Meet Alannah Stott, a recent graduate from University of Technology, Sydney. Stott recognizes the primal element of sportswear: functionality. However, at a second glance her work also further inquires what facets of sportswear have yet to be realized. How can the poetry of functionality be further translated? Stott has honed the ability to charm play wear into coexisting with tidy lines to maintain an orderly, minimalist appeal while also allowing her garments to do what sportswear does best: to gratify the needs of human physicality.
Olivia Kirkpatrick: Having thoroughly scrolled through your Instagram I am now aware that you were recently in New York for Fashion Week. Could you regale us with some details of that trip?
Alannah Stott: Yes I was and still am in New York, I'm actually living in New York City at the moment, interning for the technical design team at 3.1 Phillip Lim and developing my next collection. I arrived here the week before fashion week so I really had to hit the ground running!
Working at 3.1 Phillip Lim and moving to New York is quite an exciting feat. Could you tell us a little bit about what your next collection will entail?
For the next collection I'm trying to explore the same concepts of movement, though interpreted in different ways, focusing on ideas of control and release. I've been particularly inspired by the work of artist Emma McNally in the way she explores mapping and rhythmic expressions of natural occurrences like the pulse of an ECG or measure of seismic activity. I'm playing with resist printing techniques, aiming to develop abstract prints with acid dyes and paint moving the materials through liquid or more literally dancing with paint to create abstract line work. Im also working with developing techniques of slitting fabrications to create 'release' points where generic garments like the pencil skirt or business shirt can move and react to movement of the body in ways it traditionally may be restricted...Not to give too much away!
How does your personal background with sports translate into your creative processes?
I see fashion and movement as being intrinsically linked. Both are primarily concerned with the body and pushing or redefining the way we see or think about the body. Being involved in my chosen sport of Figure Skating at a high level obviously requires extreme movement. I subconsciously translate concepts of freedom of movement versus restriction into my design practice, I'm always thinking about what the garment will feel like to the wearer or look like in motion it feels more natural to me to prioritize that over things other designers might put first.
When you design, what traditional philosophy of sportswear do you find important to consider?
I have done extensive research in to turn of the century Modernist ideas relating to the connection between mind, body, spirit and movement. The Dress reform movement that happened between the 19th and early 20th centuries defined the new modern woman, she was no longer restricted or shaped by her clothes, the corset was abandoned, rather the female body itself was shaped through physical activity and movement, the defining aesthetic of the era, the sheath dress reflected this new modern woman, she was able to actively participate in society and the workplace without physical impairment at the hands of a dictated mode of fashionable dress.
What is it about Nick Cave’s Sound Suits that resonate so significantly with you?
I believe Cave himself trained as a dancer, I find his work particularly inspiring in that way that he creates objects that are activated through movement, yet the suit restricts or alters the way the body would naturally move, allowing the body to break from expectations of what or how it should be, eliminating race, gender, class boundaries etc. I’m fascinated by this link between movement, garments and identity.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey as a design student? I.e. any interesting discoveries about yourself along the way as former athlete turned designer?
I think my journey as design student was a bit different to most, living 2 1/2 hours out of Sydney and commuting for the best part of 3 years before moving to complete the honours year, I certainly discovered that trains are not a fun place at 6am, and developed a deep appreciation for coffee...There was time I almost became a law student and the time I sewed through my finger. I think I made it out the other side without having too many all nighters though all in all I'm so thankful for every experience endured in my 4 years at university having lead me to where I am now. I think the discipline of sport translates well to the design field, although I definitely discovered I cannot go 6 months without skating and expect to not fall over.
Lastly, if you could give your freshman self advice, what would you tell her?
Meditate More. Don't be influenced by people who don't support your crazy aspirations.
The first lecture of honours year (which I made it to at 9am after getting off a flight from London at 7:30am) my tutor handed out a piece of paper with a quote from Cecil Beaton and an instruction to go home photocopy it and stick it up everywhere, I think its some pretty good advice, it was -“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.”
Photographer: Andrew King
Models: Claudia Muller & Tara Ehsman
Hair & MUA: Rachel Jade http://www.makeupbyracheljade.com/