We catch up with fashion graduate Laura Earl about her Claribella collection and where her degree will take her next.
So Laura, tell us a bit about you degree
For the past four years I have been studying for a Fashion BA Hons degree which encompasses everything from pattern cutting and fabric manipulation, to costing charts, professional portfolios and look book designing, to business write ups and even essay writing. Fashion degrees are well known for being amongst the most time consuming of the disciplines due to the volume of work required to prove that you are accomplished in your field. Throughout my degree I have created pieces that I never thought I could design, let alone bring to life. I have also undertaken a fair few work placements along the way, which have given me some amazing opportunities. Just one year into my degree and I found myself in the midst of the chaos that is London Fashion Week, modeling and working alongside a designer who I had only been working with for about 4 weeks, so they’re not lying when they say fashion is fast paced! Finally I have found my confidence in my field, I no longer wait for someone else to make a decision for me and after creating my own collection I’ve learnt to take every responsibility for my own work and my own results.
What are the parts of your degree that have been most interesting?
I have really enjoyed branding my collection and creating the whole look and client base for myself. Developing my pattern creation skills has also increased my love for the field as it is so rewarding to be able to see your designs come to life. Finally creating the costing sheets for my collection has opened my eyes to see the worth behind creating high-end clothing and all the costs that go into creating a collection.2
What did you find the most challenging aspect of your course?
Time management has been a huge part of my degree and focusing my energy on one task at a time due to our limited assistance from tutors as final year students it is down to us to get toiles done on time as well as creating the portfolio alongside this. In the first term of final year I also had my dissertation to focus on as well as developing the foundations of my look and branding for the collection. I think another upheaval has been having to make quick decisions. With the limited time I had to create my developed six-outfit collection I did not have time to dwell on any issue that arose when developing my patterns and garments. I had to make quick decisions and quick fixes to the pieces in order to get a fully finished collection in time for hand in. This often meant looking into the problem myself instead of waiting to speak to my tutor about it. Alternatively I found that your peers become incredibly valuable to you as everyone has different skills sets and we all began to help each other in the problem solving phases of production.
So tell us about Claribella. What was your initial inspiration?
The collection was inspired by a number of things but my starting point was my standing views on the environment, in particular the ever-increasing pollution problems we face. I wanted to make a collection that encouraged the consumer to think about our relationship with clothing by creating a clean cut, pure aesthetic. Instead of creating garments out of recycled material or organic fabrics, neither of which ideas were cost effective for my market, I wanted to create this message through symbolism and by using some popular symbols of purity. These key symbols included the white lotus flower, well known in Buddhism for representing purity and spirituality due to its ability to grow as a brilliant white flower emerging from dark, murky waters. As well as using the lotus for shape, colour and silhouette inspiration I also looked at the nude human body as represented in photography, using the body as a sculpture and designing my clothing to add to the beauty of the sculpture, rather than just being a tool to cover it. Finally I studied the movement of ballet dancers to develop the flow and movement I wanted to achieve in the collection.2
How do your clothes reflect the overall theme? What materials have you used?
The colour scheme was intended to reflect purity, as inspired by the white lotus; I knew from the start that the signature colour would be white. However I also wanted to appeal to my market consumer so to achieve a more feminine look I decided to add another colour. The pink was inspired by the nod to nudity in the collection as well as being there to provide a girly and fun flare to the overall look. I chose a very light pink so as to not detract too much attention from the focal points of the silhouette. My materials were sourced by hand in Soho and range from luxury crepe to a very lightweight satin, sheer fabrics were used in part as well to give the illusion of nudity on certain areas of the body. When constructing the pieces I ensured a high end finish across all the garments, self-lining the skirts instead of using a cheaper lining fabric and using other high end finishes such as French seams, hand finished waistbands and ensuring the use of clean, silver fastenings. The clothes reflect a classy, semi tailored look with straight lines, clean cut seams and sophisticated cutting techniques in full-length panels and garments.
So what’s next for you?
I am currently applying for jobs in the city in the field of Buying or Merchandising, as I am keen to develop a career in these fields after enjoying the work placements I have carried out as a Buyers Admin Assistant at Anthropologie UK. In the meantime I plan on using my design and construction skills to make some bespoke pieces to sell on to a small client base. I thoroughly enjoy making clothes and I feel bespoke, made to measure clothes are often out of reach for the budgets of most and therefore I would love to use my skills to make this a more affordable option for a close knit clientele.