Kingston University fashion student Katie Hildebrand’s latest womenswear collection takes its inspiration from a series of night photographs that she took around her home in Little Venice, North London. On her nocturnal prowlings, Katie became fascinated by the reflective and ethereal qualities that everyday objects take on in the dark. Creating a collection that features long, narrow silhouettes in dark suedes and silks, her designs tell the story of a woman’s journey alone at night and her encounters along the way. One elegant black evening gown even has a multitude of hand-embellished buttons on its train, representing cat’s eyes glimmering in the shadows.
Fashion is in Katie’s blood with her family’s career in the industry spanning two generations. Her grandparents ran their own clothing label, Hildebrand Dressers in the 50s and 60s and her mother, Lesley Hildebrand, is a design consultant. With such a rich fashion heritage, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Katie would follow in their footsteps, but she admits that she wasn’t always so certain.
Enrolling on a foundation course at Kingston University in South West London, she had originally intended to go on and study for a degree in fine art. “Switching to fashion was a last-minute decision and it was a chat with one of the tutors on the fashion course that really spurred me into changing direction,” she said. It’s a choice that 22-year-old Katie hasn’t regretted. “I’d always had a passion for clothes, but never imagined myself designing or making them. The hands-on approach of the course really suits my nature and, while there’s plenty of chance to be creative, all of the technical training is there too,” Katie said.
Katie has already developed her creative talents with placements for British design favourite, Giles Deacon and Paris-based menswear designer Damir Doma. “Damir tasked me with creating a capsule collection based on my interpretation of a single photograph which gave me a whole new perspective on the design process,” she said.
Katie’s potential has already been spotted by the Royal College of Art, which has offered her a sought after place on its postgraduate fashion course. “It was a real coup to be offered a place, especially as I’d submitted my portfolio before I’d completed my final year collection and had to talk them through my designs at the interview,” she said.
Fashion Lecturer Andrew Ibi said Katie had a really unique and personal approach to fashion and had developed a real flair for womenswear during her time at Kingston University. “Careful, precise and considerate, Katie’s final-year designs have explored elements of spontaneity, resource and chance, culminating in a collection that is grown-up, sophisticated and sexy. Her style is bound to cause a stir amongst her contemporaries and definitely sits closer to Paris than London,” Mr Ibi said.
With fashion running so strongly through her veins, Katie hopes that once she has completed her postgraduate course, she can help keep the Hildebrand name at the forefront of the industry by working for one of the designers she admires, such as Belgium-based Ann Demeulemeester or Haider Ackerman. “My ultimate goal though, would be to design for my own label once I’m established,” she said.