Next up in our LCF BA17 Class of 2017 series is BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear: Product Design and Development graduate Amber Capewell. Amber discusses the her inspirations, her final collection and her plans for the future.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the moment you knew you wanted to study fashion?
I knew that I wanted to study footwear when I was on my foundation diploma at Northampton University. I was looking around the department that it clicked, seeing all the shoes, the students’ designs and it completely inspired me. I always loved 3D art and fashion, so footwear was a perfect combination of both. On my foundation diploma, I was making shoes out of household items, thankfully they have progressed to something more wearable…
Talk us through your final collection…
My final collection is based on Marrakech, a place full of colour, patterns and textures. I won the Cordwainers’ Travel Award, which gave me some money to visit the city and do my primary research. I explored to get as much inspiration as I could whilst I was there. I don’t think I could ever get bored of this project; I am constantly getting new ideas.
What is the story behind your final piece of work?
My two final pieces use original techniques. Both are mules, however designed completely differently. My first shoe is a lace up, nude colour mule with mother of pearl inlaid into the upper for the eyelets and then a laser cut design all over the heel with mother of pearl inlaid into the engraved diamond shapes. Islamic jewellery boxes inspired this design – I saw a lot of marble and pearl in Marrakech which inspired me. I love the square block heel on this design and how it all matches up perfectly.
The second shoe has a fully woven upper and heel. It has been hand dyed, using 5 colours inspired by the variety of colour in Marrakech. The leather was cut into strips and shuffled so they created a unique colour and then the toe was dyed blue to create a blended toecap. It was then all woven together using a copper metallic thread. Weaving is a popular technique in Marrakech and I wanted to see if I could recreate this is a different way.
Have you won any prizes?
The Kurt Geiger Scholarship with paid placement and the Cordwainers’ Travel Award. I have also been shortlisted for this year’s Cordwainers’ Student of the Year.
Have you undertaken any work experience or done a placement whilst at LCF?
As my course is a sandwich course I completed a year in industry. I was very lucky to have three placements during this year. I completed 6 months at L.K.Bennett on the product development team, 6 months at Kurt Geiger on the design team and a month at Ted Baker in the design team. I was meant to be staying at L.K.Bennett for a year, however I found out that I won the scholarship with Kurt Geiger and a paid placement. This meant I had to leave in January to be able to complete the 6 months. I had a great time at both places, especially as I was working for two different areas (product development and design). During my summer break I was keen to make the most of my year in industry before going back for my final year. In my second year, I had come 3rd in a project based around Ted Baker and they had mentioned we could have a 2-week placement with them. This was a great experience as I got to design the Q4 2017 Christmas collection for them. I am very excited to hopefully see some of my designs in their stores.
Have you met or been inspired by any speakers from the industry whilst at LCF?
I went to an LCF Careers day event called ‘confidence in networking and public speaking’ with Kath Melandri. She was so inspiring, funny and honest. Everything she said really helped with how I present myself in interviews.
Describe your work and aesthetic in five words…
Contemporary, textural, detailed, mixed materials and clean silhouettes.
Do you have a muse? If so, who and why?
I don’t think I have a muse, but I have someone that motivates and inspires me. My dad has always pushed me and driven me in whatever I want to do, from competitive swimming to other competitions that I have entered. He has always encouraged me to have self belief.
What influences your style and work?
Cities have always been something I have been inspired by; I love finding somewhere new and looking at all the details that are unique to that place and creating new material manipulations that you may never have seen on footwear before.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to find a job in the industry to gain as much experience as I can, learning more about business and building my design skills. Then I would love to set up my own company.
How do you think your course and LCF will help you achieve this?
I’ve learnt so many skills including making, proportions and techniques, all of them go hand in hand with designing. My placement year also helped me to grow as a designer because I learnt about what companies want and what kind of work I would be doing. LCF has prepared me to go into the industry head on, confident in what I do.
Have you heard that LCF is moving to east London? What do you think about the move?
I think it will be great to bring all the courses together. I think also it will give more of a university vibe which some people have felt is missing.
What music do you listen to whilst you’re working? Is there one particular track or artist that you like?
For when I am stressed with work, Jack Johnson is my go to music for relaxing. However, mostly I love tropical house music, Kygo is a favourite of mine.
What do you think Brexit means for the fashion industry and studying in London?
I am not sure. I think it will be something we will have to wait for and see in the future. I hope that Brexit doesn’t affect the international students who come and study here, because it is good to meet people from all over the world and create contacts for our future in the industry. I hope on the positive side that Brexit will encourage the British fashion industry to become even more renowned and for more companies to start up in Britain.
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