Chenai Jack, Fashion Futures 2014
Graduating from BA (Hons) Fashion Design, University of Central Lancashire
Tell us about your graduate collection:
My inspiration was the scenery and atmosphere of my home country, Zimbabwe. My concept was very much built on natural surroundings – I specifically focused on rock formations from the Matobo Hills, which inspired my silhouettes and colour palette, supported by the aesthetics of my grandmother’s village.
As well as being personal I also wanted my concept to represent my style as a designer so I looked into artworks which could help progress my concept. I discovered abstract expressionist painter Robert Motherwell and took interest in his use of bold fluid shapes which correlated with the visuals of the rock formations. What stuck out to me the most in his work was the essence of simplistic boldness which I wanted to capture within my collection – with the right choice of fabrics I was able to give these intentional curvilinear shapes an element of lightness and fluidity.
As my concept is based on natural forms and atmosphere my fabric choices were a variety of organic cotton denim and 100% linen fabrics, because I wanted the silhouettes to have a good balance between structure and fluidity.
The creative making process was equally challenging and exciting. I chose to do my design development through practical experimentation. Using my research as reference, I started off with draping on the stand with vintage outerwear to build a base for my intended silhouettes and from that I continued on to collaging on photoshop which led me back to working on the stand and making toile samples. Through this process I was able to exhaust all the possibilities of each design which eventually led to my final 6 outfits. This design development process was more free and exciting, it gave me the opportunity to see my options in physical form and make necessary adjustments as I progressed.
My collection turned out better than I had hoped in the sense that it was more refined and purposeful compared to the beginning of my project, I owe that mostly to my design development process.
How’s your uni experience been?
My experience at uni has been good – I have learnt a lot and have developed as a person and designer. I have grasped a lot of useful skills that will progress me to where I want to be in the future.
When I was in college I already knew I wanted to go to university and study fashion, and I knew I wanted a Sandwich year because getting industry experience was important to me. I had a great line up of offers but ultimately I chose to go to UCLAN. In 1st & 2nd year I had the time to discover the type of designer I am and start to figure out which area of fashion was for me. In my 3rd year I went on placement year and to be honest it was the most challenging part of journey. I chose to intern at 3 different brands (Steven Tai, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi and French Connection) because I wanted to get a range of experience and perspectives of different parts of the industry. I was very much pushed out of my comfort zone but I had a great learning experience. I was able to put my knowledge to practice but I also discovered what it’s really like to work in the industry – it was eye opening experience to say the least. I came back to my Final Year feeling more confident in myself as a designer but also with a clearer idea of what i wanted to do after university.
A major obstacle within my journey was being able to be confident with the type of designer I am because when there are so many creatives around it was hard to appreciate my own work because I would always think someone else’s is better, but I overcame that and accepted that each person has their own style and mine is just as good as anyone else’s because it is my own and represents me.
What’s next for you?
Now that I have completed my final collection I feel relieved because I am able to see all my hard work pay off and see my initial vision of my collection complete. I am excited for what’s to come .
The next step for me is to get a job as a design assistant, build up my industry experience and work my way up. In the future i hope to be a freelance designer and possibly have my own brand as well.
Did taking part in Fashion Futures help you?
Doing Fashion Futures gave me a headstart into the fashion industry. I was exposed to elements of the fashion industry that I had no idea about, so essentially it opened me up to the opportunities I had within fashion and most importantly took my out of my comfort zone. I was able to push myself and approach design more independently. It gave me a different perspective to what I was learning in college and the experience and support I had came in useful when I started applying for universities as well as during my university experience. Most importantly, through Fashion Futures I gained confidence in myself as a designer.
The advice I would give to current Fashion Futures students is to be open minded, enjoy the experience and absorb as much information as you can. Take advantage of the opportunity you’ve been given.