Following the launch of 1 Granary's VOID exhibition, three of its collaborators talk exploring womanhood, the merits of collaboration, and navigating the challenges of the fashion industry
On Saturday, amid the chaos of LFWM, 1 Granary debuted the latest chapter of VOID – a unique exhibition documenting the work of some of London’s most exciting young fashion talents – and, for the first time, an accompanying limited edition publication.
Ripping up the rule book as to what traditionally constitutes a magazine, the initiative presented six separate zines, with each one dedicated to a specific designer. Working with their creative teams, each had full control over everything: from the layout and imagery, right through to the actual contents and even the binding.
Among the designers invited to contribute this season were Charlotte Knowles, whose work aims to dismantle and reconstruct the idea of feminine sexuality, Sinead O’Dwyer, who explores female body image and perception through her wildly beautiful works in silicone, and CSM graduate Rebecca Jeffs, who is intent on deconstructing the codes of womanhood with her progressive, imaginative womenswear.
“New designers are turned into rising stars rather that being given the time to grow and develop their work” – Aya Noël
Since its inception in 2017, VOID has been focused on supporting emerging designers as they make their way in fashion, linking them up not only with collaborators, but, perhaps more importantly, enabling them to build a network that will help them navigate the industry’s challenges in the early days of their career.
As plans began coming together for the latest iteration of VOID, it was conversations surrounding these issues that were at the forefront of editor Aya Noël’s mind, as they discussed the ever-increasing pace of fashion, status anxiety, and more. “We talked a lot about the pressures of being young and finding your place in the industry,” she explained prior to the launch. “New designers are turned into rising stars rather that being given the time to grow and develop their work.”
With that in mind, we caught up with Jeffs, O'Dwyer, and Knowles and her partner Alexandre Arsenault to talk about their experience of working on VOID, what they’re taking away from the project, and the ways in which they hope to make an impact on the fashion industry.
Creative Director: Jasmine Raznahan
Photographer: Sharna Osborne
Stylist: Danielle Emerson
“I’ve always been fascinated by the relationship between creative expression and the body, so I was naturally drawn towards fashion design and performance, and I love how many crafts, disciplines, and experts come together within the fashion industry – and that fashion design and imagery are so important to forming identity. On the other hand, though, fashion reinforces many ideals of elitism in relation to body shape and size, race, and class, starting with its educational institutions and running right through to the high street. With my work, I hope to change the idea that the design process needs to start with a tall, slim models, and that the beginning point and body ideal can include larger volumes, form, and sizing.
Working as a young designer is difficult because you need money to start out, but it’s really hard to focus on your brand development when you’re always working other jobs to pay for your expenses. I’m so lucky to have the support of 1 Granary, to be able to reach out to them for advice and to answer questions, but in general I think it’s hard to figure out what to do in terms of business when you graduate and want to start out on your own. There’s not much room for trial and error, which can be really intimidating.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the relationship between creative expression and the body, so I was naturally drawn towards fashion design and performance” – Sinead O’Dwyer
Working on VOID has been amazing, I love what Jasmine, Sharna, Danielle, and I created. The project has helped me generate visual imagery that really begins to represent my world as a designer. It was such an amazing opportunity to see Jasmine and Sharna collaborate and generate ideas together with so much confidence and I was really inspired by them both. The dynamic on set between Sharna and Danielle, the stylist, was also really cool to watch, they are such a team. When we met for the first time we all instantly agreed on our model Agusta. Then a story built itself around her and her persona and the collection. We wanted to create a sort of abstract narrative of Agusta in different scenarios which we did using different sets, props and styling. Before when I’ve created visuals I think I could be quite controlling: I wanted to get all the details, to get the colours just right, and sometimes it would end up more like a lookbook. With VOID it was an opportunity to let Jasmine and Sharna take over. It wasn’t about shooting all the looks – I wanted it to be something much more raw than anything I’d created before.”
Photographer: Chris Rhodes
Video: Albert Moya
Stylist: Danielle van Camp
“I started thinking about working in fashion when I realised it was a form of expression that allows you to create characters and a world of your own, which is still ultimately connected to reality. My work, overall, is a representation of how we see femininity and what it means to be a woman. Fashion is a form of discourse which is continuously re-defining and ‘improving’ our idea of that, and in the future, I hope to see other designers approaching womenswear with a higher level of sensitivity and intellectual rigeur.
I feel very comfortable within my realm of design and creation, but I do feel the pressure when it comes to balancing and negotiating all the other elements that come into play, things like press and marketing and so on. In fashion, there’s an incredible mix of highly passionate and creative people, but for many there’s a real pressure to keep up with the speed at which it currently moves.
My project was all about documenting a woman in her personal creative space, how her body language interacted with the clothes. It’s quite light-hearted and a little surreal. We wanted to cultivate an atmosphere in which the images read as self-timed photographs and still lifes, and we referenced performance art, as well as the rituals attached to both the utility and uselessness of clothing to evoke a new meaning for the viewer. The woman in focus is the author of her own gaze. There was an immediate and instinctive connection between everyone I worked with on VOID, and a mutual understanding of what the work is all about. Each person brought a new and distinct perspective to the collection.”
CHARLOTTE KNOWLES & ALEXANDRE ARSENAULT
Creative Director: Ted Lovett
Stylist: Georgia Pendlebury
Photographer: Harley Weir
“Charlotte was interested in fashion from a young age – her grandma owned a small boutique and was very stylish - whereas I wanted to study art but ended up finding out about the likes of Rick Owens and Alexander McQueen on a number of forums and was swayed into pursuing that instead. There’s real power in youth in London fashion. A new generation are cultivating things here which is really exciting. As a brand, we’re intent on proposing a new archetype within fashion - creating a new wardrobe for the strong women populating the world of today and tomorrow. Or how we imagine it at least.
Our VOID project revolved around intimacy and femininity: we were talking about a woman that could be the emblem of this, a kind of Aphrodite figure, who’s primitive, sensual, and dangerous. The shoot itself was great. We went to a big estate in the country and shot our model, Amalia, around the grounds and inside the house. Everyone we worked with was incredibly passionate, there was no pretentious attitude and it felt very natural. I hope they felt the same way about us, we can be pretty obsessive about the smallest of details.” (Alexandre Arsenault)
VOID is available to buy now. Get your copy here.