Are childhood and adulthood two worlds apart? I conceive childhood as a state of mind, an eternal curiosity, a freedom to be whoever you want. This time we met up Kate Clark, who designed a collection named “Childhood Delusion” with interesting aesthetics and meaningful signs, material of fetish for the semiotics passionate that I am.
I invite you to read this interview and discover her coming back from an illusion, her perception of the real world and her experience now working on the Chanel’s studio textiles. Enjoy the living fantasies she designed.
Did the little Kate dream on being a designer as an adult? When your passion for fashion begin?
I suppose I did dream of being a designer, although what that meant to me at the time was far less complex that it appears to be now. My like for fashion came from a love of dressing up and having fun with clothes. I hated the glossy magazines and big brands as a teen; the idea of togetherness and inclusivity is always something that drove me, not exclusivity.
You have said your work is a reflection of your own perception of the world. So, what is your perception of the nowadays world and how do you think it would shape the kid’s behaviours?
My perception of the world growing up has always been so positive, that good will always win in the end if we all keep trying and fighting together. I’ve always believed massively that hope will always win over fear. But recently it seems the politics of fear is winning. I find myself continually disappointed that the country I love (England) seems not to care about itself or the people in it. My hope is that the generation to come will see that lifting each other up and standing together and being proud of ourselves is better than ripping other apart or placing false blame on other things.
Is the “Childhood Delusion” the turning back to the real world? What the little Kate expected from the world and now that she is an adult just realized she was wrong about it?
Childhood Delusion was the perception of this free world, to dress as live how you want but also having to fit into an adult society. Hence the combining of the princess dress and the adult suit, taking the memories with you and merging into the adult world but refusing to let go of those dreams. My expectations of the world still exist but they are in smaller pockets than I imagined as a child. There is bad and there is good, you choose to move with what you want and try to create the world you wish to live it no matter how many times you get disappointed. I have learnt to let things go and find happiness with whatever it is that makes me happy, and through that is freedom.
Are there main elements from your collection “Childhood Delusion” you took as aesthetic references from your childhood? What do they mean for you?
The main elements that I took from childhood were the prints and embroidery I created to adorn the clothes. These were a series of drawings I made from toys we used to play with as children that my grandma still had safe (in case of great grandchildren) along with photographs of myself as a child collected from photo albums. The collection of these objects and the drawing of them was collecting memories and using them as armour for myself and the clothes I was creating. To remember the past whilst forging forward to an unknown future.
I assume your eyes are now wide open to new horizons in the fashion industry. You have been in both worlds, as an emerging designer presenting your own collection and now working for a renowned maison as Chanel. What would you take from both experiences and what is your biggest advice you would give to the former designers who are reading?
As a graduate everything was about my choices, my collection, my point of view, although I had an excellent team of helpers and tutors it was all my decisions. With Chanel, and any company it’s about you as a group or team creating something far more specific for a specific market. In collection I got to show who I was what I was interested in and what I was good at. In Chanel I learnt to apply it to a variety of projects in an entirely new context. Collection was one of the happiest times of my life so far it was brilliant, I felt invincible! And I could not have asked for better tutors, friends, interns and technicians than I had. From Chanel (having been lucky enough to gain an internship then job here) I have the validation of the house giving me a job which is invaluable going forward in my career. I have learnt so much about the development of textiles and how much goes into a collection. The shear amount of detail right down to the buttons is amazing and something I never understood before seeing it in real.
In terms of advice. Make your own dreams don’t follow the dreams of others or the careers of others. This is our world; life is not a straight line, both you and the world changes constantly. Never forget who you are and never let anyone tell you you’re not good enough. Remember what truly makes you happy and don’t get wrapped up in should or should nots. Oh, and make it sustainable and don’t be wasteful.
Do you believe and would you live a second childhood?
If I had the choice I wouldn’t choose to live another childhood. I can be nostalgic for my childhood and miss having the freedom that is so child specific. The freedom that being excited or sad or any sort of emotion is normal and you’re allowed to feel it fully. The freedom to play and make mistakes. The freedom not for things to be so connected to money and power and status. But to go backwards just doesn’t work, you have to keep going and keep the ideas that I found fundamental to my upbringing carrying on. What matters is the next generation and how we can help them to have the same belief that my parents taught me. Which is really very simple; the only thing that matters is that you’re happy.