I first stumbled across the masterful talents of Oscar Munro when visiting the Graduate Fashion Foundation showcase in King’s Cross last month and fell in love with his incredible artistry. Most noteworthy are his flares, which are beyond marvellous; I one day hope to revisit Coal Drops Yard adorned in the perfectly pleated palazzos putting all the art students and young professionals to shame.
Here I speak with Oscar, discussing his journey into fashion, the realities of being a 2020 graduate, and what it’s like to work during lockdown.
1. How did you first get into fashion, what attracted you to the art form?
I had a bit of a random path, you could say. At school, the only thing in terms of design I did was in DT Lessons – it was the one class bar sport I did well in. I was encouraged to go to college, to explore other areas of Art and Design, and ended up enjoying fashion. I visited Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and felt it was exactly the right course to study my BA in Fashion Design, I was over the moon when I was offered a place! I loved the course, though it was unbelievably hard and very stressful. Work had never made me cry before, but all in all it was the best three years of my life..
2. How have you been, how did you find graduating this year?
Obviously, it was really disappointing, I didn’t get a chance to finish my six looks for my Final Major Project. However, I actually really enjoyed working through lockdown, it allowed to me take a step back, regaining a perspective and going down a different design path which I wouldn’t have considered had these restrictions not been in place. I made sure that the pace of work was kept up and being back with my family was a nice needed refresher!
3. Has working during lockdown changed your work process?
Yes, definitely. I have been experimenting with new materials creating works that I am very proud of. I have created a selection of bags, up-cycling boat sails (featured at the GFF showroom and on Instagram) and I am excited about developing these ideas further. I think it is important to be positive about everything going on and remain optimistic. I am using this time to expand my collection, create adventurous pieces and refine my skills.
4. What is your wider work process like?
Naturally, I think of everything in 3D form. My influences are wide-ranging and can come from organic things, even from the most mundane aspects of everyday life. For example, in my recent collection, I imagined how sound waves would look in a physical form by manipulating fabrics to capture my interpretations. This creative part of the process, for me, is pretty instinctive and rapid. Construction, the corporeal realisation, I find to be the hardest part. Manipulating the fabric, deciding whether to add boning, pleating or stitching in certain places to match the sketches requires time, its trial and error process.
5. What is your focus or driving force behind your work?
I absolutely love what I do. I want to keep continually improving my design ideas and push them further. I can’t really think of a better response…I hope that’s not too boring.
6. What has inspired you recently? Have you been looking at any particular artists, creatives and designers?
There is one designer that I’ve always loved and that’s Iris Van Herpen. Her work is incredible – truly wearable art! Everything she does I think, ‘how the hell has she done that?’. Working with her would be a dream come true. My mother previously designed for Georgina Von Etzdorf, an innovative textile company way ahead of its time who too has influenced my practice. I’ve grown up around her work and have been going to her shows since I was young. Unconsciously, I’m sure her work has greatly influenced my collections, as we have always had lots of her textiles in my house.
7. What are you plans to go forward? Are there any further themes, techniques, styles you are interested in developing further?
In the long term I would like to have my own label with complete creative freedom but mastering the cut and the mathematics of the clothing first is an absolute necessity. I want to do a McQueen route. I’d love to get a job at Oswald Boateng on Saville Row. He is a tailor with huge flair, fusing British tailoring with high-end modern design. I’m working on shirts at the moment which are inspired by his Chisel Collar.
8. What are your thoughts on current fashion issues, such as questions of sustainability?
I am incredibly conscious that as a young creative, instead of adding to the footprint, I need to take away from it. I remember watching Stacey Dooley’s BBC Fashion’s Dirty Secrets and can recall its in-depth feature in the water-consumption of cotton; it was eye opening and showed the harsh reality of the industry, one which we should all work at diminishing. This was part of the reason for my current work with the bags; reworking old materials such as offcuts of hot air-balloons into wearable garments. Here, I find designers like Christopher Raeburn inspiring in terms of sustainability as someone who also champions the reuse of old parachutes.
The end goal for me is to have my own shows which displays my artistic interpretations of fashion and avant-garde clothing. Whether I get recognition or not, nothing will ever take away from the love of the craft. I’m not fussed about making a lot of money; I’d love people just to appreciate my work.
To keep up to date with Munro and see his creative progression, be sure to follow him on his socials- @designby_oscarmunro. This McQueen x Van Herpen creative is one to keep your eyes on. I see the dude going far for his talent is creatively enviable. Be a part of his journey before he blows up!
All images courtesy of Oscar Munro.