Stalked: Natalie Bell, Graduate Fashion Designer

10 July 2015

This year I toddled along to London's Graduate Fashion Week and as you can imagine this event is hot pickings for a stalker like with a passion for emerging talent!! This is also where I met Natalie, a recent graduate with a final collection that I utterly adored. I caught up with her to find out how she came to designing and her final show...

When did you know you wanted to be a designer?

In school I was talented at sewing and always pushed my self more in the production side of fashion ensuring things were sewn and fitted correctly, playing around with pattern cutting before I even knew how it worked. It wasn't until I went to university that I really moved into design, I wanted to choose a course that would nurture the need for precision in production as well as help in developing as a designer. After trawling through many universities I found Fashion Atelier, still a very young course I was originally sceptical that such a course could provide the teaching that the university's website promised. Yet It really did, two of the most influential tutors being Alan Norris a retired tailor from Hardy Amies and Eva Blonska a retired couturier from Hardy Amies, the knowledge they have to share is incredible and were always on hand to ensure that even the most difficult to construct designs were made possible. Being taught such classic forms of tailoring, enhanced my ability to design in ways that were classic and yet still clever and fresh. 

What inspires you?

My final collection took inspiration from how the skin ages, the negative connotations behind ageing are so vast and before ageing even happens to a person they are already fearing it, yet ageing brings wisdom and memories and a life that has been lived. I find such beauty behind age. There is a blog that I follow called Advanced Style and its based in New York, a photographer captures stylish women over 55 and the women are always so full of life and have passion behind the clothes they are wearing, they haven't just walked into a shop and picked an outfit from a mannequin they have crafted that outfit for years slowing collecting each piece. They filmed a documentary last year which is a must see, it is inspirational for life and fashion.  

How did you come to create your final collection and what techniques did you use?

My grandfather bought me a book from an antique shop in my home town near Leeds. Its from 1940's America and has different finishing techniques and sewing techniques, there is an edge finishing called a picot edge finish where you pulled the threads from the centre of the fabric, like internal fraying, then knotted them like a tassled scarf. So I gave it a go but knotting the fine chiffon threads together looked awful but pulling the threads out gave a really unique effect so before I knew it I was sat for hours dismantling the weave of the fabric to create internal fraying. It was something that I had never seen before and was much cleaner and more controlled than standard fraying. That one small technique led to the development of my entire collection.

Who are the designers you love at the moment? 

In ready to wear I really love Emilia Wickstead at the moment, her use of tailoring with modern fabrics and interesting pattern cutting is what I aim to do in my own work, and Celine everything is always very considered and effortless. With it being couture fashion week at the moment I can't contain myself there's so many incredible pieces coming out, new techniques being developed in Ateliers. Couture is so technically experimental, the craft that goes into each piece is a work of art and so unique. 

Five items you can't live without? 

I have a necklace that was my grandmothers it has a long gold chain with a magnifying glass on the end of it, she used to wear it everyday and now so do I. 

I have a black Cos jacket that I have barely taken off since I bought it, Cos is experimental with the way they cut clothes, everything is so classic but with a fun twist, perfect for work. 

A couple years back I bought a Kennet and Lindsel mannequin that I use constantly developing new techniques with interesting fabrics that I find at work and in London. 

I recently bought a beautiful brass maths set from Tom Dixon and use the set square all the time at work for pattern cutting and to be honest I use it everywhere, its always with me! 

Then of course my phone, having recently moved to London I would be permanently lost without citymapper!



  1. Some seriously cool pieces. Natalie's one to watch. I want that cleverly frayed floaty long dress!!


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