Zhen’s work on the UAL Graduate Showcase
- Follow Pedro on Instagram or check out Pedro’s work on the UAL Graduate Showcase
- Keep up to date with the UAL Coronavirus page.
- What’s on at LCF: open days and events