There’s so much talk about how the fashion industry is crashing right now, about how the fashion industry isn’t creative anymore, about how the fashion industry isn’t meaningful anymore, that it’s easy to forget the fact that, because we have to wear clothing every day, fashion will necessarily always be meaningful. Furthermore, if this year’s fashion graduates are any indication, it will continue to be creative, too.
Enter Stephanie Frig, a recent graduate of the fashion design program at the University of Technology in Sydney. Stephanie’s graduate collection rebuffs the general desire to make women’s clothing reflective of women’s bodies, and pursues new silhouettes. These silhouettes are informed by traditional (and very time-consuming) techniques, and by fabulous old ladies, who, let’s face it, we all hope to be some day (Iris Apfel we love you). Here, Stephanie discusses why she became fascinated with fashion in the first place, what her graduate collection is all about, and how she feels about the industry, which is in flux, right now.
Courtney Sanders: Do you remember when you first became interested in fashion?
Stephanie Frig: Growing up I have always had an interest in fashion – even when I went through my intensely awkward tomboy stage. My grandfather was a tailor so I have constantly been surrounded by fabrics and different ways of styling the body.
C.S.: What made you want to become a fashion designer?
S.F.: I can’t remember what exactly made me realise “I want to be a fashion designer”, but I loved the freedom of being able to tell a story via styling and fashion. I have always enjoyed creating clothing, even when I was amateur at sewing, so I thought I may as well try out designing and see what happens.
C.S.: You’ve just graduated from UTS! What have been the most valuable skills or lessons you’ve learned during your studies?
S.F.: Strength and perseverance.
C.S.: Can you walk us through the development of your design style, from when you started designing until now. How has it changed, developed and morphed into what it is now?
S.F.: I have always been interested in distorting the body and using clothing as a form of distracting body shapes. I find excitement in designing in a way that the garments are excessive in scale and have a bulky, awkward element to them, instead of being tailored for the body. This year I was able to develop my silhouettes and textiles further and create a style that I know is true to my aesthetic.
C.S.: Your graduate collection is amazing. Can you walk us through that, too?
S.F.: My graduate collection was inspired by the over-adorned and excessive nature of the 1980s films created by Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, as well as elderly women in their ‘Sunday best’. The collection embraces structural box silhouettes saturated by colour and immoderate textures. Conflicting textures, such as shaggy rugs and plasticised furniture, influenced the textile aspect of the collection as I explored the technique of latch hooking and was able to develop my own plasticised fabric which was then laser cut. Abstract flowers and washing baskets became the main source of imagery for the textiles.
I knew from the beginning of this project that I wanted to create a collection that dismisses ideas associated with flat print-making and promotes three-dimensional print-making via layering laser cutting and latch hooking. Latch hooking is very technically challenging, and made me doubt whether it was even possible to do for this collection. It somehow worked out – thanks to my friends and to sleepless nights working away with my mum. There were numerous times when I thought it was physically impossible to sew some of my garments, but somehow it all worked out.
C.S.: Who or what are you inspired by at the moment?
S.F.: The older women in Charles H. Traub’s photography collection ‘Lunchtime’. And Grandma Yetta.
C.S.: Who are your favourite fashion designers?
S.F.: Marni and Prada.
C.S.: Raf Simons has just left Dior because of the pace of the industry, and Alber Elbaz has just been ousted from Lanvin for not maintaining necessary revenue increases. It seems like the industry, and the people in it, are under untenable amounts of pressure because of the speed at which it currently moves. What are your thoughts on this? What would you see like to change in the industry?
S.F.: It isn’t an issue just relating to fashion, every industry has accelerated due to the internet. Every consumer has come to expect a rapid upgrade cycle causing this constant pace and pressure of the industry. Collections that are released each year, especially by high end brands such as Dior, have increased and are not just your typical biannual releases. The fashion industry is constantly changing and will always be pushing for more in order to keep the consumer excited. I wouldn’t say that the people in the industry are under “untenable” amounts of pressure, but of course it is a very challenging industry. I can’t quite state what I would like to see change in the industry but I feel that creativity has recently been something that is quickly processed and I feel we need to give more time towards individuals creative ideas.
C.S.: What are your plans, hopes, and dreams now that you’ve graduated?
S.F.: There is still so much more that I want to explore in terms of designing and textile making, so I am hoping to intern internationally and complete a masters degree in either London or Antwerp next year.
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