We were lucky to get the chance to talk to Emma Box, an up and coming designer who is already dressing the stars.
Rachel Stevens wearing one of Emma's creations
Firstly Emma, tell us about the recent show, in which you showcased your collection? I showed my collection at UCA Rochester's internal show along with all the 3rd year collections. The purpose of the show was to select the students who would represent the university at River Islands Graduate Fashion Week. The judges included designers Bora Aksu and Emilio de la Morena it was a great honor to show in front of them as they are such well known and respected designers in the industry. The judges kept scores for each collection and the top 18 designers went through!
Were you nervous before the show?
YES!! Wow I was so nervous. We weren't allowed to go backstage and dress our models so it was all completely out of our hands. When you have worked so hard and care about something so much you only want it to go right. Being such a perfectionist didn't help either! Not only that but there is a huge amount of pressure on us, what with selection for graduate fashion week taking place and all of your friends and family being there to see your work. You can only hope that they like it and it lives up to their expectations!
Has the show led to any opportunities for you?
Well the main opportunity that it has led to is Graduate Fashion Week. I was selected to go through which was amazing. I remember going each year when I studied Fashion at college and I loved it so much, so I set that as my main goal and I worked hard to achieve it. Getting through was quite over whelming. There are over 60 of us in my year and only 18 places. I'm very lucky and grateful to have been given this opportunity. There were a lot of disappointed people, but you learn that that is how the industry is - it is very competitive.
Tell us about your latest collection and what inspired it?
My latest collection has been an wonderful experience...but stressful! However, I have loved it, as it's definitely the most satisfying and rewarding thing that I have done. I was actually inspired by an artist called Tillman Kaiser. I came across his work after he did an exhibition at the Wilkinson gallery, 'Hallucination Engine'. I just loved his work and felt it was so relevant for the times. I could relate to it completely, style wise and emotionally.
Where else do you draw inspiration from for your collections?
Everything really, music, art, culture. It is what's going on around you, and things that you wouldn't even think of, that influence your work subconsciously. It is important to stay on trend but move it that little bit forward so you have something different that still remains commercial and sellable.
Can you give us an idea of your fashion background?
Art and design has always been my main focus. I could work forever on something knowing that the result I would get at the end of it, would be worth it. I studied fashion and clothing design at national diploma level and left with a triple grade distinction. With that completed, I did some work experience at a company in India for a month, which gave me the confidence to go ahead and take it to degree level. I moved to Rochester away from my little village in Leicestershire and being close to london allowed me to do more work experience. During my first week I worked at London Fashion Week which was a whole new world and completely different to what I was ever used to...I LOVED it. I have worked at every fashion week since dressing for shows including, Jean-Pierre Braganza and Ziad Ghanem. I have assisted on various shoots for PUMA, Diesel and the singer, Little Boots. I interned at Tatty Devine as I have an interest in accessories too and for the past 18 months I have assisted Emma Bell who has become my main mentor!
Are you working on anything at the moment?
At the moment I'm working on the collection still, doing shoots and portfolio work towards my degree, but I am taking part in an exhibition curated by designer Emma Bell in Vienna in June! The exhibition also includes work from Charlie Le Mindu, Louise Gray, Scott Ramsay Kyle and Nicholas Kirkwood (showcasing work by British designers). This is a very exciting event to be a part of, especially being a new graduate designer. I will be placed in the new designer showcase section and get to fly over two days after my show at graduate fashion week. So very exciting times ahead, which I'm very grateful for.
Have your designs been worn by any celebrities?
I literally just found out today that my outfit was featured in the Mirror on Sundays Style magazine, and worn by Rachel Stevens (see picture above). I never would have known if an old friend hadn't left me a message on my Facebook wall to say she thinks she saw my stuff in a magazine. Quick google and it all came up! That definitely brought a smile to my face, in fact I'm not sure who was more excited...me or my Dad!
What is your interpretation of style?
I think true style is when someone can express themselves through their clothing and dressing to suit their personality, shape and lifestyle while remaining individual and comfortable. Comfort is key. If you don't feel good in what you are wearing, then you are not going to look good.
Do you think it is easier or harder for new designers to break into the industry?
I think now there are so many organisations and charities put into place to help new, young designers. The British Fashion Council has a lot to offer, what with Graduate Fashion Week of course, New Gen, Elle Talent Launch Pad and Fashion Forward, to name a few. There are many opportunities to apply for. The internet now is also a great platform to use for networking and promoting yourself. However in terms of income I think its very difficult to have a successful business with good profit and sales. It is important to have a good balance between creativity and commerce to sell, but to gain press exposure usually requires something quite extreme to get the attention. However, if it is not wearable, then it is not going to sell. So it's a case of finding the right balance, making clothes that people are going to want to buy but without compromising your creativity and expression as a designer.
Do you have any tips for others trying to get into the fashion industry?
It takes hard work and total dedication and in such a competitive industry, you have to be the best you can be. There is always room for improvement so how much work you put into it will determine how much you get back out of it. Do as much work experience as you can, and be positive and enthusiastic. You may not always enjoy the jobs you are given but once you prove yourself it will pay off and other doors will open. There is always more to learn so never think you know it all. Keep at it and don't be disheartened if you don't achieve the praise you wanted...just push it further untill you do!