In The Spotlight: Emerging Designer Lani Blue Fogarty
There are a few things in life that I’m guaranteed to get excited about:
The smell of a well-brewed coffee in the morning; ANYTHING by Marni; hash browns; handwritten envelopes through the post; finding a Dolce & Gabbana suit jacket in a charity shop for £4.50; tiny cacti in pots…
These are just a few of those things. But the one thing that I get most excited about? New fashion designers. Fashion designers who are just finding their unique voice. Fashion designers who are making work for the absolute love of creating something beautiful. Fashion designers who pour their soul into each piece because they haven’t learned to do anything different yet. This is where the unspoilt innovation is. It might not be mature yet, it might not be as polished as the work of the big couture houses, but it’s raw creativity- and I love it! *chills*
In June I was lucky enough to see the work of the newest cohort of Norwich University of the Arts Fashion Graduates on display, both as part of the NUA BA Show and on the catwalk at Graduate Fashion Week.
One designer whose work caught my eye particularly was 21-year-old Lani Blue Fogarty, who stole my heart with her chunky knits and moulded wood accents. I caught up with her to find out a bit more…
KC: Hi Lani! Why don’t you start off by telling us a bit about you?
LBF: Well, I’m 21, grew up in Essex, now live in Kent. I have three older brothers and an obsession with animals – especially my two puppies. I love colourful things and working with interesting materials that I haven’t worked with before.
KC: What was it like studying fashion at Norwich University of the Arts?
LBF: “Norwich is such a beautiful city and although I don’t currently live there I now call it my home. NUA is a great university, the facilities are brilliant and the staff are really helpful – the technicians are literally life savers!!
NUA has such a community vibe about it too, both within each course and the city. There are constantly collaborations with people from different courses and also with businesses in the area which makes it an exciting place to be for creative students wanting to share their work and talents with the community.”
KC: “Can you describe to me your design process? How do you get from an idea to a finished piece?”
LBF: “I always begin… with an idea that I want to develop. I make mood boards, concept boards, colour and fabric boards, target market boards and sometimes other boards depending on the brief and then use these to influence my design process. The boards don’t have to link, they can be influenced by completely different things – the more influences the more directions you can explore.
I’m not great at sketch books because I don’t like how messy they get – as an alternative I began documenting my thoughts and process by filming myself doing my work and piecing it together as one final video that showed my development instead, for me this worked much better…My brain designs better when I’m working with patterns – altering the patterns and [making them up on a mannequin], I find this allows me to experiment more and I can see the designs more clearly in my head when I draft up patterns. As I [do this] I find aspects I do and don’t like and then start drawing up sketches of final ideas, that I then Photoshop into final designs, which I then make in final fabrics.”
KC: “What were the inspirations behind your final collection?”
LBF: “My… colours and fabrics were inspired by interior designs that I could see myself having in my own home. I chose this palette because… I wanted to feel comfortable and at home while doing it and wanted it to be a personal experience. The shapes I used were inspired by architecture, the shard and gherkin buildings in London in particular.”
“The accessories and details in my collection were inspired by a [picture] my brother sent me – he’s a carpenter and was really excited about a joint in the wood that he had matched perfectly and I realized I felt like that when I got a seam or pattern detail perfect, so decided to incorporate wood into my collection- and turns out working with wood was my favourite part of my collection… actually, favourite part of my entire degree, I loved it!”
KC: “I was so excited by your wooden accessories, they looked almost like you had moulded them out of wood! How did you develop this process?”
LBF: “The wooden accessories were so interesting to make, I’ve never been more excited to learn a new process! I sandwiched the wooden sheets together and bent them around a foam mold, which I then placed in a vacuum bag for 45 minutes – 1 hour 30 minutes, depending on the design, to create the shape. I then tidied them up, added the edges on, sanded them down and varnished them. The whole process takes around 4-5 days for each piece.”
You can watch Lani carrying out this process on video, here.
KC: What are your plans now that you’ve finished studying?”
LBF: “I’ve always wanted to travel the world. I love exploring different cultures, tasting new foods, going off the beaten track and just being inspired from what the world has to offer. Now that I’ve graduated, I’m off to travel, hopefully for a year or two. I’m thinking of getting a blog going for while I travel to document my trip and keep as inspiration for future projects.”
KC: “What advice would you give to someone thinking of studying fashion?”
LBF: “Be organized…. Doing a fashion degree costs a lot of money so make sure you’re financially prepared. It’s not an easy ‘doss’ subject… You will have to work hard and really dedicate yourself to your work! Don’t quit!! Some days (or even weeks) your work’s just not going to go how you want it to… Stick at it. Be open minded and prepared to try new things even if you think you won’t like it or it won’t work – I struggled with this a lot but it really paid off every time. And as hard as criticism is, you’re going to get a lot of it, try to take it constructively and turn it into a positive. If you stick at it you will be so pleased when you see your final collection as a line up or in photographs, on a person, etc.”
“Finally… Fashion’s not an easy degree, it’s fast paced and there’s lots to learn and do. But it’s a brilliant degree to do, you learn so many different skills, you develop your own style as a designer, and you meet the best people. Deadlines are stressful, but everyone’s in the same boat as you and everyone helps each other out. There are so many exciting and inspiring parts of the degree too – lectures with designers, trend forecasters, curators, and more; being part of a team of dressers backstage at fashion shows; creating your end of year publication in your final year; trips to London (or Paris) for fabric shopping and so much more…
…It’s worth it!”