For Sage Townsend, fashion accessories or fashion artefacts aren’t just about functionality and aesthetics. The young, English designer likes to explore the power of fashion as an educational tool and international political platform. She wants to break taboos and challenge the traditional limits of what she considers accessories. Sage dares to speak out about topics like female genital mutilation and its negative effects on women’s sexual and psychological health.
After studying Fine Arts, she decided to explore the world of fashion using fashion artefacts as her medium at the London College of Fashion. Her recent collection, created as her thesis project, represents a series of female genitalia. They are sculpture-like and can be worn as a bag or a hat and they demand that the diversity of the female figure not be subject to pressures to have the “ideal body”.
With a long list of awards and recognitions behind her (Cordwainers’ MA Scholarship, The Leathersellers’ Company Award y Better Lives Procter & Gamble Award), Sage has amazed us and, obviously, we wanted to find out more. You can add another artist to the list of people So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins will be following closely.
SO CATCHY!: You have studied Fine Art before Fashion Artifact. Why did you decide to change your path?
SAGE TOWNSEND: I don’t think I have. I see my current work as a combination of Fine Art and Fashion. Working three dimensionally is something relatively new to me, so using fashion as a political platform to express my ideas is an interesting progression from drawing and painting. I feel as though there is still so much that needs challenging within the fashion industry, such as body image, objectification, misogyny, racism, and using fashion itself to make an accessible statement about such matters feels very direct, more so than if I made a drawing or painting about it.
SC!: What is a fashion artefact for you?
ST: It was my tutors, Dai Rees and Naomi Filmer who introduced me to the potential of what a fashion artefact can be. I think it should be informed by historical and contemporary context whilst pushing the aesthetic boundaries of what a fashion accessory is regarded to be. I appreciate artefacts that have conceptual reason and political purpose behind them.
SC!: The theme of your drawings is recurrent: intriguing sexuality. Tell us about what you feel about this.
ST: Drawing is a way for me to indulge in exploring and sometimes playing with sexuality without having a physical sexual experience. I would say I’ve been aware of my sexuality from an early age and creativity has been/is a way for me to channel any intrigue or suppression I may have felt/feel. I find drawing fulfilling and stress relieving, kinda like good sex.
SC! Do you think that people are ready to understand your message in the world of fashion?
ST: I hope so! I understand that I am delving into taboo territory for some people but I believe subject matters such as female genital mutilation and genital anxieties should not be regarded as taboo. My work aims to open this discussion though the accessibility of fashion.
SC!: What’s the most important lesson you have learned as a fashion student in LCF?
ST: To stay focused even when you feel incapable of accomplishing your vision. Keep working at achieving it, and then work at perfecting it. Don’t give up no matter how knackered you feel or shitty you look. I think it is also very important to be true to yourself and what you believe in. Dai and Naomi have supported and encouraged this notion, I feel lucky to have progressed in their good company.
SC!: Describe the kind of woman who would wear one of your fashion artefacts.
ST: I’m hoping my work will appeal to a broad range of women and men from different backgrounds.
SC!: Do you plan to sell online anytime soon?
ST: Yes hopefully, I’m also open to commissions.
SC!: Do you plan to create a more wearable collection soon?
ST: I would love the opportunity to push myself further, go bigger and even more sculptural! However, there is also a challenge in stripping down an idea and making it commercially viable, certainly within the financial aspect of my work selling and its political context becoming more accessible.
SC!: What are you doing right now?
ST: Aside of job hunting, I’m trying to read as much as possible. It’s tricky to find a balance between making and informing myself about why I’m making when I’m so heavily involved in the process. I can’t really do both during the same period. I mean, I can’t work in the studio all day then go home and read. So it’s either studio action or book time (when I can afford the luxury of that).
SC!: What would you like to do in the near future?
ST: To make money whilst being creatively and conceptually engaged. I would also like to work as part of a team. As much as I enjoy working independently I find being surrounded by other creative people healthy, and I enjoy working on varied tasks that push my own creative capabilities. I find that rewarding.
SC!: Would you like to try out designing other objects (like shoes)?
ST: Shoes are a whole new world to me, there’s so much skill and knowledge involved. I think if I were to make shoes, you probably wouldn’t be able to walk in them. They would probably turn out like big, padded sculptural slippers that would make you fall over and roll around. Actually, that sounds good! Maybe I’ll make shoes next…
SC!: The person you admire the most.
ST: My family who are incredibly talented and passionate human beings, they are my greatest inspiration.
SC!: You can’t stop wearing
ST: Any thing my Mo has made me. The latest is a tracksuit made out of fleece material with a polo neck. It has a vine print running all over it. It’s entertaining and I look about 16 in it.
SC!: Your favorite material to work with is…why?
ST: Thermoplastic because vacuum forming is such an instant treat. But I also love working with wood and leather so that’s a tricky question.
SC!: Your favorite fashion designer is…
ST: Rei Kawakubo.
ST: Fashion is in need of…
ST: political awareness.
SC!: Name a website or blog you love.
ST: Klobbaklanks on Tumblr – I make it with my Sister, so much on there I love!
Photography – The Capture Factory
Model – Merci Ogole
Make-up – Anna Hall Inglis Hall
Styling – Kathy, Lydia and Sage Townsend
You can see more here: www.SageTownsend.com
Translation and Layout by Michael Padilla