Style star Asma claims Young Fashion Designer UK prize

Graphics & Textiles Technology

Winner of the Young Fashion Designer UK 2020, South Region, 11-14 Category, Year 9's Asma Bint Umair talks us through her award-winning designs ... from inspiration to creation. 

‘Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening’. – Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel.

The Young Fashion Designer UK Competition provides a unique opportunity to explore the history of fashion and famous designers who have influenced the designs of today’s fashion world. To me, entering this competition was a bright opportunity with an inviting and colourful process; I am amazed that it turned out to be rewarding too! The journey of creating from scratch with only inspiration as a guide, resulting in a specialised final product, is a satisfyingly pleasant process that also provides valuable experience.

Both Year 9 Textiles classes entered the competition. The theme was ‘Decade of Design’. The goal; to choose a decade of fashion, along with a corresponding designer and create mood boards, research, and finally create a finished ‘Capsule Collection’ taking inspiration from the research completed. 

My chosen decade was the 1920s, widely known as ‘The Roaring Twenties’. I was captivated by the dramatic change from past fashion and intrigued with how it had changed so much in so little time. Within these years women’s fashion had progressed from corsets and ankle length skirts to more free and comfortable attire, with a baggy silhouette and rising skirt hemlines. A large portion of this change was governed by the famous French designer Gabrielle Chanel, nicknamed ‘Coco’ from her life before a fashion as a performing artist. She would go on to become a prodigy in fashion and many of today’s popular clothing designs were created by her. In addition, if it were not for Coco Chanel, women’s fashion may still be restricted to this day! Her iconic designs include the little black dress (or LBD), the striped Brent top, and the famous Chanel suit, all of which are common editions in every classy woman’s wardrobe.

At the beginning of the process as with any other project, I felt that my knowledge was insufficient so I completed a large amount of research and discovered many amazing things about this decade and designer. For example, did you know that it was only in the 1920s that women began to wear trousers for the first time? This was a revolutionary fashion movement, especially right before the war began a decade later. It meant that women could work and participate in the war effort while wearing unrestrictive clothing. Times were changing and the fashion progressed greatly.

Although there were many other designers who influenced this era, Coco Chanel was the most fascinating. Her methods included using her own character and lifestyle within her work. For example, her iconic ‘little black dress’ that is still popular in today’s culture, was created as a reminiscent statement to the black uniform of the nuns at the orphanage where she spent her difficult childhood. Her personal opinion of fashion and life was generally evident in her designs. Her lifestyle was stylish and she was known for giving advice that is still largely relevant even now, such as ‘a girl should be two things: classy and fabulous’ and ‘in order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different’- true words to live by. The point I admired most was that she put the needs of women first, while maintaining an aesthetic quality. This is mainly what I attempted to recreate in my collection: the modesty, functionality and aesthetic qualities, while maintaining a certain personality that made Chanel so iconic.

I believe that in order to progress we must first reflect on the past, which is why this project was so fun and successful for me. I learned about the past and allowed myself to take the positive points and incorporate them into today’s world. Attempting to think in the determined mindset of inspiring people like Chanel, who have changed the world with their legacy - something we all wish to achieve. This can be done, and does not apply only to Textiles, in anything, anyone has the power to create, and this is the greatest feat of all so we must proclaim our ideas to the world. 

As Coco Chanel once said: ‘The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.’ 

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