The End is Nigh: Dress Accordingly
What will we wear at the end of the world? With a bric-a-brac of silhouettes and plethora of prints, fashion design student Sarah Hill’s graduate collection might provide the answer.
After a hard-working honours year at Heriot Watt University, Sarah has been recognised for her dedicated and innovative techniques. With an interesting insight to cultural issues, and a passion for bringing these to the forefront of her collections, her designs will see you ready for whatever may come.
Sarah, tell us more about your graduate collection…
The collection is a reflection … or rather my idea, of what you may wear to the end of the world. It’s a mixture of contrasts – oversized and undersized, prints and fabrics. I was really experimental with fabrics and included many different garments; I maintained a tonal colour palette with a yellow accent for cohesion. I have these oversized shirts, big sweatshirts and plastic and felt coats and then tight long johns and sparkly knitted pants. Together they create this appropriate-inappropriate mix-match of clothing for the End of the World.
What inspired you to use this concept of ‘The End the World’?
My inspiration usually starts with an idea; it could be something I’ve discussed with a friend, or read in the newspapers, a book I’ve read or a film I’ve seen.
Certainly with this collection, I was inspired by political, social and cultural issues but I wanted to add a humorous slant. This is how I reach the idea for my collection Dys-Topia: The End is Nigh.
I asked myself the question: who is most likely to end the world, man or god? People fear ‘acts of god’ – such as hurricanes, earthquakes or tsunamis – yet they’re willing to risk their lives through nuclear power stations, storing nuclear weapons, and with disregard the planet with reckless waste disposal, fuel consumption and pollution. The breakthrough moment, for my collection, was coming up with the concept of what you would wear at the end of the world. The answer of course is whatever you can find. This gave me a lot more scope and inspired the silhouettes and the overall dysfunctional look of the garments in the collection.
Who was your collection designed for?
My intended market was me and possibly people whose style I admire, people who really wear whatever they want and aren’t governed by trends or expectations. I imagine they are politically minded, with a sense of humour about their clothes … oh and also they would want pockets – I’m always jealous that boys don’t have to carry a handbag. – Maybe my intended market is the feminists market!
The best compliment I’ve had on the collection is that it looks like me, I think this means I’ve found my style.
How did university experience influence your design process?
During my course I realised I was capable of things I assumed were impossible. I became incredibly determined and hardworking. University helped to ‘focus me’ as a designer, now I know what inspires me, what I like and what to do when I get stuck. I think this is really important. Also I think the fact that I studied in Galashiels which is a rather quite place was really beneficial. Glasgow was home and Galashiels was my workplace; I worked constantly while I was there.
What advice would you give a student following in your footsteps?
I would advise someone who is about to start a degree in fashion to really make the most of the early years. I didn’t take full advantage of the resources, facilities and staff available to me until my final year. I started my 4th year chasing my tail a bit and I had to work all the harder to achieve my aims.
So start working hard early, work out what it is you like and what it is that inspires you. Do not be necessarily satisfied with the first idea; you’ll get more out of something you really love.
If you got a chance to design your collection again, is there anything you would change?
I would change a few technical things such as some garments construction, but other than that I’m really happy with how the collection looks. I just wish I could have made it bigger!
What happened after you debuted this collection?
Upon my graduation I was awarded The Watt Club Medal for exceptional merit and distinction in my final honours year. My innovation in textile and fashion design practice was also recognised by The Incorporation of Bonnetmakers and Dyers of Edinburgh annual award.
I’ve had internships with Goodone and Beautiful Soul which are both ethical/sustainable brands which is an area I’m really interested in. These opportunities and awards have been really rewarding. The experiences have helped me keep my determination and boost my skills.
What inspires you at the moment?
Social trends and fashion theory interest me more than trends in colours, prints, styles etc. At the moment I’m really interested in gender equality in fashion; why is it socially acceptable for women to wear men’s clothing but not for men to wear women’s. There’s lots of really interesting reading and ideas on this: androgyny, transgender, cross-dressing, and genderless clothing. It’s an area I think will progress a lot more in the future. I’ve noticed an increase in feminist debate recently and I think there are many stereotypes in fashion that are difficult for men to overcome.
So what’s next for you?
I’ve been applying for various jobs in the industry. I’ve previously had two internships and know how valuable experience can be. Ideally, I’d like to work for a while before I take the next step and apply to study for an MA. I’d like to build upon some of my skills such as photography and illustration, so I can make the most of my potential in the future. There are always opportunities to learn more; I feel like I am just getting started.