With an aesthetic combining minimalism and grunge, Louise Alsop draws on a love of hardcore music and zines, while reimagining graphics and logos for each season. A 2013 graduate of the prestigious University of Westminster design course, Alsop launched her own label for AW14, on-schedule, as part of Fashion East. Here, the London-based womenswear designer talks about the design process, education and branding.
What made you want to be a fashion designer?
I’ve always had a huge fascination with fashion, clothes, looking at catwalk shows on the internet and studying my favourite designers. But it hadn’t occurred to me that this was something I could pursue as a career. After studying art, design and textiles and completing school I started to look into fashion courses. Prior to that, I spent a lot of time drawing and making garments and taught myself to pattern cut at home. So I can’t pinpoint a time when I made the decision that fashion was the direction for me, it just seemed kind of gradual and very clear.
You graduated in 2013, from University of Westminster, which has also produced the likes of Liam Hodges, Claire Barrow and Ashley Williams. How did this experience shape your work?
Westminster has an amazing reputation for producing really strong graduates for sure, with the likes of Liam, Claire and Ashley all graduating before me. Westminster was great for allowing you to figure out where you sit within fashion. There was never one pathway for all. It has a strong list of alumni and the classes are small so you easily built relationships with really interesting and creative people, which made for such a good working environment. Westminster always pushed me to produce work that was to the best of my ability, while never pressuring me to decide what I wanted to do once I’d finished. It was about self-development.
For your final collection, you referenced hard rock and nuns. Tell us about that.
I’d been playing around with so many ideas for my graduate collection and when it actually came down to it and the final result, I just simplified everything. I didn’t want to make a final collection that was huge and brash, uncommercial and unwearable. I always loved making clothes and wearing them, so I felt really strongly about that. Because I kept the colour palette just black and white, the prints and fabrication needed to be special. Many of the references were from zines and posters and books I’d collected, and growing up listening to punk rock and hardcore I felt like it was important to reflect that within my work, which I still do to date.
How do you go about designing a collection now? What is the process?
There is always a lot of research to start with, which gets heavily edited to make sure each collection is strong. I love developing my own prints, so sometimes I start there and then work on shape and silhouette and how I can make them work together to create something new. I also love mixing unconventional fabrics together, so there’s also a lot of fabric development and hand work.
You have developed a unique aesthetic with a young rebellious edge to it. What inspires you?
None of my collections have a specific theme. They’re all just a culmination of lots of things I really love which come together.
You use a lot of layering techniques. What got you interested in this?
I really like being able to mix sheer and light fabrics with heavy and matte ones, so I think the layering came from this — seeing fabrics sitting together and complementing each other. I also like things to be really tactile and want people to want to touch my clothes.
Tell us about your use of branding and logos.
I’m obsessed with logos and fonts and graphics and I’m constantly playing around with them. I want this to always be strong and when people see my work, for it to be instantly identifiable. I spend a lot of time getting this right and working out new and interesting ways to do so. I’ll often create seasonal logos, which makes each collection special. It also makes them of a time.
What are you working on now and what is next for Louise Alsop the brand?
I’m currently working on my SS16 collection. I’m constantly working on new ideas and how I can make each new collection the best one yet. I’m hoping the brand continues to grow and in seasons to come I’m enjoying it as much as I do now.