Elegance, sophistication and a fascination with Dior is what makes new womenswear designer Courtney Plumb one of the top British graduates of 2016. At just 22, Courtney possesses a rare focus and determination of knowing exactly what she wants. Growing up in Cheshire, the daughter of two creatives, Courtney turned an interest in textiles and graphics throughout her teens into a passion for refined womenswear by the time she got to Birmingham City University. Encouraged to push her creative talents and strive for perfection, Courtney found confidence in studying something she was truly passionate about. A confidence which is epitomised in her graduate collection. Moody, dark and voluminous, Courtney’s collection is inspired by her time living in New York and explores the ideas of disparity and elevation and between the rich and poor.
We catch up with Courtney to hear about her experience at Birmingham City University, her collection and plans for the future.
The Fashion Conversation: Tell us about your experience at Birmingham City University? What is the most important thing you have learnt?
Courtney Plumb: Birmingham was great. It’s such a family spirited university, and you’re always encouraged to push ideas and develop your own design identity. My final year was the most stressful experience but seeing my collection on the catwalk at Graduate Fashion Week was so rewarding. The course at Birmingham offers a placement year opportunity. For my placement, I did a year in New York, interning in the trend forecasting department at Li & Fung (part of the Ralsey Group Ltd). I’ve also interned at Zoe Jordan and Christopher Raeburn. Experience really is everything and the more you can get throughout your degree the better! It was the best thing I ever did!
TFC: The images of your collection coming out of Graduate Fashion Week 2016 are absolutely stunning, can you please tell us a bit more about your designs? What influences your style? Any favourite critiques on your collection?
CP: My design aesthetic is quite elegant and sophisticated. I’m often inspired by what’s happening around me and so concepts usually stem from people and my surroundings. Dior is such an influence on my work. I love drawing and design a lot from my sketches. My own dress style is quite simple and minimal – a good turtleneck sweater is my go to. I love elegant style! I’ve had quite a few compliments and press from my collection so far. It has featured in Dazed & Confused, Hunger Magazine and on Graduate Fashion Week’s website in an article entitled “Stars of Tomorrow”. To be named as one of the ‘Top 9 Brit Grads’ by Dazed Digital was a huge compliment and it was great to see my collection styled differently for the feature.
TFC: What inspired your graduate collection?
CP: I lived and worked in New York on my placement year. I witnessed many homeless people sleeping on the steps of churches. The ideas of glorification and elevation in regards to wealth and poverty was the basis for my collection. I used the pleating to create volume that would reflect the idea of elevating someone, I contrasted this with the tailored pieces to create variety and elegance throughout the collection.
TFC: Who is your favourite designer at the moment and why?
CP: I love Delpozo, such fluid yet structured shapes and gorgeous embellishment! I also loved the tailoring Raf Simons was creating at Dior. I really admire his work.
TFC: What are you goals for the future?
CP: I’d love to be a creative director within a brand I admire or at my own label but as for short-term goals I’m hoping to continue creative work, hopefully within the luxury womenswear sector. I’m also considering an MA.