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GFW19: From the coasts of Spain to the runways of London, meet womenswear designer Emma Smith


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Graduate Fashion Week 2019 has come to a close, but the celebrations aren’t over yet; we’ve been catching up with the designers behind some of our favourite collections and this is what they have to say.

Image credit: Sama Norman, Emma Grain and Bex Sheard at The University of Huddersfield

Whereas many of us struggle for years to work out what we want to do with our lives, fashion design has been on Huddersfield University graduate Emma Smith’s radar since she was young:

“I was always very passionate about art and fashion. I have always been inspired by other designers, such as Alexander McQueen, and his journey of becoming a fashion icon, which was fascinating to learn about. This resulted in my love and interest in fashion growing up. I enjoy the excitement and the thrill of creating designs that are new, unique and original, which reflect my style and personality.”

One of the most remarkable aspects of these designs was the drama they produced, with structured black tailoring being accentuated by flourishes of tulle and chiffon in every hue of pink imaginable.  The way these outfits moved as the models traversed the runway was equal parts passionate and powerful, and soft and flowing.  It was a collection with details I could see myself embracing at both a family party and a nightclub, two occasions which definitely aren’t generally equated to one another.

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Final Collection #tagyourtalent #wearegraduatefashion #gfw19 @sinamaythehataccessoriesshop

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Where, then, did this combination of romance and drama, come from?

“Me and my family love the Canary Islands because of their vibrant culture, and we would often travel there in the summer. I was inspired by the Spanish male and female dancers, as the passion and emotion they portrayed throughout was exciting. They used their bodies and movement to tell stories about love, revenge and tragedy. I knew I wanted to create something fun and full of life and this was it. I was largely inspired by the famous Spanish dancer Amaya Carmen. She had a uniqueness about her, and sometimes wore tailored masculine clothing, which took a unique edge to the typical Spanish image. I looked further into tailoring and came up with the idea of using tailored detailing, such as a collar or placket and placing it in un-obvious places.”

It’s difficult to imagine having such a refined and well-executed vision at such a young age, but Emma is no stranger to the world of design, having already seen her creations on sale at George, TU, and Tesco:

“I was a children’s costume designer at Christy’s by design in Barnsley. It was an amazing experience and very hands-on, you felt a valued member of the team. I designed many seasons for TU, George and Tesco, which have been sold in many stores. The clothes I designed were childrenswear, so it didn’t influence me for my final collection, but gave me many skills and confidence to carry with me throughout my fashion journey.”

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With so much variety under her belt already, it seems Emma has the world at her fingertips, but its womenswear- the very category which brought her to our attention in the first place- that has captured her heart:

“I want to pursue a career in womenswear, hopefully in London. I would love to work closely with a top designer, or even to collaborate with them. My dream is for me to become my own brand.”

For her, then, Graduate Fashion Week 2019 has been the beginning of what’s panning out to be an exciting and beautifully-stitched career.  Seeing her hard work on the runway was “very rewarding and emotional, the dream finally becomes a reality”.  In this case, we think the reality might be just as magical as the dream.

Follow Emma on Instagram on @emma_v_smith

Find more interviews and coverage from GFW19 here.

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