“I like to make statement pieces” claims Ella Douglas. The young designer is currently enrolled in the BA Fashion Design and Marketing at Central Saint Martins in London and is approaching fashion design through a hyper-conscious and hybrid approach. For Ella, every project starts with obsession and deep research on topics that fascinate her. Her designs are the results of a vivid desire to create something unusual, something able to generate strong reactions, whenever they are positive or negative.  She wants “to create sculptural showpieces that shock my audience.” by occupying the space through the volume of her pieces.
Beyond the act of creating designs, Ella Douglas is blending her fashion practice with art. She considers fashion as being an art form and “it is essential to look for inspiration across pathways”, she explains. In that spirit, she is exploring performance art as she believes it to be truly freeing and good for the mind. Each project is a part of her, they are glimpses of her emotions and the love she feels towards fashion.

Recently she was part of London Fashion Week with Fashion Scout Digital. Ella feels very excited by the future of digital experiences and what they can offer. She is  aware of the need to adapt her designs while creating virtual stories. Nevertheless, she thinks it is still important to not forget the origins of designs. “I hope we do not stray too much from historical and classical techniques'' continues the young designer.  She adds, “that being said, as designers we have to learn how to deconstruct old practices and re-form them for the future.”
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Could you first introduce yourself for our readers?
Hi my name is Ella Douglas, I am 21 and a designer currently living in London.
You are currently enrolled in the BA Fashion Design and Marketing course at the Central Saint Martins. Could you drive us through your practice and vision of fashion design, overall?
I like to make statement pieces; featuring a lot of design embellishment and detailing. I believe detailing is an important design process for my brand as this is how I narrate my concept. Furthermore my design process always derives from instinct. I believe first impressions are key to a successful project therefore I like to always refer back to my initial thoughts and design ideas.
How would you describe your experience as a student there?
Studying at Central Saint Martins is so inspiring; the different aesthetics of every student hugely inspires me. Furthermore, I think CSM is a great place for people to watch! I believe you can find inspiration from literally the person in front of you in the coffee line.
On your portfolio, we can see that you work on a lot of projects. From Childhood Idealisation to more recent work such as the Apron Project, where you explore different shapes, colours and materials. How do you start every project? What is your creative process like?
Every project starts off with a lot of heavy research usually looking into historical references and merging these ideas with my current obsessions. I am quite an obsessive person. I find anything: a painting, book or colour and decide to focus my whole attention on this one item. This quickly turns into a fun obsession which I love and revolve my project around it. I feel so energetic at the start of a project.
In my studio I have a wall of all my photoshoots to reflect and remind myself of what I have made. Subconsciously I choose the colour scheme for the project very early on. I look at the wall of photos and see what colours are missing and base my project colour scheme on this.
Each of your collections are quite unique, nevertheless volume is a recurring feature in your designs. Why is the act of occupying the space with clothes important to you?
I am inspired by the unusual. I want to create sculptural showpieces that shock my audience. I believe the size of a garment instantly creates a reaction with the audience whether that be positive or negative, they are feeling an emotion or response towards my creations. I believe emotion is something that connects us all, therefore I hope for my garments to reach and resonate with all audiences.
Juxtaposed to design, you also explore performance art with projects such as Lives Cut Short or 14 minutes 55 seconds of Curiosity. Could you explain the role of these performances in your practice overall?
I haven’t explored performance art in a while which is a shame. I miss it! I believe it is freeing and good for our minds! However, I like to view every photo shoot I direct or take part in as a performance piece. The shots develop into a static image that encapsulates the whole design process and performance outcome. Fashion is an art form so It is essential to look for inspiration across pathways. In the future I would love to incorporate performance art with a traditional fashion show to blend the pre-existing ideas of fashion promotion.
In February 2022, you were part of the London Fashion Week with Fashion Scout Digital. You showcased a variety of previous collections that you qualified as featuring intense detailing and heavy garments. You added that you like putting a part of yourself in every project. Could you go deeper on that statement?
I find it difficult when I am asked how I represent myself within my designs. I like to add hints of my personality into my clothes through experiments with textiles and shapes. The mood I feel throughout the project is reflected in the textile sample I choose to cover my design in, whether that be intense beading or wistful long draping. Therefore each project contains glimpses of my emotions whilst the large sculptures I create reflect my energetic outlook and intensity of love I feel towards fashion.
Your designs are playing with the boundary between Art and Fashion. How do the both disciplines coexist in your practice of fashion design? And how it expresses visually?
Fashion isn’t just static clothing. I aim to blend the lines between art and fashion. How we choose to dress is an artistic expression of our identity. Therefore I believe it’s necessary to design garments as art forms. Furthermore I believe FDM at Central Saint Martins is the perfect course to explore the multidisciplinary attributes of fashion.
Social commentary is often part of your projects. According to you, is the role of a designer to raise awareness on social, political or cultural issues?
I think a designer should always be conscious of what’s going on in the world outside of fashion. I know as a student I find myself so absorbed in the fashion industry that it is useful to sometimes take a step outside and make myself aware of everything that is happening.
How I choose to present my work is a reflection of me, therefore I always stay true to myself. My work communicates who I am; a queer 21 year old living in London expressing myself through fashion.
Your approach truly embraces digital experiences. What is your relationship with the digital world? Do you feel it is crucial in today’s context to include virtual experiences in your fashion practice?
I think current fashion students are in limbo with our relationship with the digital world. We want to embrace the future of fashion however we are still in the process of learning how to virtually present our design ideas.
Personally I am incredibly excited about the future of digital experiences. I find the possibility of adapting my design process to embrace new digital design methods very exciting. For example, I may adapt the design of a garment by making it a bit bigger around the hips as I know a disproportionate image of the body will create a better visual reaction digitally. I think as fashion students we have to adapt to the digital fashion industry whilst staying true to our design ethos.
Fashion has experienced a lot of transformations these past few years. From cultural changes to technological innovations, shifts are coming from multiple horizons. What are your hopes and desires for the future of the fashion industry?
I believe we are living in such an incredible time for the fashion industry; however I hope we do not stray too much from historical and classical techniques. Technology is great yet we must not forget the origins of design. That being said, as designers we have to learn how to deconstruct old practices and reform them for the future. We have to plan and adapt our ways of working for a completely new industry. It is so exciting to study fashion in a time of technological change.
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