As the winner of the ASOS Fashion Discovery Peoples Choice Award 2018, Desree was approached to feature as a guest speaker at the art and lifestyle summer pop-up, “The Lifestyle Market”. As an aspiring fashion designer which has the won the world over, Art World Forum features a one-to-one interview to find out more about her latest collection, her initial influences and what we should be keeping an eye open for.
1. With an endless list of exhibitions, novels, discussions and more constantly happening in London, what was the first moment of inspiration that encouraged you to pursue fashion?
I was always into fashion and I was always buying magazines to find out the latest trends and tips. The first ever exhibition I went to was at Somerset house in London showing Valentino’s exhibition, who at that point was one of my favourite designers. Seeing the designs in person was life-changing. It inspired me so much that as soon as I got home from the exhibition I started designing.
At that point I still saw it as a hobby and didn’t have the confidence to say I wanted to be a professional designer, but it was very much the start of something.
2. What was the first garment you ever made?
The first garment I ever made on my own was a waistcoat in my textiles class. It was inspired by steampunk and the Victorian times so I sewed bits of metal onto it and old jewellery from a charity shop and I put my heart and soul into it – actually getting an A*
3. Was there a specific element of inspiration that kick-started your latest 2018 collection? Is there a reason why you chose to focus on colourful florals?
I made my last collection in my final year of university. At the beginning I actually struggled to find a concept and had endless tutorials, so I went looking for inspiration and was really taken by a place called Kew gardens in London. They collect and save seeds from all over the world because they are rare and on the verge of extinction. They also had books of beautiful illustrations from botanists who had travelled the world.
Before discovering this, I didn’t really have an interest in flowers and I wasn’t as aware on the severity and extent of extinction and our impact on the world. But it was such a beautiful way of explaining it to people so I chose to take the role of a botanist and use my prints to celebrate the rarity of the flora and fauna.
4. As one of the 2018 winners of the ASOS Fashion Discovery Competition, how has it influenced your practice? What is it like working with ASOS?
Being one of the winners has massively influenced me as a designer. Being new to everything, it has allowed me to see that people really do like the work I create and I can make it in the fashion industry. I am now just getting started with a new collection and things will hopefully get up and running from there.
Working with ASOS is what any aspiring designer dreams of. It is early days with ASOS, but the ideas are coming together and from what I can gather it’s going to be amazing and colourful. ASOS is really supportive and open to my ideas and thoughts on our collaboration so I am excited to see what comes of it.
5. With an aspiration to grow your brand and develop new collections, who would you say your garments are for? Is there a way you would like people to approach our clothes?
I have never really been specific on who I would like to wear my clothes as I’ve always thoughts of catering for everyone and anyone, but if I had to define my aesthetic I’d say ‘girly girly with a twist’ for people who love colour and expression.
Overall, I would say just have fun wearing my clothes because that is what they are for; to express yourself and feel amazing in them.
6. What designers (or artists) do you look to for motivation and inspiration?
There are SO many designers with bold and bright colours whom I love. I used to always go to Liberty’s in London for their beautiful prints and florals.
One brand I am particularly obsessed with is Delpozo. I love the colours and shapes they use, and the inspirations behind all their garments. Oscar De La Renta is another favourite. I remember watching the red carpet at the Met Gala on tv and saw Sarah Jessica Parker wearing a black and white dress which blew me away. I was fixated by their designs which are always so beautifully elegant. Most people want to attend the Met Gala at some point in their lives, but I would rather design a dress that’s amazing enough for someone to wear to it.
7. What advice would you give emerging designers?
My advice from one emerging designer to another is to believe in yourself and your art. The fashion world is a hard one to be a part of and I am trying to get there myself. It has taken me significant time to believe in myself and what I am actually capable of, but I have come to realise that if you believe in yourself nothing can stop you from doing what you love.