We got the chance to catch up with Calderdale based textile designer Joanna Green to find out what it’s like designing for fashion brands Tom Ford and Alexander McQueen.
What sort of textiles do you design?
Having graduated with a Masters from Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in Textile Design for Fashion in 2010, I have been designing textiles mainly for fashion houses ever since. However, after a few years into my career, and after designing for Tom Ford in particular, I found my portfolio was becoming very embroidery heavy and was keen to continue specialising in Print Design. This led to me to consult for various London based print studios, many of whom had interior houses as their main buyers.
Can you tell us a bit about how you got into textile design?
From a young age I was drawn to embellishments and also took to computers very easily. This gave me an advantage when undertaking my degree at Chelsea College of Art and Design, as CAD (using photoshop and illustrator to aid textile design) was quite new at the time, and I quickly developed into a confident designer whilst on the course. From there I was accepted onto the MA Fashion Design Course at Central Saint Martins, and after showing my graduate collection as part of the CSM show at London Fashion Week, I was recommended by the late course leader Louise Wilson to Tom Ford, who was then building a team for his debut womenswear collection.
What influences your design work? Who has influenced your career so far, and why/how?
Many things influence my work, however nature has probably made the biggest contribution to my style so far. Whether it be the print on a wild cat, or the patterned wings of a moth, nothing comes close in terms of beauty as those formed naturally.
In terms of people, the previously mentioned Louise Wilson has made a huge influence on not only my career, but my work ethic and way of thinking. She seemed to have read every design book, yet always knew the exact ones to recommend that would be key to setting you on the right path.
Designers such as Alexander McQueen, Maison Margiela and John Galliano were a huge inspiration whilst studying, producing amazing collections one after the next. Their imaginations seemed to know no bounds. It was always so exciting to see what they would produce for their own labels, and for Dior in Galliano’s case, season after season.
Where have you worked in the past and what have been your career highlights?
I have worked on a long term freelance and consultancy basis for various fashion brands, all London based, such as Tom Ford ( both womenswear and menswear), McQ Alexander McQueen, Roksanda and Mary Katrantzou. I have also spent time working for print studios such as Eyefix Design and Appaloosa.
Graduating and showing my collection as part of London Fashion Week was definitely a career highlight. I had a really strong year group, including Simone Rocha, so to show my work alongside them was an amazing feeling.
Working for Tom Ford has given me opportunities to work on some incredible pieces of clothing. Some of my favourites were the python sequin on fishnet dress from SS11, the crocodile dress from AW12, both of which I created the embroidery placements for, and also the mosaic dress and boots from SS14, which I painted by hand in the 48 hours prior to the show.
Where would you like your career to take you in the future?
Having worked as a designer under large brands, I would love to be able to further my work under my own name. I’d also love to be able to grow a brand based in the North of England, as at the moment so much of the textiles for fashion industry exists in and around London.
Do you have any advice for budding textile designers reading this?
Intern! As unglamorous as working in a studio, often for barely anything might be, the experience you gain makes it more than worth it. I was one of the lucky ones and interned at a company that was actively recruiting, so my career progressed from there. No amount of studying equips you to be ready for life in a design studio, so if possible, try and gain internships in the summer holidays where you can. This will make you stand out to potential recruiters once you graduate.
Also, get stuck in! Read as many fashion magazine as possible, watch lots of films, read lots of books, travel… inspiration can come from anywhere. After days spent interviewing graduates for intern positions, the ones that I remembered were the ones who were so obviously passionate about textile design.