How long have you been designing & why did you start?
When I was 20 I came back from acting in New York and was totally broke!! So, I took a job in a retail store, after the 2 years there, I realised that I wanted to be a designer. I felt I knew what cut and style suited people and always had regular customers. I started my training in Fashion Design in the Cork College of Commerce, for 2 years and then I went on to do my degree in Fashion Design for Industry in Heriot-Watt University, Scotland. In this time I did a multitude of really tough internships and commissions.
What inspires you? People inspire me! What they've done in their lives, the struggles they face and the stories they have to tell. But, when it comes to developing collections, the concept and research is so important and I always start with something that has inspired me, which will generally lead in a different direction by the time I have started designing. I love the research part of the process , there is so much reading involved!! For example my graduate collection was based on the solar system and the series that the astrophysicist Brian Cox did for the BBC. I got lost in the book, so fascinating!! I think the best thing about it is that you get to study and learn about something outside of fashion, which i think keeps your work interesting and helps it develop from a different point of view. However, with each body of work there will always be a strong architectural element.
Tell us about your current collection At present, I am developing my A/W 2014/15. I watched the full version of 'Apocalypse Now' recently, so I started to research the film, the Vietnam war, Cambodia and well.. I don't want to give the rest away !!
What has the biggest challenge been for you as a fashion designer? Its quite strange really but, for all the crazy hours I have worked in some of my internships and for the last 3 months of my degree, where the whole class would be in the workshop from 7am to 11pm... Nothing compared to the ridiculous difficulty I had making a collection this year being based in Cork. The lack of industrial machinery (absolutely no leather machines), skilled machinists, fabric stores etc in the south of Ireland is shocking. I had to go to Dublin to get buttonholes done on my shirts because the domestic machines in Cork couldn't do a quality finish because the fabric was silk. It was the most frustrating time I have ever had finishing work and it shouldn't have been because the patterns were an easier cut to my previous work. This season I have managed to out-source everything, so hopefully things will run smoother!
What advice would you give to other young people afraid to get into design? Don't be afraid to get into design.. just be damn sure its what you want to do !! This is not a 9-5 job, roughly 5 people in my year of 60 have gone on to set up their own labels and only a handful have taken jobs in the industry. It will take nearly 2-3 years before you start breaking even if you set up your own label. But... if fashion design is what you love, apply to the best Universities, take every opportunity you're given (do not let anything get in your way!), make sure you do internships (the right ones, with people you want to work for because you will be working for nothing), apply to every competition, if you need to work 2 part time jobs to pay for it, do it! When you finish and you are thinking of launching your own label, talk to other industry professionals, try and get as much advise as you can, your contacts are so important to keep in touch with the people you've met along the way, find out where other designers manufacture, how they broke into the business. More importantly learn from their mistakes, have a solid business plan, take up a part-time business course and apply for funding.
How can people find/contact you? My studio is in Sample Studios on Sullivans Quay Cork. Email - email@example.com or tel: 086 122 48 42 www.angela-beaumont.com
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