A self-confessed workaholic who thrives on the the fast paced nature of the fashion industry and atmosphere of London, Iona Dutton does nothing by halves. Born and bred in West London (conveniently close to her favourite Saatchi Gallery), Iona kicked off her foray into fashion with a foundation degree at Central Saint Martins, before pursuing a BA Fashion at the London College of Fashion where she learnt essential skills to refine her craft and that Red Bull was a necessity. Now 23, the designer whose graduate collection EUPHORIA was presented at the London Fashion Week Green Room’s exhibition last year is currently travelling for seven months throughout South East Asia seeking inspiration for her next collection. Iona makes time for a chat from her hostel in Thailand to tell us about her EUPHORIA collection, her time at London College of Fashion, and plans for the future.
The Fashion Conversation: Your graduate collection EUPHORIA drew on an electic mix of references that visually depicted euphoria. What were your motivations and inspirations behind the collection?
Iona Dutton: The motivations behind my graduate collection were to break away from the trend of ‘flat fashion’ and instead remind people that the body is a 3D canvas that invites the capacity for explorations and a more playful approach. For inspiration, I drew on ‘euphoric’ references from around the world and also experiences of euphoria from my childhood which led me to fairground imagery. I wanted the collection to have a personal vein running through it.
TFC: You’ve created a reputation for using bold, hypnotic colour in your collections while also experimenting with 3D techniques. What attracts you to the use of colour and 3D?
ID: When you are able to play with graphics on the 3D form you discover more possibilities for dynamism than if you were to collage in 2D. Also by bringing samples into the collage process you discover more opportunities for placement and proportions – a single sample photographed in a variety of ways has breadth for hundreds of design ideas! Oh and the importance of “play” – when you free up your mind of what you think something should look like, you will open a multitude of new design doors. Colour, for me, is one of the most important elements of a design, as it can make or break a garment. I favour contrasting colours and colour blocking as I like my designs to be visually striking.
TFC: What inspired you to study the BA Fashion course at the London College of Fashion and what is one of the most important things you learnt during your time there?
ID: I was always fascinated by the powerful relationship between fashion and identity, and how fashion can be seen as a multidimensional artwork displayed on the human frame. LCF has a globally recognised technical reputation, and I felt confident that the skills I would learn during the course would help me translate my concepts and ideas into technically sound products. One of the most important things that I learnt at LCF is by overcoming your preconceived limitations of yourself, and learning to accept that mistakes are a crucial part of the process – your collections will be 100 times stronger for it. Oh and that having Red Bull handy is never a bad thing.
TFC: Alongside your studies at the London College of Fashion, you’ve interned with Mich Dulce, Jean Pierre Braganza and Mary Katrantzou. How has your time at the designers influenced your design practice?
ID: Working in industry teaches you the realities about the processes and time involved in producing a successful and coherent collection. My time at Mary Katrantzou was particularly valuable for my own professional development. I was based in a room with the majority of the heads of departments, so would observe how each design area worked and developed individually as well as alongside each other. Large design boards were routinely condensed and specialised honing down on what the designers wished to be the main features and themes of the collection. Witnessing this first hand helped me understand the importance for me to incorporate such vigilance in my own practice.
TFC: Can you please share your experiences since graduating from the London College of Fashion and your journey to date?
ID: Since graduating from LCF life has been constantly busy! Emails with photographers and stylists regarding potential shoots are a daily job, as well as the corresponding organisation of the collection whereabouts. I’m also taking on private design jobs. My day-to-day recently has been as a Costume Supervisor for TV and commercials. Fuelled by my interest in identity and character, a normal TV shoot will entail script breakdowns, research, shopping for and styling the actors, and then working on the production that follows. I know that I will always need to be in an industry in which my creativity is fed, as well as my constant need for visual stimulation. There is always the worry that you should be doing more of one thing and perhaps less of another, but as a creative you need to accept that it is our experiences that partly shape us so not worry too much about the specifics of the journey as long as you have ambition to guide you.
TFC: What are you goals for the future? Are you interested in pursuing a MA?
ID: My goals for the future are to continue to grow and to better myself as a designer. I would love to do an MA in a few years, however I wish to build up my design vision and gain more industry experience before I do so, as I feel by doing this my MA collection will be much stronger. I have recently left the UK on a 7 month travelling and research trip (I am answering this interview in a hostel lounge in Thailand), and am hoping to gather a vast array of new inspiration first hand to fuel my next collection!