Laura Mackness Shows Us The Bright Side

The Central Saint Martins postgraduate breaks the boundaries mixing pop-out colours to popsicle sticks in her daring designs.

Text by Kim Howells

I first met Laura Mackness at her MA exhibition at Central Saint Martins. Her collection immediately stood out with her use of painted paddle pop sticks, bold shapes, unexpected colour palette and simplistic representation of the body. I was immediately drawn to her fun child like designs so I jumped at the chance to shoot her collection and get inside the brain that is Laura Mackness.

Tell me a bit about yourself. Where were you born? What were your influences growing up? While studying?

Laura Mackness: I was born in Leicestershire in the countryside, my Nana has a farm and I spent a lot of time there whilst I was growing up. My cousins had horses as did I and my sister so there was a lot of time spent riding. Quite a wholesome upbringing really, a thousand miles away from the fashion world, I am afraid I have no tales of dressing up in my mum’s extensive wardrobe however I was always very particular about my own, much to my mum’s annoyance!

What sparked your interest in fashion?

Laura Mackness: It was more art and design that I was first interested in, my AS level Textiles nearly put me off fashion for life and it wasn’t until I was studying on my foundation that I first thought about fashion design.

The combination of print and 3D texture creates a fantastic effect that tricks the eye, can you tell me about this technique and how you achieved it?

Laura Mackness: I have always been interested in and inspired by trompe l’oeil and a lot of my research for my MA collection came from surreal images from 70’s editions of ZOOM magazine. The print was quite simply a good way of applying the trompe l’oeil effect, the different textures are achieved by the print being in flock rather that just simply ink, it gave a much denser effect.

The play on the depiction of the body with your use of printed and appliquéd eyes, lashes, hands and feet are interesting, especially with the loose 1980s shapes and big shoulders. What were the references for this collection?

Laura Mackness: I am a bit of a collector, especially when it comes to images and so the collection draws inspiration from many different reference points. The face, eyelashes etc. came from the work of François and Jean Robert, the hands were from some drawings that I found by Saul Steinberg and the shapes were from some of Jean Paul Goude’s work with Grace Jones particularly her 'Slave To The Rhythm' video.
The 1980’s shapes were never really intended to look 1980’s they were very much influenced by the first loose sketches that I did, the proportions and shapes were very awkward and this seemed to really work, as such it meant that the whole process was very much concerned with those first drawings.

Your collection is bold, colourful and tongue in cheek, does this reflect you personally?

Laura Mackness: I hope that it does to some extent, I don’t know about colourful though, I tend to wear quite dark clothes. I always think that it is the more extreme side of me that I show through my work though so maybe.

What other designers do you admire?

Laura Mackness: I have long been a Martin Margiela fan, he was one of the first designers that really sparked my interest in fashion. I also love Yves Saint Laurent when Yves Saint Laurent was at the helm and Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel and of course Moschino when Franco Moschino was there.

Why did you choose to make everything in wool jersey?

Laura Mackness: I love wool jersey anyway but also I wanted a more uniform choice of fabric as there was so much going on in the collection as it was, plus the colour choice is so vast, so I could get the exact colours that I wanted and I also liked the idea of using quite a casual fabric with more couture finishing’s.

What is next for Laura Mackness?
Laura Mackness: I am working on some exciting projects at the moment, whilst also taking on the dreaded job search! I think at the moment it is really important for me and my development to work in the industry. I still feel that I have a lot to learn and am very eager to do so. This is not to say that I won’t come back and do my own thing in the future.

What is your favourite piece in the collection?

Laura Mackness: I think that it has to be the pink circle dress and the triangle hat. I had some great ideas for shoes as well but sadly never had the chance to have them made.

What would you be doing if you did not do fashion?
Laura Mackness: Horse riding maybe if I could, otherwise I really don’t know. I have been lucky enough to have found something that I really love.


Photography Thomas Cooksey
Styling Kim Howells
Makeup Helen Asher using NARS
Model Sofia @ Models 1
Prop Designer Alun Davies

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