Bringing a refreshing touch to garments and textures, Colleen Leitch is the new and upcoming fashion designer to look out for. Her final graduate collection won her the honorary title of Fashion Graduate of the Year 2014 by the Scottish Fashion Awards. Hailing from the Edinburgh College of Art, Colleen’s textiles blend modernity and femininity creating dark saturated silhouettes with minimal cuts, which are embroidered with countless amounts of sequins. We had a chat with her and took a glimpse into her world.
I just recently moved down to London. I grew an interest in fashion from a very small age. My cousin and I had a fascination for clothes and magazines and began our own label at the age of ten and eleven! The label didn’t last long but it was very natural for me to go into fashion. All I was ever good at school was art, so I could never imagine myself doing anything else.
It was great; I really enjoyed my four years there. I felt I grew as a designer and a person. At ECA you are given great opportunities with designer brands.
Yes and no. I have always had an appreciation for menswear and the clothes that I wear myself have always been quite androgynous. I think that for my final collection, my past menswear exploration did filter through but it was never a conscious thing, it happened quite naturally.
Because of the materials that I had created, I was quite limited by what I could do with them. The rubber material was very thick and I had to treat it and finish it like you would do with leather, so when it came to the cut and silhouette of the garments I could not be too experimental, I had to keep the cut quite minimal. Throughout the process of making the collection I gathered a large number of different references, from creating shapes and silhouettes of shadows I had made with a projector and model, to the minimalism in the 90s.
I have a great interest in textiles and I love to manipulate and change materials. For my graduate collection I wanted to use and develop fabric out of unconventional materials for garment making. The main material that I took on to develop was a grip surface mat. I experimented with different ways of bonding the material to the fabric in order to create a leather-like surface and then experimented with bonding the sequins on top to reflect the light. My goal with the materials I picked was to create a literal connection between my personal photography (where I capture images of natural light) and my textiles.
For my graduate collection I looked at Bottega Veneta and their experimentation with textiles and how they are able to create this balance between femininity and modernity.
Any woman who wants their clothes to create an escape from normality. A woman with an effortless style, someone powerful and bold but still sensitive.
I just began my MA in Womenswear at the Royal College of Art. It’s a two-year course, so this first year I have been doing a lot of experimentation in areas that I never tried before. It’s been a great experience so far, so watch this space!
It will always be the dream to have my own label but I feel that, for now, I still have a lot to learn and I would like to go out into the industry and work for other brands. But yes, hopefully it will be achieved someday!