Graduate Fashion Week has been the hub of the next generation of fashion talent for 30 years and this year’s YKK-backed accessories award was won by Natasha Finlay of the University of Northampton.
YKK has supported GFW for over five years, and the coveted YKK Accessories Award recognizes and celebrates the hard work and creative vision of students and graduates from across the country in the field of accessories, including headgear, footwear, bags, belts and jewelry.
Commenting on what stands out from the Finlay alumni collection, Katie Doherty, YKK London Showroom Coordinator, said: “Natasha’s work was the most original and well thought out, she also produced some truly contemporary outfits. Natasha’s presentation was very professional and we were all impressed with the level of her work and it was evident that she had worked very hard on her final collection despite all the obstacles of the last year, we absolutely loved all of them. printed!
After her victory, FashionUnited spoke with the talented designer to learn more about the inspiration behind her collection, what winning the YKK Accessories Award means, her plans for the future, and her advice to future fashion designers.
Why did you want to be a fashion designer?
Natasha Finlay: I’ve always loved fashion, but I felt my skills were more drawing / art based. Being a designer wasn’t something I seriously thought about until I went to college to study my NVQ. My tutor came to me and told me that she saw potential in me and that she believed that my skills would flourish in the field of teaching fashion textiles. Going to college made me realize that I could use my artistic knowledge alongside designing future fashion trends.
What was the inspiration for your YKK Accessories Award-winning graduate collection?
My inspiration for my FMP collection was how the pandemic affected our dreams. My dreams had started to be very different and weird the first time I was locked down, I went to social media, took a poll and it was obvious that so were a lot of other people. Everyone had sent me written descriptions of their dreams and I drew them all by hand from my imagination and that then fed into all the other items in my collection such as prints, clothes and accessories.
What fabrics / techniques did you use?
Due to the pandemic and as a printing student I was very limited as to what I could use as I was not in the print room! But I bought recycled polyester for the dream jackets, not only for their durable qualities, but it was the best fabric for my designs, it was digitally printed. It was an added bonus being a recycled material. When it comes to my dream stealing teddy bears, the fabric I used was scrap fabric I found in college, I stuffed the puppets with a mixture of cotton wool and fabric cut from my other clothes.
What are the signature pieces?
My iconic pieces are the dreamy long quilted coat that features a snippet of everyone’s dreams in the print, alongside the dream-stealing puppets attached with industrial chains. I wanted my dream thieves to bring my print to life and bring a sense of joy to my collection. These are the distorted figures that people experienced in their nightmares, the goal was to turn them into stuffed puppets, this eliminates this fear and replaces it with happiness.
What have you gained from being able to present to GFW?
Being able to show my collection at Fashion Week has always been the goal. Being selected for the best in show was amazing and opened a lot of doors for me. I was recently picked up on MKFM radio as well as a local article published. I also get emails and direct messages from some interesting people so I’m excited.
What did it mean to you to win the YKK Accessories Award?
I wanted to enter this award with an open mind. When I found out that I was shortlisted, then finalist, then winner, it was incredible. I am absolutely delighted that the judges loved my work as much as I did and it makes me really confident to think that they see something in me that was worth earning.
Why did you choose to study at the University of Northampton?
I chose to study at the University of Northampton because of the course, “textiles” for fashion are quite rare, they are usually textiles or fashion so mixing them up seemed important to me. The campus is amazing and the fashion and textiles room is brand new with all the latest equipment. Not to mention that Northampton Guardians are unlike any other. The time, energy, and genuine desire they have to want you to succeed is unmatched. The time we spend with our tutors and technicians in Northampton is amazing and I couldn’t have done it without them all.
What was the most valuable thing you learned during your course?
I have learned so much since I was in college, not only in myself but as a designer. I definitely grew as a person and realized that being yourself is so important and as long as you love what you do it will show through your work. I enjoyed every minute of it even though it was a difficult experience.
What would you have liked to have been told to you before starting your studies?
I wish I had been told how difficult fashion classes are. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of time and hard work that a degree like this takes, but it’s so rewarding when all of your hard work pays off.
What are your plans now that you have graduated?
My plans now are just to be open-minded and take any opportunity that presents itself! I don’t want to close myself off to anything and I’m excited about what the future holds, whatever it is.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering studying fashion?
Do it! It will be the best thing you decide to do. You will never be bored in life, it is constantly on the move, changing and full of excitement. It’s a tough industry to integrate, but that’s because so many people love it.