Since graduating from Chelsea College of Art, Ashley Boer has made significant headway into the textile field. After completing her graduate collection, 'This Little Game Called Life', Ashley went onto work with Ann-Sofie Back during Stockholm fashion week, and is now enjoying life in Williamsburg.
What first drew you to studying and consequently working with fashion and textiles?
I started an Art Foundation and my tutor let me run wild, any boundary box I had struggled to fit at school she broke down and encouraged me to try everything. It was then that I found myself in the textile/fashion pathway. However, it was the process of starting from scratch, how knitwear comes from a spun yarn or print starts with creating your own colour, that really caught my attention. It was at that point that I really knew what I wanted to do.
How would you describe your designs?
I design in a very naive and feminine way. I love the way that fabric on the female form seems to have no restriction. The naivety in my work comes from my drawings and colouring in, I spend weeks painting before prints and colour develop. I paint with watercolour and ink creating lightness and a youthful energy to my designs.
How have your designs progressed since you graduated from Chelsea College of Art?
Now I have learnt the process of adapting my style so that I can design with others, being able to take my ideas and feed them into a designer’s vision. Two heads are better than one and I enjoy the process of applying textiles to fashion.
Is it a handmade craft, for example, do you knit your own knitwear and screen print textiles?
I create all my own fabrics, the prints are developed from drawings, paintings and collages. I manipulate them in Photoshop and Illustrator and print digitally. For textured print surfaces I use screen printing and for subtle colour effects like white on white. For knitwear I dye all the yarn to selected colourways and then knit on fine gauge knitting machines or hand knitting for chunky detailing.
What fashion designer or brand would you most like to work with?
After their last shows Comme des Garcons has become my new obsession. I have always been an admirer of Japanese design, its simple individualism has always been a weakness for my attention, however, the Fall '09 collection to me was the perfect balance between silhouette, construction, and femininity. The layers and colours were perfect... Yes, I think this is definitely a little future goal.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I am influenced by a lot of film work, my last personal project took a lot of inspiration from director Sofia Coppola, I admire the atmospheres she creates with image, for example the attention to sunlight; be it in the difference between summer and spring, or early-morning to dusk. This delicate detailing I find I can translate to weights and tones of fabric, I enjoyed exploring her themes of femininity and entrapment and how I could capture this by creating contrasts in fabrics, it pushed my imagination.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
Currently I have my hands tied up in New York as the Fabric Artist at Phillip Lim. I am working on his women’s and men’s collections for Spring '10 with the other designers, drawing and painting away. It is exciting to be involved in a company, to see the process from start to finish on a larger scale rather than being concerned on the limitations you place on yourself when creating your own small collection. I have also just wrapped up a few projects that I was working on with Ann-Sofie Back, Swedish designer; I was assisting her in designing a window display for Stockholm fashion week, her show invitations and a project for SHOWstudio.
How is living and working in New York compared to life in London?
I live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn which is very sleepy compared to Manhattan where I work. Williamsburg reminds me very much of where I lived in London and is probably the only place in NY where you hear other English voices. I think the working environment differs from place to place but I do love that in New York I am based in the garment district, which is so handy, it means I have buttons, dye, fastenings and threads on my doorstep!