Thursday, 16 June 2011

RCA MA Graduate Showcase... Samuel Membery


RCA's MA graduate show is undoubtedly one of the most exciting places to discover the fashion stars of the future. Thanks to a last minute invitation from the lovely Carolyn Massey, I was able to take my seat at the Gala show and admire some of the freshest and strongest menswear and womenswear talent to be be unleashed this year. 2011 has witnessed an expanding number of industry linked projects and sponsorships, which are proof of the enormous creative input that RCA students contribute to the fashion industry. The long term partnerships with IFF, Umbro Brioni were joined with new partnerships with ASOS, Espirit and more. 

With an emphasis on individual creativity and originality married with impeccable technical know-how, I'm quite sure we've unearthed one or two stars of future in this crop. Winner of the ASOS sponsored grand prize, Samuel Membery is certainly among them. Taking inspiration from abstract sculptures by Nairy Bagrahmian and the rockabilly characters depicted in cult film Mystery Train, Membery created a minimal collection of sporstwear influenced tailoring.

Show images courtesy of Dominic Tschudin

A week after the show I was fortunate enough to enjoy a coffee and a chat with Sam and in addition to his obvious talent, I was blown away by his grounded and well informed outlook on his next steps in to the fashion industry. Here we talk to the design talent about his time at the RCA, learn more about his graduation collection and look to the future...

SS: Congratulations on more than playing your part in a dazzling MA show. How did it feel seeing your finished designs on the catwalk and to win the ASOS award?
Samuel Membery: The buzz of the RCA show was intense but it all happens so fast. It was cool to see the collection on the catwalk. It was great to be part of such a strong show, seeing all the collections on the catwalk was surreal as I had seen many of them evolve over the past five months or so. The ASOS award was a great end to a very rewarding two years and a very positive next step for me as a designer.

SS: RCA's MA graduate show is undoubtedly one of the most exciting places to discover the fashion stars of the future but what attracted you to the RCA MA course in particular? What was the best thing about your course?
Samuel Membery: I visited a work in progress exhibition at the RCA around six years ago as a BA student and the level of the work was so high. Then I went to one of the catwalk shows and was blown away by the integrity of some of the collections. After my BA, my tutor who very sadly passed away last February, the late Fred Spurr encouraged me to apply. He studied fashion there in the late 70s and had a strong connection with the college.

The course is a bit of a roller coaster. In the first year you are encouraged to find your signature style through various industry and personal projects. The second year is entirely about realising a collection and strengthening your signature design approach. One of the huge advantages of studying at the RCA is that the tutors and technicians are really supportive and experienced. We get feed back and direction from industry professionals like i-D stylist Simon Foxton and Julie Verhoven the fashion illustrator/designer. The best thing about the course is the other students that you meet. They have so much ability and vision. I've definitely made some friends for life.


SS: Describe the moment you realized you wanted to be a menswear designer?
Samuel Membery: I have wanted to be all kinds of things but menswear designer was never really on that list until I was half way through my BA. I switched from womenswear right before final collection. I do want to be involved in womenswear design again one day.

SS: Can you talk us through the inspiration for the collection?
Samuel Membery: The inspiration was a combination of the sublime and abstract sculptures by Nairy Bagrahmian, who is such a vital contemporary artist - and the cult film Mystery Train by Jim Jarmusch with its slick and mesmerising rockabilly characters.

SS: What was your starting point and how did the the collection evolve in to what we saw today?
Samuel Membery: I looked at the silhouettes of the rocka billy fashions and the imposing obscurity of Nairys work and tried to recreate it in to the cut and fabrication of my clothes, I wanted the rockabilly attitude but with the sublime, ambiguous feeling that I felt whilst in the presence of Nairys work.

SS: How would you describe the collection in your own words?
Samuel Membery: Clean and minimal, wearable and I think it is desirable.
SS: What type of man can you see wearing your designs?
Samuel Membery: An informed and intuitive man.
SS: I know this is difficult question to answer but have you got a favourite piece from the collection, anything that you were most proud of?
Samuel Membery: Probably the bomber jacket with the long shirt worn underneath. That outfit was for me.


SS: What advice would you give a prospective menswear fashion student?
Samuel Membery: Be patient, be versatile but remain opinionated. Work with real intention and work with accidents. Meet the right people for you, you’ll know who they are. Don’t sleep unless there is time.

SS: Finally, what's next? What would you like to achieve in the latter half of 2011 and beyond?
Samuel Membery: Well, I want to work with the people I have met along the way. Learn how to sustain myself in the industry and then hopefully do work on my own label when I am ready, I am in no rush.

Detail catwalk shots by me.

I have no doubt that we will be hearing a lot more about Samuel Membery in the near future and beyond.


TheBlueEyedBoy said...

Some pieces' cuts look great!

loewe said...

The color looks amazing in this simple design, really attractive. I like it all!

Andie F said...

Well done Sam A wonderful collection. Congratulations!


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