My Journey with BFTA by Edda Gimnes

Thursday 09th March 2017

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My name is Edda Gimnes I am a womenswear designer who graduated from London College of Fashion in 2015. Right before I graduated I won the BFTA Design Competition in London, which opened up so many doors for me. I was an underdog in school and was struggling a lot and I didn’t really fit it.  I had my love for texture, embroideries fur and print, and was often told how the focus had to be on the silhouette and not the surface textile. Personally I think the surface texture is more important than ever in a world where a lot of the shapes and silhouettes have already been used, the surface textile is a way to be innovative and make something unique and fresh. I was lucky enough to come across the BFTA competition in school and applied. I was thereafter selected as one of the finalists to attend a review with the judges as well as a workshop with fur.

The day at the BFTA house in London was so amazing. The judges were super sweet and it was exciting to get some positive feedback on my work. They saw my vision and how my design aesthetic could develop and incorporate fur. I got such a boost that day, and I remember how lucky I felt that someone from the industry saw potential in what I was doing.  At the workshop we learned about fur and how to work with it as a material. A couple of weeks after we attended the review I was selected as the winner of the BFTA competition in UK, which gave me the opportunity to get a fur garment produced for my SS 16 collection, a trip to Saga Furs Design Centre as well as an entry to represent UK in the REMIX competition in Milan.

I was invited to visit the Saga Fur Design Centre outside Copenhagen in the summer. I was there for a week, and it was like a dream come true, it was such a magical place. They had such incredible surroundings and super friendly staff.  You could spend the whole day in their incredible studio, where you could develop samples and ideas and dream big. They have the knowledge and technologies to creative anything you had in mind and I feel so grateful and incredibly lucky that I was able to spend a week there. At the design centre I worked alongside furriers that has been in the industry for years. With their specialized knowledge and with my imagination I learned a lot about fur and how it can be used alongside different fabrications When I got back to London I met up with the team at Hockley to discuss the garment I wanted to produce for my SS16 collection.

When I started to work with fur I wanted the fur piece to belong in my SS16 collection, which was very playful, and illustration based. Almost all my illustrations were drawn with my non- dominant hand to get that naïve and hand rendered look, and thereafter printed onto canvas. My inspiration came from a garbage bag full of 300 photographs from the 1920, 30, 40, and 50´s, I bought at carboot sale out of London for £20. All the garments were made from flat pattern cutting in a very naive and 2D way to make it look like walking illustrations. I kept almost my whole collection in black and white to reflect the old forgotten photographs and to promote the graphic elements, but I still kept some elements of colour, in the embroideries and fur pieces ass well as accessories in my collection.

When I started to work with fur I wanted my illustrations to be incorporated into the craftsmanship of fur in a fun and innovative way.  Therefore all my illustrations are cut out in black sheer and longhaired mink and thereafter inserted into white sheered mink using the fur technique called intarsia to translate my drawings. I have then used the stiff and raw digital printed canvas as a contrast to the beautiful and luxurious fur, which gives my garments a unique, playful and fun combination. I was able to create a long vest with attachable panels in the middle that you could change and made the garment more into a dress.  My garment was sown together 2D in the side seam, which is an unusual way of working with fur, because I still wanted to keep the naivety and playfulness even when working with such a luxurious material. I was also able to produce a glove to go along with the outfit using the same technique. The team at Hockley did such a fantastic job for the production of the fur pieces and I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.

Since I won the BFTA award in London I was able to represent UK in the big REMIX competition in conjunction with Italian Vogue Talents. I was then selected as one of the 12 finalists among 1000 applications, for the REMIX and I was able to travel to Milan and attend the Award selection. Milan was incredible and the whole event was organized so well. Our collections were showcased in a botanical garden setting and the space was so just amazing. The jury included Sara Maino senior editor at Italian Vogue, Tamu McPherson and Veronica Etro to name a few. I won the bronze award at the REMIX show in Milan in partnership with Italian Vogue, which was just a dream come true.  Therefore I won a shoot with Italian Vogue and now I able to go to the design centre in Copenhagen again this September to work with fur and make some new things for my AW18 collection. After the show I was contacted my Seasons Trading in Hong Kong regarding a fur collaboration which I am now working on, and I am going to Hong Kong in April to continue with the collaboration.

When I look back at my time in university and how the BFTA competition changed everything, it makes me feel very grateful. This competition has opened up so many doors for me, and made my dreams come to true. We need competitions like this to give young designers exposure and opportunities. Having the opportunities to work with the best people in the Industry at both Hockley and Saga Furs made my creations come to life. All the people I have met, and the exposure I have received is unbelievable and I am forever grateful for all these opportunities that have arisen from this competition.