Lara Warson is a ducht emerging designer graduated in Fashion Design at de Willem de Kooning academy in Rotterdam.
Her research explores the multiple approaches of a sustainable mindset, from biodegradable textiles to upcycling already existing materials.
The Covid-19 pandemic, in many cases, has certainly pushed us to develop our creative skills and to use materials, objects and fabrics in different ways that before.
In addition, the continual escalation of the climate crisis is pushing a new generation of fashion designers to explore new paths and new ways of conceiving fashion.
Lara Warson is an emerging designer who graduated from the Willem De Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. We had the opportunity, a few months ago, to ask her few questions where we tried to understand what’s behind her creative process and her ways of shaping her vision of fashion and her graduation collection: sculptural dresses feature everyday objects . Fans, fins, watering cans, helmets, etc.
Editor: Can you tell us about your background? How did you get started in fashion? Where did you study?
Lara Warson : As a kid I was never really interested in fashion or clothing in general, Growing up in the countryside of Belgium, I spent a lot of time outside with my older brother and our 2 dogs. But during my teens I slowly got more interested in expressing myself through clothing and alsomaking them myself. So I attended a sewing workshop which eventually sparked the idea of becoming a designer.I changed my course in high school to one that focussed on tailoring and afterwards continued my studies at Amsterdam Fashion Institute in the Netherlands. However the more commercial approach of fashion didn’t work for me. So I took a gap year and researched other academies and their approaches to fashion.
This led me to the Willlem the Kooning academy in Rotterdam, also in the Netherlands. To be sure of my choice this time, I followed an introductory course on Saturdays before starting my study there. During my 4 years at WdKA I’ve explored multiple paths and had the creative freedom to figure out who I was as a designer.
Editor: Do you feel part of a specific generation of designers?
Lara Warson : Graduating in 2020 definitely feels like you’re part of a different generation than the graduates of 2019 and before. I’m curious to see how this will have shaped us over the next few years. However in terms of sustainability, it’s been a hot topic for years now and it’s slowly
being incorporated by most of us recent graduates. It’s been ignored for too long but luckily even consumers are raising questions about the source of materials, ethical work circumstances, fair wage, the speed of the seasons, etc. So I would say this generation of designers is aware of the many flaws of the industry but is also eager to make a change.
Editor: How do expect your fashion vision to evolve?
Lara Warson : My perspective on fashion has changed a lot in the past couple of years. The more I found out about the environmental impact it has, the more I started doubting if I even wanted to contribute to this industry. This led me to exploring the opportunities within sustainable thinking, since I realised it doesn’t need to be a creative restriction for designers. I learned about the multiple approaches this mindset contains, from biodegradable textiles to upcycling already existing materials and extending lifespans.
My aim for the next coming years is to explore these approaches and utilize them to create a bridge between sustainability and sculptural fashion/ wearable art.
Editor:Who and/or what inspires your work?
Lara Warson: I’ve always loved and been inspired by anime series. In my early days, I was fascinated by robots like the ones from Gundam and Medabots. I think this might be where my design aesthetic originates from. So when I’m designing wearability or comfort is never one of
my priorities. I’d rather see the human body as a base I can use to build constructions on. With this I also aspire to convey a symbolic message or value from the wearer to the public.
Editor: What does it mean to be a young woman designer in a historical period like this?
Lara Warson: It’s definitely challenging, considering nobody can predict when the pandemic will end and how the industry afterwards will look like. The-
refore it’s quite difficult to decide right now which is the next best step to take. Yet I believe there’s still a silver lining to all of this. Change is forced upon the fashion system now that we’ve seen how a pandemic like this influences global production and shipping. So besides the environmental impact and ethical production that are issues of the current system, there’s now a new urge for designers and brands to change to a more local system.
Editor: Tell me about your “eco-warrior” collection. How did this idea come about?
Lara Warson: I graduated from my parents’ house in Belgium, where the lockdown restrictions were very strict early 2020. That’s why I started se-
arching for new approaches and I collected objects laying around in my house. By attaching these to a mannequin, silhouettes were created that I couldn’t have drawn by hand that easily.
To get a deeper insight of what I was doing, I based my research on upcycling and how it could be used as a design method to merge sustainable and sculptural fashion. I learned about the symbolic associations that each object contains, depending on societal values, time, culture, etc. This led me to research different types of climate activists. By selecting objects that relate to multiple causes and results of climate change, I formed the base of my eco-warrior collection. Representing activists against air pollution, the rising sea level, melting glaciers, deforestation and a human barricade.
Lara Warson: Since the material plays a big role in all of my projects, I’ve been gathering secondhand and other discarded materials over the past
few months. So I’m looking forward to figuring out how these can be used into new projects. But first I really need to invest in an overlock
machine and a heavy-duty sewing machine to handle these types of materials.