Leanne Callon is something of a visionary. After studying Fashion at Kingston, Callon`s head of course selected her for the prestigious Fashion Matters scholarship placing her well and truly on the map of ones to watch. She sat down with our writer Ellie Noble to talk aesthetics, instincts and inspiration and how she survives on three hours sleep.
Ellie Noble: What inspires you?
Leanne Callon: Well, I never stick to the same thing. I don`t know, I just look for textures and images, I never know what I`m searching for, I just go to the library. I literally sit in each aisle and I pick out books and I look at them, scan them. Because I never know what to search for in the library, I just sit for hours.
EN: So it`s quite instinctual? You just suddenly spot something and run with it?
LC: Yeah, until I find something that I like because I never go with a project [with a strict idea] that this is what I want to do it about as I just feel so restricted and I suck at like, key words to search for. I just don`t get it. It`s kind of hard to find images from words because people look at images in such different ways I guess. I like just sitting in the library!
EN: I love that! I really liked the deconstructed aesthetic of your Informal Arrangements collection, so emblematic of Maison Martin Margiela, Comme des Garcons etc., what is it about that raw, unfinished look which appeals to you?
LC: Um, well I really like process. Because I make my own fabrics, the process is time-consuming and there`s lots of steps to it which I guess makes it a bit more raw.
EN: Talk to my about your Beyond Borders collection. I`m guessing it was inspired by the military…
LC: Yeah so I was at Kingston for my BA and I just really wanted to explore knitwear in that collection. The research was all up in the air, because I didn`t know what to do for ages and was really behind.
EN: I relate to that!
LC: Haha, like I made the textiles but I was like how can I put this [in a collection], because obviously you need the research to pretend you worked for research. So I just used loads of landscape pictures of like green trees and aerial images. And then the masculine stuff just linked it back to the military.
EN: The finished collection looks very well planned and meticulous, I`m sure no-one knows it was a last-minute thing!
LC: Haha, well that`s good!
EN: Just looking back at the title “Beyond Borders”, did you have a political message you were trying to project?
LC: No, again, it`s the same, at the start of the project, I just wrote a list. I kind of work like that, I wrote a list of loads of key words that I like and then we had to write a project proposal towards the end to do with our dissertation so we had to have a title so I just looked back through my list of words. I`m glad I come across more organised than I am!
EN: You really do! So something that struck me about your work, is that it`s quite genderless and unisex. Is that a conscious design decision or do you just naturally gravitate towards this kind of look?
LC: Um, I don`t think I`m very feminine but I guess it isn`t really conscious. I`m not very good at pattern-cutting, well I`m OK, I think I`m better than I think I am, but if I design in a really complicated way I get to the pattern cutting stage and I`m like crap, how do I make this?! Also because I knit a lot of my stuff, knit patterns have to be more square and there`s a lot more problems if you make them more shaped.
EN: I know you were awarded the Fashion Matters scholarship, congratulations. Does that come with a pressure? Do you find yourself designing to appeal to the people who`ve given you that scholarship, do you feel a pressure to please them specifically?
LC: It`s not really linked I guess. I haven`t heard from them, I don`t know, I guess they kind of keep up with what we`re doing, it`s just the LCF`s [London College of Fashion] Instagram stuff they`re looking at but no not really. I wasn`t planning on doing an MA or anything but they gave it to me and I was like oh somebody wants me to do some more work, somebody thinks I can do well so maybe I`ll try!
EN: Finally, do you have any advice for fellow budding fashion designers who want to get to where you are now, on an upward trajectory to fashion success?
LC: I think just don`t hold back, you have to be prepared to put everything that you can do into the project. It`s like with this last project, for three weeks I slept for like three hours a night.
LC: I fell asleep for like four days at home! You just have to be prepared to try your very hardest so it pays off I guess.
EN: Finally, if you could describe the Leanne Callon customer, what are they like? Do you have a kind of character you envision when designing?
LC: I never think of it being sold, you just don`t imagine people actually wearing it. And I don`t really picture somebody wearing it either, like when I draw, I don`t draw the faces, like I can draw clothes and the body, but faces and hair… that`s why my stuff is more masculine because I scribble out the faces. It would just take me too long to try and draw it!
EN: On that note, thank you very much!
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