“I was the only kid in our rural farming community to have a toy ironing board, which my parents point out regularly was a clear indicator. I chose fashion design because it blends form and function. What drew me to the University of Brighton was seeing the fashion graduates who were creating work that was beautifully made and had a strong identity.”
Hi Donald – please tell us a bit about your work and your influences
“‘Towards the sinking sun’, is the title of my graduate collection, it is a reflection on farms in Zimbabwe, Australia and Scotland, all of which have influenced me. I was born in Zimbabwe and grew up on a tobacco farm watching the fashion channel with my nanny Winnie. This instigated a love for design.
“I reflect on Zimbabwe through the lens of Jackie Nickerson’s photographs. In her photo series, ‘Farm’, Nickerson explores the ideas of working clothes and how the Zimbabwean models ideas differed from her own. She captivates incongruity between subject and setting, creating a mindful consideration between pride and the way in which the women and men are dressed. This has driven my approach to the design for this collection.
“My family moved to Western Australia during the land reforms in Zimbabwe of the early 2000s. This is where I spent the rest of my childhood. I saw the agricultural landscape in Australia as barren and hostile. This is embodied by the Driza-bone riding jacket. This landscape is unforgiving, but also provides comfort with underrepresented softness and serenity. Using the Driza-Bone riding jacket as a source garment, I drape with the storm cape in different scales in a variety of materials to explore graphic silhouettes and cascading shapes.
“In every spare moment I try to reflect on my life in the Scottish Borders where I supported my cousin on her sheep farm. In the fields and around the farm I catch glimpses of these slick, highly reflective stainless steel cable ties. They are incongruous with the landscape. Tools on the farm are agricultural artefacts, they become ornamental sequins in a functional space.”
How have you found your course and time at Brighton?
“The degree has been hard work, made even more challenging by the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, but my overall experience at the university has been illuminating and rewarding. For me, the technicians and tutors, have made the degree invaluable!
“The course has been a rigorous introduction into the design, manufacture, presentation, business, and academia around the fashion industry. What I look back on fondly was the additional opportunities presented throughout to collaborate with fellow students and external professionals. One example was getting to design a gown for the Chelsea Flower Show in 2018 which we made entirely from found plastic. Organising our fashion showcase event in our second year was another chance to engage the whole university community. We wanted to involve other disciplines to make the event engaging and dynamic which lead to collaborating with fine art, fashion history, film, photography, and graphic design students alongside a professional set designer. The event was attended by over 300 people.”
How did you choose your course – why did you choose to study Fashion Design?
“I was the only kid in our rural farming community to have a toy ironing board, which my parents point out regularly was a clear indicator. I chose fashion design as a young adult because it blends form and function. Fashion can be art and sculpture as well as serving purpose. What drew me to the University of Brighton was seeing the fashion graduates who were creating work that was beautifully made and had a strong identity.”
What are your plans after graduation?
“I’m starting a freelance position for a London based textile designer and I will stay in Brighton to enjoy the city, the sea and the fringe festival! I hope to explore what the fashion industry has to offer as I haven’t set my mind on one path just yet, but the next free moment I get I will be back on my cousin’s sheep farm.”