Amongst this years stellar line up of designers at the Fashion Scout Graduate Showcase, we have Central Saint Martin’s graduate - Jaimee Mckenna; whose solely ultramarine blue collection has made quite the statement both on the catwalk and amongst the press.
Pushing the boundaries of traditional knitwear technology, Jaimee’s collection centers around intricate pleats, concertina folds, dramatic layers, complex knitting techniques and structure; and the mergence of these key factors makes for a collection which personifies Gina Fratini style elegance, and structured silhouettes, in that dramatic hue. We managed to steal a quick interview with Jaimee at today's exhibition, here’s what she had to say:
Where does your inspiration for this collection derive from?
So my inspiration for the collection was mainly post-war French artist Yves Klein. So colour - that piercing saturated blue; and that’s kind of what I wanted to put onto my collection, that one striking colour which just grabs you.
Then for silhouette, I was inspired by this one picture of this skirt in an old Vogue. I don’t actually know who designed it (which is really annoying), but it’s this big massive cocoon shaped structure skirt; and that’s what made me decide to do the pleating. The silhouette was like classic Balenciaga and then a bit Gina Fratini, you know, flowy, layered, a bit 70’s and effortlessly beautiful.
What about your techniques, I know it’s knitwear, but I also know there is a lot more too it than that…
Ok, so they are all knitted on a machine, some parts are a normal rib knit. Then the felt, I made myself, for felting you basically just knit the fabric then wash it at a high temperature to make it into felt. For the pleating, I used Cement Pleaters and worked on my designs with them. They had all sorts of amazing patterns, like vintage Dior, so I chose the pattern and they did it for me.
With the metal bars, that was actually an accidental mistake! Basically, when I was draping the fabric, it was realy really heavy and it kept falling off, which was so frustrating, as the placement was so important, so I used safety pins to secure it into place, then I thought – ‘I like the metal on it, how can I get that?’ So I found these jewellery bars and I hand stitched them all on! The safety pins inspired the idea, then they evolved.
We know you have worked a lot for Mark Fast, how has that influenced you?
It hasn’t influenced my design, as obviously they are quite different, but it influenced me technically. For example it taught me the process of how to produce a thirty piece collection. Since I specialised in textiles, which was usually one square of fabric, it also taught me where on the body pieces go and how they should move etc.
What about your future plans, do you see yourself working for a fashion house or continuing to develop your own label?
I want to do my own thing. It’s just getting the funding and the support, I mean I used my life savings for my MA. It just costs so much to do it. The next thing I really want is to get a studio. I want some real studio space, it is not ideal working from your room! I already think I have gone a little insane from it! Before I’ve had a magazine wanting to come interview me at my ‘studio’… I was thinking ‘Don’t you mean my bedroom?’… I had to reply saying that the ‘studio’ is my flat! Luckily I am not a messy person, so it was okay.
What about Fashion Scout as a platform, what are your thoughts?
I love it! I mean, it is brilliant, this opportunity is great for meeting people. I get to be with my work and meet people first hand, which is something that is hard to do nowadays. It’s difficult. So to have this opportunity is brilliant; it’s nice to know that there is support out there.
It’s already clear Jaimee is destined for big things, we can only anticipate her future collections.
Written by Brooke McCord, Fashion Scout Contributor. Follow me on Twitter @BrookeMcCord
Photos by Benjamin Turgel, @benjaminturgel