Monday, 6 December 2010

Designer Of The Day: Carmen Woods

Designer Bio:
Inspired by the designers time in Ravenna, Italy, living amongst the Byzantine mosaics, our collection embodies the beauty of intricately patch worked pieces cut from the finest Italian leather and speciality skins. Each bag is patch worked into a rectangle, mixing interesting combinations of colour, tones and textures. Once each work of art has been created, it is rolled and pleated into a modern bag classic, such as the slouchy, the satchel or the clutch. With sharp attention to detail, we only use the finest Swiss zips and strong nickel bag fittings. There is no external label to detract from the beauty of the bag, only a plain metal tag as an ode to simplicity. We have made a commitment to never compromise on the quality of our products or the creativity of their design. Carmen Woods will only to use the finest leather and materials, alongside the best craftmanship to create truly beautiful luxury accessories.

1. What inspired you to get into fashion design?
I've always loved art and clothing so fashion design seemed the perfect combination of the two. I painted a lot of portraits and landscapes at school and was inspired by artists like Vincent Van Gogh and Georgia O'Keefe. At college my real love of fashion began when I discovered vintage and charity shops. I spent hours searching through packed rails to find a stunning '40s evening dress or a '50s box jacket. The detailing and the cut of the fabric just amazed me and really inspired me to focus my creativity in the direction of fashion design.

2. Where did you study?
I studied at Ravensbourne College of Design & Communication where I took a BA Honours Degree in Fashion with Textiles.

3. Describe your philosophy about fashion?
I think fashion should be many things. It should inspire you, be fantastical but remain wearable and it should express who you are and how you're feeling.

4. What words of wisdom can you give to aspiring designers?
If you really feel that you can give something interesting to the fashion industry then you shouldn't be intimidated by the huge amount of competition. It's an over crowded profession but there will always be room for a designer with ideas and passion. Make sure you go to a good college and secure as much work experience within various labels as you can. Keep your eyes a open for inspiration at all times and create a book of ideas that you draw upon for future projects. It is also important to research fashion trends and visit as many boutiques as possible.

5. Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?
I find inspiration everywhere and often in the most unexpected of places.. For example when I recently went to Fuerteventura I became inspired by its volcanic landscape and when I lived in Ravenna, Italy I was so in awe of the Byzantine mosaics that I based my entire collection around them. I am both visually and craft inspired, so I work between 2D and 3D by sketching ideas and experimenting with various techniques.

6. What is a typical day for a fashion designer like yourself?
No two days are the same. For example a couple of weeks ago I visited my manufacturer in London to pick up my new collection and discuss my upcoming diffusion range. I then went to my leather suppliers to select some skins for my next collection. The day after I spent hours doing my accounts which was incredibly boring but necessary! For the last two weeks I have been busy experimenting with ideas and designing my new diffusion range, which is due to be launched in December. This weekend I'm taking part in 'Made in Clerkenwell' at the Craft Central, a London selling event alongside other designers.

7. Which fashion designers have been important points of reference for you?
There have been so many inspirational designers to me. When I was at college I loved Gianfranco Ferre the most for his sculptural elegant designs and Prada for their understated forward thinking vision. I also really loved conceptual designers such as Comme des Garcons and Hussein Chalayan. When I first started handbag designing I discovered a brilliant accessories label called Bracher Emden. Their designs really pushed creativity to the extreme with a vibrant contrast of colour, leather textures and Swarovski crystals. At the moment I really like the handbag brand Rocio, who carve their creations from wood and the well established designer Anya Hindmarch. I also love Basso & Brooke for their amazing prints, Miu Miu for their accessories and I'm still in awe of Prada!

8. If you had the opportunity to design for one person who would it be?
As well as continuing to design for my own range, I would love to design an accessories collection for Liberty, as I absolutely love their prints, textiles and their identity as a British brand.

9. Can you tell me about your new collection?
For my main collection next season I have looked at the colours and textures found in our iconic English country gardens. My new range features stone, faded brown, pewter and russet alongside romantic colours like fuchsia pink, peony purple, sweet pea blue and willow green. I have selected a mix of Italian leathers such as natural, faded, patent, shiny and metallic to compliment my established shapes of the season. In December I will be launching my new diffusion range CW by Carmen. For this collection I have continued my interest with patchwork and artisan techniques and evolved my linear sketches into an interesting appliqué technique. I think the results look both bold and feminine, whilst creating a fresh look at the ‘modern classic’. I am continuing to use the same high quality Italian leather as my main line collection, in silver, gold,  berry shades, earthy browns and classic black.

10. Where can we find your collection?
You can find my collection in my boutique ‘Carmen’ (121 Broadway West, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex), on my website and at the artistspringboard's website.