Last night’s LCFBA16 catwalk presented 35 fantastic collections by 17 students from several of our design courses and before the show, we spoke to collaborators Henrietta O’Connor (BA Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear) and Yumi Kim (BA Fashion Textiles: Print) who created a collection that made use of materials such as PVC, suede and latex.

Henrietta O’Connor (BA Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear) and Yumi Kim (BA Fashion Textiles: Print). Photographer: James Rees, Creative Direction: Rob Phillips, Hair: Ezana Ové, Beauty: Kirsty Gaston

Henrietta O’Connor (BA Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear) and Yumi Kim (BA Fashion Textiles: Print). Photographer: James Rees, Creative Direction: Rob Phillips, Hair: Ezana Ové, Beauty: Kirsty Gaston

Where are you from?

Henrietta: Sutton Coldfield, a town on the outskirts of Birmingham

Yumi: Republic of Korea

Give us one interesting fact about yourself…

Yumi: I am very experimental

Talk us through your final collection

Henrietta: I wanted to challenge the way women are depicted in art and more broadly, society. I took a lot of inspiration from people who deal with this in their work. The main inspiration for my collection is the work of Nicola L and particularly her soft sculptures and how, as a female artist, she renegotiates representations of the body. This manifested itself in my collection as surreal shapes and oversized proportions. Almost as if the body was deflating.

Yumi: Because my work is inspired by Frank Gehry’s architecture shapes and work process of ‘fold’ and ‘bend’ I created sculpture shapes utilising waste material with draping so there’s lots movement. I did research on social and cultural atmospheres as well as marbling, Jeff Koons, modern pop art and Picasso to inform my work, and I captured the diverse shapes of movement with a model to express my concept. After, I made big print samples, put them on a 3D stand and made a print pattern.

What do you love about what you do?

Henrietta: I love being able to research and learn about anything I want to. It’s very free in that sense. Anything can be inspiration. I never feel my imagination is limited.

Yumi: Making interesting shapes in 3D, and using different drawing styles such as collage and graphic design.

Henrietta O’Connor (BA Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear) and Yumi Kim (BA Fashion Textiles: Print). Photographer: Roger Dean

Henrietta O’Connor (BA Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear) and Yumi Kim (BA Fashion Textiles: Print). Photographer: Roger Dean

What is the story behind your final piece of work?

Henrietta: My final piece of work is a narrative which celebrates overlooked female artists and challenges the male gaze. The familiar female form is deflated to become a surreal, unfamiliar depiction of the body.

Yumi: It was a long journey to find my inner voice. Preparing for going to university back home, was very stressful and there was a lot of pressure. By channeling the dark side of ‘pressure’ to bright side ‘perseverance’ and by researching different drawing styles, I was able to find my inner voice and concept.

What techniques or theories did you use to create your final piece of work? 

Henrietta: When I was pattern cutting I began by creating flat pieces that could be more like wall hangings. Then I applied them to the body. I wanted the collection to be like art so I started without the body and wearability in mind.

Yumi: For my collaboration concept, I used flock (print technique) on pvc to create a contrasted textures effect. I also used an opaque binder and puff on the top of flocked areas. I had experimented with diverse print techniques such as print pigments, puff with foil, and flock on Latex beforehand.  It was hard to print nicely on big scale because, synthetic fabrics do not soak pigment so I needed to get the right temperature when I did flock or puff with foil. Utilizing the nature of coated suede, I used foil on top of printed block to make a contrasted texture effect.  Finally, I used bondweb with diverse texture fabrics.

What’s the best thing about LCF?

Henrietta: The best thing about LCF is the people. There are so many interesting students and tutors here, from all over the world. It’s never boring.

Yumi: Design tutorials were helpful. Tutors and the director helped me to find out my work style and what I want in the future. Also, there are lots of opportunities to use the massive textile design workshop.

What’s the best thing about your courses?

Henrietta: The tutors and how they have really opened my mind in terms of thinking about design. Their guidance and vast knowledge of the industry makes it such a great course.

Yumi: The textile team is amazing, I am really lucky to know the tutors. Laura Bell has a great eye on everything, she helped us to find ours and let us work independently. Victoria Carter’s thorough research helped us with our projects and Michela Carraro has a keen eye for good fashion design and helps us to develop our designs. Caroline Clewer is amazing in terms experimental knitwear production, she has lots of ideas and inspires me to explore. Finally, Andy is a good tutor who helps find student’s strong points and areas to improve.

Have you undertaken any work experience or done a placement whilst at LCF? Where and how did you secure this work experience or placement?

Henrietta: I spent three months at J.JS Lee in my placement term. I went to some of the CV surgeries held by LCF Careers and they advised me on how to apply for positions as well as how to give a good interview. I also spent two months at Hand & Lock.

Yumi: Hardware ldn, Steven Tai, Peter Pilotto, and Loha vete ltd.

What did you learn on your work experience/placement?

Henrietta: Working in a small studio gave me the opportunity to learn about the many different aspects of working in the industry. It gave me the opportunity to think about which area of a fashion company I am most suited to.

Yumi: I learnt that companies’ teams need to work in harmony to keep the brand strong. To do that, every individual needs to be a team player and that included me as an intern. Also, when I work, I need to be awake both physically but mentally.

Henrietta O’Connor (BA Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear) and Yumi Kim (BA Fashion Textiles: Print). Photographer: Roger Dean

Henrietta O’Connor (BA Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear) and Yumi Kim (BA Fashion Textiles: Print). Photographer: Roger Dean

Describe your work in five words…

Henrietta: Fun, tactile, deflating, soft, sculptures.

Yumi: Weird, creative, moving, emotional, contrast

Do you have a muse? If so, who and why?

Henrietta: I don’t think of a specific person as my muse. A certain attitude and confidence comes across in many of the women I admire and that’s what comes to mind when I think about who I am designing for. I want people to feel empowered when they wear my designs.

Yumi: Maison Margiela, because of its fresh, different and original aesthetic

What inspires you?

Henrietta: Strange things inspire me. Strange things found in everyday life, like plastic covered sofas. I love to watch films with awkward characters and kitsch interiors.

Yumi: Identity at different viewpoints and hand craft

Where do you want to be in your career in five years’ time?

Henrietta: In five years time I hope to have started my own brand. It’s always been the dream. If not, hopefully working somewhere exciting.

Yumi: Doing print design for luxury womenswear brands such as Maison Margiela, Prada or Marni

How do you think your course and LCF will help you achieve your plans?

Henrietta: My course has taught me a lot about many aspects of design and production as well as how to present your work and yourself in a way that shows people who you are as a designer. They push you to find what is different about you. Hopefully this will help me succeed in achieving my goals.

Yumi: Our course tutors helped us to find our own style of work and LCF careers helped us to prepare our CVs as well as get great internships before graduation.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to study your course?

Henrietta: Before you start, think about whether this is really what you want to do. It’s hard work and sometimes what is required of you will seem endless. I think you have to really love design and fashion to be on this course and enjoy it. But if you do, it will be exciting and eye opening. Work hard, go to class and try to be organised. But don’t forget to look after yourself

Yumi: Don’t skip classes!