Google+ WHAT'S ALEXANDRA WARING?: Katie Davidson of KMDdesigns

Katie Davidson of KMDdesigns

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

As I missed out on GFW this year, I was desperate to stay on track with the upcoming fashion talent. Luckily,  I was blessed when I contacted Katie Davidson of Liverpool John Moores University about her Scottish- inspired collection, Sapienter si Sincere, as she agreed to have an interview with me about her work. I love getting to know these designers; their stories and what got them to where they are today. In a nutshell, it's a load of hard work, and Katie is no exception. Having just received a first for her work, she is in the process of launching her company KMDdesigns which holds great promise for the future. 
Check out her video first (what a FAB backing track??) and then read her interview including her inspiration, motivation and innovation!
First and foremost- congratulations on receiving a first from Liverpool John Moores! You must be ecstatic! What made you choose LJMU for your degree and do you think it's been the best place for the job?!
Thank you! I am very happy, and can't wait for Graduation next month (July). I was fairly local to Liverpool as it was (I come from St Helens - a town slap bang in the middle of Liverpool and Manchester). I knew I wanted to stay in the NorthWest of England, and after visiting and interviewing at a few universities, LJMU was the one for me.

What made you want to study fashion at university? If you couldn't have studied it directly, then what would you have done instead?
I know this sounds cliche, but I've always wanted to study fashion, even before I knew it. I used to hand make clothes for my Barbie's as a child, and once my mum taught me how to use a sewing machine when I was around 10, I was off! I spent most of my high school days in the textiles room, pestering whichever teacher was in there about how to read patterns and make my own. I went on to Winstanley College to study my A Levels, and whilst there was no direct Fashion course, I studied Art and Design in two disciplines - 3D design and Textile Design, alongside Spanish and Music. I spent an extra year there, studying Art Foundation before going on to LJMU, and owe a lot of my personal approach to my work to the methods I learned whilst studying Art there.
If I couldn't have studied fashion, then I'd be doing something similar; probably Art/Design-related. I think I would have liked to have studied Architecture or Interior Design, but I like to think that it would have come back round to Fashion in the end.

Who do you design clothes for? And who would you love to see wearing your collections?
Since KMDdesigns became an entity (probably whilst I was at college, as an outlet for creating fashion whilst studying art) - I have always designed and manufactured clothing for anyone who would like to order from me. Up until recently, my label operated solely as a bespoke company - creating things for customers who asked for them, rather than collection-based design. As the company launches officially, and expands over the next few years, I fully intend to keep this side of the label active - it is, after all, what got me to where I am now. I am a strong believer in diversity in fashion, and if someone likes my work enough to want to order from me, then that is a massive compliment.
Ultimately, my brand will become something of a hybrid between bespoke and ready-to-wear. I'd love to see a wide variety of people wearing my collections - I try to design for all women. Having said that, the egotistical me would still love to dress red carpet and galas - what designer doesn't want to hear an A-list celeb answering the eternal question, "Who are you wearing?" with their name? [laughs]

Your most recent collection was a revelation at graduate fashion week. What was the inspiration behind the Scottish theme- are you Scottish yourself?
[laughs] I'm not, actually, although the collection is based upon my paternal ancestry, and up until relatively recently, my branch of Davidson's were very much a Scottish family, hence the tartan (which is Ancient Davidson).
As my initial research into the Davidson's began to unfold, I found old letters and newspaper clippings about my ancestors, and even more strangely, I started to find characteristic similarities between myself and members of my family who had been dead and buried decades before I was born. Each of the outfits in the collection represent one family member, with the first being my Great Great Great Grandfather, and the last, myself. The collection is all about how genetic traits are passed on and discovering how much of ourselves came from our DNA.

Desert Storm , Photographer: Jose Cardoso, Assistant: Adam Johns, MUA/Hair: Kelly Ager, Model: Rachael Carmichael

What kind of input do you have in the show itself? Do you get to decide on music, layout, set up etc?
We had an absolutely fantastic team of people involved in the shows (both the full graduate show at LJMU and the show at Graduate Fashion Week). Most of the decisions were made by this team on behalf of the students, with input from us where possible. I think special mention at this point needs to go to the backstage team who brought it all together, including our tutor, Carol Ryder, (who we nearly killed off with stress) Ellie Gregory (one of the Fashion Communication students, who had the unenviable task of keeping the running orders and models in place) and Stuart Borthwick (the Popular Music Studies tutor who sorted all the music out for individual students based on their collections and suggestions). As for myself, I was quite happy to give input, but spent most of the time watching and learning - next time it will be me behind the scenes pulling my hair out!

What does the future hold for KMDdesigns? Will you continue with womens wear?
Yes. I'd like to expand the range quite a lot further in terms of daywear, evening/occasion wear, resort etc., and also into accessories. Having said that, I do take bespoke orders for men's- and children's-wear and would eventually like to produce ranges under these titles too. I'm dreaming big! [laughs]

Which fashion designer would you liken to your own approach to fashion? And which designers do you take inspiration from?
I always get annoyed when someone answers this question with something totally predictable like 'Christian Dior' or 'Vivienne Westwood', but genuinely, these designers are classed as the greats for a reason, and, although it is a cliche, I do love Alexander McQueen. Say what you want, but that man was a genius.
Personally I don't have a favourite designer, and I love to find new designers with every research trip I go on. Currently I am loving Iris van Herpen, Gareth Pugh, and Viktor and Rolf (my all-time favourite team). 
For this project in particular, I took a lot of inspiration from designer David Longshaw. A guest lecturer at LJMU, he has been invaluable in his advice, and as a small business owner himself, has been a lot of help to me as a start-up. Working with a concept-driven collection is not new to me, but through exploring 'characters' (or members of my family), I have developed a new layer to my work, not dissimilar to the way in which Longshaw creates his own memorable characters for each of his collections.

Sapienter si Sincere, Photographer: Mark Cavendish, MUA/Hair: Angela Davidson, Model: Amy Davidson

What would your advice be to an aspiring fashion designer just starting out?
DON'T DO IT!! [laughs]. Seriously though, if it's what you want to do then that's amazing. It's a wonderful thing to be a part of, but do be aware - there is a very literal sense of blood, sweat and tears in fashion design! In my experience, you can get fed up, annoyed, upset and all other manner of negative feelings at/about your work, but there is nothing better than seeing someone wearing your designs and grinning ear to ear because you've been able to give them exactly what they wanted. It's a labour of love, and it's worth every minute to see the finished thing - just keep going.

Keep up to date with Katie and KMDdesigns on Facebook and Twitter.
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