GFW 2015: Odella Yue, Winchester School of Art

Monday, 29 June 2015
INTERVIEWGraduate Fashion Week is an important showcase for graduating fashion designers as it is the first chance press, buyers and industry experts can see their work, which can lead to interviews, jobs as well as for the lucky few awards and recognition. This GFW saw more than 40 universities and over  1,000 promising graduates showcase their work and FashionUnited were on hand to find the very best of the next generation of fashion designers you need to watch, and next up in our graduate profile series is winner of the WSA Fashion Direction Award, Odella Yue. Her fascination in combining unconventional colours and textures resulted in ‘Galaxy Racer Club’ a nostalgic collection inspired by Studio 54 and arcade games from the 1970’s and it certainly stood out on the catwalk. FashionUnited sat down with the promising designer to discuss her collection, why she wanted to study fashion, as well as which designers inspire her. What attracted you to a career in fashion?

For me fashion design is not only a career choice, but a passion, a way of life and I always know that design is what I want. I have always been the weird child who likes creating new thing and dressing up all the time, study fashion gives me the freedom to be myself and release my creativity. My collection is purely an expression of my identity; at this stage of my life all I wish to achieve is to fully express my creativity without limit myself. Fashion is such a powerful tool to highlight statements and to communicate with people, so I want deliver my craziest idea and fantasy to my audience and provide them something unique and unexpected.

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

My final collection is ‘Galaxy Racer Club’ and I wanted my collection to be a nostalgia bomb. I was inspired by Studio 54 and combined it with the colourful arcade games of the 1970’s to create an interesting collision. My friends and I use to sneak out of the house during the night and play games at the local Arcade in China when I was little and it was such exciting and fun experience. Since then I have always been a fan of games and adventurous activities and they are often my design inspirations as well. I am fascinated about the mixing of colour, texture, different mediums and experimentation with unconventional materials.

What are the signature piece/pieces? My graduate collection features a wide range of colours and textures, the signature piece is probably my Galaxy Racer Coat with the red racing helmet. The oversized coat is made of silver textural fabric and waterproof satin, with sequin and print detail at back. The back detail of the coat is really fun and colourful; the print is inspired by modern pop art and psychedelic art. The same print has been featured on other jackets and bags as well.

I like to use different silhouette to exaggerate body shape and proportion, oversized shoulders, sleeves and coat normally create strong and masculine visual impression but with appropriate adjustment they can also bring the contrasting fragility of female body.

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

To me both fashion and games have unique characteristics and provide escape from reality for the audience. By combining them I want to create the ideal fantasy world where the monstrous beauty and adventurous spirit are celebrated. I am fascinated about the mixing colours, texture, different mediums and experimentation with unconventional materials.

I love Grace Jones, she is my idol. There are so many amazing characteristics in her – passionate, beautiful and adventurous. I wish people to dress up more, and my target customer group is people who love to experience new things, who like to break rules and adventurous in spirit.

What made you choose to study at WSA?

WSA is a real cool place to study, students all have access to 3D printer, laser cutter, Mimaki printer as well as other super useful equipment. Tutors are friendly and I had great fun with other talented students during my study.

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

One of the most interesting work experience was during the summer of 2014, I had my internship in By Walid Studio in London, a couture brand with an environmental friendly design concept, where I developed a deeper understanding of real operation of the business side of fashion, its technical procedures and the concept of ethical fashion.

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

After I graduate, I want to interact with designers from a wide set of creative disciplines, and develop designing ideas and technical skills from different perspectives.

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

Putting my design into production and establishing my own brand has always been my goal, I want to contribute to the world of talent and imagination where anything is possible.

What was your Graduate Fashion Week/catwalk experience like?

My collection is incredibly fun, all garments are comfortable to wear and the colour palette is very bright and eye catching. I used 170 meters of binding in my whole collection, which is mad! I’m most happy of the fact that many viewers can relate with my collection, it reminded them about their childhood memories and it created the interesting nostalgic and futuristic impact on the viewers.

Backstage, all the models had a great time taking selfies in my garments with matching helmets, and One guest even told me that my collection made her wanted to dance. There is nothing more fun than to create something that makes people happy, my design process is a research of joy, and I am thrilled that I can transform my passion into something different, new and visually exciting. Seeing your own work in the studio is nothing like watching the model walk down the catwalk in your design, it is a whole new experience for me and it was amazing. There were a lot of panic moments and you have to be very organised to be able to put on a good show. It was a valuable experience.

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

Thierry Mugler and Gareth Pugh are my heroes, in their understanding fashion is more than just decorating bodies but it also armours it. They introduced an awareness of the fragilities of the human body while they created hybrids of natural and artificial. Their work has opened my eye and inspired me to design something more bold and interesting and I would love to work or collaborate with them!

Images: Odella Yue

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