Interview: Hazel Symons
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When Hazel Symons won the prestigious Christopher Bailey Gold Award and the Creative Catwalk Award at Graduate Fashion Week last June, she was “simply overwhelmed”. Nearly eight months on, Symons is working hard to continue to learn, develop and expand her expertise as a graduate designer.
Currently interning at Sophie Hulme as an accessories designer, Symons says that she wanted to “try a hand in a different part of the industry.” After her internship, Symons hopes to next work in menswear, before returning to university to do a Master’s degree.
Design has been a lifelong love of Symons’s: “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to do anything involved with art and design; it’s always been a passion for me.”
As her father’s side of the family “have always been into textiles”, and she comes from “a long line of seamstresses” on her mother’s side, it is perhaps no surprise that Symons has such a passion and talent for fashion design.
Symons’s graduate collection caught the judges’ attention at Graduate Fashion Week for its originality and exceptional attention to detail.
Rather than using seams to attach the separate pieces of fabric, Symons used tab fastenings to create a collection of garments that are fully de-constructable and re-constructable.
The collection is based on the concept of a Lego store. Symons compares buying the clothes to buying Lego, saying “you would go in, pick out what panels you wanted, buy the required washers, screws and hardware, pick up some instructions, and take it home and make it yourself.”
Although some of the garments take longer to construct than others, Symons assures me “no garment takes longer to construct than a normal piece of IKEA furniture (yes, I timed it!)”
The designs encourage innovation from consumers, and are equally innovative in their conceptualisation. Symons considers, “people look at my collection and then have to look twice because they’ve never seen garments that have been fully screwed together before.”
Having produced her own fabric, and painted and embroidered all of the collection by hand, Symons says that people are "always shocked” by the amount of preparation and work that has been put into the designs. She adds, “I want people to look at my collection and understand and appreciate just how much time and effort goes into each piece.”
Symons describes her graduate designs as “a womenswear collection with a masculine vibe”. Whilst considering her general style of design to be “very tailored”, she says that she “wanted to modernize something very traditional” by taking influence from the tailoring technique of baste stitching to design her prints and embellishments.
The collection was also inspired by pattern cutting. Symons considered the “processes, thoughts and methods” involved in pattern cutting when creating the collection. She explains that the black and white collection further reflects the nature of pattern cutting as “you’re using negative and positive space to create something.”
Symons advises that young people considering a degree in fashion should be aware that “studying fashion is a challenge”, but says that it can be the perfect degree choice for students who are "very passionate and very dedicated.”
Symons considers it to be important for students to do thorough research before deciding where to study fashion: “whatever you want to do, there is a degree that [specialises] in it somewhere”. She adds, “make your course decision wisely, there are a lot of different fashion courses out there and each university teaches them differently.”
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