An interview with Kirsty Ward

Although this is her first season exhibiting with us, Kirsty Ward is no stranger to Vauxhall Fashion Scout; last season she teamed up with Ones To Watch designer David Longshaw, creating bold blue and brass accessories for his AW 10/11 collection. For the SS 11 showcase, Kirsty will be presenting her latest jewellery range as well as her own womenswear label… She has even had time spare to craft yet more jewellery for David!

For People who are unfamiliar with what you do, describe your Signature style?
I like simple vests, basic shapes and staple wardrobe garments: Deep down there’s the minimalist in me but I create statement jewellery which adds something extra.

What has been the inspiration behind your latest collection?
My inspiration comes from an eclectic mix of 1980’s ‘Bad taste’, tinsel, lametta and the work of Feliks Topolski… The use of textural fabrics, tinsel and towelling was inspired by Topolski’s rough sketchy line drawings, whilst the colour palette stems from 80’s ‘Bad Taste interiors’ so there’s a lot of peach, mint green and pastels.

Describe you favourite piece from the collection?
My work is constantly evolving and so my preferences are constantly changing too, but at the moment it’s this dress that’s made out of wax cotton, which has got lots of different layers, heavy tinsel-inspired embellishment at the bottom and boning inserted into it in places, creating something quite sculptural.

On completion of your MA you went to Italy to work for Alberta Ferretti for over a year, what sparked your decision to leave and start up your own label?
Italy was great… I learnt a lot working for Ferretti and it was very interesting to see how it worked on the big scale.  I decided to leave because I got enough out of it and came back to England to start up on my own label. I didn’t necessarily want to start up on my own straight away, so collaborating with David [Longshaw] at first was great. From doing the jewellery for David at London Fashion Week last season I got a really good response so thought ‘I can do this’…

What made you decide to create jewellery as well as clothing?
I am trained in fashion design not jewellery design, so the jewellery making was initially more of a hobby. I just started experimenting with different shapes, textures, materials and unusual bits and pieces I would come across in hardware shops. I now have created a sort of ‘signature style’ to my jewellery by taking something quite ordinary and mundane, and using it in an unconventional way, which I think injects a bit of humour into my pieces.

Does the style of your womenswear line influence that of your jewellery ranges or are they mutually exclusive?
I think they work well as separate pieces but when I design for each season I always have a concept in mind, which is applied to both. For my S/S ‘11 womenswear collection, I’ve actually applied an element of my jewellery to the garments by embroidering the fabric with metal and beads.

How would you describe your working process?
At the start I always have a plan in my head but then certain things turn out differently. Mistakes can happen, which can sometimes change the shape or design for the better… My work is constantly evolving.

Were you interested in fashion when growing up?
I’ve always been into fashion, but I guess it was when I started studying it that I created more of an interest and developed different tastes. I think the first thing that really got me into design was when I realised that I didn’t really like anything that was on offer in the shops and I never had the accessibility into high fashion and designer clothes so I just started making my own.

Where would you love too see your garments and accessories stocked?
Well my jewellery range will be stocked with Young British Designers when it launches later this month, and so I would love to continue with that and possibly have my women’s wear line stocked with them too. And I suppose other stores that support new emerging designers such as Browns, Liberty, Dover Street Market, and 10 Corso Como in Milan (I absolutely fell in love with that shop when I was doing my BA) would also be amazing.

 You have collaborated in the past with previous Vauxhall Fashion Scout Designer, David Longshaw, are there any other designers you would love to collaborate with?
Yes definitely, I love to collaborate with all sorts of creative people. But in a dream world it would be Helmut Lang!

Who would you love to dress?
I would love to see a real girl on the street wearing one of my garments; some one who actually likes it and went out and bought it. But I also have a bit of a thing for Anna de la Russo; she’s amazing!

Have you got any big plans for the Kirsty Ward label in the near future?
For now my aim is just to keep on developing it. This season will be my debut Womenswear collection since my MA, so I am just really excited to show with Vauxhall Fashion Scout and to see how it goes!

Sarah Barlow