Amy Davidson, a BA (Hons) Fashion student at Manchester School of Art, recent won the Mulberry Accessories Award at Graduate Fashion Week for her intricate wood and laser cut leather men’s accessories. Twin spoke to the young designer about her gothic architecture and French cathedral-inspired collection and post graduate plans…
How did it feel to win the Mulberry Accessories Award at GFW?
I couldn’t believe it, the competition was tough this year so I was overwhelmed with joy. It also gave me the confidence to keep designing and thinking of new ideas. I want to use the same methods from making these bags into something new.
What inspired you to pursue womenswear and men’s accessories?
Throughout university and college I enjoyed designing and making feminine clothes. I love lace and girly printed fabrics. As I grew and developed my design philosophy, I began to love the idea of having these same designs on a man. Sometimes designing traditional feminine shapes on a woman can be quite predictable and bland, however if you put this on a man it becomes edgy and unusual. I chose accessories as a career choice because my work is very 3D. I am always trying to place unusual fabrications around the body, so it made more sense to study accessories. It’s important for me to find a career I enjoy and feel comfortable in.
You mentioned that you like to question why and how we wear fashion and how you can influence others. Would you like to elaborate on how this ethos feeds into your designs?
This ethos feeds into my designs by taking a generic garment and using it in a new way. In my final degree project I started making a traditional corset shape out of boning, then covered it in knitting and twisted it into new mysterious shapes around the body. The idea that we have to dress a certain way with certain rules doesn’t apply to my designs. I would much rather create an art form on the body then a generic shirt and pants collection.
Where do you find your inspiration and which designers do you look up to?
The inspiration for my collection came from my travels in France last summer. I visited a few cathedrals and fell in love with the intricate details found around the buildings and on the ceilings. I also love things that are delicate like lace, you can see the skill and time that went into making something like that. My fascination with both these things lead me to design detailed laser cut patterns inspired by gothic imagery.
I chose to use the colours black and silver because they are the colours most used in my research and work best with the look I tried to achieve. The designer I look at the most is Iris Van Herpen, she uses multiple textile techniques and unusual fashion materials to create beautiful garments that shock and inspire her audience. Another designer is Sandra Backlund, her visionary knitwear breaks the mould and shows how sometimes the best way to create exciting garments is to let the fabric inform the designs, not flat 2D drawings.
What was the process of creating your graduate accessories collection like?
The process of creating my graduate accessories collection was mainly trial and error. With most of my technical knowledge in pattern cutting and sewing, I was faced with the challenge of using wood to create my bags. The most logical way for me was to have small holes around each piece of wood and sew them together with thick leather thread. Luckily this technique worked well and fitted in with the rest of my design.
How would you describe your aesthetic and how would you like to further develop as a designer in the future?
My design aesthetic is a real mix of my love for history, be it architecture or costume, and modern art. I keep my designs contemporary by mixing both research areas to create something original. I would like to further develop as a designer in the future by finding new ways to use my inspirational imagery. I think I would like to not be so literal in my design themes in the future. I enjoy collections that are not too overstated, where you can’t see straight away where there designs came from, and that are a mix of ideas or a different take on the brand’s own signature style.
What are your postgraduate plans?
My post graduate plans are to do some freelance design work and then a Masters in accessories at the Royal College of Art in September. My dream career scenario would be to work for Mulberry or Marc Jacobs, I love the quality of finish and the craftsmanship in each item. They design stylish accessories that are clean and sophisticated which I’m really interested in.
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