Interview by Roshannah Bagley
UNITED KINGDOM, Each year Britain is introduced to thousands of budding fashion designers. Over recent years there has been an increase in fashion knitwear designers, notably Louise Goldin and Mark Fast. Following in their footsteps is De Montford University graduate Beatrice K Newman. Here she talks to FAULT about empowering women and her love of knitting.
FAULT: It’s been seven months since the British public was introduced to Beatrice K Newman. Your graduate collection illustrated fantastic macramé and knitwear detailing. Such pieces must have proved time consuming and awkward to make, how did you achieve this?
Beatrice: I really wanted to push my boundaries and do things I hadn’t done before. I wanted to create a collection that was above the standards of a graduate that was beautiful and captivating and would push the boundaries of fashion.
Exploring with different textiles and techniques really got me excited and though the processes were very time consuming, I never grew tired or bored with it. To be honest at times things would go wrong as you can expect but with perseverance, drawing inspiration from my favorite bible scripture in Joshua1: 6….’be determined, be confident’… I did the very best I could do to make the collection work.
This intricate use of surface detail is also evident in your other collections. What is it you find so fascinating in knitwear?
What I find so fascinating about knitwear is that there are no limitations or boundaries with design. You can experiment with different yarns and texture and the end results are always fascinatingly unique and different. I feel like I can be my own unique knitwear designer because the yarns and processes I use reflect my own unique fashion taste. No designer I’ve come across who uses knit in their collections are the same and I feel it is because with knitwear you are free to express yourself with how you want it to look on the body.
Knitwear is also great because I can make so many mistakes when knitting the pattern and most times get away with it because you can add, unravel, steam and stretch it into the right shape. It is simple and less complicated than cutting woven patterns.
FAULT: Are there any other plans to develop your design aesthetic into other avenues or mediums?
Beatrice: In the past I have developed and explored my design aesthetics into other avenues/mediums such as footwear and jewelry, which have both been successful and I will continue designing in.
I currently do not have any other plans to develop my designs into other avenues as I am still at the early stages of my design career and feel that it is important to concentrate on building up my weaknesses within the field I am currently working in which is womenswear. Sometime in the future I would like to transfer my design ideas into menswear and quite possibly interiors and textiles.
FAULT: Who is the ideal Beatrice K Newman woman?
Beatrice: The ideal ‘BKN’ woman is…classic. She is flamboyant and elegant, bold and sassy. Her style is glamorous, seductive and sometimes quite esoteric. Her style reflects the luxurious periods of the 1920’s and 1980s where over the top glamour and femininity mix to create powerful women, almost like the Bond women….only not so easily beddable.
FAULT: Which designers would you cite as influential on your work?
Beatrice: The work I produce is very much my own with influences being drawn from my very luxurious mum and the over opulent textiles of my African culture. Though I have my influences I do draw much of my inspiration from designers like Alaia, whose ideology of perfection makes me strive for good quality when producing garments and JPG (Jean Paul Gaultier) whose over embellished pieces sets my imagination alight with the possibilities of achieving something great and wonderful.
FAULT: What are you working on at the moment?
Beatrice: My graduate collection and the opportunity to show at graduate fashion week have really opened doors for me. My collection has been chosen by a number of celebrity stylists and celebrities such as Sabrina Washington for her new video OMG and Shingai Shoniwa from the Noisettes to name a few, has helped to boost my status.
At the moment I have been commissioned by a new clothing website launching in April to design and make five one-off pieces which are simpler versions of my graduate collection to be sold in the websites S/S10 collection and will also be showing my graduate collection along with a few new pieces in this years Alternative Fashion Week at Spitalfield’s Market. This year I also hope to enroll in an MA fashion program, which I am in the process of doing at the moment.