GFW 2015: Florence Tudgay, De Montfort University

Wednesday, 01 July 2015

INTERVIEWGraduate Fashion Week can be a stressful time for emerging designers, as just minutes of showcasing their final-year collection on the catwalk could potential see them picked up by top designers and brands scouting for new talent.

The importance of GFW means that every emerging designer is looking to standout from the crowd and FashionUnited were on hand earlier this month to find the very best of the next generation of fashion designers you need to keep an eye out for in the future. Next up in our graduate profile series is Florence Tudgay from De Montfort University.

What made you decided to study fashion design?

Around the age of 12 I was bored with my friends one day so we decided to make a dress for my friend’s youngest sister. I borrowed my mum’s sewing machine and we found some old scraps of fabric and wrapped it around her and started creating. I carried on making things for myself and for other friends for their birthdays. I then moved onto using patterns and I started editing them to get the designs I wanted. I always carried a book around with me full of drawings of wedding dresses and ball gowns. This is when I realised I wanted to design.

What drives your passion for fashion design?

The pride of transforming ideas and designs to wearable garments and hoping that one day this hard work will pay off and help me to achieve success with in the fashion industry. Intricate and technical details inspire me to keep creating and designing new things. I love well made garments and things you notice when you’re up close. I do love detail and busyness however I also like minimalist pieces with a clever cut and a lot of skill needed to make it.

I want to prove to people that fashion doesn’t have to just be about vanity I want to design fashionable garments that are practical and wearable for all shapes and sizes.

Tell us about your graduating collection – what was the inspiration behind it?

I My Graduate collection was inspired by pollution in the countryside. I was inspired by traditional countryside garments and objects I took these objects and ‘polluted’ them just like humans are polluting the world but I wanted my garments to look beautiful rather than destroyed. I was sponsored by Sophie Hallette, a lace company, so I used a lot of lace in my collection but I ‘polluted’ the lace by painting liquid latex onto it to change the properties from a soft fabric to a rubberised fabric.

What are the signature piece/pieces?

In my collection I have two coats which are the signature pieces, my inspiration for these pieces were argyle and patchwork. I re-created these by using a range of fabric within each coat which has either been covered with latex or bonded with other fabric. I used chain between seams to represent the industrialisation of the countryside.

My Argyle coat was taken from a traditional riding coat which I played around on the mannequin with to create the oversized silhouette. I used chain to outline the diamonds as well as appliquéing frayed chiffon strips onto fabric to re-create the argyle.

Did you have a specific audience in mind when designing your final collection? Who is your target customer?

I knew I wanted to design this collection for a high-end designer market because of the textiles and pattern cutting I wanted to include would be too expensive and extravagant for high street.

What made you choose to study at De Montfort?

When looking at universities I knew I didn’t want to go to a university in London because I wanted the community you get from a ‘campus university,’ I felt comfortable at DMU and the course seemed right for me. There was a lot of technical lessons as well as design which I liked the sound of because when designing you need to understand how it will be made otherwise you could design something which could never work in 3D. I also liked the fact that DMU showed at GFW in London.

As well as university, have you completed any other work experience?

Before university, I worked for Vollers The Corset Company in Portsmouth. I designed a range of Retro girdles and bras two girdles were made and prototyped. I pattern cut the designs, did the costing and grading. One of my designs was sold to a company called ‘Boudoir De Lola’.

While at university I undertook various internships, including working in the head office at Jane Norman, where I worked with the design team and garment technology department and I also travelled to America to working within the costume department at The American Repertory Theatre, Harvard University. I was chosen to represent DMU Global to help design and make the costumes for Finding Neverland a New Musical, which has recently moved to Broadway.

What do you plan to do now that you've graduated? What are your plans for your career in the future?

I have recently been offered a job at Stiletto a supplier of outerwear. I am working as an assistant pattern cutter. I am hoping to learn loads of new skills and bring the help to the company that they are seeking. During my spare time I will continue to design and make to keep my skills developing further and continue learn new skills through problem solving and researching.

Where do you hope to see yourself/your label in five years time?

In five years I hope to see myself working high up in a company delivering my knowledge to others and continuing to learn. I would like to be a creative pattern cutter or an outerwear designer.

What was your Graduate Fashion Week/catwalk experience like?

Graduate Fashion Week was a very exciting week. Seeing my designs on the catwalk and my name in lights was amazing and one day I hope to see that again. I spoke to Chloe from the job I have just been offered during graduate fashion week so it was all exciting and I think it’s a great chance to see everyone else’s work from other Universities and meet your possible future colleagues.

What designers/labels do you most admire? Who would you love to work or collaborate with?

I don’t have one specific designer I always look at, I think it’s important to keep your mind open because you don’t want to fall in to a trap and designs too much like someone who it already out there. I change depending on each collection and what I’m looking for specifically. A couple of brands I love are; Balmain and Chloe.

What advice would you give to aspiring fashion designers?

You’ve got to love it to be able to handle it and don’t stop till you get your dream. It will be hard work but who ever appreciated something you got given for nothing? I’d also say university is the way to go. I learnt so much in the last three years I didn’t think there was so much to learn about fashion but there really is, more than you could imagine.

Images: Florence Tudgay,

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