The Sculptress: Georgia Hardinge

I often experience deep seated existential angst; this applies to many areas of my life but particularly with regards to my work. Who am I useful to? What purpose do I serve? What on earth is the point? I don’t ask these questions in hope of receiving ego affirming comments; my insecurities are so deeply entrenched that no amount of thumbs ups or smiley faces would touch the sides of my tortured psyche. However, I’ve recently come to realise that if there’s one useful purpose of the fashion blogger, it is to tell the story of the designer. Without being shackled to the agenda of a magazine or parent publishing company, the blogger is free to review collections and designers with impunity.

A story that I’ve been longing to tell for a while is that of the lovely Georgia Hardinge; I’ve been a fan of her work for some time and last week I popped into her North London studio to hear more about her process and get up close and personal with Georgia’s latest collection. Georgia is a ball of frenetic energy and crackles with vitality and moxie; whenever I’ve met with her it’s like being in the presence of a creative force of nature. As soon as I stepped into her studio there was a whirlwind of laughter, chat and offers of Toblerone and tea. For a designer with such a Catherine-wheel of a personality one might expect her method to be a haphazard Jackson Pollock splattered affair. However Hardinge’s work is all about precise technique and meticulous experimentation:

‘It took a while for me to find what I really wanted to do, but I’ve found sculpture is my main inspiration, I take influences from H.R. Giger and Rachel Whiteread. I’m very technique based, I create experiments by folding papers, pleats and burning fabric. I find ways of manipulating fabric and pleat work to create sculptural pieces.’

At Parsons Paris School of Art and Design, where Georgia studied, she made bold, sculpted clothes that won her praise and early acclaim. However, she soon found that creating high concept pieces don’t fit with a modern sensibility.

‘I made pieces using hat fusing, but we realised that it doesn’t really work with clothing, because now we’re going into a new movement where people want to wear things that are comfortable. They want to wear things that aren’t too restricting, it’s become quite sporty. We’ve discovered a new technique of creating sculptural pieces by using pleats. We can make a 3D piece out of chiffon or crepe which is comfortable to wear.’

I tried on a few dresses from Georgia’s A/W14 collection and I can confirm that her clothes are as comfortable as they are fashion forward. The mark of a brilliant designer is ability to marry innovation with wearablity. It’s all very fine and good making visionary clothing, but in the early seasons days of a designer’s business, it’s crucial to make clothes that customers will spend their hard earned cash on and wear.

Georgia’s studio is festooned with dramatic paper sculptures tacked to tailors dummies, which are her starting point for each season:

‘I make an origami paper sculpture prototype, then create a pleat fold in fabric to replicate the original idea.’

It’s exciting to be around a designer whose ideas are forward thinking and original, however what I love about Georgia’s work is that her clothes actually look good on a normal woman’s body. There are plenty of designers who make interesting clothes that look the business on a model strutting down a runway, but creating inventive clothes that look good on Mrs Joe Bloggs is an art form in itself. Every pleat, print and fold on a Georgia Hardinge piece is artfully placed to flatter and please. As well as being highly inventive, her clothes are feminine and playful. I have no doubt that Georgia is on track as one of the industry’s next big movers and shakers.

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