Beatrice Korlekie Newman, 21. De Montfort University, BA (Hons.) Fashion Graduate 2009.
-specialism: Fashion Womenswear /Knitwear.
Brought up in an African culture, I was introduced to a diversity of rich textiles and colour which have been a significant factor intriguing me to learn more about fashion and how I could translate the richness of textiles and colour into unique modern clothes.
I consider that my passion for textiles has made me take more active interest in knitwear and other types of hand weaving techniques such as macramÈ and crocheting which give me the latitude to introduce and build upon my own ideas in fabrics allowing me to challenge deep-seated ideas and concepts in fashion.
I worked for Danielle Scutt for about 3 months; helping out with pattern cutting and sewing and sewed 3-4 final outfits that went onto her catwalk. Work experience with Maurice Sedwell, the tailors on the Saville Row, London.
I have been successful in a number of competitions in which I applied some of my skills in textiles and knitted fabrics as part of representing my ideas within the competition briefs. This earned me a place as a finalist in two major competitions, MaxMara and FAD (Fashion Awareness Direct). For the FAD competition, I launched my ideas in two outfits that were showcased on the finalist catwalk in London during the London Fashion week in February 2009.
In addition to becoming a finalist in these competitions, I won a scholarship with the Frame Work Knitters Guild. I would acknowledge that the scholarship has not only helped with my skill development in textiles and knitted fabric but has also incentivized my research into new processes in knitwear as well as quality yarns.
The opulence of empires: The Tsars & 1001 Arabian Nights.
The inspiration for my collection is based on the opulence of empires, the Russian Tsars and Arabian nights. The collection is made up of wealthy colours such as gold and coppers and uses embellishments, patterns and prints from palace interiors and Russian carpets. The collection relies in the mix of various luxurious yarns in diffusible textures to create elegant and contemporary fashion pieces. Each outfit in my collection is hand bespoke as I am creating fabric for each piece.
The key pieces in my collection are based on the beautiful knots and trims found on Russian military jackets. I have translated my own idea of the military knots and trims by using craft techniques such as knitting, macramÈ and crochet to embellish my garments. I have also sourced other forms of embellishment such as chain mail fabrics, which I have incorporated into knitwear and I have developed other ideas for embellishment such as utilizing metals and beads of various sizes into my fabric.
The silhouettes in my collection explore volume in a subtle way, where luxurious techniques such as fringing are used to enhance the shoulders, arms and hips whilst beading and knotting embellishments add a sharp but feminine elegance to the outfit. Other silhouettes in my collection play on short and elongated body conscious figures.
This collection is about?
The opulence of empires is about the beauty of past empires, exploring and celebrating the impressive ceremonial dress and uniforms of Emperors and officials of the Russian Court. It explores detail on the fine tailoring of garments, especially the royal military and the fine craftsmanship of embroidery and high quality textiles.
Main inspiration is taken from the last Russian royal family ñ The Tsars and from the beautiful illustrations of Edmund Dulac from the storybook 1001 Arabian Nights.
I have merged both concepts together as to broaden my design ideas and produce a collection full of rich textiles and unique media.
Illustrations by Emund Dulac conjure up the feeling of an opulent setting that inspired me very much when I was young. The fine brocade and elegant presentation of each page in the storybook aroused a desire of want as if the item being viewed was of precious stone. It is this very feeling I want viewers to feel when seeing my collection, and so have chosen both concepts and merged them together for a collection that will be full of unique and explored textiles, embellishment and embroidery.
Where do you get inspiration from in general?
A lot of my inspiration from my African culture, most at the time of designing and art at the national gallery especially by Fragonard and Botticelli.
How is your process when you design?
– First I gather information by visiting the places that inspire me, any associated exhibitions at the time, books, magazines and historical references on the subject
– I then pick out relevant images that I feel are very strong and inspire me and look at every picture in detail before I start to design
– From samples and swatches I create, I am able to evaluate the garment; thus create a whole collection or a lineup.
What do you find most difficult about the design process?
Starting out and gathering the right information.
What are your strengths?
Hard working, seek to see things through to the end, meeting deadlines and research and design.
Describe your collection with three words?
Luxurious, esoteric and elegant.
What techniques did you use?
I used the standard domestic brother knitting machine. The techniques I have used are fairaisle, rouleau, fringing, lace, short row, rib, crochet, macramé, twisting, beading and weaving.
Which machines did you use to create your collection?
I used the standard domestic brother knitting machine.
Which technique was the most difficult?
Lace and macramé.
Lace: Because the yarns were quite fragile and would break sometimes when knitting. It is very difficult to do a lace pattern on the knitting machine without it catching and laddering.
Macramé: Because the cords have to be long enough to create a certain piece. The downfall being the cords get tangled or the cords are too short making it very difficult to attach a longer cord without making the pattern look untidy.
Which garment was most difficult to make?
Chainmail leotard. Because I had to knit tiny jumprings into a delicate weave and took me about a week to knit each pattern piece. The leotard was so delicate that I couldnít use it for the catwalk and the tiny jumprings kept catching on the leotard that it would pull the weave; thus, making ladders and holes in the garment.
Which garment took the longest to make?
The chainmail leotard.
Which garment is your favorite?
Outfit # 4 Denim print fur jacket and crochet fringe leotard.
What technique is your favorite?
Crochet and macramé.
How long did you work on this project?
About 5 months.
What made you pursue knitwear?
Having to learn and incorporate knitwear into certain projects at University made me become more interested and aware of practicing more techniques and skills; thus allowing me to pursue knitting on a more advanced level. Iíve also been encouraged by my personal tutors who took interest in me developing knitting skills and pushed me to go further.
What designers inspire you?
Jean-Paul Gaultier, Azzedine Alaia, Givenchy – Riccardo Tisci, Gianni Versace and Alexander McQueen.
Which designer would you like to work for in the future?
My ultimate goal is to own my own label. As part of my experience, I would like to train / work with Jean-Paul Gaultier.
Why did you choose De Montfort?
Amongst all the universityís that I visited, De Montfort University seemed to be the most unique in fashion amongst all and open to the new ideas of students who want to express themselves on the course. I think the course is excellent and unique; you learn so much within the 3 years that you are there that you probably wouldnít have been able to learn anywhere else. It teaches you not only fashion but about yourself – your strengths and weaknesses and what you can do to build on them.
During your education, which project has been your favorite?
The opulence of empires: The Tsars & 1001 Arabian Nights – because it allowed me to bring all of the knowledge and everything I had learnt in the three years of University and to test my skills in fashion. It also challenged me to think a lot to create an extra-ordinary and unique collection and to learn new techniques I had not been taught.
How were the school? Facilities? Teachers?
The facilities in the school were great. Leicester is so far away from ‘fashion’, unlike in London, where I am free to be myself and not be dictated to by fashion trends. The best thing is that the lecturers are always there to help you – they really open your eyes to the world of fashion and challenge you to bring the best out of you.
What advice would you give new students?
Get plenty of sleep and rest and plan well, giving more than enough time to be able to meet your deadline ñ because things can go wrong.
Why do you want to be a designer?
It is my passion, my gift. I can’t imagine doing anything but design.
What was your childhood dream job?
Have you ever been nominated or won a design competition?
I Won the Hand and Lock embroidery competition – my garment and embroidery were selected as the best, befitting the brief.
With one word, what is your best quality?
What are your plans for the future?
I want to be synonymous with fashion.
Will you continue to MA?
Yes, but depends on time and chance.
Will you be selling your BA collection?
I will not be selling; but I am taking orders. Some pieces from my collection will be available to purchase sometime in April 2010 on a new website called ‘pick your berry’ (website will be launched April 2010). For more information please contact me (see below).
Where can we find more information on you?
The following websites contain information you might be interested in: