Dharma Taylor AW 10-11

The London designer stays true to the city's quirkyness with her 'Knock Out' collection

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All major fashon cities throughout the world have their own style identity; it’s almost like designers flock to different countries in order to fit in with what’s genreally perceived as the common aesthetic idea of either London, Paris, New York or Milan. The UK capital has always been the avant garde and forward pushing little sister to the bigger, more grown up cities, and even though the recent edition of LFW was applauded for its maturity, there are thankfully plenty of up-and-coming designers in London ready to question any widespread notion of ‘settling down’.
 
Dharma Taylor, for example, has since graduating from Rochester University in 2007 kept to her vision of  a dark – yet surpsringly colourful – vision of the future. Through previous collections such as Purple Haze and the current AW10 Knock Out, Taylor has pushed her charecterostic style of graphic prints and loud colour schemes.
 
This exactly why London continues to breed the next generation of fashion super stars; a never ending ambition to pursue dreams and not giving up. If we’re lucky, they will take after Taylor and cite literary heroes – like Kafka in this case – rather than Banksy, glow sticks or Snow Patrol. With imaginative videos and breath taking head pieces, Dharma Taylor challenges our prepackaged of what a modern day fashion collection should look like. Just the way we like it in London.
 
Dazed Digital: What inspired Knock Out? You mention the author Franz Kafka - anything else?
Dharma Taylor: I looked at how Franz Kafka, in ‘Metamorphosis’, illuminated the state of captivity of creative artists in society was the ultimate inspiration for the Knock Out collection. Knockout goes with the times. I’ve been also been reading a lot of Carlos Castenada and have been influenced by his writings and the notion that a separate reality can be created, a brand new world, but is probably already there.
 
DD: You’ve talked about “Subwoofing elements of Hyperreality” - are your clothes part of those elements?
Dharma Taylor: Of course they are.  They definatly play a part in trying to communicate with the nation. In communicating, a subwoofing language is creating a new and subversive one. This language can be coded and can be found in the garments themselves, but also in the supporting graphic animations and sound.
 
DD: There is something quite Bernhard Willhelm-esque about your collections – has he been an influence on you?
Dharma Taylor: It’s more like an admiration I have for his early work than it is an influence. My favourite was his AW 07-08 collection - it was the head pieces that did it! I havnt really looked to his stuff of late.
 
DD: How come you ended up designing menswear, and would you consider trying out womenswear?
Dharma Taylor: Menswear is where I feel most comfortable, I’ve always designed for the boys in mind. I think I’ve always seized that style like a bit boyish since I was little. The pieces do have a unisex quality though, girls can wear it too. I haven’t yet considered designing womenswear simply because I have a lot of respect for the aesthetics in menswear. But never say never!
 
DD: You use many graphic prints. Do you do them all yourself?
Dharma Taylor: Yeah, all the graphics you see associated with  Dharma Taylor are designed and produced by myself. Lately I’ve been using 3D design softwares such as 3D studio max, Maya and Zbrush.
 
DD: When do they come to you – in dreams?
Dharma Taylor: Unfortunatly not - if they did I’d be on to an easy winner!
 
DD: You graduated in 2007, did you set up Dharma Taylor straight away? Would you have done it differently today?
Dharma Taylor: After graduating in July 2007 I sort of rested for six months then showed my Purple Haze AW 08 collection at London Fashion Week via SuperSuper. This led to the ilil guerilla boutique in Tokyo showing interest in my work. I can’t think of any other way I would have done it... The only thing that I keep coming back to is the idea that perhaps I could have a different name to represent the brand.
 
DD: What are the Pros and Cons with setting up your own label?
Dharma Taylor: Starting a label with empty pockets has been a struggle. Nevertheless that gives you a drive and determination to develop it further.
 
DD: What do you say to people who automatically assume you are part of a New Rave design genre?
Dharma Taylor: People really don’t assume I’m a part of that New Rave design genre. I think their broadminded enough to know it’s not that. New rave’s been dead in the ground a long time, it died even before I’d finished my BA. But it did have a little influence on some of my early work. Right now Dharma Taylor is a part of a new void in time, a new genre. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. It’s definatley digital though, and dark.
 
DD: You studied at Rochester University – was it a good or bad thing to learn fashion outside the insular London fashion world?
Dharma Taylor: I was definately a good thing - simply because all of us there knew no different and we created our own world of insulation, a good environment for bouncing ideas... some of us branched out occasionally to go see what the city was saying. Despite that I’ve just completed my Masters in Digital Fashion through the menswear pathway at the London College of Fashion. And even though the faculty was in the centre of London, I felt I lost touch with the London fashion scene. I’m back now.
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