Cristiana Alagna, fashion design competition

Cristiana Alagna
Published date:

Fashion as an art form is a powerful voice and should allow its participants, designers and wearers alike to celebrate life and personality.

Exploring the British Library collections has always fascinated me. For the competition, I decided to allow myself to spontaneously stumble across something interesting, trusting the Library’s nature and sources. I used the Library’s catalogue to search for key words that interested me and looked at books by my favourite photographers Hoyningen Huene and Horst.

I found a book that particularly inspired me: Horst's Salute to the Thirties. in it was a photograph of the morning after the night before, when the scent of celebration still lingers in the air. Everything is not as crisp and clean as it was before the party; things have slightly turned yellow, become stained, or sweaty. I was fascinated by the idea of what had been just a few moments before the end, when everything has not been put away fully – an atmosphere of an ‘end of the party’.

End of the party

I decided to carry this concept forward and use it to inspire my drapes and design development, imagining how guests would look when things are not properly put away after a night of dancing and swinging. The colours of a cool morning are an intrinsic part of the collection, as are the accessories and details that enhance the mood and attitude of the pieces.

Sketchbook inspiration research and development pages

Sketchbook inspiration, research, and development pages

I also found other books in the Library’s collections and decided to link these to the concept. One book was on Egyptian tunics, which inspired the textile story for the collection. Another was a book on Versailles, which enchanted me as it was rich with graphic pavements and a decadent luxury of what once was and now is – places once swarming with life and dynamism that have now become static and nostalgic.

End of the Party line-up illustrations

End of the Party line-up illustrations

I also looked at clothing in 18th and 19th century paintings as I believe that time’s-forgotten details often lie in the artworks of our ancestors, when fashion was about purpose rather than solely décor.

I believe good research is essential to achieve good and refined design, and regard myself as a filter rather than a designer, absorbing all the research I can, and combining it with what I experience in the world of today, filtering it out spontaneously to obtain a fresh perspective. 

In a time of such political, economic and social uncertainty, fashion as an art form is a powerful voice and should allow its participants, designers and wearers alike to celebrate life and personality and embrace the fun and joy that art can bring.

Research journey

Research journey

Research journey