Jo Cope is a conceptual fashion designer whose work is at the intersection of fashion, art and craft. After graduating with a BA in Fashion Design, working in galleries and running her own fashion studio, Jo returned to education in 2015 joining the prestigious MA in Fashion Artefact at London College of Fashion (LCF).
Following on from being sponsored by the Official London Craft Week programme, this June her work ‘Walking in Circles’ is on show in Venice, as part of an exhibition celebrating 10 years of Fashion Artefact Alumni.
We met up with Jo to discuss the inspiration behind her incredible designs.
Before your MA in Fashion Artefact you ran your own studio; what made you decide to give that up and study at London College of Fashion?
The decision was partly driven by my desire for a higher craft finish within my practice, where hands-on making could be at one with, and equal to conceptual thinking. Coming originally from a straight fashion BA but creating non-commercial fashion objects I had to self-teach most of the 3D skills I wanted to use. My desire to work ever bigger and in materials such as wood, metal and leather meant any outsourced skills were both expensive and creatively disconnecting.
Has your MA changed how you work? How?
As they say ‘you have to know the rules to be able to break them’.
Since the MA I have been working with evolving traditional footwear processes, by understanding the relating skills I didn’t previously possess. It has helped push shoe forms and perceptions of function to the limit. I am now able to create my own extreme wooden lasts to work around.
Have the relationships you formed at University of the Arts London (UAL) helped/impacted your work since leaving?
So far UAL has supported opportunities such as the Sadler’s Wells x LCF gala performance, where they set up a collaboration with a choreographer, which was part supported part self-funded. Currently my work is in Venice to celebrate 10 years of Fashion Artefact Alumni as part of the Architecture Biennale. There are many layers of relationships both in the alumni community which is close network and amongst lecturers and technicians that continues post MA.
You were recently sponsored by the Official London Craft Week programme, where you collaborated with a choreographer for the opening night at the YKK Showroom. How was that experience?
It was an amazing experience, I worked really hard to create new work for the window installation in Shoreditch which has been overwhelming in its reception by the public. The collaboration with the choreographer allowed me to move the work forward to explore shoes as visual metaphors for love and relationships through the physical interaction of dancers and public participation.
What has been your greatest achievement?
There are so many things that feel like great achievements like being awarded a £10,000 arts council grant to make an aerodynamic dress for the British Grand Prix. Most recently, post-MA it was very special to be flown out to Budapest by the curator of The Virtual Shoe Museum for the opening night of Shoe Magic at one of the most prestigious museums in the capital, the Mucsarnok.
What is next for you?
Lots going on currently: writing a chapter of a book about the archived body within fashion which will be published later in the year by Bloomsbury; next exhibition is hats which I’m creating a new piece for which will be exhibited at Basel museum Switzerland. Lots of other touring works, then the next step is to sit down and develops plans for a larger project potentially socially related with a collective.
My plans are always the same; to constantly consider how I can move fashion forward in a non-superficial sense as a radical form of art which has its own voice.
WHY-WHAT_WHO/ 10 years of Fashion Artefact exhibition is on show in Venice until 17 June.
See more of Jo’s work: http://www.jocope.com/
Follow on instagram: @jocopeconceptualfashion_
Image credits: Jo Cope