In 2013 I won a competition during my degree at Central Saint Martins with my designs for Freedom at TOPSHOP. The project started by a bit of a “fuck it- I’m not at all girly or commercial* so I’m just going to have fun!”. I was really into architecture and the evolving London skyline especially in The City: going from more rounded and low old buildings to this mix of abstract shapes protruding in glass and overlapping like collage. So- with my geeky love for collage- I strut around Bank, eyes to the sky (bumping into huffing businesspeople), with my camera snapping away. I printed the images and traced over the intersecting lines over and over, collaging and layering these lines until they formed abstract shapes in which I cut out, then collaged around the neck of my mannequin and flatmate**.
I played and played until little shapes started to emerge. It flowed so nicely. Eventually I got to a stage where I had to think of the commercial element. Much inspired by the Shard and Renzo Piano’s designs, clear acrylics and laser cutting provided a great broken glass like effect that was easy to produce and slot together like abstract chain links.
On the day of The Big Pitch to a large panel of celebrity judges, I nonchalantly popped my work down and set off the the pub with my fellow classmates, ready for the project to be over. Being a huge lightweight, my one drink at lunch left me lucidly reading the message from my tutor “You have been shortlisted as a finalist to present your work to the judges. Be there in 15 minutes.”
The first point of call was to ring my parents I guessed and peacock “Mum- I’m a finalist!”. [Squeals]. “And I’m also a bit drunk.” [Silence]. Anyway, the tipsiness seemed to work in my favour and the pitch seemed to go well. The next was standing in a line with the other finalists waiting for the winner, camera rolling for the moment when…. I think I left my scarf in the pub, I’ll have to go on my way home. This is taking a long time I should have brought a book today, I hate reading though, I can’t wait to sleep and pack up….”Evie Armstrong-Clarke!”. Oh dear, what’s that they want me to do?. I look up and say “Shit!” -nicely for the documented moment.
To cut a long story short from this point, I developed a whole collection with the Freedom Team and what a fun adventure that was. I even got on local BBC news because it’s a fact that no one from a village manages to do something fancy and public- unless it’s involving cattle or crime.
Thus concludes my first little catapult into the world of commercial jewellery. The End :)
*Bit of early-age-closed-mindedness mixed with art-school-teenage-stroppiness. I have since adored doing elaborate, commercial, feminine jewellery design commissions just as much as menswear and unisex pieces.
**A thanks to Kitty Garratt: An amazing fashion designer and dear friend who you should definitely look up if she is not already famous by the time anyone reads this!
Additional thanks to models: Louisa Ballou and Arvida Bystrom