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Fashion's New Optimism: Craig Lawrence

After being told that at LCF, they did projects on Tescos, he defected to CSM and made a collection revolving around Christomas decorations.

Craig Lawrence, 24, British, Natty Knitwear

Where did you study and why did you decide to study there?
I studied at Central Saint Martins. I have to say I didn’t really know much about the fashion colleges however when I was doing my foundation year at London College of Fashion I learnt that only a hand full of people out of our whole year would get picked to do a degree at CSM and that some top class designers went there as well, so I thought that was worth a go and I got told that LCF did projects for Tesco’s so that put me off, and Middlesex was my 2nd choice.

Which city do you work in and for what reason?
I work in London. I studied here firstly and got to know the city and I like it because there’s always something going on, there’s amazing museums/galleries on your doorstep and it’s a big mix up, you’ll always meet new interesting people all the time, there’s lots of pockets of creative fun people. And for designers starting up there are loads of great sponsorship and collaboration opportunities to help get started with showing collections.

What films/books/tv-programs/moments and stories inspire your design now?
My inspirational, well favourite, film is 'Bring it On'. Its just soo pumping and superbly sickly cute and sweet, similar to ‘Mean Girls.’ But my all time favourite is 'Edward Scissorhands'.  I have a few Martin Parr books as well. I love the way his photos can look abstract and gaudy. But I also like the dark side. I’ve got a few Glamour International magazines decades ago. Then on a different level I find Tarnation, Nil by Mouth, and Monster to be powerful stories.

In your own words describe your last collection.
It’s a 3D, bigger-than-life splurge of Christmas past, a refection of the overwhelming and flashy-tacky show of Christmas critters

Describe the moment you realised you wanted to be a fashion designer?
I used to dress my dollydot (teddy bear) up in cardboard outfits when I was little but when I watched ballroom dancing on telly a few years later, in early high school, I started to then draw my own designs in a little sketch book, so probably it was that moment. But at that point it was a hobby.
Who is your all time fashion idol?
The nearest thing to a fashion idol for me would be the Russian designer, sculptor and performance artist Andrey Bartenev. His abstract body costumes are always so extreme and completely different to the last thing he’s done, it's always a surprise to find out where the body’s hidden in his costumes.

In a sentence how would you describe your work/style?
My work is an experimental exploration into the explosive world of knitwear.

From the recent S/S 09 shows, which shows were your favourite collections, and why?
I really liked Manish Arora, it’s the most incredible spiky cartoon sparkly glittery armour ever, pure fantasy, and its got loads of tinsely and beady bits hanging off of it, extravagant and well expensive.

Which new designers do you respect and why?
Yes, there are a few who have graduated with me this year, firstly:
1.    Orla Savage, savage by name, savage by nature and savage by knit! Orla’s collection is an individual mix of hand knit domestic machine knit and dubied knit, drawing on different textures from human hair sheep’s tufts to sparkly yarn, then my favourite cap ever using viscose knitted fringe that so light weight that it flies everywhere.
2.    Rachel Chan’s knitwear collection was a hand beaded slinky extravaganza, all knitted on a domestic knitting machine, the sheer amount of time each piece took for Rachel to do gets my respect.
3.    Ingrid Hass, as with Rachel they are both already doing projects in New York. I was impressed with Ingrid’s  amazingly intricate tapestry shift dress. A really interestingly abstract way to use tapestry.
If you could go back in time and experience any fashion moment, what would it be?
I would like to have visited Vivienne Westwood’s first shop, Let it Rock, and also seen a few performances by Lee Bowery, both would have been extreme experiences.

If you could get any model/ anyone to wear your clothes, who would it be - who is your muse and why?
Well it would have to start with Girls Aloud, I think they should do their own ‘Bring it On’ film and bitch each other out in a well put together, rhyming, bitchy chant with a few knee and butt slaps wearing some bitch-off knit piece. Then I’d like Peaches too, she’s got balls, like Suz No Bra, she’s got balls as well. But then again having Patrick Wolf bouncing around in my loopy piece for a gig at Shepard’s Bush Empire was loads of fun as well. My friend Elina Mitrofanova, the model, was, however, my muse for my last collection.  

If you were to shoot your campaign and you could get your dream team of photographer, stylist, and model and do anything you wanted, who and what would it be?
Well I know this one stylist…..she’s quite hot to trot, you might have heard of her…Katie Shilingford, she’d have to be the stylist, then defiantly all time legend Martin Parr would defiantly have to be the photographer to really emphasis the power of the garish grotesque colours and attitudes of the environment and models. So then Elina Mitrofanova would have to be one of the models and Lindsey Lohan, would have to model with perhaps a mixture Girls Aloud and purebred Ipshit chav girls. I think it would have to be shot either in, Great Yarmouth or Felixstowe or Blackpool, or all three, in and around the cafes and amusements and fair ground rides and a couple of photos would have to be on a bouncy castle.

Where do you see yourself/your label for A/W 09?
Showing a London Fashion Week in some way or another would be nice!

Where do you see yourself/ your label for A/W 29?
Ruling the world (in some way) hopefully…

Tell us any anecdotes about the making of your last collection.
Well the last couple of months were quite something, I just moved in with my boyfriend Kenzie and became his nurse as he couldn’t walk/ get out of bed as he had to have a stomach churning knee operation because 6 months earlier a mean tranny pushed him over at a party and tore things in his knee that should never be torn.
But then after a few weeks he did start to become the team/ in-house cook. Oh yeah and my poor flatmates... I swamped the place with all of my bits everywhere for months, which was always a bit dangerous with Kuma, the chihuahua of the house getting lost in mountains of ribbon. Then the day of the press show was going to be a long one so I pre-empted and got 2 boxes of wine, which was a bit dangerous as we were all nearly asleep by the end of the day. By six the next morning Vanya my flatmate had us on they train to his parents house, home base of Slovo’s Snowshow - one day in France for his birthday. It felt like a complete dream, with big red  balloons across the forest and in the sky, bubble machines in the trees and the roof and smoke pouring across the river.   

If you weren’t a fashion designer what would you be?
Well firstly I would just be retired, and failing that I’d be a bar tender in a gay bar in Falafucky or Gran Canaria, that’d be fun but not sure how long I’d survive with all that drink and partying around, and I’d be permanently sunburnt as well, which would make me sooo grumpy as well as the sun doing my head in whenever I’ve got a hangover. So perhaps I could run a doggy rehab centre, for all the celeb dogs that find money and fame all a bit too much.