Rebecca Alexandra: a Contemporary Collection
Rebecca Munn who just graduated from Nottingham Trent University, has an intriguing approach to fashion design which seamlessly blends ultra-modern techniques with ancient influences. Treading the fine line between wearability and originality, this unusual combination resulted in an unashamedly commercial but wonderfully personal graduate collection.
Her eponymous collection: Rebecca Alexandra, is heavily influenced by Buddhist SakYant tattoos – religious emblems inked onto the body which protect their wearer and bring joy and good fortune. In this case, however, it seems her inspired use of laser-cutting techniques to perforate these emblems onto leather panels is what truly brings joy to those who view and wear her collection.
Read her interview below…
How would you describe the style of your designs?
My work is feminine and elegant with a contemporary, modern twist. I set out intending to design a powerful and emotional collection.
Your work is notably more commercial than that of other student designers. Was this something you felt to be important when creating your designs?I feel it is important to find a balance between expressing yourself through design and making a wearable garment. Designers have to be aware of the commercial requirements a successful collection must meet. I am subconsciously driven and influenced by street style and trends. I have directed my work towards a luxury market – alongside designers such as Roksanda Ilincic and The Row.
Your collection has some very specific inspirations; can you tell us more about these?
I went to South Asia over the summer. The Buddhist culture there was a strong influence on my final collection. Buddhism has key theories, such as, The Wisdom of emptiness, Enlightenment and The space between thoughts. I used these themes to set a mood for the collection.
I was also fascinated by the importance of the SakYant tattoo and how it was viewed in contrast to the British tattoo culture. SakYants can only be made in temples by trained Buddhist monks. They strongly believe that the SakYant provides protection against evil. I felt this was really powerful.
How did you translate these influences into the garments in your collection?
I was intrigued by the importance of Buddha and the respect the Monks received – I hoped to emulate this through strong, elongated silhouettes. I also tried to visually represent the key Buddhist ideas in a subtle, feminine way. I depicted the Wisdom of Emptiness using a print of a fresh water lake on the bottom of garments as a development of the dip dye trend.
The SakYant tattoos were literally translated by a perforation technique I developed. The pattern is laser cut with hundreds of very small holes, emulating how the tattoos are drawn with a bamboo stick. This laser cutting technique is unique to myself and is really effective in the collection. I would have loved to develop it further but sadly there wasn’t enough time.
What were the main challenges you faced when producing this collection?
I found it hard narrowing down my ideas. There were so many different techniques I wanted to show it was difficult to decide on six outfits. Through the design process I learned to have more confidence and believe in my design work. I work best translating my ideas from 2D to 3D and find this the most stimulating.
What advice would you give to students about to start studying fashion design?
I would say enjoy it, your best work comes when you’re enjoying yourself. Don’t take university for granted, it won’t last forever so enjoy every minute. I really struggled during first and second year and put far too much pressure on myself. Eventually there I was sitting in the models dressing room an hour before the final show frantically sewing hems. I stepped back, saw my garments on the models and thought to myself I did it, I actually did it.