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How it started vs. How it’s going: Zoe Brooker, BA Fashion

Have you ever looked at an artist’s work and thought that they must have always been that good and sure of what they’re doing?

It’s easy to look at a piece of creative and not understand the development that leads up to the finished product.

How it started vs. How it’s going aims to highlight what goes on in the background of each creative project, as well as comparing the artist’s personal growth over time.

In this episode we speak to BA (Hons) Fashion student Zoe Brooker, and look at the development of her practice, from Year One to Year Three.

Zoe talks to us about her love for fashion, and how she has learnt to trust the process.

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What got you into fashion?

I’ve enjoyed fashion ever since I was little. I loved choosing my outfits every morning growing up.

My mum and I would always go charity shopping together, and we would pick things out to fix up later; upcycling before I even knew what it was. The WHSmith fashion magazine section also had a big impact; I would happily spend hours reading all the new trends and admiring the photography.

How would you describe your style of designing, then and now?

Going into my university interviews, my portfolio was mostly full of experimentations of textiles art and photography instead of design work. The little designs I did have were quite restrictive and lacking some expression.

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Almost three years later, and here we are. I’m happy to say that I would describe my design style now as experimental, sometimes dramatic. Focussing on the initial silhouettes to steer the direction of the garment. Lately I’ve been enjoying a collage approach to my design work as I love incorporating my first-hand photography within my work.

“Lately I’ve been enjoying a collage approach to my design work as I love incorporating my first-hand photography within my work.”

Zoe Brooker — BA (Hons) Fashion

How has studying Fashion at NUA helped develop your practice?

Studying at NUA has aided me technically, as this is where I struggled before joining. Over the past three years the fast-paced learning style really helped me, as I was constantly gaining knowledge. In the first term of second year, I was developing my toile for our tailoring project, and I think I spent 2-3 weeks on the sleeve alone. The technical support I received helped me to overcome this hurdle.

Recently, I am appreciating the links to industry that NUA encourage. At times it has felt quite daunting being in my final year. The reassurance from engaging with industry through lectures, competitions, alumni talks, and live briefs has helped relieve some of that worry, giving me options to explore past graduation.

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What have you found out about yourself as a designer since studying here?

I have found that Involving elements of myself has really helped to tell a story within my work, making it even more fun to explore and experiment. I have also learnt that constantly pushing myself out of my comfort zone has helped me create some exciting work. The scariest things are always the most fulfilling.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about fashion as a practise while at NUA?

I think the most important thing that I have learnt since joining NUA is to trust the process, no matter how painfully long it may be. Trust it! You are there to discover your artistic voice and style, gaining so much knowledge along the way.

I’ve also learned that you don’t need to know everything straight away; you may not pick things up as quickly as everyone else. However, with time, practice and confidence in your ability things will start fall into place.

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Where do you get your inspiration?

I get most of my inspiration from what I see in my every day — fellow creatives, and those who I look up to in industry. I love watching documentaries, films and TV programmes about fashion; it always gives me a boost of motivation to start creating. As well as first-hand experiences, a 10-hour solo research trip to London has influenced my entire final year project.

What do you love the most about Fashion?

I love how constantly exciting it is, creating something brand new or adapting something old. A physical canvas for my creative mind to go crazy on through manipulating, dying, cutting, draping, or printing. I love how fashion provides a platform for individuals to express themselves, collaborating with me to make each piece their own.

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What advice would you give to someone considering pursuing a creative subject?

To future and aspiring students of fashion, I would say ‘just say yes!’ to any and every opportunity that is presented your way. You will never know what you are capable of currently — or capable of learning — until you try.

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