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Timothy Bouyez-Forge graduate collection
Timothy Bouyez-Forge graduate collectionPhotography Ted Mendez

Timothy Bouyez-Forge is making couture from motorbike parts

RCA grad Timothy Bouyez-Forge discusses his collection which was constructed from scrap metal

Japanese manga, discarded sports cars and pearlescent spraypaint may seem unusual starting points for a graduate collection. Timothy Bouyez-Forge, however, is no conventional designer; his work sees salvaged motorbike fairings transformed into sculptural couture gowns, while car bumpers are vacuum formed and manipulated into fluid liquid trousers. Despite showing only one look at the Royal College of Art’s recent MA Graduate show (a new stipulation introduced by course leader Zowie Broach) his singular vision quickly cemented itself as a firm highlight; his model skulked around the show’s dilapidated hotel venue dressed in burnished bronze harem pants and an acid green bodice constructed from reclaimed motorbikes.

What sets Bouyez-Forge apart from his contemporaries is that he approaches fashion design as he would vehicle design. His creations skilfully blur the line between clothing and sculpture; each piece is a compelling combination of fashion and technology intended to push limits. Here, the designer discusses his inspirations, his initial ambivalence towards fashion and the ongoing importance of perseverance in creating a collection.

Can you tell us about your background in fashion?

Timothy Bouyez-Forge: When I started my studies I initially didn’t think about fashion. I wanted to go into 3D animation, games design or fine art until I went to the Chelsea College of Art and explored different pathways; the Fashion Textiles program really stuck because it was hands-on, there were no rules as to what to make and why. I struggled with the medium at first because I had never worked with fabric, but I slowly taught myself about materiality, texture, surface and, most importantly, colour. From there I went on to a BA course at London College of Fashion and graduated into a job styling and working for Mary Katrantzou.

What drew you to the MA course at RCA?

Timothy Bouyez-Forge: After two years working for others I really wanted to go back to concentrating on the development of my own work. I saw RCA as this creative hotbed – I admire so many of the fine artists and sculptors that studied there and I really wanted to take part in that, so I took a hiatus to study there. The course was under new direction, so it was all about unabashed critique and a true test of capabilities with rigid demands on the quality of ideas. These last two years have been the best and worst times of my life, but it all felt true.

What were the references that inspired your graduate collection?

Timothy Bouyez-Forge: JG Ballard’s Crash, Akira and two-tone Chameléon Pearl spray paints. More generally, I was inspired by sports cars, BMX bikes, heavy machinery and women on racing bikes, as well as the epicness that is the future.

How did you come up with the idea of using recycled bike parts?

Timothy Bouyez-Forge: I started out using scrap metal and old car parts to make a series of strange sculptures which I then put into vaccuum formers. I was looking a lot at vehicle shapes at the time, and my tutor, Tristan Webber, pointed out that they resembled motorbike fairings. I just thought “Yes!” Motorbikes and scooters are these strange moving objects, amalgamations of contradictions and forms. It made sense to me, so I went around garages in Dalston to get my own motorbike fairings – I took everything I could carry on my back and cycled to uni. I looked like a Gundam – I once had a whole Mercedes car bumper strapped to my back.

How did you transform these industrial materials into fashion?

Timothy Bouyez-Forge: I used machinery normally used in industrial production systems. I watched a load of How It’s Made episodes for reference and started using vacuum formers, bolt guns, 3D scanners and band saws. I would boltgun vacuum forming fabrics together, 3D scan motorbike fairings and spray-paint them afterwards. I approached these pieces like I would approach building a bike or a car – it was all about the right surface and the right treatment.

What were your biggest challenges?

Timothy: The failures – so many failures. But it’s all about perseverance and trying again. All that matters in the end is that you have a vision and that you do all you can with the means you have to get as close to that vision as possible.

What do you think of the impact technology has had on the fashion industry?

Timothy Bouyez-Forge: It’s enormous. It’s the future and we can’t go back – from logistics to manufacturing, the beast that is technology has changed the way we consume and understand (or don’t understand) fashion.

“I approached these pieces like I would approach building a bike or a car – it was all about the right surface and the right treatment” – Timothy Bouyez-Forge

Has your time at RCA shaped your approach to design?

Timothy Bouyez-Forge: Not so much. I have a way of attacking things, but what it has given me is freedom and time; the freedom to go as wild as I like and the time to exercise. It was like a gym-playground hybrid where the muscles in your mind could play around and your body could flex and follow its instincts.

Are you currently working on a new collection?

Timothy Bouyez-Forge: I’m pushing the graduate collection for now. The public only got to see one look at the RCA MA show in June, so I feel like it hasn’t been fully unveiled yet. Once it is revealed in September I’ll be straight on to the next.

What advice would you give to prospective fashion students?

Timothy Bouyez-Forge: Hear, see, learn all, be eager, try, taste, think and reflect. Move on and try again.