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Fashion designer Sadie Clayton in discussion with Candid Magazine about where Fashion meets Art

September 15, 2015

ArtsFashion | by Harry Seymour


Fashion designer Sadie Clayton recently caught up with Candid Magazine to talk about her passions, her creative ideas and her ‘wearable art’ collections.

Innovative fashion designer, Sadie Clayton, has garnered a significant amount of attention since she launched her first collection last year. The gifted designer has already been invited to the Tate Modern and Tate Britain to demonstrate her working process – an indicator that so early in her career, she is one to watch. Clayton sat down to talk to Candid recently ahead of her much-anticipated Spring/Summer 2016 collection launch at London Fashion Week. The talented designer spoke to us about experimenting with form, texture and shape. Her original, avant-garde aesthetic, which blends copper and opulent fabrics, blurs the line between fashion and fine art.

Sadie Clayton
Sadie Clayton

Candid Magazine: Hi Sadie, can we begin by asking you where you’re from?

Sadie Clayton: I’m from West Yorkshire, a little place called Mirfield. It’s a small village. And the population is ever so small – there’s nothing there except a butchers and a couple of pubs. The biggest thing there is the Co-op, that’s it. It’s tiny.

CM: London must have been a bit of a shock to the system then?

SC: At first, yeah. I’ve been here five years now though. I love it here, I’d never go back.

CM: When did you first get into fashion?

SC: When I was a teenager, about 13 or 14. Because I’m from such a small village, everybody is so uniformed. That’s when I decided I didn’t want to look like everybody else. So I started customizing stuff, and realized I wanted to go and study fashion. I left high school at 16 and went to fashion school. I went to Batley School of Art where Christopher Bailey went. Then I went and did a foundation degree in ceramics. Then I realized I wanted to do fashion, so I moved to London and did my degree – the rest is history.

CM Your designs embody an industrial meets chic aesthetic. They feel like they’re at the intersection between art and clothing. Has your aesthetic been informed by where you grew up?

SM: Maybe subconsciously. Where I’m from is quite industrial, but I feel that I’ve always wanted do something different from everybody else so that’s why I use copper. Copper was never a popular thing in fashion. It was always silver, brass or gold. And so when I was a student doing my final collection, that’s when I started working with copper; and I’ve just stuck with it ever since. But I love architecture and sculpture. I love forms and I love texture – everything can inspire me. But there’s always an element of hard form somewhere because that informs my design process of sculpture. Even when it comes to the head-pieces and the shoes and the clothes, I always design a full-on, whole outfit with huge sculptural forms. I suppose it is wearable art. My show- pieces are wearable art, but then my wearable art informs my ready-to-wear, which is obviously what the buyers buy into. But that’s what I’m known for – my big copper sculptures. That’s probably why it’s taken me a bit longer than other designers to launch, because I’ve always stuck to my guns and stuck to what I do best – my crazy art forms. And you know, my girl is Grace Jones.’

CM: Which designers have inspired you most?

SC: I’ve a got quite a few designers that I love. For example, I love Jean Paul Gaultier and Claude Montana from the 80s; and Thierry Mugler is one of my favourites. Contemporary wise, Gareth Pugh is fab, he was always my idol and then I interned for him when I moved to London. That was when I realized I wanted to be a fashion designer even more.

CM: What has been the most interesting part of your career so far?

SC: The most interesting things I guess are the feedback and the response I get for what I produce. And this year has been great because I’ve been doing workshops at the Tate. I’ve actually felt more like an artist being at the Tate Modern and Tate Britain and showing people my skills. I did a demonstration of my copper work, so got to show everyone my working process. It was like the McQueen working process – it felt quite surreal to be asked to do that. Every morning I wake up there’s an email for a new opportunity or interview or feature, and every week there’s a new thing, and it’s really exciting.

CM: Do you have a favourite artist?

SC: I love Eva Hesse – I love her textures, and I love Barbara Hepworth. But I look at so many different things that it’s hard to pinpoint. I’m a massive art lover. To be in the Tate showing what I do, at such an early stage in my career, I felt like a true artist. It felt quite special.

CM: Which piece of music has most inspired you?

SC: I love soul music, reggae and funk. When I need to get in my zone I like to listen to loud music. Recently I’ve been listening to lots of old school, like Maxi Priest. Some of the beats really relax me. I’m half Jamaican and when I was growing up my mum used to play loads of reggae records. We had lots of reggae on vinyl in our house. So I guess when I’m busy and stressed, knowing I’ve got my reggae music helps me to relax, plus it brings back memories of growing up. My mum and me are so tight; we’re like best friends. But my two favourite records are Jocelyn Brown’s Somebody Else’s Guy, and Mary Jane Girls All Night Long.

CM: What would you say to anybody leaving fashion college, trying to make it in the industry?

SC: Work your arse off, and don’t lose your signature. The whole craftsmanship thing is coming back. And that’s why obviously we had the McQueen exhibitions at the Tate and the V&A, and my demonstration at the Tate was all about my arts and my craft. I think it’s really important to have a signature and stick to it. Everyone down the line knows I work with copper and everyone knows that Grace Jones is my girl and everyone knows that I kind of think outside the box. But you’ve also got to be able to rein it in at times, which can be harder than pushing it out.

By Ray Kinsella

Sadie Clayton will be debuting her SS16 Collection at London Fashion Week on September 18 2015.