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Lucy Upsher

Published by Natassia Lee on 27-Mar-2013 Conversations, Fashion
Tags: lucy upsher

Lucy Upsher is a fashion graduate, a new designer and one of the increasingly smaller amount of students that have survived their first year as a professional in the fashion industry without falling by the wayside. Something, which, in todays ever growingly competitve, cut throat and difficult industry is becoming of a challenge. Having discovered her through her graduate collection an impressive creation of intricate prints and textiles we discuss her work, inspirations and her first steps in the fashion industry.

You mentioned that you are currently based abroad can you let us know what you have been working on since your graduated?
I was fortunate enough to be offered a Junior Designer role at Roberto Cavalli in the Womenswear print department and have been there since the end of last Summer, currently working towards the show in a week’s time!

What has been your most exciting fashion experience?
Probably my graduate show I think. The amount of indescribable fear and nerves when you have been working towards and building up to something for so long can only bring enormous amount of excitement.

What do you think are the most difficult challenges a young designer faces today?
I suppose the odds are against you. There has always been a fierce amount of competition in this industry but the smaller pool of jobs available today heightens that even further. It isn't a fair industry, I think you have to accept that and get on with it otherwise it will drag you down.

Your work is incredibly intricate and crafted, what motivates you to produce conceptual fashion, in an industry that has become so fast?
Maybe for exactly that reason- what’s the point in producing more of what’s already out there? I must also admit that commerciality wasn’t my top priority at the time, for me it was an opportunity to just develop something I found inspiring and beautiful, which as a designer you don’t always get the luxury of pursuing later down the line.

You won first prize for BFTA fur design competition 2012 and learnt about origin assured fur, how do you feel about the fur trade and it’s future within the fashion industry?
I have had a very positive experience with the fur trade. I have found those I have interacted with; Saga, Hockley Furs and BFTA, extremely nurturing of young talent and very conscious of how to push fur into the future. The enormous range of new techniques and ways they have innovated to produce fur products that are more cost effective, lightweight and respond to the modern customer’s needs really impressed me. It is something that speaks to me as well because it is not in keeping with the fast pace ‘disposable’ side of fashion, people buy these beautiful pieces for life.

Your graduate collection really plays with texture, colour and print, explain the motivation behind this.
The textile element of fashion has always been my starting point in designing. I find this really hands on, tactile approach the most stimulating way to direct my ideas. I like to let my experimentation lead what I do rather than stick to a plan I have devised; I think it’s more exciting and usually results in a more interesting product.

You have previously been compared to designers such as Alexander McQueen, who do you look up to and who do you think is important to the development of the fashion industry?
I find that hugely flattering as I am a very big fan of McQueen’s work, I think it’s one of few that follows it’s own direction rather than being too current. Although this is quite a choice of the moment actually, I LOVE Christopher Kane and always have done ( I know we all say that). He equally continues to produce exciting collections that you can’t forsee but still keeps the handwriting of his brand really strong. It’ll be interesting to see the brand grow with PPR, I think this is very inspiring for small London designers who are currently in his shoes 5 years ago.

How do you begin your work?
As I said the development of my ideas does usually start with textile sampling. My work in general is ongoing; when I’m out and see something interesting, take a photograph then that sparks an idea. The best stuff does normally come when you are not looking for it.

Are you often inspired by external things or do you have a solid vision?
I think a solid vision isn’t a very good idea when you’re designing because you are constantly learning more about your idea/vision along the process. I try to react to the problem solving I do and follow the right course. I also quite like mixing some unrelated ideas together-I think this fusion produces fresher outcomes.

Describe your inspiration for your graduate collection, specifically the 3D pink spinal elements of it, what inspired you to create these pieces?
The trigger for my inspiration for my collection came from flicking past these images of the Spider Trees in Pakistan in the paper last year. They shocked and intrigued me so much. These amazing and shocking web structures; I wanted to capture the energy and intricacy in my own woven pieces that respond to the body and different textured fabrics as the webs responded to the shapes and silhouette of the trees.

It seems today that new designers are incorporating much more conceptual elements of art into their work, what do you think about fashion as an art form instead of something that is wearable?
I have always enjoyed the theatrical side of fashion (I love a good fancy
dress party) but I  don’t think that one should rule out the other. I think wearability doesn’t mean it needs to be boring and it is pretty essential if you’re going to make any money.


Who are you designing for; does this person have elements of your own personality?
Yeah I would say definitely, I think most of my design decisions are hugely influenced by my own taste. I design because I have an irrational love of clothes and am always hugely excited when I find something unique and different. I think I design for people on the same shopping mission.

Who or what inspires your own style?
I really like Ilona Royce Smithkin. For me she personifies every manifestation of FAB. I love her home made eyelashes.

What other career do you think you would have if you hadn’t pursued fashion?
I was pretty good at Business Studies at school and Maths. I think maybe I might have followed that route, which seems very alien to me now. I think a sadistic side of me enjoys the cut throat pace of fashion, maybe something like advertising and marketing would have had the same ruthlessness.. I did also love fine art and I still paint a lot so potentially that instead.

What would be your dream job within this industry?
Working somewhere that truly embraces creativity, where I continue to be motivated and stimulated by the environment, colleagues and the brand itself.

Natassia studied fashion for five years, currently in her second year working towards her degree in fashion concepts and communication.

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