I’m glad I don’t drive. Dark, rainy Manchester equals horrendous traffic and my partner in crime, Larna, had to drive us to the Northern Quarter to meet Olivia Deeney, up and coming fashion designer . Once we had finally parked up we walked to Odd Bar on Thomson Street. The first thing I did was to buy myself (and Larna by way of thanks) a glass of wine – despite a promise to myself I wouldn’t, but the journey in was terrible. The second thing was to sit down with Olivia. She was outfitted in clothes of her own design, aside from her top and shoes. After complimenting her sense of style and dress, we talked about our mutual favourite thing…fashion
Hello Olivia, how ya doing today?
I’m good thank you, pretty tired after work.
You are looking pretty hot I must say, can you talk me through your outfit?
I had quite a formal day at work today so I thought I’d dress nice and smart, I’ve just got a shirt and pencil skirt on.
You mentioned when we met that you designed and made your skirt yourself?
Yes! I did, it’s a brown tweed skirt with leather buckles on the waist band, which matches my coat (modest laugh) my shirt is from Zara, I think it’s kind of a Celine copy.
“I take pride in my creative and technical abilities, and consider myself a strong talent with an expertise eye for colour, fabric, trim and embellishment. I never fail to produce original and innovative ideas and creative concepts. I am quite a determined, persistent and result-oriented individual. My strengths are held in design ideas and more so in the manufacturing area. I am passionate about small detail and intricate elements that others may neglect.”
So.. I believe you have just graduated from university here in Manchester, what university did you study at?
The University of Salford
Do you feel Salford University has prepared you for what the fashion industry expects?
I do yea! With my work my least favourite part is drawing, I know what I want to make and I know my designs but actually physically sketching it I hate doing that, Going into the job that I’m in now I see a lot of design work from some extremely big fashion companies, I see the sketches that are sent through, and they are terrible! So from that I’ve got a lot more confidence in my drawings.
At university they push you and if your drawings are not up to scratch they say do better do a hundred more, and so I think I’ve made my expectations a lot higher that what’s the industry requires.
So what have you been up to since your left university?
I did nothing for a bit, bummed around for a little while, relaxed maybe even gained a little weight ha-ha, and then I decided that I needed a job, so I just started applying ,I made a CV, sent it out to loads of companies, then I got an interview with Coopers & Stollbrand, which is a manufacturing company and I’ve been there for four months.
So going back to your Salford university days, you created an incredible collection for your final project; what/who/when/where inspired you?
My collection was inspired by both Vanitas art and the human act of hoarding. The Vanitas tradition is there to remind us that we can make all the money in the world but can’t take it with us when we die. We spend our lives collecting and for what? Surrounding ourselves with objects can become a golden cage. Objects are emotion holders. What we accumulate in this world means little when we return to dust. I created beautiful dressed but I didn’t just throw loads of stuff on them, I used sentiment using old fabrics and patterns, I used jacquard quite a lot.
I created this character; she is the angel of history, walking backwards into the future, surveying possessions behind her. Hems of the collection are distressed to represent the transience of time. Her grandma had a jacquard couch and she kept it so it was all quite sentiment and old.
What was most challenging when creating this collection?
Think the most challenging was actually getting my designs from my head into visual actual pieces; I used silk chiffon and dipped it into liquid latex creating my own fabric which was quite a rubbery fabric, trying to sew that was difficult, going through the process of figuring out how to do that, the fabrics I envisioned weren’t existing fabric so altering and inventing new fabrics was quite a lengthy process and quite hard. With the white feather dress I had thousands of feathers which I had to sew on one by one and then with those I had to press them and dye them… I created a very hard way of doing things which I then I had to pursue because that’s what I wanted.
Would you describe yourself as motivated and inspired, or do you search for inspirations? When do you feel most inspired? Magazines, movies, TV, architecture?
I do yes, I am definitely motived, I can be influenced by absolutely anything at any time; therefore I always carry a pen and notebook with me, and have the same on my bedside table. Just before falling asleep can be the most creative time for me, where i am not distracted by anything and i can truly focus. This often gets me up and out of bed to research or sketch.
For me just flicking through magazines I see something and I’ll take a mental note, but can’t afford to buy it so I’ll make it my aim to create that garment in my own way.
Since your debut at graduate fashion week, has your collection had any attention?
I have had a bit yes, I was featured on Italian vogue’s website which was nice, I also got asked by Lady Gaga’s stylist Nicola Formichetti to send one of my dresses down the white feather dress, I think it was for her Australian tour they were doing some fittings. I don’t know if she did or didn’t wear it but when I got it back it didn’t smell or look like it had been worn so don’t think she did but it was quite flattering to be asked. Then I got asked by 1883 magazine to send my whole collection down for a shoot.
Also a lady got in contact with me after seeing my collection and she wants me to make her wedding dress which is pretty cool. We are still emailing details.
“I love creating beautiful feminine dresses that are delicate, almost too delicate to touch. And then on the other hand, i love creating technical jackets, worthy almost of the Football Casual wearers of ’79. But my heart mainly lies with exquisite dresses, intricate techniques and unusual fabrics.”
How would you define fashion in Manchester?
Well I live in the northern quarter in Manchester City Centre; you see two types of people the really extravagant fashion students who go all out and wear a million layers and still look good with it. Or quite modestly dress people who shop in shops like Oi Polloi around here. But as a whole I think Manchester fashion is pretty diverse
Where do you dream of being in 5 years?
I have no idea ha-ha work wise I am happy where I am, however I want to try loads of things, I want to do intern for loads of company’s and see every aspect of what I want to do to. Kind of gain knowledge of the whole of it, and build my own little library. I want be totally self-sufficient, eventually, be able to do anything that’s needed to create a fashion line, rather than sending designs to get made etc.
Realistically where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I think the job that I’m in now is very easy to sucked into and I could be happy there for 40 years I love it, however I need to keep insight in what I want to do and not getting comfortable, but soak up all the knowledge that they are giving me, and then go on to do what I want to do, so in five years I want to be working with loads of different companies and people in the industry.
Any Plans for another collection in the pipeline?
I’ve not got any plans to do another collection as of yet, I do plan to go to London for a fabric shopping trip this weekend, but just for personal things really, at the moment.
Olivia neglected to acknowledge her collection as one of the most beautiful, delicate and angelic collection shown at graduate fashion week, with captivating embellishments and textures. A collection any women could wear and feel more feminine and beautiful than ever before. Her attention to detail is acute .
she has the ability to transform emotion and imagination into exquisite garments so effortlessly.
Olivia is one of the most modest girls I have ever met, extremely bubbly and charming, not to mention beautiful and very stylish. the girl has it all looks, talent and a great personality this writer has high hopes for her.
See her collection for your self below.