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October 21, 2017
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The line-up for Katie Jones' Masters degree presentation. Image courtesy of Katie Jones.
Katie Jones Brighton Fashion Week
In her studio.
Image courtesy of Katie Jones.

Despite having only just graduated from the prestigious Central Saint Martins, Katie Jones has already cut her design teeth with the likes of Mark Fast, Diane von Furstenburg and John Galliano. 

Her bold creations are intricately and painstakingly knitted and crocheted by hand - a talent passed down through her family. Inspired by traditional craftsmanship and the bright colours of Salvation Mountain in Slab City, her pieces border somewhere between costume and tribal wear, wrapping models in lengths of knitted scarves and crocheted full skirts that burst with patches of neon. 

Jones will be debuting her first collection since graduation at Brighton Fashion Week next week. Keep an eye out for her presentation as the (neon) bright new designer is quickly becoming one to watch for 2013. Katie Aske talks to Jones about what inspires her, and what we can expect.

Katie Aske: So, first thing's first, who taught you how to knit? Was this a big influence in your choice to pursue a fashion degree?

Katie Jones: You might say it's in the blood. I was taught as a kid by my Gran to knit, my Nana taught me to crochet and my Great Auntie taught me to sew. I carried on sewing but I put my needles down for a few years; my Mum rehashed my love for it when I was 16 and I haven't stopped ever since.

I think sometimes people think fashion is so vacuous, but I love that different cultures [are able to] create characters or express [themselves] through dress - [it's] a fundamental instinct.

KA: Have you always wanted to follow a career in fashion?

KJ: I wasn't one of these girls that dreamed of designing from the age of 10 - I loved making and customising my clothes, but that was about it. I didn't get really into fashion until I was 17, then I decided I wanted to knit and that was that - everything steam-rolled from there. Then luck and hard graft helped me get to where I am today and I'm very thankful to all the people that helped along the way!

KA: You've only recently graduated with a Master's in Fashion from Central Saint Martins. How are you dealing with all of this attention?

KJ: I went from finishing my MA collection, to one week of rest, to being asked to make a collection for Brighton Fashion Week - so became hauled up in my studio again. I like to be busy so that was great, and there were some mini projects in my MA I did that I wanted to resolve so it was a great opportunity for me to take up. I'm really enjoying creating this new collection on my own; it's a very different work environment and hopefully people will enjoy it.

KA: Who or what has inspired your past and current collections?

KJ: Different cultures, their landscapes, architecture, traditional dress, art and crafts... I love some regions' boldness of colour and pattern; [that's] what I'm mainly drawn to - the technical ability that's shown in traditional costume really amazes me!

I think sometimes people think fashion is so vacuous, but I love that different cultures [are able to] create characters or express [themselves] through dress - [it's] a fundamental instinct. However, with all this exotic influence I always like to infuse my design with traditional techniques from a bit closer to home. Art is [also] important for inspiration I find; I love [English artist] Grayson Perry! His wit and cultural references teamed with real craftsmanship blow me away every time!

Katie Jones Brighton Fashion Week
From Katie's BA degree presentation.
Photograph courtesy of Katie Jones.

KA: How long does a collection take to create? Does anyone help you to knit?

KJ: I have to hand crochet everything in this collection and my mum is the best assistant I could ask for. The process is very labour intensive, but it's a labour of love. Each look is averaging out to about a week's work so it's pretty intense, but at least with crochet you can have the radio blasting or a naff romcom on in the background - it's a stressful but laid-back working environment.

KA: Your blog talks about your work with some key designers in the fashion industry - can you tell us a little more about that?

KJ: I previously worked at John Galliano, Diane Von Furstenberg, Mark Fast and Romance was Born. I've worked on and off at Mark Fast since 2008 [and it's] been amazing - he's a very talented and inspiring guy! My highlight was working with him to produce the crochet pieces for the S/S 2012 collection the summer before I started my MA. I got to work with the other designers during my BA; I completed a placement year where I underwent work experience in Paris, New York and Sydney. This opportunity helped me grow immeasurably as a person and artist. The opportunity to travel has helped the progression of my personal work and let me meet some amazing and talented people!

KA: You will be presenting your new collection at Brighton Fashion Week next week; is there anything you can tell us about it? Are you excited?

My current collection tells the story of a group of nomads who want to avoid the modern world, leave the cities for the desert and create a new tribe.

KJ: I'm so excited, if not a little nervous about getting it all done in time! My upcoming collection tells the story of a group of nomads who want to avoid the modern world, leave the cities for the desert and create a new tribe. [The collection is] influenced by the outsider art of Salvation Mountain in Slab City (Niland, California), [the] traditional crochet costumes documented in Phyllis Galembo's: Maske, and the modern tribes of Tanna.

The collection depicts the tribe in 10 obsessively crafted, graphic and colourful crochet looks, taking a fresh look at a traditional craft and modern tribal dress. The colour-palette is a reflection of Salvation Mountain, as if the creation has grown out of the hillside art itself.

KA: Where do you see yourself heading in the future? Is there anything you've got planned?

KJ: Who knows what the future brings, you will have to ask Mystic Meg! I'm really looking forward to the show and people's reaction to the new work. I'll see where that takes me...


Katie Jones will be showing her collection at The Zeitgeist Show on Thursday June 13th, at Brighton Fashion Week.

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