Amber-Louise Snow is an independent womenswear fashion designer from Nottingham. But not only that: She is a story-teller who expresses her thoughts and creativity with special and magical designs.
Her new Spring/ Summer – collections are a contrast: On the one hand a punk and gothic culture style, on the other hand pastel colours and lustre that take you to a wonder world. Both collections are fascinating in its own way.
Enjoy reading about the meaning of Amber-Louise’s newest collections, an inspiring interview and watching the photographs that show Amber-Louise’s designs and the contrast at its finest. ☆
Spring/Summer 2015, “No-Youth”:
No-Youth is about being individual, independent, young and proud, but sometimes youthfulness can be confused or generalized with disruptiveness and an unfair assumption is given through initial judgement. This Spring/Summer 2015 womenswear range is a study of British society and youth culture, and looks at the repercussions that stigmatization and unfair categorisation may have on young people who are automatically labelled before being understood. Its heavy foundations of punk and gothic culture provide structure for the traditional traits and colour palette of the collection, and serves as a respectful celebration of British distinction and identity. The collection is dark, distressed and grungy with a structured feminine focus, centred around British culture and pride.
Spring/Summer 2015, “Virtues Of Venus”:
Virtues Of Venus is a casual Spring/Summer 2015 womenswear capsule that aims to increase consideration towards our oceans and other eco-systems across our planet, encouraging eviromental consideration and protection. Practicality, ease and comfort form the foundations for the silhouettes across the capsule, creating a subtle contrast with the playful but striking embellishments of each piece. A soft pastel colour palette stands as a clear canvas to boldly display detailed bead work features, as well as complimenting the concept and inspiration for the range. Greek Mythology, more specifically Venus the god of love, introduces a delicate, classical Grecian element, bringing a structured story line as well as communicating a refined elegant and feminine appearance.
Also we are happy to have interviewed Amber-Louise. It was so nice to write with her.
Was it always a dream of yours to become a fashion designer or did you try something different before?
If I’m honest, I hadn’t always intended to work specifically in fashion, it was something I didn’t know much about and I felt intimidated by. I have however always been very into design, arts and crafts and I spent a huge portion of my childhood doing fun little projects and having craft days with my mum and just growing up in an environment that was completely surrounded by creativity, imagination and expression. In general, I was just like any other kid growing up. I was always making up games and climbing trees with my elder brother because we both loved to be outside exploring, learning and interacting with nature. After I’d left school, I’d actually chosen to do travel and tourism at college as I’ve always wanted to travel, and hoped to work in the tourism sector in another country, but a friend of mine suggested we did a fashion course together which I agreed to do, only to discover she’d not even confirmed her place on the course. That’s how I got introduced into fashion, which of course I grew to love and built a career around, but as I say, there’s always been a huge part of my character that was drawn to crafts and making stuff and just being expressive through arts and design.
What do you want to show with your designs?
I’d like to think the clothes I design are a reflection of my character in some way, as for me fashion isn’t strictly about trends and clothing, but more about the communication and freedom of expression that it allows us to have, and the way you are able to distinguish your character and interests through it.. For me, I often use my work to help draw attention to the things that interest me and that I feel are important or need addressing. All of the collections I have made so far, have been inspired by issues that are of great importance to me, for either personal or passionate reasons. My A/W2014 range, Dimensional Perceptions, was inspired by the stigma surrounding those with mental disabilities and the judgement and treatment they face in society. My S/S2015 range, No-Youth, was inspired by the stigma surrounding the youth culture of Britain. For both of the ranges, I wanted to address how society can naturally judge or label a person without understanding first. An individual who may be suffering with mental health issues may appear fine to others, a young person may be automatically considered immature or a trouble causer by older generations, when in many cases young people are parents, carers, charity workers etc. My most recent S/S2015 range, Virtues Of Venus, is inspired by the ocean and serves as a reminder about how beautiful, inspirational and important it is to our planet, in hopes of increasing appreciation of its resources as well as raising awareness about environmental conservation.
What does a working- or rather a designing-day look like?
My creative process can often change depending on the type of project I’m working on and what stage I’m at within it. If I’m designing, I usually first of all gather, research and collate inspiration and start off exploring any ideas I have without really having an initial plan. I’ll experiment and create samples and get inspired from the stuff I see and the things I think, and then draw things from that and go from there. If I’m in manufacture, I dive right in and can work on a garment losing track of a full day. It’s something I really enjoy and I am very familiar with the practical/technical/manual side of garment design as I’d previously took a pattern cutting course, which I loved.
On other days, I can be working on the computer/admin side of things, doing things like emails, website and other outlet maintenance, other external projects etc. I’ll admit it’s not my strong point and it isn’t as fun as the creative stuff, but it’s all part of the business and I enjoy getting the chance to work in all sides of a fashion business.
What is your favourite season? Which one do you prefer to design for?
I love both seasons as they both introduce different styles and opportunities into design. I love S/S as I’m able to design delicate and floaty items that explore bold colours and prints, which can have such a summery, liberating and happy feeling to them! S/S also brings a more open use of softer, lightweight fabrics like chiffon and tulle that I love working with. On the other hand, I adore A/W for its cosiness, warm colours, its heavy weights, thicker textures and layering, and just the exciting, glamourous party feeling that comes in the colder months. If I had to pick one, it would probably be Spring/Summer as I feel more in touch with myself in the warmer, sunnier seasons!
Do you have a favourite brand or favourite shops where you prefer to go and / or get inspiration from?
A whole range of things often inspire different stages of my work. I love to learn, to watch people and to understand societies and social patterns. I feel observation and questioning is a good start to finding a concept. I often explore the internet, cross-referencing movements I see and working out what might be the new trends evolving before they develop into mainstream high street trends. Sometimes I draw inspiration from fun, textured fabrics and unique textiles, even perhaps random scraps and items I find. I can get inspiration from anything really. Inspiration and ideas can also develop during the design and manufacture process by looking at things in a fresh light, but in general I’ve found that within all the things that have inspired me, they are often based around my passion for pattern cutting, creative cutting, draping, tailoring and bespoke finishing.
Alexander McQueen has been a great inspiration for me. He has an elaborate but highly tailored and technical way of pattering cutting, creative cutting, draping and tailoring that is just so beautiful and he was the reason I wanted to really get into pattern cutting. Dior was the reason I wanted to get into couture. Dior celebrates the traditions of couture with elaborate silhouettes and large volumes of luxurious bespoke fabrics but makes it contemporary and modern with amazing technical pattern cutting, statement fabric manipulations, direct shapes and theatrical styling.
It would be really interesting to know how long (approximately) you need for designing a piece e.g. a dress.
Depending on what type of project I’m working on, the design stage can vary. If I’ve been looking at material I’m really inspired by, or working with a concept I understand and feel confident with, I can design pretty quickly, developing and analysing designs, their features and details as I go along. Sometimes I’ll even think of something out of the blue on another day which I’ll feel really intrigued by and have a good feeling about. Those times, I can get a little obsessed about exploring that particular idea and I’ll work constantly on it until I get it right.
I think in general, once I’ve refined and finalised a concept I’m happy with, I’ll design for approximately 4 -14 days, just exploring lots of different ideas, sourcing fabrics, making experimental samples and developing designs until I’ve got something that works, but of course depending on the project I might spend more or less time in the design stage. Once I’ve designed, I’ll move onto the toileing where I’ll make prototypes. Quite often during this stage, I’ll re-work the design even more and change it a lot as it develops into a 3D form and the more I work with it on the body. This stage tends to take a lot longer and I don’t like to rush because I feel the fit and cut are very important so I kind of obsess about it until it’s perfect. When I’m confident and happy with the visual balance of the final toile I’ll make the first sample or final garment depending on its complexity.
On the whole, it really depends what I’m working on and the schedule I’m working to. For VOV I got things done pretty quickly as I had a clear intention about what I wanted and out of excitement I often scribbled designs and notes on scraps of random paper and worked like that – which I need to take time to compile in a proper cognitive and understandable work/thought process which I know is the wrong order to work!
Have your studies influenced your designs? Or did you find your own designing style after you became independent?
Throughout my time in education, I often found it difficult to find a good balance between working to a required standard where it was expected to follow a very specific way of working, and being true to the way I thought about concepts and interpreted everything, and how I developed designs as an individual. For the first few years of higher education, this was pretty tricky and confusing and I felt like I’d never ‘get it’ at times. Towards the end of my university education, I was finally feeling comfortable with my designing style and felt confident enough to openly represent myself with my work using my own characteristics and way of working, without worrying or caring about what was wrong or right. I’m grateful for my time in higher education as I was introduced to a very specific and competitive way of working which will always be required within the fashion industry, but of course being more independent has helped with personal refinement and I’m able to freely explore different methods, thinking about concepts and ideas in a new and initiative, but still analytical way.
You sell your designed clothes via your Etsy-store. Do you also have a “real” boutique / shop? If not, do you wish to open one in the future and what will this boutique/ shop look like?
Yes right now, I only sell my designs via my Etsy shop as this is the first range I’ve produced that’s available to purchase so it made sense to start off small. Yes! The goal for me is to have my own studio shop – a place where I’d design and make clothes but also teach classes. It would eventually compromise of 3 sections, a library/café with all old donated books and furniture where people can come in, feel safe and comfortable, and be inspired by life and crafts. It would also have a workshop room where I’d hold weekly workshops for people with mental disabilities and their carers/families, to help build a support network and make friends with others who share the same experiences. The final part would be a studio/boutique, which I’d work from day to day. I’ve always had that goal and quite a lot of people have told me it’ll be too much to handle, but it’s what I want. Of course right now I’m taking everything step by step, trying to enjoy and appreciate everything, but yes that’s the goal for me.
You are based in Nottingham. What do you like about your town the most?
My favourite thing about Nottingham is the atmosphere and the feeling I get whenever I go into the city, it’s a happy place. It may be slightly biased because Nottingham is the city I went to both college and university in and it’s the place I daily commuted to during the first few years after leaving school when I started to find my own individuality. I associate the city with going back to basics and it brings back those feelings of curiosity, excitement and independence, which is refreshing. Of course, Nottingham is known for its education system and its dynamic youthful population, which is also something I love too. It’s very reassuring to see so many different people from all different walks of life, come together in such a relaxed and positive way, and they all have their own individual style and characteristics, everyone is unique rather than everyone following a trend.
Do you like to visit other countries? And which country inspired you the most?
I absolutely love to visit other countries and travel and I wish I was able to travel as often as I felt like it. I’ve been lucky enough to travel abroad and so far I’ve been to some really amazing, eye-opening and inspirational places. The most inspirational place I’ve visited is without a doubt, Barcelona. The first time I visited, I was young and slightly immature and visited on a college trip. I loved the city as soon as we arrived, but I was too shy and embarrassed to show my interest in the culture, architecture and art. I was secretly completely inspired and have always wanted to visit again to properly explore and appreciate everything. In the Summer of 2013 I went back and everything was just how I’d remembered. Literally everything about the city is artistic in some way or another, it’s just such a beautiful place and whenever I visit I get such a familiar and happy feeling, and I hope to move there one day. I’d highly recommend to anyone to go and take the time to immerse yourselves in the culture and visit all the landmarks, including Casta Batllo, Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell.
One of your newest collections “No Youth” has a grungy appearance with elements of Punk and Gothic style. What inspired you to create this amazing collection? And what do you like about Grunge or the Grunge – style?
Yes, my S/S2015 No-Youth is a lot darker, grungier and quite different to my other work, which I personally love and I had a lot of fun creating this collection. I like the darkness, the mood, the heavy weights and the distressed textures. I feel it shows my personal style and personality a little more compared to other movements. No-Youth is inspired by British youth culture, where the way of life is explored and questioned to determine why labelling happens. It looks at the effects stigmatization may have on those individuals who have been unfairly judged and isolated, and communicates the requirement for some young people to grow up quicker than others in order to fulfil premature roles of responsibility. It challenges how some young people can still be categorized because of a generalized concept within society towards young adults, even though for some they have had no childhood and no youth. Traditional British patriotism, punk and gothic movements were also inspirational and became structural influences for the bold traits, detailing and general colour palette in the collection. Key shapes and silhouettes within the range are informed by the anatomy of the human body and skeleton, supporting a direct projection of creative pattern cutting to compliment the bold and distinguishable elements of British patriotism and punk. Much like my A/W2014 collection, No-Youth was also constructed with an ecological approach. I felt that sourcing and re-cycling the worn-out and distressed hides from old biker leathers, was a good way of respectfully paying tribute to our British history and the punk movement, as well as being environmentally friendly and resourceful.
Find more wonderful works by Amber-Louise and her online-shop by clicking on the links below:
☆ Thanks a lot! ☆