Chloe Johnson, who graduated from Middlesex University with a BA Fashion Design in 2015, showed her final year collection at Tomorrow’s Talent, an exhibition run as part of the On|Off AW16 London Fashion Week showcase, in collaboration with creative network ARTS THREAD.
“It feels great to get recognition for your work, especially when you’ve just graduated and you’re trying to find your way into the industry,” she says.
“It’s so competitive; there are hundreds of equally as talented young designers out there, so I do feel a great sense of achievement in being chosen. I think what On|Off do for young designers is admirable – there are so many talented people that don’t have the means to showcase their work and go unnoticed.”
Chloe’s collection, ‘End of Days’, is inspired by the Book of Revelations and evokes a man’s journey from life to death through a series of seasons, environments and terrains – fire, ice, jungle, desert and mountain.
She uses print and colour to create a unique camouflage-like effect, and strong silhouettes for a powerful look – all of which put her design talents to the test when she was creating the pieces for her collection.
“I’ve always been technically able, and my graduate collection was definitely a matter of putting all those skills into practice. I had to really hone in on my pattern cutting skills, especially when it came to the tailored pieces in my collection. I’m a perfectionist, so if anything was slightly off – an armhole, a sleeve pitch – I had to start all over again. I also ventured into surface design, textiles and colours in a way I’d never dreamed of using before. I developed my own camouflage, which is one of the hardest prints to create and get right.”
Chloe, who since graduating has been working at clothing brand River Island as a Menswear Design Assistant, was inspired to specialise in menswear by her mother, a pattern cutter of 30 years, and designer Sir Paul Smith.
“I always knew I was going to be a designer, either as a hobby or a main career, but it’s my mum that opened up that possibility for me. Growing up with someone that works in the industry was really inspiring. She worked for Paul Smith too, and the experience of following her to work on occasion and seeing how much she loved her work was a great influence.
"Menswear is a great love of hers and mine, because it’s more refined and technical. And of course, Paul Smith is one of Britain’s greatest menswear designers. His story alone would inspire anyone to get into menswear.”
Chloe looks back on her time on the BA Fashion Design course as “a rollercoaster”, challenging but ultimately rewarding.
“Your creativity and skill is constantly tested. You’re in charge of your own learning experience for the first time and it can be hard to adjust,” she says.
“But the great thing about MDX, and what sets it apart from most other universities, is the people: your classmates, the tutors, the technicians, the catering staff, everyone that you come into contact with.
"This is what I loved the most about the course, the sense of family and the positive atmosphere it created. There are so many people around to support you. You’re never on your own. Even now that I’ve left and have a career, I still miss it all.”