We chat with fashion designer Kathryn Casey-Burnett about what inspired her graduate collection, what's next and how it felt to be featured by the likes of Dazed & Confused, Vogue Italia and WGSN.
Hi Kathryn. First of all, can tell us your main inspirations for your graduate collection?
My starting point for my graduate collection was body cells, which stemmed from previous research for my pre-collection. The collection as a whole evokes the juxtaposition of entrapment and freedom, by portraying inside structures to the outside viewer. Fabrications were inspired by Louise Bourgeois’ series of installations 'Cells', Gunther Von Hagens’ 'Plastination', and Caroline Achaintre’s textile wall hangings. This research enabled me to experiment with draping, organic shapes and textile processes. From the puff print laying close to the skin, to the sculptural wadded pieces, the garments ultimately become an extension of the inside body. The majority of the collection is handmade, which as a designer, has become very important to me, as I feel it is these handmade processes which create garments with a unique identity.
How was your time at Middlesex University? What did you learn about yourself and your design aesthetic?
Studying BA Fashion Design was challenging, however the support from tutors and technicians allowed me to push my own aesthetic forward, as the staff were open to new design processes. The support given to develop our own individual aesthetic was very important to me, as I wanted to curate garments using an array of different materials, both conventional and unconventional. The toiling stage for my graduate collection started by building wadding on a stand, pieced together with large hand stitching, which was very much accepted as my own design process.
Your graduate collection was so well received - how did that feel?
Having come from a little town in Teesside and seeing the reactions from Dazed and WGSN, as well as being on the front page for Middlesex University on Vogue Italia online, was a very surreal feeling. Being aware that your collection has featured online by these highly established publications, alongside other designers, is very exciting.
If you had to describe your designs to someone who had never seen them, what would you say?
At the moment I’d say colourful craziness meets drape, sculpture and textiles. However previous garments have involved a lot of leather, knit and nude/brown hues, so I’m constantly open to experimenting with textiles and technicality.
Where do you draw your biggest inspirations from? What inspires you on a daily basis?
I love gathering primary research from galleries- art is my background and I need a running thread of artistic research in any collection I produce. I also like to include personal interests and my Northern background into my work.
What designers or people do you admire?
For me, Matty Bovan has inspired me to push ‘handmade’ further, he doesn’t like to limit his creativity for commerciality, which is super important to me. Other designers who have inspired me include Claire Barrow (who I interned for), Anne Sofie Madsen, and obviously Comme.
If you could dress anyone in your clothes who would you choose and why?
Anyone creative, who can bring life to cloth. I’d love the likes of Daniel Lismore to style up my creations, or even Beth Ditto - someone who isn’t afraid of being themselves.
Is there anyone out there whose work you think we should know about?
At the moment I’m obsessed with Caroline Achaintre’s sculptures and textile wall hangings. Also, I recently visited the Herald Street Gallery where Klaus Weber is exhibited, which you should check out.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
Thats difficult, I'm open to many collaborations. I’d love to collab with an accessories brand to broaden my skills with leather - it would be cool to mix up a luxury accessories brand.
What's next for you as a brand and on a personal level?
My aim is to reflect, digest and understand how I want to take my practice further. I definitely want to continue to producing garments, textiles and art.
Where shall we look out for you next and where can our readers follow your next stage?
Instagram is the quickest and easiest way to find out what I’m up to. I am currently creating my own website, which will be live soon, so look out for that aswell.