LCFBA18: Meet the five handcraft champions of the year

With LCFBA18 just around the corner, we explore the BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear and BA (Hons) Fashion Jewellery handcraft masters that you need to keep an eye out for this season. In this handcraft master series, we talk to Lauren Cutforth, Tara Hughes, Yunfei Ma, Wai Yan Choi and Kitty Shukman. Sources of inspiration for this year’s graduating cohort include saving bees and their wellbeing, Japanese philosophy, the practice of Kintsugi and sustainability. We meet the five craft masters that are setting this BA18 season alight, catch their work at Oval Space on 6 June.

First up on our handcraft masters feature is BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear graduate Lauren Cutforth. We asked Lauren to tell us about her final project, she said:

"Always known as the girl with the most vivid imagination, I decided to make up a story about a Bond Girl who saves lives on public transport but also has to be at the disco before 8pm to boogie her head off. I am completely obsessed with women who have a dangerous side to them, the ones that do the saving. In particular, I found the tragic story of Mata Hari the most inspirational. A professional dancer, she accepted an assignment to spy for France but was suspected of being a double agent and was supposedly wrongly executed, I think her image as a dancer and her style is what initially drew me to disco and this is where the story started for me. I then entwined bits of myself into the story with my fear of public transport, I often have to locate the emergency stops to calm down my anxiety and make sure if anything happens I can get out easily, and yes that heel is a pink emergency hammer.

I decided to push the boundaries out as far as we could to bring back big X-treme platforms, people question it and say ‘but you can’t walk in them?’ – why should us Queens have to walk anywhere? We deserve to sit there and look fabulous and have people carry us wherever we need to go. I collaborated with two independent designers who provided me with embellishments and garments to make the campaign a reality. ‘No Basic Bombshell’ created these spectacular lasers cut glittery pieces which added total sublimeness to the collection, they specialise in earrings so it was really fun to see how we could use those pieces in different ways than what they were originally designed for. These embellishments were then attached to a 3D printed X-treme platform. ‘Bottle Blonde Studio’ which is the other Instagram brand we worked with, provided us with the most majestic tinsel jackets that really grounded the collection and complimented the shoes.

Everything we do as a brand is to focus on saving the life of bees, campaigning against pesticides, and promoting their general wellbeing, these are our main ethos. We do this by using alternative materials where possible such as abolishing the used cotton as this one of the dirtiest crops on the planet. All our design decisions focus on being the brightest, most dazzling and eye-catching of them all, we do this through colour choice and material, we treat this aspect as though it was a bee sourcing food and finding the right flower to sip from. We will also be donating 10% of the profit to bee organisations to raise awareness and fund more research to make us more eco-friendly and better for the environment."

We asked Lauren to tell us an interesting fact about herself, she replied with, “I was featured on BBC2 – Inside the Factory with Cherry Healey where they featured LCF’s footwear design course and we got to design her a pair of shoes” (Read the full story here). Her time at LCF was “an absolute rollercoaster” which started nice and mellow before feeling the wind in her hair, “next my stomach is turning up in the sky, you’re doing screwballs and you aren’t quite sure if you are going to make it off safe”. She did make it off safely and is one of the footwear stars of this BA season.