Work hard, play hard sums up womenswear designer Colin Horgan’s experience at the Royal College of Art. How else could you call death dropping in front of your tutors in stripper heels (disclaimer – everyone was a few bottles deep in Prosecco) a favourite memory of your MA, while also producing a phenomenally sexy and vivacious collection loaded with showmanship and substance. Colin shares his inspiration behind his MA graduate collection, how he got into fashion and his grand plans for the future.
The Fashion Conversation: What inspired you to pursue fashion design and study your MA Womenswear at the Royal College of Art?
Colin Horgan: I originally wanted to be a fine artist. I was always illustrating characters on canvas, be it in small scale or life size. What I did start to notice as applying to study was that I felt like just painting wasn’t enough. I felt like that there should be another step to my process. I started to get frustrated at the pace a painting moved at. I didn’t realize until I trialled Fashion Design in my BA how much I enjoyed the pressure, the constant search for the new, the every growing research, the multi tasking… I wanted to do everything at the same time. After I finished my BA I felt like I had discovered something a little too late. I went into the industry for a year in between of creating a new collection and working for a another brand. I did think that there was room for improvement. I knew I wanted to reach excellence in my work and the only place that could provide that for me was Royal College Of Art in London. I wanted to go deeper, think braver and forget all the rules I had to stick to before. I wanted to challenge what I know and challenge what I would like to know. I knew it was going to be mentally exhausting and physically overwhelming but I loved every minute of it.
It was mentally exhausting and physically overwhelming but I loved every minute of it.
TFC: Your Royal College of Art MA collection ‘Brisk’ referenced powerful women through its sculptural shapes and iridescent holographic patent strips. Who were the women that inspired your collection?
CH: My influences for my MA collection are a combination of physical and virtual women growing up. Kim Betts who played ‘Lightning’ on the television series ‘Gladiators’ became a major influence in my both my life and work. From the virtual realm I was fascinated by a character called Nina Williams from the video game ‘Tekken’. The collection became a physical yet personal archive of what I was attracted to by these women. I wanted my collection to be a celebration of bringing these women onto an equal platform where fixation and highlights are represented in new and man made materials. The draped parts represent the organic, flesh and blood women while the heavily technical aspects echo the technological women in my life. Each of these characters are unique however they share one interest and that is their natural gravitation to danger.
TFC: What is your favourite memory from your time at the Royal College of Art? And what is the most important thing you have learnt?
CH: It’s quite hard to pin down an exact memory, there were plenty. I think in terms of being a social person I would say death dropping in front of all my tutors in stripper heels is way in the top three. Bear in mind the whole room is a few bottles of Prosecco in…
I think in terms of work definitely the process of creating my form. It’s a very particular technique that involves very precise stitching, finishing, heating and cutting techniques. It takes quite a long time to prepare and do but looks totally worth it in the end. The most important thing I’ve learnt is to trust your instinct. Everything is a test, nothing is a failure.
Everything is a test, nothing is a failure.
TFC: What are your plans for the future?
CH: I have a few important things lined up , some opportunities from the show which have been fantastic and the possibility of seeing some more… Keep on eye on my instagram @colinhorgan