Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Newcomer

A profile piece I wrote for university on Louise Wallbanks - a 3rd year fashion design student.

Classic menswear silhouettes that are creating a quirky individual statement: fashion’s latest graduate is set to become a game changer.

‘Sometimes I go out, but the whole night in the back of my head I’m thinking how to cut that jacket.’ It tells me a lot that Louise Wallbanks always has fashion on her mind. You may not know her yet, but she has been quietly working her way through 3 years at the University of the Creative Arts. Sitting in the Epsom studio where she resides, the design student is currently working on an 8-piece line-up for her graduate collection.

Upon meeting, the 24-year-old assures me that she looks tidier when out of the studio, different to her uniform of comfy jumpers, jeans and Converse. An attire to ease the busy lifestyle she now has, ‘I don’t get a lot of time to relax.’ It appears that part of the reason is because work never stops; there are already plans of what to do after fashion. ‘When I’ve passed my sell by date, I really want to illustrate for children’s books. That’s really random isn’t it?’

But first, Wallbanks wants her own line – a decision made after years of internships, including those with Sir Tom Baker and Emilio de la Morena. ‘They were all lovely but you do all this work and the designer gets all the credit for it. I guess that’s how it works as I was just the intern,’ she says of the latter.

Inspiration for the final collection may not be conventional, but that’s what the young designer wants to be known for. ‘Have you seen the film Sherlock Holmes? There’s a bit in the final scene where he becomes the sofa.’ With that known, there’s no surprise that one of Wallbanks’ favourite designers is DSquared2. The way Wallbanks puts together colour on a canvas of well-cut tailoring is prevalent in the work of Canadian brothers Dean and Dan Caten.

Her clothes are a perfect reflection of her personality, which she describes succinctly. ‘I think the type of person that would wear my designs knows his own mind and is not afraid to stand out; nor is he scared of expressing himself in a vibrant and bold way,’ she says. ‘A man who understands and wants a balance between classic simplicity and decorative statement.’

Though with Central Saint Martins becoming a launchpad for careers, with the likes of Christopher Kane and Stella McCartney as past alumni, isn’t she worried? ‘The fashion industry is very competitive anyway, so if you are not motivated to push yourself it would be very hard to get involved, however if it is something you really want, which I do, you will tend to push yourself until you get there.’

I think the children’s books might have to wait.    

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