If there was ever a graduate collection which wore its craft credentials on its sleeve, so to speak, then it was Central Saint Martin’s Quoi Alexander’s. Of course when you catch a five-second glimpse as the models glide past you, it’s impossible to appreciate fully the hours of handiwork which has gone into a garment. But as Quoi explains below, there is the toil of 20 people in his BA collection which was impactful not just for its intensely worked details but for the strong silhouettes and weirdly cool colours which clearly came about as a result of an almost mad concoction of weaving materials.
Could you tell me a bit about what you were looking at when creating your collection?
The inspiration for the collection was in part based on a concept which I found within the work of artist Xu Bing. In the 80s he created a vast collection of books, scrolls and documents, all printed in a written language he created which looked amazingly similar to actual Chinese writing. However, when Chinese readers looked more closely, they discovered it was complete nonsense. Based on this idea of obscurity through abstraction, I found I could take the collection in one of two directions, either I could go the super minimalist nondescript route where nothing is recognizable, or the direction where the garments are filled with ideas and references which ultimately makes the clothing more abstract. I took the maximalist route and relied on the viewer to conclude their own individual inspirations for the collection. Dazed and Confused called the collection “reptilian skin” and i-D called it “couture armour”. I am excited by the audience’s interpretation.
What’s it like to put together your first catwalk show?
Putting together the collection was a humbling experience because of the endless talents and hard work of the people who were around me, at the same time it was thrilling to see my ideas materialise. I began the collection by doing weave samples in my apartment before it grew to become a huge production. Because of the laborious way in which the clothes are woven, each garment took 200+ hours. At Central Saint Martins, there is a tradition of the younger students helping the final years to produce the collection. I started with two helpers and as we realized the amount of work which needed to go into the collection, the amount of helpers grew and grew. I was honored that so many students were interested in helping, in the end we had 20+ students helping hailing from CSM, LCF and Camberwell.
What are you going to do next?
For the next step, I am moving to Paris and starting my own business, something I have been planning and developing for years. I have some freelancing lined up so I plan on working part time to support myself while continuing to progress in my own work.