In conjunction with the summer 2015 photoshoot, Stonewash Magazine spoke with each of the graduating Lasell College designers. They shared a few thoughts on inspiration, process, style, and what important lessons they will carry with them as they venture out into the world of fashion.   -Editor, David Sano

 

 

 

Designer Erin Sanders based her senior collection on a very unorthodox subject. “My collection was based on anxiety and panic attacks,” she says. “I was just kind of trying to illustrate what a panic or anxiety attack might look like if it was in clothing.”

The idea for Hysteria struck Sanders as she struggled to find inspiration. “I saw this article about a girl who had anxiety and a doctor had told her ‘Write in a journal, and that might help you during an attack,’ ” she recalls. “They had three pictures of her writing. In the first one it was completely legible. You could understand it. In the second one it was crazier. In the third one it was almost like a graphic print, like it didn’t even look like handwriting. So that was my original interest. I liked that progression, and so that eventually translated into my collection.”

 

 

 

 

But for Sanders, it wasn’t just a matter of appropriating the suffering of others. In order to conceptualize the designs for Hysteria, she strove to feel empathy for the afflicted. “I was trying to put myself in the shoes of someone who does have serious anxiety,” she recounts. “I don’t, but I know a lot of friends and a lot of people who do… I tried to put myself in that position and imagine what it must feel like and then do my best to translate that into clothing.”

The process of doing research on a serious issue like anxiety and creating designs from her increased awareness made Sanders aware of a calling within. “I think that this collection has inspired me to do things that are more important,” she says, adding that she has sometimes struggled to find meaning in a prospective career in fashion, and that designing and making clothes can seem downright “frivolous” when compared to work directed toward the greater good of humanity. However, Hysteria proved to Sanders that she can bring a sense of purpose to her designs that goes beyond aesthetics. “This collection has taught me that I could talk about issues and bring about a discussion and bring to light something that people don’t really know about, through my work,” she says. “This collection – has inspired me to continue doing that, and to draw inspiration from other issues and important things in my life and in other people’s lives.”

However, becoming so invested in the meaningfulness of the designs can make critiques and changes difficult, as Sanders found out. “When you design, it’s like your whole life is in that one thing, so changing it is like ripping you apart,” she says. In making adjustments however, Sanders did gain valuable perspective. “There were certain aspects and certain pieces that I ended up changing in the end – which was hard in the moment with that individual garment, but in the long run, I’m looking out for the good of the whole collection.” Sanders sees the process as a balancing act, one that will hopefully get easier with experience. “I need to take in people’s criticism and advice, weight it against my own, and see what’s important and see what’s going to work out in the end.”

While the design is one thing, the fabrication is another, and Sanders is thankful that Lasell devotes adequate resources to both. Sanders studied abroad at the London School of Fashion, and it was there that she made a horrifying discovery – that many of her contemporaries from other schools weren’t learning how to make clothing. “Some of the other girls who were design [majors] never had to take a sewing class before, they didn’t know how to sew, they would design stuff on paper, but they would never actually have to make it.” It was a chilling revelation. “I was really shocked by that, because that’s not at all how it is at Lasell. Everything you design you have to make yourself.”

The well-rounded curriculum paid off in terms of experience. “I think that this year, this collection and this whole process of having to do everything myself – from designing, to producing, to running the show – I think that has definitely prepared me,” Sanders says. She will get a prime chance to apply her new skills in the costume department at Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida. “It’s not anything I’ve ever done. It’s not something I really thought I would see myself doing, but this is a great opportunity and I’m really excited to try that out.”

However, Sanders still has plans to develop her own collections and designs, and her goals go hand in hand with her ideas about style. “I think [style] is incredibly important. It makes you who you are,” she says. “Everyone talks about clothing as an expression of who you are – it’s how you tell the world what you think and what you feel. Style is just an extension of that. It’s feeling confident and good in what you’re wearing and having your own look. And so every designer and all clothes I think, are just a tool for helping people get that.”

Sanders is confident that her designs can fulfill that mission “I want people to appreciate the craftsmanship and the work that goes into it,” she says. “I put my whole life into these clothes, so I want people to be able to appreciate that. I want them to feel comfortable and confident. I mean, those are the best clothes – you have a certain shirt or a certain outfit that when you wear, you just feel on top of the world and no one can touch you. That’s what I want my clothes to do for people.”  -Editor, David Sano

You can see more of the Hysteria collection and explore Erin Sanders’ other work at  www.erinleasanders.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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