Posted Monday 28 September 2009
She is prone to blushing, bruises easily and is susceptible to blemishes. But, far from worrying about the quirks of her Celtic complexion, up-and-coming Scottish fashion designer Rachel Lamb has used them to full effect in her latest collection.
One of the first graduates from Kingston University's new MA in Fashion, the 22 year old from Edinburgh has spent the past few months taking a long, hard look at herself as she has developed a womenswear range for her final project. Unveiled during London Fashion Week, it reflects Rachel's own character traits and mimics the changes the human body goes through both on a daily basis and as age takes its toll. "I wanted each piece of clothing to convey my own feelings as well as capturing the fragility of individual personalities and the flaws of the human body," Rachel explained. "It struck me that it would be intriguing to peel away the layers to expose that imbalance and vulnerability by using contrasting fabrics and different aspects of design technology. We're all very aware of our own appearance and it's a natural instinct to want to try to tweak little things about ourselves."
The result, aptly named the Skin I Am In, is a range of jumpsuits, dresses, tops, high-waisted trousers and shorts that blend chiffon and flowing silk jersey with more restrictive body con fabric, structured leather pieces and corsetry. Strong use of distinctive draping symbolises the skin's natural folds and wrinkles while a leather jacket minus a shoulder and a dress with just half a belt signify human imperfection.
The fair skin that is a permanent reminder to Rachel's Celtic heritage is also reflected in her choice of colour. "The clothing moves from very pale porcelains and translucent nude tones through to beiges and more healthy glows of peach and red," she said. To add even more of a personal stamp to her garments, Rachel went as far as commissioning a photographer at leading textile studio Forest Digital to take close-ups of her make-up free face, which were then transformed into minute squares of blush-coloured print.
In another imaginative twist, Rachel, who long-term has her heart set on working for a small, independent label, has named each of the 15 outfits to signpost their different themes. Statement pieces included a flowing jumpsuit called Cascade Claudia, a two-toned dress called Asymmetric Amy and a structured garment blending body-contoured leather with jersey fabric called Controlled Cass.
Much of the powernet and jersey material used in the collection was sourced in the United States, after Rachel was chosen to work with industry expert Di Mainstone at Eyebeam's digital design studios in New York earlier this year. Back in the United Kingdom to complete the final stage of her MA, she called on the expertise of London-based leather goods specialists Crossbow Fashions to help create other garments. "The leather I used was almost as heavy as material used for saddlery and I needed to track down extra sturdy needles so I could piece each item together," Rachel explained.
Focusing on the way fabrics interact with the body has been an intrinsic part of Rachel's year-long Kingston University MA Fashion studies. After graduating from the Edinburgh College of Art with a BA(Hons) in Fashion Design, she opted to complete her MA at Kingston because of the course's emphasis on exploring new ways of creating clothing using the latest advances in science, engineering and technology. "The Kingston MA Fashion has offered me amazing freedom to express myself while collaborating with some leading industry brands. Having the opportunity to be based in London - one of the world's major fashion capitals - has definitely been an added bonus," she said. "To find myself in the thick of all the action unveiling my final project at Vauxhall Fashion Scout during London Fashion Week really was a dream come true."
The rising star's collection was one of the centrepieces of Kingston University's Body Lab, which was a highlight of Vauxhall Fashion Scout's activities to promote the work of fledgling designers. The event, which also showcased the work of fellow Kingston MA Fashion graduate Niamh O'Connor, attracted a bevy of buyers and journalists who rubbed shoulders with senior executives from leading style forecaster WGSN and companies ranging from Burberry, Pringle, Stella McCartney and Calvin Klein to Philips and Nokia.
Being the only University invited to take part in such a prestigious event as Vauxhall Fashion Scout was an enormous vote of confidence in Kingston University's MA Fashion, course director Nancy Tilbury said. "Rachel really embraced the challenge we're setting our postgraduate fashion students to think more progressively and produce truly contemporary collections making the most of key industry links with science and technology brands," she added. "Her collection made a very personal statement while at the same time being extremely seductive and has, quite deservedly, been singled out for enormous praise."