“Let it be rain”
University of South Wales fashion graduate, Melissa Hancocks, took to her surroundings for the inspiration of her degree collection. Wales on a cloudy afternoon is the feeling Melissa wanted to put across with the aptly named “Let It Be Rain” collection.
The collection depicts the epitome of the “great British weather”, specifically how raindrops collect on surfaces.
Melissa mixed materials such as latex, plastic and wax coated microfibers and tied together this unique combination of fabrics with a gloomy colour palette and innovative surface decorations.
Melissa, what was the starting point of your collection?
The collection started as something quite different and gradually developed into “Let It Be Rain”. My initial idea was to bring together nature and a vision of the future.
It started with a futuristic feel, but the nature element interested me more. This led to me concentrating on the rain whilst retaining a slightly futuristic feel with the use of specialised material.
You mentioned first nature, and then the rain. Why the focus on this aspect of nature?
I wanted to do something different and personal and I was particularly inspired by the great British weather. I remember sitting in my university room in Wales looking out of the window and it was raining – it seems to rain a lot in Wales! I liked the way the raindrops sat like beads on the glass. This was when I decided to use rain as inspiration.
I had never liked the rain or liked being in the rain particularly but it always comes, so I thought it would be interesting to put the rain permanently on my garments as a way to pre-empt the rain.
I wanted to create interesting garments, making a simple statement about the weather.From that day the idea for “Let It Be Rain” continued to develop to become the final collection it is today.
Did you design the collection with a specific person in mind though?
As this collection was my “final” collection I wanted it to be different to the fashion you see on the high street, but also wearable. “Let It Be Rain” is an expression of my inspirations and feelings. I never had a specific target market or customer in mind. I just wanted the collection to be unique and wearable, which I think I have achieved. But I do believe that part of me was driven by the market and an understanding of the kind of people who would wear my collection.
If you could go back, is there anything you would change about your collection?
I think as other creative people do, that there are things that I could improve; I don’t think any creative work is ever finished, but to be able to move onto new ideas, you need to draw a line under what’s done.
For me the focus and strength of my collection are the unique textiles that create the look of rain. I tried a variety of techniques to achieve the look I wanted but I eventually went with the technique that I felt looks the most like rain. Maybe in the future I will revisit my ideas and improve on them?
How have people at GFW responded to your collection?
At Graduate Fashion Week people reacted really well to my work and lots of people were taking photos, asking questions. A few people thought that the garment was actually wet, so I think I achieved the look of rain. It was a rewarding feeling to have so many people view my work and to want to take photographs of it.
Which challenges did you face whilst creating “Let It Be Rain“?
The most challenging part of the design process was finding out how I could achieve a realistic look of raindrops. Another difficulty was the construction of the garments, in particular the main piece, the raincoat. It was difficult to achieve the finish that I wanted with a professional look, but as with most problems I worked through them doing several tests and alterations to the pattern, and in the end I achieved the look.
Can you tell us a few highlights from your design development process?
I felt the collection really started taking shape when I began experimenting with fabrics and creating surface decoration. I eventually developed the technique of dropping a type of resin onto my fabrics, and it worked perfectly to achieve the desired look of rain. This was the moment when I realised that my idea could work and I felt it was really interesting, and that it would get people talking.
What about construction and colours?
Creating the right shape for the collection was key to making it interesting and marketable. I felt that to achieve something interesting and wearable, it had to be modern and all the pieces should have the ability of being worn together or be mixed and matched within the collection.
The colour palette was a relatively simple aspect to create – the colours reflected the palette associated with a stormy day, the greys and dark blues worked to reflect that.
What memories from your final year will never leave you?
So many memories; maybe one was winning a competition to be part of a start-up company and also completing my final collection, going to GFW and seeing it finished on display there with all the emotions that came along with that.
Any advice for people who are about to create their final collection?
It’s going to be tough, hard to do, you may even get fed up of your collection along the way, but it is a progression. You may even have to start again along the way, but in the end it’s all worth it. Seeing the final product finished and on display, is worth it all.
What does the future hold for Melissa Hancocks?
I have just finished university with a First Class Honours and I now have a job with a start-up brand in Wales as one of the 3 main designers. I’m always looking to develop and push myself to achieve more. Further down the line, I want to start working my own collections.