Kate Clark is a sensation. 22 and hurtling along at a hundred miles an hour, there is nothing this girl can’t do. In the last three months alone, Kate graduated from Kingston, showed her fantastical collection at Graduate Fashion Week and landed a job in the textiles department at Chanel. Luckily, the self-professed ranty glitter enthusiast says that glitter is a very good tool in covering bags under eyes, as we suspect she hasn’t had much sleep during the recent whirlwind and well-deserved celebrations!
In between all of the wonderful madness, including parties with a real life Dalek (thanks to a family obsession with Doctor Who), the girl from Bolton with a princess aesthetic, shares her sparkle and fills us in on her magical life before she moves to Paris in September. From next month, Kate will be busy indulging in her beautifully romantic Francophile fantasies, ensconced in the textiles department at Chanel and eating cheese and bread, real cheese and bread. “I’m gonna feel like I’m living in a dream world I’m sure,” she says.
The Fashion Conversation: Can you please tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind your collection? We feel like you’ve been a fairy godmother – waving your wand and opening a Pandora’s Box, where dolls and princesses are bought to life (with a healthy dose of reality).
Kate Clark: My graduate collection was about the merging of the real world and the unreal world – the belief that when I was a child I was a princess from another world and that one day I would return home to that world. The collection was about decorating yourself with the memories and objects of childhood on the princess dress you refuse to take of as it merges with the adult suit, entering the world of work. It was sort of a ‘graduation’ if you like, a combination of my childhood dreams and anxieties about growing up. Each look was different combination of these suit details and jackets, with the enormous sleeves and skirts. The inspiration came from a variety of things, from objects I had played with as a kid, to childhood photographs, 90’s Versace, Grayson Perry, The Garbage Pail Kids and even Princess Diana’s wedding dress! I drew on all of these things, but mostly the narrative was about who I was and what I believed, and the idea that you can believe in something so much that it becomes real.
KC: Kingston has been wonderful. I don’t have enough words to describe how great it has been. I mean, I’m on a post-graduation high at the moment so I’m easily forgetting how stressful it was at times. But Kingston is a true family, and has been since day one. The tutors and technicians I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to work with are people I’m never going to lose touch with, because their just too wonderful. And they put so much into helping us if you take the opportunity to learn from them. There’s so many moments over the years I could talk about!
The countless free drinks and networking events in which everyone probably drank too much but stood together chatting away after the important people had left.
The countless free drinks and networking events in which everyone probably drank too much but stood together chatting away after the important people had left. The meetings with free food we all rushed to attend; fighting to get printing costs down by making a list of foods cheaper than printing; being told off for not wearing shoes more times than I can count; crying under the pattern cutting tables (always a safe place). My favourite moments were always those everyday days. The ones where you’ve got a lot to do, you’re busy, but everyone around you is getting on, Smooth’s playing in the sewing room and we’re singing along, your tutors said ‘yeah cool get on with it’, the sun’s out, you have a drink from the SU at lunch by the river. It’s those days that are the best. When your right in the middle, really content. That’s what Kingston is.
TFC: What were some of the most important things you learnt at Kingston?
KC: In first year the two most important questions I was asked were; What do you want to achieve? And how do you know when you’re finished? We were taught to think, really think, about why we decided to study this, what we wanted out of it, and therefore what we wanted out of our work. And who we were! It’s that sort of challenging of your ideas that makes you a better designer. We were also taught that designing is nothing without good research, research is your backbone. Good, interesting research is not copying things of Pinterest. So the answer to the question how do you know when you’re finished is when you look back at your research and the work you’ve produced makes sense within that research. After your research is right, then everything else falls into place. I’ve also learnt that no matter what happens if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. There’s no substitute for gut feeling and there’s no changing yourself into something you’re not. It’s impossible. The success I have found this year is by sticking to who I am, and pushing myself within that. Not by trying to do something I thought other people wanted from me.
Life is long and I’m young, who knows what could happen.
TFC: What are you goals for the future?
KC: I always find this to be a strange question, so far, my goal has been to study fashion and now I’ve done that it’s like okay next. But I have always said, quite simply, that my aim is to be happy. I’m very happy and content within myself, and what I want and so I just go and do what I feel is right. In the future, I want to continue to be busy and happy and learning. I’d love to do an MA after a year working, but that depends if I can save the money and get a scholarship. But I can wait for as long as it takes for me to have the money to do it. I have a great passion to be around people learning so that’s really all I want, maybe one day I’ll tutor part time or become a brand in my own right. As long as I keep moving and learning it doesn’t matter. Life is long and I’m young, who knows what could happen.