Monday, 6 June 2011

Middlesex BA Graduate Showcase... Yasmin Bawa

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Last Thursday was a gluttonous feast of emerging talent as the class of 2011 stepped in to the spotlight. Before taking my seat at the highly anticipated RCA MA show I was treated to a couple of real menswear gems at the Middlesex BA show. Now, a few people doubted the feasibility of making both shows but fortunately thanks to a speedy taxi driver the seemingly impossible was possible. The reason why I pushed the possibilities was Yasmin Bawa. Regular readers should recall that we first introduced the young talent in December and were instantly dazzled by her pre collection. Since then, Bawa has completed her graduate BA at Middlesex and the collection was one of the highlights of a packed evening.

Bawa's graduate collection plays with tailoring and looks to Futurism, ISOTYPE, pictograms and camera-less photography to breathe fresh life in to staple pieces. During her research, Bawa focused on Giacomo Balla’s ‘Futurist Manifesto of Men’s Clothing’ and had the line “we must destroy all passeist clothes, and everything about them which is tight-fitting, colourless, funeral and boring” ringing through her ears as she designed. Before we take a look at the collection itself and speak with the graduate about her work, Bawa offers a glimpse inside of her sketchbook...

sketchbook page 01
sketchbook page 02
sketchbook page 04
sketchbook page 05
sketchbook page 06
sketchbook page 07
sketchbook page 11
sketchbook page 12
front line up

As fashion consumers and obsessives, we rarely get the opportunity to see anything other than the finished look but as bloggers we are always interested to understand how the designer's initial ideas and sketches become reality. The resulting collection was full of colour, layers and print. Many of the shapes are outlines taken from text in futurist posters and the prints themselves were inspired by different images that came from researching the manifesto.

A few of my catwalk shots.

Following the show, we sat down with the graduate to learn more about her time at Middlesex, the collection itself and her hopes for the future...

SS: Describe the moment you realized you wanted to be a menswear designer?
Yasmin Bawa: I did a menswear project in my second year, and just suddenly felt so much more inspired than I had before. My design style focuses on simple shapes and a lot of small detailing, and this just really fits in well with menswear. The work can work both ways too, which is why for my final collection I also made a few womenswear pieces that are adaptations of the menswear garments. I think there is a growing market for women buying into menswear brands.

SS: What attracted you to the Middlesex BA course in particular? What was the best thing about your course?
Yasmin Bawa: I was attracted to Middlesex mainly through recommendation. I was told it had amazing tutors and technicians that really encourage you to take your ideas to the next level and then also help you to execute them. This turned out to be more than true and I would really recommend the course. Being a transfer student I certainly noticed a complete difference in the way of working and atmosphere and I’ve really enjoyed my time here.

SS: How would you describe your graduate collection in your own words?
Yasmin Bawa: It’s a mixture of tailored and casual looks that explore the idea of how suits can be made interesting and different. It is also a continuation of my interest in colour, print and texture.

SS: The collection focuses on the ways in which we can best represent reality- looking into Futurism, ISOTYPE, pictograms and camera-less photography.What was your starting point and how did the the collection evolve in to what we see today?
Yasmin Bawa: The starting point was a recent exhibition at the V&A on camera-less photography. It really got my head going as to how I could incorporate this into my collection. This became a really important part of my research as all of the printing was done using these methods. I soaked my fabrics in light sensitive emulsion and then after it was dry, exposed the prints into the fabric using a UV light. This was a really interesting way of printing and the results were amazing as they didn’t always come out perfect, but it gives the prints another dimension than compared to when I had previously just screen printed fabric. The other main research was futurism, but focusing on Giacomo Balla’s ‘Futurist Manifesto of Men’s Clothing’, he states in it “we must destroy all passeist clothes, and everything about them which is tight-fitting, colourless, funeral and boring.” As well as writing the manifesto he also designed and wore these great printed waistcoats and asymmetric suits. I really loved this idea so this became the design inspiration for the clothes; a play on the suit but with added layers, colour, prints and cut-out shapes. The print was inspired by different images that came from researching the manifesto and a lot of the shapes are actually outlines taken from text in futurist posters.

SS: What type of man can you see wearing your designs?
Yasmin Bawa: Hmm, I guess it would be someone who likes colour and print! There is quite a lot of different things going on with the collection, there is a lot of bold pieces but you can still create a more subtle look, so I would hope it appeals to a lot of different men.

SS: I know this is difficult question to answer but have you got a favourite, anything that you were most proud of?
Yasmin Bawa: I think that I’m most proud of the tailoring pieces; a lot of time went into getting them to be just how I wanted. The knitwear pieces are also my favourites as I think they bring a whole other dynamic to the collection. But it is like choosing between siblings.

SS: To help bring the collection to life you've created a film. Could you talk us through this, the inspiration behind it, the filming experience and the results?
Yasmin Bawa: For the film I wanted to show the interaction between the menswear and the womenswear. I found that many films that did this portrayed it in a really sexy way, and I didn’t want to do that and also didn’t think it really would fit with the look of the collction; so we took it the other way and made it more dreamlike and almost surreal.

We also thought it would be nice to do something a little different from the usual fashion film, and incorporate a subtle story into the film. This worked really well and although it has a feel of a short film, its also all about the clothes and focuses on the detailing in the garments that you just don’t see on the catwalk. The filming experience was amazing and I am incredibly lucky to have the team that I had. I owe a massive thank you to everyone who worked on it as they really brought the collection to life. I’m really excited to see what people think of it.

SS: Over the past two years you have worked with Tim Soar, Richard Nicoll, and Daviddavid. How did these experiences affect you as a designer?
Yasmin Bawa: These experiences have been invaluable to me as a designer. It really helps you to get an insight into the industry and also just teaches you a lot of skills that were essential when it came time for me to execute my own ideas. Sometimes I think I learned more from internships than I did at University. I have taken a lot of what I learned and incorporated it into my collection. Working with David nurtured my love for print and also taught me a lot about using colour. Tim has been amazing for teaching me about the structure of a menswear collection and I met with him during the development stages of my collection, which was really helpful. Having people like this supporting you just helps you to have a bit more confidence.

SS: What advice would you give a prospective menswear fashion student?
Yasmin Bawa: Advice is a hard one because I guess I’m only starting out too, but I would say to get as much experience as possible especially while your still studying.

SS: Finally, what would you like to achieve in the latter half of 2011 and beyond?
Yasmin Bawa: I think the most important thing for me is to just keep busy. The last few months have been crazy and I don’t want everything to just suddenly stop. I’d love to make another collection, possibly something I could start selling. I’m very open to what will happen now and I want to just take opportunities as they come.

As mentioned above, upon the completion of her graduate collection, Bawa decided to bring the collection to life with a short film by Liam Simpson. The playful narrative and interaction between the menswear and womenswear really sets it apart from the majority of fashion films.

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Film stills by David Barr. Now for the film itself...


Matthew Spade said...

i'm really very impressed. the video was extremely charming and the song was fitting too

Izzy said...

I see a lot of similarities with Petrou! Only, this is more weathered, softer, less garish.

Micheal M said...

This is such a brilliant collection with a great colour pallet that makes digesting multiple colours and patterns a heck load easier. Especially the cream and blue print suit.
Kudos to the film as well, it is great to see how far fashion film has come over the years.
Now it just needs to be put into production


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