Sheridan Joyce is a young Australian fashion designer completing her Honours at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia. She is already making a name for herself internationally, as the only representative from Australia to be nominated for the Frankfurt Style Awards.
Sheridan’s 2014 graduate collection has received recognition for its focus on sustainability, which is influential in the logistics of her collection ‘Alchemy’, and her ethical standpoint as a designer. It is clear that Sheridan Joyce approach to design is well considered. It reflects her interest in psychology, art and science to produce conceptually strong collections. Throughout the creation of her graduate collection ‘Polarised Minds’, Sheridan found the balance between the importance of concept development, and working with a sense of pragmatism that allowed her to recognise her constraints.
This levelheadedness is sure to help her career. It is one thing to design a complex conceptual collection, and another to create something beautiful and ethically aware. Sheridan’s graduate collection achieves both, and the young fashion designer is reaping the well-deserved fruits her labour.
Sheridan, what inspired the design of your collection?
My collection was inspired by the contrast of artistic/chaotic and logical/structured sides of the human brain and how ultimately it produces a natural balance.
How do you approach fashion design?
I consider myself a conceptual designer. My fashion projects, such as my graduate showcase ‘Polarised Minds’ and my honours collection ‘Forelsket’ spark from a concept as opposed to a current trend. In the past two years my work has focused on sustainable fashion and finding ways to integrate sustainability into my practice. This practice is focused on womenswear. I have really only ever designed women’s wear as I find that alternative silhouette forms flow naturally with the female form.
What concepts did you focus on when designing your graduate collection?
The focal point of ‘Polarised Minds’ is the Theory of Brain Hemisphere Dominance. I chose this concept because I was interested in the idea of naturally existing juxtapositions. In the natural world, there are relationships which consist of components that are polarised in order to function. My collection is a conceptual investigation of of a theory illustrating such juxtaposition in the human brain. The left hemisphere of the brain was said to control audio-linguistic skills, while the right hemisphere was the location of visual and spacial skills. I used these contrasting notions to develop varying silhouettes that fitted the body classically but then also moved out from the body at odd angles.
Do you have a typical client in mind as you design?
This collection is exclusively aimed at women. It features sustainable practices and elements such as the embroidery, which is made of fabric off-cuts. If I had to define my ideal client she would be someone who is conscious of sustainable fashion, enjoys edgy silhouettes and appreciates fashion as something more than clothing, maybe as an art form.
What aspect of your collection makes it unique in you opinion?
I wanted to produce a body of work with a sense of cohesion through combining complimentary forms. I think it achieved that. One of the main features of the ‘Polarised Minds’ collection is the machine embroidery motif that I developed from medical imagery which was then sewn into fabric off cuts similar to an illustration.
Can you tell us more about the embroidery?
The motif I developed into a machine embroidery embellishment was directly developped from the conceptual foundation of the collection. The embroidery was inspired by a medical scan of a brain which has a scientific origin, and relates to the left hemisphere of the brain, but was then produced by ‘drawing’ the motif onto fabric through free-hand machine embroidering, which was an attempt to encapsulate the more artistic traits associated with the right hemisphere.
How did the design and creative process of your collection start?
The designing process began with theory research combined with collecting visual stimulus that inspired me to design. These images ranged from colour palette, to fabrics, embellishments, silhouettes and artwork that I felt were relevant to my vision.
Was one aspect of your research and development process especially important for your final design?
My research for fabrics was extremely important because of the silhouettes I wanted to produce. I wanted an overall elegant look to the collection but with my more voluminous designs. I had to choose fabrics that still worked with the overall aesthetic of the collection, its sense of elegance but also made it possible to create the intended silhouette.
What did you learn about yourself and your creativity through the process of designing your collection?
I learnt that a collection is a great way to thoroughly explore a concept, but it’s important to have good time management and realistic goals. When tackling a concept and following visual research you end-up with quite a few inspirational ideas. It’s important to select the most interesting aspects of your research and ideas and leave the remainder to potentially revisit at another time. I learnt that selecting two or three key design aspects and focusing on communicating them clearly helps prioritise what I try to achieve with my designs.
What advice would you give to someone about to begin designing their final collection?
Time is not your friend, and it is crucial to pick one or two features to really make the overall collection unique but cohesive. A final collection is a great opportunity to showcase what you have learnt and your design point of view.
If you choose to explore a new idea or technique, you must also commit to putting the time in to really push the limits of what you can do with it. Also it’s important to know whether or not you are going for a conceptual or commercial showcase and how you want to position yourself as a designer in the industry. Make sure your collection communicates your skills and the direction you want to take.
What have you been doing fashion wise since graduation?
Sfter finishing my undergraduate studies I have enrolled for and am now completing my Honours qualification at Curtin University. I’ve chosen to carry on studying for an additional year in order to better define my design practise and explore aspects of sustainable design. I believe that it is extremely important for emerging designers to be conscious of the impact fashion and textiles has on society and the world. By really engaging with this topic, specifically through ‘Zero-Waste’ pattern design and Slow Fashion principles I have been chosen to showcase my work internationally.
Can you tell us more about this?
In September I travelled to Frankfurt, Germany to participate in the Frankfurt Style Awards, in the Ecological Green Category. I am the only Australian representative and it’s extremely exciting to have my design chosen out of all the entries to be showcased on an international platform.
What advice would you give to someone who is about to start studying fashion?
Be prepared for sleepless nights and emotional highs and lows. Studying fashion demands a lot of hard work and commitment; but just because you’re working hard at something doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be a success. However when you put all your energy into and are innovative within an area you’re passionate about you will at least, find purpose in what you’re doing.
Are there any specific trends out there that you are paying special attention to?
Sustainable fashion is gaining ground, I feel that more people are agreeing that it’s important to consider how we design in terms of how we use our resources, how we produce our designs and what impact they will ultimately have on the environment. However I would not classify sustainable fashion as a trend as a trend implies that it will only last for a couple of seasons only to then become irrelevant.