Melbourne-born textile designer Amy Barrie celebrates feminism with her tailored feminine collection, that carries an even stronger message. To empower the wearer of her sleek cut collection, the Central Saint Martin’s alumna has embroidered and printed every piece with inspirational stories from extraordinary women, talk about a power suit! In between having her collection featured in the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK and making a new collection, the Melbourne-born designer talked us through her inspiration, her duty as a fashion designer and gives us an insight in her unique design-based story-telling.
Tell us a bit about yourself, you’re originally from Australia, yet relocated to London to pursue a degree in Fashion Design at Central Saint Martins, what informed this decision?
As a young girl living in Melbourne, Australia, I was introduced to high-fashion through publications such as Harper’s Bazaar. For me, these magazines were windows into another world, full of beauty and magic. Through their pages, I discovered the creative vision of designers such as Alexander McQueen and John Galliano. What captivated me about their work was how they used their collections as a method of immersive story-telling. I was fascinated by their ability to weave theatrical fantasy into real life and, wanting to follow in their footsteps, I decided to pursue a degree at Central Saint Martins.
What stands out in your Graduate Collection are the prints, photographs and a mix of wording, what do these represent and reflect?
Fashion has an extraordinary ability to empower because it is the only art form that is worn. A garment physically touches someone’s life, as well as emotionally connecting to those who witness it as art. I use this unique opportunity that fashion provides as a means of communicating and elevating female-driven narratives. The female experience is complex, detailed and multifaceted. To represent it authentically, I use a variety of techniques and embellishments. The outcome is garments that are a unique fusion of fine art, fashion and costume, which provide an empowering experience for both the wearer and viewer.
“The outcome is garments that are a unique fusion of fine art, fashion and costume, which provide an empowering experience for both the wearer and viewer.”
Your collection and your body of work tells a strong female story, you even partnered with the UN Women UK, why are you so passionate about feminism and how do you aim to make a change with your collection?
I was raised in a matriarchal family and it was instilled in me from a young age that my sex was not a barrier to what I could achieve in life. However, I was soon exposed to the inequality and sexism that is prevalent in our society. Throughout history, those who identify as women have been systematically stripped of their voice, their self-expression, and even their very presence. In my work I aim to shine a light on visionary women whose stories have been neglected or erased and, in doing so, inspire others to use their voice for change.
“In my work I aim to shine a light on visionary women whose stories have been neglected or erased and, in doing so, inspire others to use their voice for change”
You handcrafted and created your textiles from scratch, could you lead us through the design process?
My design process begins with me reflecting on the story I wish to tell. These musings inspire my textile design and garment shape. I began interpreting visual representations of narrative by studying Italian Renaissance paintings. I was enthralled by how an artist could communicate complex concepts through thoughtful composition, the use of colour, and symbolism. Similarly, I create my fabrics by layering a diverse range of textile techniques so that my fabrics convey a spectrum of meaning. The shape of my garment then becomes an extension of the story that is embodied by the textiles.
You have joined Fashion Crossover London in 2019, how was this experience for you and what can we expect from you in the future?
Fashion Crossover London has been an exciting experience, which has enabled my work to reach a larger audience through other forms of storytelling, such as editorial features and music videos. My dream is to open a flagship store in London and establish an atelier dedicated to specialist textile techniques. My business will perpetually strive to explore and support innovative ways to remain as ethical and sustainable as possible, with a focus on empowering women. All the world’s a stage, but I do not believe that we are merely players. Instead, we must harness our creative energy to instigate positive change.
“Fashion Crossover London has been an exciting experience, which has enabled my work to reach a larger audience through other forms of storytelling, such as editorial features and music videos”
Discover Amy Barrie's full collection
Words by Lupe Baeyens