BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear: Product Design and Development graduate Victoria Andre explored how culture and nationality contribute to fashion taste. She worked on a collection that blends aspects of British and French design into one collection. We talk to Belgian-American footwear graduate Victoria for our next LCF BA17 Class of 2017 feature.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the moment you knew you wanted to study fashion?
Having grown up in six countries, I always observed how culture and nationality influences taste in fashion. I find it amusing how you can always make out a French woman in London, or a British woman in Paris because these women’s wardrobes remain patriotically telling. To me, fashion is the purest form of self-expression, and footwear is the item that makes or breaks an outfit. I initially undertook a Foundation Course at Central Saint Martins thinking I wanted to be an architect but was then drawn to footwear at LCF, which is ultimately a smaller, wearable form of architecture.
Talk us through your final collection…
The concept for my final project is sustainable footwear that recalls the best of French and British fashion worlds. I think sustainability is something all designers should think about, whether it’s how or where you source your materials from, how they are transported, how the consumer cares about your products, and ultimately what happens at the end of your product’s lifecycle.
What is the story behind your final piece of work?
My inspiration stems from spending most of my summers in Provence, South of France. Come August, lavender is harvested and dried in the sun, and market stalls are packed with olives, baskets, and soaps. During this season, there is also the strong mistral wind that fills the air with the smell of dried grass, lavender and thyme, and it carries the sound of the cicadas into the nearby villages. My aim of my collection to transport consumers to their favourite summer memories, and express their summer colours and femininity.
What techniques or theories did you use to create your final piece of work?
I looked at every component in a shoe and explored how I could change them to more sustainable alternatives. I developed my own insoles out of coconut husk, and replaced shoes’ comfort padding with ‘mushroom leather’. I also looked at sourcing more sustainable leathers, including salmon leather, but also tanned and untanned Lite Hide, a technology that dehydrates raw skins prior to their shipment to tanneries. Furthermore, I used ethical banana fiber fabric, as well as recycled polyester microfiber and cashmere lining.
Have you won any prizes?
No, but I’m currently a Kering Award finalist.
Have you undertaken any work experience or done a placement whilst at LCF? Where and how did you secure this work experience or placement?
In my second year at LCF, my sneaker design was selected to go into production in Italy. I also undertook a placement year, where I interned for a London-based bespoke shoemaker, Kurt Geiger, and H&M. Both the sneaker project and my H&M internship were organised through the university as industry projects.
Have you met or been inspired by any speakers from the industry whilst at LCF?
I found the Kering talks most inspirational, including speakers such as Stella McCartney and Marie-Claire Daveu, who both outlined the importance of sustainability in fashion and business.
Describe your work and aesthetic in five words…
Feminine, European, Sophisticated, Versatile, and Environmentally-Conscious
Do you have a muse? If so, who and why?
I have a different muse every day. One day it’s an Instagram blogger, the next it’s Jane Austen.
What influences your style and work?
I am mainly influenced by what I see in movies, such as the costume design, characters, and setting of Wes Anderson and Michel Gondry movies. I also usually build my colour palettes from art, with this collection’s colours stemming from Monet’s The Water Lily Pond.
What are your plans for the future?
I hope to pursue a career in footwear design with brands that engage in sustainability. Later, I would perhaps like to undertake a Masters or MBA, learn about business and management, before potentially starting my own brand.
How do you think your course and LCF will help you achieve this?
LCF has an incredible reputation and a wealth of contacts and alumni that have been successful in the fashion industry. I think that LCF really stresses the commercial viability of students’ work, but it’s down to how much you push yourself and differentiate yourself in an already saturated market.
Have you heard that LCF is moving to east London? What do you think about the move?
I think new locations are always exciting! It will allow for the whole college to come together on one big campus, with scope for more collaboration among students in various fields.
What music do you listen to whilst you’re working? Is there one particular track or artist that you like?
No music. I work in silence with my window open so I can listen to the sounds coming from the street.
What do you think Brexit means for the fashion industry and studying in London?
Brexit is a shame, but luckily, London is in its own little bubble of fashion, talent, art and culture. I think it will probably be more difficult and costly for fashion start-ups to import goods, services, and talent from outside the UK. I don’t think, however, that Brexit will stop students pursuing their education here. London has always been synonymous with forwardness and change, and I have faith that the younger generations, mine included, is open to unity and opportunity.
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