Ahead of our LCFMA17 MA Fashion Design Technology Womenswear catwalk show on Thursday 16 Feburary 2017 at 7pm (watch it live streamed here), we caught up with the participating graduates to discuss their final collections and why they chose to study at London College of Fashion. Katrina Wilson’s collection explores colour and print, inspired by African tribes.

Models in printed clothing

Katrina Wilson – MA Fashion Design Technology Womenswear, 2017; Photography by Felix Cooper, styling by Anders Sølvsten Thomsen, hair Roxy Attard, make-up artist Celia Burton; models Yasmina Atta, Tschan Andrews, Anna Pye.

Tell us about your final collection?

It was inspired by photographers who documented the lives of African tribes. And I found lots of books that recorded their spirit and energy and I wanted to capture the life and community of the tribe.

The collection incorporated a lot of print and knotting. It was very spontaneous. Tribes had a practical and functional element, but they also painted their bodies because they wanted to show off and represent themselves with colour and drawings and it was very creative and inspired by nature. So that’s where the prints come from.

Reflecting back on your MA, and thinking of any prospective students thinking about starting an MA, what would be your top three tips/bits of advice to them?

I think practically, you have to come with some money saved, otherwise you get to a point where you’ll struggle.

And I think it’s good to prepare to focus on just this, and make your MA your life for a year or however long it is. Because I’ve seen people get torn, trying to live their life like it was before. You can’t. This has to be your life. So, be really focused and think ‘it’s a year, and this is what I’m going to do’ and try and enjoy it. Because it’s really stressful and really draining but it’s also the most exciting thing you might ever do. Sometimes, you have to remind yourself you want to do this, no one’s forcing you to do this.

Why did you choose LCF and MA Fashion Womenswear?

It was kind of by accident. I always wanted to do an MA in London. Before this, I studied in Birmingham. So I felt that it was important to make the move here. And then at Graduate Fashion Week I met Nigel Luck, and when I came to look round LCF I really connected with the space and spoke to lots of students. The opportunity to be part of the MA17 show is amazing. It’s a big selling point.

What have you found the most enjoyable and interesting parts of your course? And what have you found the most challenging?

Obviously, being able to create a collection that is your vision, is really special. And that’s what it’s about, and in a way, just coming to work in this creative environment and meeting classmates. We’ve been a really close year group and everyone has supported each other and I’ve met people from all over the world. Even though everyone has come from different places, you can really learn and you can grow from that. And I think that’s why everyone’s collections are so different, we all have a different experience or background, which is nice.

Challenges? Loads. Staying awake when you’re exhausted. I guess you just have to be really determined and remember how important it is to create the vision, dig deep. There’s always deadlines, fittings every week for six weeks. Obviously the staff are here but it’s up to you to find that energy to keep going.

Were there any technical challenges?

I’ve learnt loads. The standard of sewing and manufacture here is really high. I’ve really learnt about the standard of sewing and that’s as important as the design. It has to be realised in a really professional way, otherwise you don’t do it justice. I learnt a lot about pattern cutting too.

And I just think my confidence grew. They’d say ‘go and do it yourself and come back and show me tomorrow’ and you realise actually, I can do it. Whereas at BA you get your hand-held a little bit.

You moved from Birmingham. What was your favourite thing about studying in London?

I just think it’s exciting. There’s so much variety, in the people and cultures and what you can go and see. In museums and galleries, you can see completely different things. Its inspiring.

Describe your work in five words…

This is hard. I think vibrant, bold, exciting, energetic and also it’s important that it’s feminine and beautiful. Is that too many?

Do you have a muse?

Not really. I don’t think I have a specific person. I think I have an energy and a sense of the person she is. So I don’t think about what she looks like but what she’s interested in wearing. I think she’s confident and wants to feel fabrics. As much as it’s the aesthetic I think it’s the textures. She’s buying to play, and to mix things. It’s not about being safe, or a basic purchase. It’s about something fun and playful.

What are your future plans and how do you think the course will help you to realise these plans?

I want to work alongside a designer or within a brand I admire. Because at the moment I think I have a lot of design experience, but not so much around how the industry works, and sales and budgets and that cycle. I’m excited to see how what that’s like. But then eventually, I’d like to do my own thing. But it depends on how it goes. I also want to travel with my work, and do Paris and Milan and work in New York.

Do you think the MA has helped you realise those plans?

Some of the tutors we have work in industry, and they have really good experience that I want to experience. And before this, I didn’t have such a strong dream to create my own brand, but this has taught me to be independent and have my own vision.