Diana Vreeland once said, “Blue jeans are the most beautiful things since the gondola.”
Misconstrued as an unimaginative fabric, denim and elegance may at first appear incongruous. But as this year’s Edinburgh Charity Fashion Show embraces the nostalgia of the past, Gray’s School of Art graduate Rachel Murdoch is determined to spring forward menswear into the new decade with a revived outlook on the use of denim. Amid the flapper girls and the Bugsy Malones, Rachel diverts our attention to prove that not all that glitters is gold.
Why do the twenties resonate with you? How will this come across in your collection for the Edinburgh Charity Fashion Show?
Whilst we all remember the incredible fashions of flapper girls and formal suits, for me the twenties were an exciting time in the kickstarting of our denim culture. Using the durable material of denim and focusing on function, the minimal utilitarian aesthetic really inspires me and the collection.
What is your creative process?
Usually my projects stem from one photograph. Typically captured from an obscure angle and focusing on architectural composition, I analyse the image for shape and colour before linking it to a concept and seeking inspiration from sculptors. For me, it’s so important to be hands on in the process through collage and sampling, placing samples and drawing together until garments start to form.
What is your inspiration for your collection?
The collection ultimately is inspired by architecture, and the Suprematism movement of the early twentieth century. The movement’s artwork focuses on geometric shapes and limited block colours to create minimal abstract compositions. It is designed to look at both past and future trends by using patchwork and silhouettes from the twenties in a modern perspective. Adopting a minimal approach, I want to showcase denim in all its glory. The collection has a few special pieces that I hope people enjoy including a boiler suit I just can’t get enough of!
How will you bring your personal style of denim and geometric patterns to the twenties theme?
My personal style always includes denim and focuses on function and that’s exactly what I want to bring to the theme. Using the workwear angle, commonly forgotten about within the twenties, I have used geometric panelling to almost create a bold new textile that pays homage to the past while looking to the future. Tonal denims and patchwork compositions create the detail that inspired me to the historical workwear that denim was previously used for.
What drew you to menswear?
When I first thought about becoming a designer, I was set on printed interior textiles but from my very first fashion project at university I found myself gravitating towards menswear design. I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a tutor in my first year who told me, “I don’t think you’re a textile designer, I think you’ll end up in menswear fashion.” I thought he was mad, but here I am a menswear designer! There’s something about the understated and unexplored area of menswear that interests me and constantly keeps me wanting to learn more!
What made you want to be a designer?
If you gave me a pen and paper when I was younger nine times out of ten there would be an outfit drawn within 5 minutes. Whilst I continued this subconsciously in the backgrounds of everyday life, I began to notice how picky I was as a shopper! Finding something I would change on every garment in the shops, from the collar to the buttons used, my shopping trips became impossible. From there, my determination to become the person on the other side of the designs we see in store grew and grew.
What are you looking forward to at the show?
I’m really excited to be part of this show, the charities mean a lot to me on a personal level and the work they do is absolutely incredible. I can’t wait to see all the collections and all the work the team have put into the show!
On the 14th March, the National Museum of Scotland is set to become a patchwork of multiple designers as they are drawn together, not only to showcase their designs inspired by the flashing lights of the 1920s, but to raise money towards Macmillan Cancer Support Scotland and It’s Good 2 Give!
With tickets set at just £32, and a raffle worth bragging about, I’m sure a Mulberry Millie tote bag would make a very nice addition to all our wardrobes, make sure to get yours now!
Image credit: Aimee McDiarmid via Instagram _rachel.murdoch_