Camille Hardwick up close [photo by Ezzidin Alwan, provided by Camille Hardwick]
The United Kingdom credits the craft of fashion with an army of accomplished alumni. From Alexander McQueen to Zac Posen and many more in between, the British art school scene is the birthplace for designers who clothe the fashionably elite. Among this year's graduates, Camille Hardwick attracts attention by pairing color and transparency in knitwear. After presenting at Graduate Fashion Week, Hardwick is chosen to show at the Best of Graduate Fashion Week Awards Show 2014. One of 3 winners in Urban Outfitter's 2014 ARTS THREAD X UO "Make It" design competition, I become acquainted with Hardwick after picking up the limited-run dress produced from her concept. Most recently, Hardwick is a UKHKA 2014 finalist and will be exhibited at Alexandra Palace and Harrogate. Her 2014 collection is currently exhibited in the "visionary" section at the Fashion and Textiles Museum's Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood exhibit. Keep reading for my Q&A with the designer...
Sketches of Camille Hardwick's Spring/Summer 2015 Collection
Each designer has his/her unique reasons for stepping into the fashion industry. What propelled you into fashion? Who are you designing for? Paint me a picture of your namesake woman--what is she wearing and where is she going? What are you communicating through your designs?
I have always had a passion to create. I didn't expect to go down the fashion route at first, but I was always attracted to color, texture and form. All the elements and processes that form clothing design drew me to take the fashion route. From researching, sketching out first ideas, sampling and sourcing to toiling, construction, realisation and audience reactions, each and every step is challenging and most enjoyable.
I design for a woman who appreciates vivid color, intricate detail, unique knitwear and print, and would buy the clothes for a special occasion.
Camille Hardwick SS 2015/Graduate Fashion Week 2014 [photos by Simon Armstrong, provided by Camille Hardwick]
Experimentation has the potential to end up unexpectedlywell or surprisingly poorly! If granted the opportunity to create a collection from any material (wood, gold, grass, etc.) beyond your usual medium, what would you use and what would you make? What has been the toughest design project you've completed to date?
I am completely obsessed with opaque and transparent colourful surfaces. I would probably make a whole collection from glass or acrylic.
I once knitted meters of fabric in wire and invisible monofilament thread on an industrial knitting machine for my SS15 Collection… Yes, I know, I’m crazy. I was really pushing my luck. One needle out and the whole piece would go laddering down in seconds. It required a lot of patience, when I didn’t have any. One thing I learnt through my debut collection is, you know when it’s a knitting day or not.
2015 Collection sketches by Camille Hardwick--Concept to cutting room floor
Your inaugural collection includes bold colours and transparency. Will this continue in future collections? What is your signature? Do you favour a specific colour palette?
Yes--Of Course! I work predominantly with hot, vibrant colours, challenging the perception of layering of fabric that create illusionary knits. I work really close to my concept. My aim is to design futuristic and contemporary knitwear, which doesn’t actually seem knitted. I often do this by using my own pattern blocks and purposely forgetting the rules knitwear. They’re not typical of knitted garment, using different scales, proportion and finishes; create unexpected twists, movement and peculiar silhouettes. Using different breadth of gauges for the garments creates really tactile and playful textured surfaces.
It is typical of me to combine unusualand juxtaposing fibres together with a fresh ‘by the pool’ feel. My work was a very architectural and geometric element. Gridded surfaces and the contrast between sheer, opaque and hot colours are its predominant features.
Transparency in knitwear! [photo by Simon Armstrong, provided by Camille Hardwick]
Imagine you're tasked with creating a wedding dress. What would it look like?
Funnily enough, before I even knew I wanted to pursue fashion knitwear, I originally wanted to design bridal couture. I interned for Max Chaoul Couture Paris when I was 17. There, they made incredible bespoke wedding dresses-- but it was all a bit too white and flowery for me.
It would have to be floor length 20's style dress and made from white lace and embellished in pearls and crystals
B&W (British & Wool) project for /Topshop
Technology is a key element both in fashion and business today. Do you intend on incorporating technology into your brand strategy (i.e. social media, wearable technology, manufacturing process, etc.)?
I chose to do knitwear because it not only encourages me to be creative and innovative, but it also gives me a good level of technical skill. Having creative ability developed with my awareness of the technology needed to translate me ideas into reality.
Camille Hardwick "self portrait" [selfie by Camille Hardwick]
Tell us about your tastes--what is your favorite food(s)? What's the strangest food you've tried? What made it so strange?
I love Thai Food and French food. I could probably live off baguette, smelly cheese and salad. I'm going to sound so boring--I'm not that experimental. Bacon pancakes! Why? Well, it's bacon mixed with pancakes. Isn't that just revolting?
Best of Graduate Fashion Week 2014 [photo by Simon Armstrong, provided by Camille Hardwick]
Anything else that you want to offer up about yourself…
I am a womenswear knitwear designer, specialising in womenswear knitwear. I graduated from Kingston University with a first class degree in a BA Fashion. I did my art foundation in Manchester Metropolitan University.
My mother is French and my father is British--I am bilingual. I was born in a little village called Hathersage in the Peak District.
Award-winning Camille Hardwick original design for Arts Thread X Urban Outfitters