Victoria Lyons, Joint winner: fashion design competition

Victoria Lyons
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I use my experience of travel to try and develop something real and honest, and most importantly to create beauty within my design.

Joint winner of our 2019 fashion competition Victoria Lyons tapped into the resources of the British Library to develop a photographic series on which she modelled a set of fabrics.

I am an Irish designer and strive to always remain true to my Northern Irish roots in my designs. I use my experience of travel to try and develop something real and honest, and most importantly, to create beauty within my design. I hoped to embody all this in my project for the competition, ‘the two trees’.


Using Talbot’s photographs for inspiration to create my own flower arrangements

I began my research by using the Library’s online catalogue where I found the works of scientist, inventor and photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot, together with his series of botanical specimens.


Draping with hand-painted paper: the silhouettes created from the flower arrangement

This opened up a world of discovery to the meanings attached to plants and associated myths and stories, and I began to focus my research on the Hawthorn tree, with its history of myth, folklore, magic. This led me to question the difference between reality and illusion, and the fine line inbetween.


Draping development, investigating how the colour black could be used to create illusions

The title of my portfolio ‘the two trees' plays homage to Talbot and his photograph of An oak tree in winter and also the work of W.B Yeats, whose poem The two trees, tells us to ‘Gaze into thine own heart. The Holy Tree is growing there, from joy the holy branches start.’ His work shifts our focus from our outer self, away from the flesh and mortality, to focus on our inner self, the spirit, and the divine, the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life. Yeats’ words, romantic and mystical, drove my project’s focus on illusion.


Painting to scale: hand painting large pieces of paper to drape and understand the scale of the print and how to create impact

Following on from my research of William Henry Fox Talbot, I created my own photographic series which I could use as the basis for designing and producing my own set of fabrics for the project. This involved brush strokes with strong colour contrast, experimenting with digital printing, dye sublimation and considering the potential of hand-painting my fabrics.