GRADUATE: Stephanie Jayne Price — Fashion Design
Having graduated earlier this year with a First Class honors degree in Fashion, where she specialised in womenswear and pattern cutting, Stephanie Jayne-Price quickly decided that prior to entering the industry, she has more to uncover about her own creative practice and the future of fashion. Stephanie is currently studying a Masters degree in Fashion at Kingston University, London and we caught up with her this month to find out about her journey so far.
Notes on Design: Can you tell us a little about yourself, what you do and your academic and professional journey to date?
Stephanie: I’m 22 years old, and I grew up in Barmby Moor, a small village just outside of York in Northern England. Currently, I’m studying an MA in Fashion at Kingston University, London. Earlier this year, I graduated from Northumbria University Newcastle with a 1st class BA Hons degree in Fashion Design where I specialised in womenswear and pattern cutting.
Throughout the four years of my undergraduate degree I undertook a number of placements in London studios, working alongside some of my industry heroes: Philip Treacy, Gareth Pugh, Emilio de la Morena and Tatty Devine.
And about me, well… I like music, tea, books, tasty treats, outdoors, national geographic, cycling, train journeys, gigs… bit of a geek, i hoard stuff (mainly books), essentially an over-thinker and a desire to learn about almost everything.
Notes on Design: What is it about Fashion Design that motivates you?
Stephanie: Fashion Design provides a means to a form of expression. In the very same way that a painter has his paints and a canvas, a photographer has his camera, musicians have their instruments and so on. For me I love Fashion Design, and the construction of clothing.
Clothing is to everyone both functional and personal, and is an outlet of sensory-emotional design. Right now, as I study my postgraduate degree I am working out what role I will and can play in the future of fashion. That in itself motivates me. Like many others I love design and I love making clothes, but with the current economic, social and environmental challenges its crucial for designers to be rethinking and reinventing traditional practices.
Stephanie Price – Northumbria University 2010 Graduate catwalk show (view more images here)
Notes on Design: Who, or what, are you most inspired by?
Stephanie: I’m greatly inspired by the people in my life. I could also put a list of inspirational “things” together too: Music, moments, journeys, books, the countryside, observation. I feel fortunate right now to be able to spend my days thinking and doing the things that inspire me and that I love, all of which I can call “work”.
Notes on Design: You’ve recently started a Masters degree, can you tell us a little more about the course?
Stephanie: I’m studying at Kingston University, London, and living in London suburbia where the air is a tiny bit cleaner and the trees a ever so slightly greener than the city centre. It’s not a conventional Fashion degree, which I love. Kingston provides excellent resources and opportunities to explore the whole design school and we are encouraged to get involved with other disciplines such as film, animation and product. The resulting work we produce isn’t therefore restricted to solely clothing or garment collections. Some of the work may on the surface seem absurd to be considered as ‘fashion’, however this cross-disciplinary practice allows us to use the design process and reconfigure the approach we have to fashion and what is possible for the future.
Notes on Design: Can you tell us a little about what you are currently working on?
Stephanie: Early in January I’ll have reached the end of semester 1 and so far I have been working on two main projects. For the first I developed a design proposal exploring the relationship between the body and music/sound. The aim of the project was to discuss the place of the body in the 21st Century, and my response was developing methodologies of sensory design subjects to provoke ways of rethinking about how we go about placing the body in design. The result of this project was an e-journal of design topics and research resources. Through the journals creation, I am continuing to seek future collaborations and design discussions on the topic.
The second project that I’m currently working on, titled ZERO, is focused on designing for sustainability. The brief proposes that it is the year 2030 and the government have banned the production of fashion on an industrial scale. With limited or no resources, and a limited 2 hours of electricity per day, how do we go about design and the production of fashion? What will fashion and human lifestyle in 2030 look like? I have proposed that by this time and in this situation we would be entirely using wholly renewable energy sources and that the quality of life will have been completely regenerated. My design provocation intends to place a fashion fingerprint on the everyday life in 2030; proposing a retrospect to the extreme fast fashion consumption of 2010. The project invites individuals to reconsider their current lifestyle choices.
Notes on Design: So far, how does the MA differ to an undergraduate degree?
Stephanie: At undergraduate level we are taught to tick boxes and we learn skills to inform practices in industry, but at MA level the method of study becomes a lot more personal, very independent and self-led. On the Masters degree we are encouraged to rework our own design process and develop methods of working both independently and encouraged to form collaborations. Essentially we are developing our own practice, allowing us to enter the industry at a higher level and to be specialists in our fields.
Notes on Design: What was the hardest thing you had to overcome as a graduate?
Stephanie: As a graduate, the worst part for me was just not being a student anymore! It took a while for me to snap out of that constant buzz of work. I remember that first day of having no work to do and starting to wonder what did I used to do before??!! I finally caught up on sleep and re-entered the real world outside of the undergraduate bubble, I redecorated and reconnected with the world, and then settled on becoming a student for another two years and to undertake postgraduate studies.
Notes on Design: Based on your experiences and insights, how do you think the fashion industry deals with the surplus of design graduates, and what are your current thoughts on sustainable fashion?
Stephanie: There are some elements of the current fashion industry that make me angry. The amount of unpaid interning that is currently happening shocks me. It is one of the reasons that put me off trying to get a job straight after my undergraduate degree. Many graduates are expected to work ridiculous hours for free.
To undertake any internship you have to be living where the work is, often in a major city like London, and the living costs are not cheap! You go to ‘work’ everyday for a designer that you’ve admired for 10 years, doing menial jobs just to earn a name on your CV. There are highly skilled designers going unnoticed in the industry because they simple cannot afford to work for nothing.
Considering the fashion industry as a whole there are entirely other challenges regarding consumerism, fast fashion, environmental damage and sweatshops. There are many new challenges that fashion, and other design industries, need to face now. I have no intentions of branding myself an ethical- or eco-designer, I believe we shouldn’t have these titles in our practice. Being environmentally and ethical conscious should be an integrated part of our working process.
BA Portfolio Project: Capsule collection for River Island
Notes on Design: So, what’s next for you?
Stephanie: Well I’ve just returned from a trip to Eindhoven where I’ve been assisting the team at Philips Design with their upcoming Design Probes. Then looking to the new year I’ve got a couple of projects on the horizon, including joining the team at the Ph-Fashion Phreaking event in April, at the 7th annual conference Smart Fabrics 2011. I’ll also be freelancing for a new online business early next year, (more to be revealed in February).
More generally though, for the next two years I shall be living in a creative hub of Knights Park in Kingston and that shall be my home. I’m really just hoping during this time to discover a balance between freelance work, self-initiated projects and more experiences working abroad.
Notes on Design: Based on your experiences do you have any advice for this years graduates and those considering taking an MA?
Stephanie: Currently there are just so many fashion graduates, and so few jobs, it’s a complicated time for design graduates. For those considering further education after a Bachelors degree, an MA is a great possibility, but it is an expensive one!
For me, I had been considering an MA throughout my final undergraduate year, because I felt there were many things that I was working on that were not yet resolved. There was more I wanted to discover and to get settled in my mind and postgraduate study provides just that platform and support for continuing your creative exploration where it is often otherwise unavailable. Personally I found that an MA was the right pathway for me to go. For others, doing an MA may be more appropriate after gaining some working industry experience.
Essentially I didn’t feel ready to be entering a work place. So when I was offered a place on the MA program at Kingston and I visited the campus it just felt like home!