Tuesday, 12 March 2013 12:07

Upcycle and make new!

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An interview with designer Jocelyn Dee.

After watching her sensational catwalk at London Fashion week and having the pleasure of meeting this warm and passionate designer, I was surprised to hear that all her garments originated from modified upcycled garments. Moreover, astounded that they were created by a designer who never formally studied fashion design. Already captivated, I had to find out more about what made this designer tick.

Brought up in a rural mid Wales, Jocelyn's first influences of fashion were from her mother and father. Her mum wearing her hair in a Mohican and making punk clothing, her dad influenced by the early Glastonbury scene, customising items of clothing such as a jacket he wore one year. Indeed, proof that cool parents breed cool children came at fourteen when she first put on her very own fashion show at school featuring no less than twenty items of clothing! Such an achievement for someone who was capable and creative yet not in the top sets at school. In her experience, she feels that many creative types either created or disrupted at school. Luckily, Jocelyn was most definitely the former type.

Throughout her earlier life she recalls sporting an individualistic style until her late teens when outside influences such as Andrew Logan, a local jewellery designer collaborating with Zandra Rhode's at the time, started to influence her designs. This freedom and expression still alive today within the clothing she makes, and even down to her creating process which is enhanced by wearing her favourite short batik dress which allows freedom of movement when designing new clothes. History and coincidence then repeating and presenting themselves later in 2005 when she too got the chance to collaborate with Zandra Rhodes, model for her and exhibit her own clothes on the same catwalk!

Is if this wasn't enough to determine Jocelyn's fashion destiny, despite studying Art and Environmental studies at Falmouth university, she continued making her wonderful clothes to fund her studies. All was not at lost though, as her studies in the ecologically conscious community of Falmouth shaped the strong ecological values she holds today.

By upcycling pre-existing garments and giving them a new lease of life, Jocelyn keeps business local and reduces the impact on industry on the environment. She believes that; "Designers should be responsible and realise the consequences of their actions on all factors they are creating or distracting such as social welfare, economy and other peoples lifestyles."

Working with recycled materials does come with some issues though such as reluctant buyers worrying about correct fabric care instructions. Reproduction can also be tricky as all her pieces are one off and do not originate from a traditional design block, rather, the garment inspires her and takes shape from that point onwards.

Taking inspiration from the environments around her and channelling this into her creation process, she especially enjoys the challenge of recreating the patterns from clothing seen down London's Bond Street and evolving them in new ways. Classing herself as a shy person, particularly in her former school years, she feels that clothes are an imperative way to communicate our interpretation of the world around us.
Her recent exhibition our London fashion week featured her individual take on tweeds, metallic's, tapestry and silk styles from the "English eccentrics" look. Already inspired by this collection, I had to ask her what she would communicate via her next collection.

I learnt that she had recently returned back from Australia and experiences of the outback and the Great Barrier Reef were influencing her current design thoughts. She envisages the use of ripped leathers to represent land and textured bright rubber to reflect the marine biology and has also been thinking about creating more stylish environmentally conscious clothes for cyclists. Such clothing, both comfortable and bright, so people can be seen.


Starting out as curtain fabric by Laura Ashley-(another Welsh-based designer), Jocelyn felt that this fabric was simply too good for curtains and pinned it up instead to make this high spec dress. Michael MBA photography

This London fashion week was her first time exhibiting for Fashions Finest and she felt inspired by the designs and thought processes of designers such as Keneea Linton Designs, Shenna Carby and Gregory H.O.D Williams of the Jamaican Collective and appreciated their beautiful ball gowns and flashes of Caribbean influence.

She also attended a pure trade show in London and got drawn in by the sparkle of a plastic diamond smothered fabric which she'd usually find a turn off but states is now close to covering every wall in her house with it!

Given her success despite not studying fashion at university, I had to ask what advice she would give to people starting out in the world of fashion. Her advice is simple yet very wise: "Stay focused and do what you feel is worthwhile. Have a 'can do' attitude and see where it takes you. Help yourself by helping others such as models, writers and photographers. Swap trade to enhance your portfolios. "

Indeed Jocelyn is very passionate about helping others. She helped new designers back in June 2007 by hiring a big top circus tent to host an event where she invited many fashion 'creatives' to collaborate. She is appears driven by the desire to help others and states that she would love to put on a fashion show in the future to help young designers.

What a truly thoughtful and inspiring woman. Jocelyn, you give hope to so many of us out there and I wish you every success for the future.

Jocelyn Dee 17.2.13 Fashions Finest London Fashion week show.

Contact: www.jossdee.wix.com/wwwjocelyndeedesignd

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