Jul 20, 2017 | By Samuel Trotman
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With the recent graduate shows wrapped up for 2014, Stylesight takes a look through the portfolio designers to scout the latest denim design talent. This summer we highlight Alex Bottenberg of University of Westminster and her collection of pumped up ’50s designs.
On May 22, 2014, the University of Westminster showcased its yearly graduate runway show as part of Graduate Fashion Week, featuring work from the final year’s BA (Honors) Fashion Design Course. Taking place in its new home of the Truman Brewery in East London, the North London school presented 16 selected designers to show among over 1,000 other students from over 40 Universities from all over the country.
Menswear graduate Alex Bottenberg was one of the lucky few who had a chance to showcase her collection in front of her friends, family and a panel of industry judges. Her denim heavy collection, inspired by ’50s workwear and hotrod scene, featured cropped trucker jackets, super upsized rigid raws, alongside a selection of Americana style patched knits and shirts reading, “Hard Luck” and “Bottenberg”. Her sketchbook provided even more exciting details with quirky illustrations that perfectly encapsulate her collection. With such an inspirational offering, we reached out to Alex to find out more behind her collection.
Your final collection features a strong ’50s style. What is it that drew you to this era?
I actually decided I wanted to look at the `50s while watching “Grease” the Christmas before last. I just love John Travolta as Danny! From then on I started watching loads of 1950s youth culture films like “Rebel Without A Cause” and “Blackboard Jungle”, and collecting a lot of photography. I’m in love with Bruce Davidson’s photographs from the series, “Brooklyn Gang”. I’m really drawn to that “bad boy” character and that style and confidence that they have. The `50s is when the idea of the “teenager” really came about, and all the characters I loved had a real attitude; and like with all youth subcultures, they showed it through the way they dressed.
Your collection features graphic texts and branding. Is this something you took inspiration from at your internships at labels like Christopher Shannon, Moschino and Jeremy Scott?
I’ve always been attracted to that kind of art and imagery and I think that’s come from my parents. My mum studied textiles and my dad studied print making and makes pop art now. My family home in Manchester is full of graphic and pop art so their taste has definitely rubbed off on to me. That’s what drew me to those labels, but yes, I learnt a lot from all of the internships and I do think back to them while designing.
What was most challenging about working with denim in the collection?
Well, I definitely didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I started designing denim pieces in my final year! I drew a pair of jeans and thought, ‘that’s it, it’s a pair of jeans,’ but once I actually started making them I realized there are a million things to consider apart from just the cut. I visited Mohsin Sajid who has a denim label, Endrime, in his studio and he helped me out loads! He has an amazing archive of old work wear and he’s so passionate about it all. It opened my eyes to a whole new world really.
What are your plans next?
At the moment I’m working with stylists and photographs trying to get my collection featured in a few shoots. I’m also lucky enough to be doing a really exciting internship for the summer. That’s all keeping me very busy for the summer and from then onwards I have no idea! Exciting things hopefully!
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