The Meaning of Fashion Design

(To Me)

I often comment on both my creative director life and my freelancing life as unsurprisingly they interact on a daily basis with each exploring passions of mine in different ways. When I first decided on fashion design as my career path I was 15 years old and in a textiles class at school. We had a project to make clothes from unconventional materials and present them in an out-of-school catwalk.

My finished garment was some intensely awful bin bag creation stitched and glued together with reds and oranges to really highlight my poor choice of colour palette. It had an inexplicable fan feature to the back that protruded to one side of the dress making it an abysmal fail at a-symmetry. The problem was, I thoroughly enjoyed the project until I saw my classmates' outcomes, before realising how tasteless mine was. That design will always stick with me. 

It is only since graduating and finding my footing amongst companies with aesthetics I admire, that I have developed my signature style. It panicked me all through university that I didn't know who I was as a designer when peers of mine had such clear visions down to their illustration technique. I experimented with colour in my second year "Shirt Project" and the garish bright blue that clashed with some monochrome print textile scared me back into my cave of poor taste. 

Another tasteless design project:


I have mentioned in multiple interviews that I have never been one to thumb through the pages of Vogue, and I'm pretty confident I wore clothes that never truly fitted my figure with styling choices I would rather leave in the hidden folders on Facebook. Though what truly captured my love for fashion, was the ability to convert my two-dimensional sketches, sketches I had been doodling for years, into a three-dimensional, tangible outcome. To push beyond an illustration, to truly make a dream reality.

Moving into my university years, I became thoroughly trained into the art of fashion design and how to explore research and concepts to fill a blank canvas with original ideas. It was vital to produce new designs, whether that marry inspiration from past with concepts from present or to create pure innovation, the essence of fashion design was to invent. 

I work with a multitude of clients across various stages in their ventures. I enjoy freelance work as I get so many projects arrive in my inbox to keep me on my toes and invested. The vast majority of those who work with me have not had a training background in fashion, hence the need to invite me on board, but they bring enthusiasm and ideas which I am honoured to be a part of and assist them in bringing their visions to life.

Many people with a business mind and accompanying bank account now fancy their hand at fashion. Who can blame them? The market is worth billions, it's exciting and fast paced, full of characters and opportunities to network, it explores technologies and connects so many industries and skills together and finally when every single human has a unique figure, style and wardrobe, fashion allows you to express yourself and extend your personality through the garments you purchase. 

But fast fashion has poisoned the market with short-lifespan trends. Trends which a handful of my clients buy into, they approach me proclaiming to be a self-nominated fashion designer then present ideas already on the rail. I have pattern cut one too many 'Kim Kardashian-West' bodycon choker dresses, and don't get me started on this season's frills (when will they end?!). Which then also brings me to the customer, and I may lose a few brownie points here, but please listen up if you're a self proclaimed 'fashionista' or stylist:

 You claim to love fashion but won't be seen dead in an outfit twice, this isn't love, this is under-appreciation for the artisan and craft.

There, I said it. Can't take it back now. But please take a moment to think about it, from a British fashion designer's perspective, I would be mortified if my jumpers, which take days to create, were only ever worn for no more than a few hours - or any of my designs in fact. As for high street items and the perspective of a less fortunate garment worker? Imagine working a split shift of 12 hours on, 1 hour off and 12 hours on again for you to discard last night's party outfit because it's already starred on your instagram profile - well that has another level of insulting thrown into the mix. 

I don't wish to put my name to a piece that someone didn't value or felt they could discard months after purchase. I want to create a connection between the wearer and the garment, clothes and fashion can be so emotive and so personal. I find it so inspiring that in a world of fast developing technology, fashion still relies on age-old techniques, knowledge and traditions. The clothes you are wearing right now have been handled by so many people in the process of creation before even reaching the retail market. That's incredible, don't you think? And something we should be appreciating and taking note of, that's what fashion design means to me. 

What does fashion design mean to you?

Alexandra Jane Wall2 Comments