The Manchester Metropolitan University fashion graduate Maryam Alsaei looks to the sculptures of artist John Chamberlain, known for his work made from crushed and discarded car parts. Her work features distinctly fluid tailoring becoming a sculpture in their own right. As part of our Global Young Talent, Maryam has seen her work featured in the March issue of Harper’s Bazaar. Read on to discover how she offers a new approach to fashion, with fashion becoming a sculpture in the living form.
You moved to Manchester to pursue a bachelor's degree in fashion at the Manchester Metropolitan University, upon graduating in 2020 you created your collection ‘Elisus’, Maryam, have you always wanted to become a fashion designer?
I knew from a young age that fashion designing was something I wanted to pursue. I have always been creative and fashion runs in my family. My late grandfather and father used to own a men’s tailoring retail store which I used to visit as a kid and have vivid memories of. Later, moving to Manchester became a defining moment in my life. It was the starting point to delve into my deepest artistic passion, express myself, indulge in learning, and develop my practical skills.
Your collection takes inspiration from artist John Chamberlain, did this inspire you to focus on a zig-zag stitch draping technique to create crushed textures used throughout the collection?
Yes, John Chamberlain’s sculptures were amazingly crushed and intricately folded. It inspired me to develop a construction technique as a way to replicate his method of crushing material. After many trial and error, I came up with a zig-zag stitch draping technique which enabled me to create three-dimensional crushed textures that echo Chamberlain’s sculptures. I was channelling him whilst designing my collection, so in a way, the designer became the sculptor!
“After many trial and error, I came up with a zig-zag stitch draping technique which enabled me to create three-dimensional crushed textures that echo Chamberlain’s sculptures.”
You focus on slow fashion, what made you so passionate about sustainability in your collection?
Studying at university and working in the industry opened my eyes to the importance of sustainability, environmental and ethical issues in fashion. Many of the practices used did not sit well with me as a designer. I refused to be another designer creating fad fashion products that end up in landfills and quickly wanted to contribute to the slow fashion movement. I became interested in the long product life cycle, where quality and longevity are an essential part of each garment. I believe the interior finishing and construction of a garment is as important as its exterior aesthetic.
“You can expect to see an innovative approach to the cut of the garments with feminine silhouettes, featuring masculine details and high-end finishing.”
What can we expect to see in your future designs?
Once again, quality and longevity remain at the heart of what I do. I feel that tailoring will carry on with me throughout my journey in fashion design. You can expect to see an innovative approach to the cut of the garments with feminine silhouettes, featuring masculine details and high-end finishing. Overall, envisioning sophisticated designs where classic meets contemporary.
What made you want to feature tailoring elements into your womenswear collection?
My design aesthetic focuses on feminine silhouettes with an emphasis on tailoring to redefine femininity and womenswear. From a surface level, featuring tailoring elements in my collection adds an edge and an interest to garments that would traditionally look flowy and unstructured. Tailoring immediately suggests clean cuts and sharpness. From a deeper level, the shape of a collar and the cut of a trouser leg shows the kind of woman wearing it and that speaks volumes!
“Tailoring immediately suggests clean cuts and shape of a collar and the cut of a trouser leg shows the kind of woman wearing it and that speaks volumes! ”
Discover Maryam Alsaei's full collection
Words by Lupe Baeyens