Hannah grew up in Munich, born from British and German parents, and moved to London to study design and discover her British roots. She is now in her second year doing the BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear and has been working on developing her own brand Gracious Studio. She presented her latest collection 'Ophelia is dyeing' at the International Fashion Design Competition MODAPORTUGAL in December 2019. She told us about why she chose LCF, her journey as a student and her hopes for her future as a fashion designer.
Hi Hannah! Tell us a bit about your creative journey. Why did you decide to become a fashion designer?
Within the past three generations on both sides of my family, women have been sewing either professionally or in their spare time. My mother taught me to use her sewing machine when I was eleven. Ever since, the slogan “Make it yourself” has dominated my life.
What attracted you about the BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear at LCF?
I am a very ambitious person. Consequently, after having seen the course’s international ranking on The Business of Fashion, I knew that I had to give it a shot. I developed an interest in fashion by altering and making garments for myself so choosing womenswear seemed logical. But what attracted me most was the course’s equal focus on both designing and making.
What did you find most challenging in the beginning?
I didn't do a foundation degree, which meant I lacked basic knowledge on working in scrap books, putting together portfolio pages and communicating ideas through visual work. I didn’t know what a design process looked like and had no idea what worked best for me.
The first year was a steep learning curve of understanding what the course required, how to deal with the workload, what facilities there are and how to use them.
Additionally, moving 11,000 km away from your childhood home, boyfriend, friends and pets, to an enormous city where I knew absolutely no one, was very challenging.
And what have you enjoyed the most so far about studying at LCF?
What I enjoy the most, is when you manage to apply the skills you learned and a project has grown beyond the course. When you are invested, you go the extra mile and you realise that you are doing it for yourself, not the grade. This is how you produce the best work and get a feeling of achievement. For me, this happened for the first time during my 'Muse Project', when I had to choose a theme I was really passionate about, and it made all the difference.
From the projects you’ve worked on, do you have one that you’re particularly proud of?
I am lucky enough to have enjoyed all of my projects since the start of my second year. 'Aesthetic and Identity' helped me understand who I am as a designer, recognise what my aesthetic is and where I place myself within the fashion industry. But I am most proud of my pre-collection 'Ophelia is dyeing', which I presented at the International Fashion Design Competition MODAPORTUGAL in December 2019.
Hannah Cooper presenting her collection 'Ophelia is dyeing' at MODAPORTUGAL.
What inspires you to be a designer?
On the one hand, I am driven by the joy of making, on the other hand I am frustrated with the fashion industry's negative influence on the environment and labour force, lack of transparency and accountability along the supply chain, as well as the lack of appreciation for craft. I want to be part in making the fashion industry more sustainable.
For those interested in joining the BA Womenswear, how would you describe the course?
The course is enormously demanding, challenging and highly competitive, and requires to be passionate in order to succeed. But if you attend the classes, work hard, take the feedback of the tutors on board and keep on pushing yourself, you have the potential to grow exponentially over the course of the three years.
You will develop a unique aesthetic and identity as a designer, and have a great base to begin your career within the industry or apply to a master’s degree.
'Ophelia is dyeing' collection by Hannah Cooper.
What piece of advice would you give to new LCF students to make the most of their time here?
Attend the classes! Make most of the open access facilities. And always do a photoshoot.