Spotlight: Rachel Barrett


Written by Rebecca Griffith
26 Tuesday 26th October 2010

Born in Glasgow in 1985, Rachel Barrett began her career in fashion design at Edinburgh College of Art before graduating in 2007 with a BA (Hons) 1st Class Degree in Design and Applied Arts. Rachel then moved to London to study Womenswear at the Royal College of Art before graduating in 2009. In the past year, Barrett has worked as a freelance designer and has used her penchant for odd material combinations to create bespoke outfits for Lady Gaga’s Monster’s Ball Tour and Jared Leto for the tour of his music venture, 30 Seconds to Mars, as well as having her designs worn by Gaga in her infamous Telephone music video. Not bad for someone fresh out of art school.
Her MA collection featured the stark contrast of materials and textures such as her combination of silicon with lace and chiffon. By combining modern materials with more archaic ones that have been used in garment construction for hundreds of years, Barrett is able to create truly innovative pieces. In the second in our series of interviews featuring the three recipients of the MacArthurGlen Spirit of Fashion Awards 2010, Don’t Panic talk to Rachel about her inspirations, her latest collection and her celebrity fan-base.
What were the main inspirations behind your S/S 11 collection?
This season I've been working for Erdem and Heikki Salonen, since graduating from RCA I've been primarily gaining industry experience, as well as working on commissions for silicone pieces.
Your designs celebrate the feminine form – is this something we can expect to see more of in the future?
Yes definitely, I feel that the toughness of the materials I enjoy working with work best when balanced against very feminine shapes.
Lady Gaga wears one of your dresses in her ‘Telephone’ music video – how does it feel to have such a high-profile celebrity fan?
I've loved seeing her in my clothes- she's wonderful!
What kind of woman do you see wearing your clothes?
I don't envisage anyone in particular when I design. It's been far more interesting to see the different types of women (and men) who have expressed an interest in my work.
Which other designers do you admire?
Miuccia Prada for always doing something surprising.
What advice would you give to any aspiring womenswear designers?
Take a risk and experiment. Use your time at college to push out whatever ideas you have, even if they seem a bit mental.
How do you think your Scottish upbringing as influenced you as a designer?
I think studying in Edinburgh, and having the distance from London was good- quite liberating, although I didn't realise it at the time.
What are your aspirations for the future?
To create a successful label is the dream, but one step at a time....

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