Coping with a loss is never an easy task, with grief carrying many different forms. Fashion designer Maisie Dunton followed this notion, gave her grief the shape of an oversized, faux-furred astonishing collection. The Kingston School of Art designer aims to provide - quite literally - a blanket of comfort with her fuzzy fashion statements. After being featured in Vulkan Magazine and GMARO Magazine, the womenswear designer has made her name, as she is featured in the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK. Read on to discover how a tragic loss, inspired an extraordinary collection.
Although your collection looks fuzzy and warm, there is quite deep meaning behind it, what was the initial inspiration behind your collection?
I am heavily influenced by my own experiences, what I know to be authentic and true. I am interested in how the opinion of others or your relationships can affect what you wear. My collection looks at how a lack or a loss of a relationship might make you seek the security and familiarity that you miss, in childhood comforts like duvets, blankets and teddy bears.
A reoccurring theme in my work is twisting a classic style as I enjoy escaping the ‘normality’ of the classic but appreciate its fundamentals. I enjoy exaggerating and seeing how far I can take a simple pattern piece, creating something so big that it cannot be ignored. I think this stems from the traditional notion that only boys can take up space and girls should be quiet and polite, the saying ‘seen and not heard’ spoken many times to me throughout childhood makes me want to test the boundaries through my work and play with power, so that if not my voice, my clothes and work will be seen and heard.
“My collection looks at how a lack or a loss of a relationship might make you seek the security and familiarity that you miss, in childhood comforts like duvets, blankets and teddy bears.”
What stands out about your collection is the sheer size of your pieces, what lead to this design decision?
I wanted to look at how a loss of someone close to you can affect what you want to wear and how you dress, move and interact. I started the process looking at old family photographs of my mother and her sister, with a nine-year age gap they were completely different in shape and size. This encouraged me to exaggerate proportions, seeing how far I could take a simple pattern piece, creating something so big it cannot be ignored, just like the feeling of grief. I experimented with silhouettes big enough to fit two people inside, almost like you are carrying the person you lost with you, in your everyday life.
Your samples are incredibly soft and fluffy, why did you opt for faux furs and other comfortable velours fabrics?
I chose to use warm, comforting, tactile materials as when I started researching old photographs of my mother and her sister, I took a particular interest in the interiors of their home; velvets, silks, velour and faux fur. The fabrication was also heavily influenced by my childhood comforts, like teddy bears, pyjamas and being tucked into a warm bed. I wanted my collection to emulate that feeling, to be so tactile you would want to reach out and cuddle the person wearing it. Although I centred my collection around a heavier topic, I wanted the fabrication to speak back to playful childhood memories, reminiscent of the good times.
"I experimented with silhouettes big enough to fit two people inside, almost like you are carrying the person you lost with you, in your everyday life."
Muted greys and beige tones are contrasted by this rich mustard yellow, what inspired this colour palette?
My colour inspiration came from the interiors and clothing worn in my family’s old photographs as well as an amazing installation of duvets and blankets of different weights layered and wrapped around walls and poles for the Mindcraft exhibition of danish craft at 2018’s Milan design week, curated by Ditte Hammerstrom. I knew I wanted to incorporate muted tones with a bright pop of colour from my research, but this installation encouraged me further as the playfulness of the bright yellow colour attempts to cover the deeper meaning beneath like a plaster trying to heal a wound.
Your graduate collection deals with the intense topic of grief and experiences great loss, is this something you will further explore future collections?
I think this collection will always hold a special place in my heart as it was my way of dealing with the grief I felt at that time, for me this collection was almost a healing process where I was able to create a tangible result of my feelings at the end. I hope to take this approach to my future collections and designs as I feel having a personal stake in what you design and make means that you consider and explore your decisions much more deeply to convey the message across in the best way that reflects your feelings.
"The playfulness of the bright yellow colour attempted to cover the deeper meaning beneath like a plaster trying to heal a wound."
See Maisie Dunton's full collection
Words by Lupe Baeyens