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Fashion For Show

A handful of current and future fashion students at Central St Martins and London College of Fashion put on their own fashion spectacle off London's Brick Lane to showcase local design talent

Passion, energy and enthusiasm are surely just three of the qualities the professors and tutors of London’s world-known fashion and design institutions look for in a young designer. In that case, the collaborative show that six designers, currently in or about to start their first year at Central St Martin’s and London College of Fashion, put together on Tuesday night gets A+! ‘Fashion For Show’ took place at The Rag Factory just off London’s Brick Lane and showcased three looks from each participating designer as well as what can be accomplished when creative types chip in their skills and talent with three CSM set designers, a couple of DJs, some stylists and a bunch of make-up, hair and lighting students all doing their part. The four Swedish designers, Magdalena Gustafsson, Lisette Norrby, Sara Arnesen and Pauline Edwall - who knew each other from studying at the Cutters Academy in Gothenburg - joined forces with two more, French Andrea Mongenie and British/French Timothy Bouyes-Forge, and, in their own words, "tried to have fun". It’s enough to make those final-year students shake in their Doc Martens. Dazed Digital was there, observing all the backstage action and finding out more about a few of the designers, their reasons for organising the show and why a little bit of rebellion is a must for every design student in London.

Dazed Digital: What and where are you studying:
Magdalena Gustafsson: I'm in my first year studying for a BA degree in Knitwear at CSM.

DD: Could you tell us how the idea for this collaboration and show came about?

Magdalena Gustafsson: We wanted to collaborate with other people and get as many people involved as possible. We wanted to have fun and make something outside of school that’s just for us and for fun. At the beginning it was four of us interested in doing the show, we met and talked about what we wanted to do with the show and what we wanted to get out if it and that’s how we ended up with six designers.

DD: Why knitwear?
Magdalena Gustafsson: I really like to work with the garment for a long time and create the material as well. Designing for me comes a lot from the material so I start with that and I work it out from there. In this collection, I started to work and drape strings into different shapes to get the silhouette and then decided to stay with natural materials.

DD: The three looks you’re showing tonight have a lot of different layers to them with crochet details on sleeves and knitted ‘necklaces’ on top, what was your starting point for that?
Magdalena Gustafsson: Actually, I was looking at Annette Messager and her way of working with many objects and putting them into one thing. That’s what I like, all the knitting parts are going on but still connected to one thing. I was also looking at parachutes and these straps that parachute jumpers have on their legs for the pants I made, which then turned into pants with a skirt at the same. I like all these straps that are connected and pulled together.


Dazed Digital: What and where do you study?
Timothy Bouyes-Forge: First year of womenswear at LCF.

DD: Why did you take part in this project?
Timothy Bouyes-Forge: I think the idea came out of frustration, maybe this is just me, but it’s a very competitive business and we’re all really eager to show our things as soon as possible and to make our mark. As soon as I started to do fashion and art I wanted to get stuck in and start to create great things. So, it came out of that and a little bit of rebellion even, doing something outside of school without the background of the school trying to dictate what we do.

DD: What did you decide to show tonight?
Timothy Bouyes-Forge: Right now my collection is all-white with burnt details, like the distraction of something pure. I like to see how the fabrics burn. There’s a loose shirtdress that I used incense sticks to make all these little burns that resemble a polka dot pattern and I like that it’s tangible but really neutral and slick. It’s these contrasts that I really like. Some of the clothes come from different projects that I’ve done at University and I found a rhythm through it all. I really like this white t-shirt I made, which is all neoprene, like surf-wear, and it’s all padded and feels safe in some way and then contrasts with the skirt, which is burnt and destroyed and crispy and the colours are brown and yellow.

DD: From afar it almost looked like a print...
Timothy Bouyes-Forge: Actually I thought of making it as a print but it loses its tangibility and what it was previously.

DD: How did you get into design?
Timothy Bouyes-Forge: My sister is a graphic designer and I think my parents directed me subconsciously - I didn’t realise it when I was young - and I think I responded well to art and design. It feels good to me to make these things and to draw and to have that creative side. And the whole London scene as well, it’s a little niche where everybody has the chance to show what they make and that’s really rare. The thing about London is that there’re a lot of eager young students and young people who really want to make something, it’s like this colony of people!

DD: Are there any particular designers you admire?
Timothy Bouyes-Forge:  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look up to Comme des Garcons and Margiela but I really like Nineties fashion right now and the Eighties and Thirties as well. Photography and time is my inspiration. You can look through the Evening Standard or Metro and you can find a really cool picture like one of the Pope…

DD: He’s wearing all-white!
Timothy Bouyes-Forge: Exactly! That’s how I like to find my inspiration, in strange random places.


Dazed Digital: What and where are you studying?
Lisette Norrby: I'm starting CSM a menswear degree this year.

DD: It must have taken quite a lot of effort putting this show together!
Lisette Norrby: Yes, I guess it’s just the passion, just a passion for showing your things.

DD: How come you chose menswear?
Lisette Norrby: To me it’s more appealing, it’s more playful and I can think a bit more outside the box. I don’t necessarily have to think about what suits my body. I didn’t really think about doing menswear, I was just trying to find a place for my vision, which accidentally just ended up being menswear all the time. And I really like tailoring and doing things properly, with really fine materials.

DD: How would you describe your style and what influences you?
Lisette Norrby: Textiles are very important to me, I like to work with pure materials like wool and silk and pure cotton. Most of my inspirations are from shapes and concepts, I love working within a concept and having a playful feeling and playful shapes, almost childish, to the edge of being a bit too ridiculous and kindergarten-ish!

DD: It’s interesting you used the word playful, as it’s not one you hear often attributed to menswear. Is that you wanted to achieve with all the ruched and gathered detailing?
Lisette Norrby: I love fashion and I like creating things and I love looking at beautiful things but for me, I feel that I’d rather have fun while I’m doing it and really experiment and switch things around. For this show, I was working with the negative space that I find in people interacting with each other, so that’s my concept. I wanted to make the negative space visible so if you look closely at my garments you can see shapes reoccurring in different ways, falling out from the body. I didn’t want to have any prints, I wanted the materials to be pure and clean and simple and just play with the shapes like twisting the garment around the body. On the limit of what’s feminine and playful and childish.


Dazed Digital: Where and what do you study?
Andrea Mongenie: I'm in my first at London College of Fashion

DD: Did you enjoy collaborating with all these other designers for this show?
Andrea Mongenie: Well, we’re all best friends and in fashion it’s always hard to find people you really get on with. We just got on really well, everyone is really chilled out about fashion, it’s something we take seriously but not too seriously and have fun doing. We’re all doing these courses and everything is about marking so we wanted to do something about ourselves.

DD: How would you describe what you do?
Andrea Mongenie: I love playing with shapes on the body, I’m more of a 3D designer. I always work on the stand and end up with shapes that I’ll then work on my pattern. Everyone works very differently, which is interesting. I’m really interested in body shapes, I did a lot of dancing when I was younger and I love changing shapes around the body and playing with lines on the body, just really simple lines.
DD: Could you describe a couple of the pieces you’re showing tonight?
Andrea Mongenie: All of it is grey, white and black…

DD: Why that palette?
Andrea Mongenie: Because I think colours are hard! I actually love colours but I think it’s really hard to get them right. The silhouette is a mix, some of them are quite fitted, with padded shoulders and there’s a more voluminous pleated dress in knitted jersey. I love textiles so I play around with lots of fabrics. That’s always my starting point, I never start from a pattern, I start from the fabric. For this collection actually I had lots of fun with jersey! And that’s the point, just having fun with jersey!