I think this year, with it being 2012 and all its associated happenings, events such as Free Range, the largest graduate student Art, Design and Fashion show, really will be put in the spot-light. This year, between May 28th and 16th July, the Fashion category opens the event and this years entrants are bound to wow the industry as much as Kerry Woolacott did last year - a guy who cuts the cloth in all the right ways.
Kerry graduated last year from Somerset University, Taunton achieving a 2:1 grade on the Fashion Design course and had Mark Henderson (Chairman of Savile Row Bespoke Association and Deputy Chairman of Gieves and Hawkes), Cass Stainton of Fox Brothers & Co (Dragon's Den star Deborah Meaden owns the historic Mill), Menswear blogger Homazd Narielwalla as well as other figure heads from Savile Row.
His menswear catwalk collection has a huge tailoring influence in it hence his connections to Savile Row and bespoke tailoring. Kerry says, 'Classic menswear never dies and neither does style, style is so key to menswear as it doesn't heavily rely on trends as much as womenswear and the tailors and cutters of Savile Row will go as far as saying style never dies. I just love a man in a well fitted, handmade suit individually made for him. He brings his own style to it. A suit is an intricate piece of art that stands the test of time but is not just a suit. So many small details make the suit different to another suit. A lot of people don't understand this, the cut, pockets, lapels, fabric, pattern, lining, buttons, vents, the list goes on'. He goes on to add, 'My other inspiration was the Industrial Revolution...'
...The Industrial Revolution saw a break through in engineering, production, technology and science but these prosperous developments brought out the best and worst in these times. City air was full of smoke, smog and dirt, working conditions extremely dangerous and fatal, children made to work 14 hour days doing hard labouring jobs for a pittance, the gap between rich and poor widened and the sociological balance changed dramatically in this time.
Full of passion, he continues, 'I have chosen to concentrate on the dirty, dark side of the Industrial Revolution and Victorian times rather than looking directly at the clothing of the 18th and 19th Century. There would be no more point in copying and replicating what have already been and recreated many times. The soot on chimney sweepers, the coal from mining and steam trains, grease and oil from railway workers, dirt from builders and general darkness on the streets of Industrial towns. Although I don’t want to copy clothing and uniforms from the era I have tried to put a contemporary twist on each garment and look I have designed, whether it be the cut of the trousers, the different fabric choice of the shirts, modern styling & accessories and fine details and coating traditional fabric in wax to show the concept of my smog ridden menswear collection. As well as designing working class clothing I will sneak in a couple of upper class garments, the type that factory owners and managers overseeing the financial success would have shown off, I feel I must do this to show a sophistication and quality to the collection'.
On his collection aesthetic, he describes, 'The silhouettes shows a contradiction to the male shape we have seen over the past 5 years consisting of skinny jeans and a feminine look that has been mainstream and over worked, my silhouette shows the masculine form off again. With muscle grabbing long johns that skimmed the body enhancing masculine strength and structure, I have lengthened the body with high waisted trousers with a slightly low crotch, making trouser legs straighter and looser. My jackets are done up high making the jacket flare out, shoulders are softer and relaxed tailoring on the bottom of the jacket from doing the top button up making the jacket flare out. The fine tailoring details really does make a menswear collection. I will be using welt and jetted pockets on all my garments given the work wear outfits a formal touch of sophistication and craftsmanship. Tailoring is a key factor in this collection as this is a personal path I am personally thinking about in my career and to integrate this into my collection could open up many doors for me. The tailoring will give it the soft luxury touch it needs so it doesn’t end up looking like an actual badly made work wear collection'.
But what about the designer and his signature? 'As I am an individual as a designer I will want to show my personality but I am still investigating my career options after my collection is shown, there is this futuristic side to me that wants to push menswear giving it a fresh look and bringing new ideas to menswear but I personally love classic menswear. The classic cut bespoke tailored jackets and overcoats, fine details and traditional looks and fabrics that never die or go out of trend. Tailoring is an option for me as I love a gentlemen dressed in a well fitted suit that oozes style and class, I feel bespoke tailoring is a skill that few could accomplish and no one can recreate using a sewing machine. Timeless. Ready to Wear menswear has its benefits to opening up and climbing a larger business ladder than tailoring. I could go further once I get my foot in the door, I could end up doing more and different things I didn’t realise I would want to do in Fashion Design. Designing a look and seeing it on sale would make me feel great and want to push me more at designing cool clothing for men. I do worry though that tailoring could limit my creativity in design and adventure and will leave me just making other peoples ideal looks for the rest of my career. There is the idea of fusing the two of them together designing bespoke menswear or ‘Bespoke Couture’ as Ozwald Boateng has created. Fashion is a dirty word in tailoring and fashionistas could never hope to achieve a look and feel a bespoke tailored suit possesses. Fashion goes in and out of trend but bespoke style in everlasting and doesn’t rely on trends to sell'.
I wanted to know what labels and designers made him tick, and well as cultural highlights - his response was less the usual stock answer of a generation of designers. 'Savile Row, Dries Van Noten plays a huge part in my inspiration. Dior Homme I love and Ann Demeulemeester, Lanvin and Jil Sander. On a more affordable level, I guess I like All Saints. Arena Homme + and GQ Style are my favourite menswear magazines, I also read Another Man magazine from time to time. As for Art, I think Cubism and Mark Rothko are amazing.
What has Kerry been doing since such as storming reception at Free Range? 'Since the show I have been teaching part-time at my old college on the course I used to attend BTEC National Diploma in Art and Design/Fashion, teaching 16-19 years of age. I have been writing for a Devon based wedding magazine as the menswear columnist and I have been the window dresser and the suit alteration guy for a well known Arcadia group store. On top of this I make suits for men down in Devon (currently working on 2 wedding suits) - all this waiting for my dream job, an tailoring apprenticeship in Savile Row, where I will be starting an apprenticeship in Savile Row in December'.