The Central Saint Martins graduate show is renowned as a spectacle. Of the designers shining the brightest last year, Cassandra Verity Green and her aquatic collection are the first to spring into mind. Her collection Neptune’s Daughter was bright, full of colour. It was sweet and girly while being unique and unexpected - it was Measured Madness! Liking it so much we got in touch with her to use her garments for our SS14 look book. Aquascapism and Neptune’s Daughter - it was a match made in heaven. Errrr, should we have said the ocean? Turns out Cassandra is into Miista as well. Ideas were thrown back and forth... and we're now super excited to announce Cassandra will be collaborating with Miista for our SS15 collection! To make this slightly less formal, Cassandra sat down to talk to us about her work and ideas and all things in between. Of course we sat down behind our respective screens in different time zones - we're still at the Miista office in London hoping our building doesn't get blown away by the wind and she is in China currently working on a capsule collection due to be shown at the Spinexpo Shanghai next month. It was the CSM graduate show that brought her into everyone's attention and a part of her collection that got quite a lot of press after the show was the fishbowl backpacks. What was she thinking? Well, she cites the British seaside tradition of a pet fish being a prize at the fair, combined with a futuristic fantasy of a nomadic society taking their pets with them everywhere they go. Wanting to give the rucksacks an element of transparency, the fishbowl bags were born. They looked fresh and daring but using animals in a context like this can be a shaky ground to walk on. RSCPA clearly didn't think it was that cool but explaining how people can be wary of the fashion and beauty industry Cassandra is very aware of what stemmed the reaction. Firm that she would never endanger another living creature for the sake of fashion, she tells us in detail how the fish - her own pets btw! - were treated with care and respect during the show. The water temperature was kept just right, the PH levels were correct. She even made sure the bags weren't cleaned with harmful products before the show. Not quite the Cruella de Vil basically.
Nevertheless, she does like Disney. Fantasia comes to mind when telling us about one of her biggest inspirations in her work and life - her grandmother, or nanny G as she calls her. Her nan used to tell Cassandra and her sister stories of seaside beauty pageants. It seemed so real to them and it reminded her of the film. When we ask Cassandra to share one of those stories, we hear about a character called Tangly Tim - a creature that would hide in trees and pour honey into the hair of passing people. “She used to tell these stories with such enthusiasm and attention to detail you could almost see the story happening as she told it. Her creative mind is what I found so inspiring at a young age,” she speaks of her grandmother, explaining how she could always - and still can - be herself around her nan. She has no access to photographs of her nan in China but she did send us this beautiful video
of a beauty pageant her nan took part of. Her name is Brenda Thomas. You can see how sea is a continuing theme in Cassandra’s life. She saw the 1949 film Neptune's Daughter a year before starting her final connection and felt an immediate connection. Using it as inspiration was only natural. Allowing things happen on their own is fundamental to her. She says about her work it's important not to force the process and it makes sense. However inconsiderate it may be, creativity is hardly a nine to fine kinda thing. Whether it’s incorporating day-to-day happenings into her design process or looking at old memories or experiences for inspiration, her work reflects on her life and in that sense is constantly in development.
Working in a creative field isn't only about creativity though. Like its unlikely to find good advice in a writing class on how to do taxes as a freelancer, crucial elements about setting up one's own label are left out from a taught degree in fashion. Keen to learn, Cassandra did a placement year to find out for herself. Whether it's pulling 14 hour days just before fashion week or constant coffee rounds for the boss, we've all heard intern horror tales. Luckily for her, Cassandra managed to spare herself of the dread by going with smaller labels. She explains she got to know the designers and worked with them closely as the designs developed. "You get an amazing insight into the real world of fashion. The ups, the downs, the struggles," she says. If anything, she wishes she could have interned longer. Now done with interning Cassandra is in China. She fills us in on her work with Santoni knitting machinery and how the collection will recognise the importance of circular knits in sports-inspired fashion. Working on the machinery itself was a chance for Cassandra she couldn’t let slip. Her graduate collection was done using a domestic machine which means going from Neptune’s Daughter to ready-to-wear without loss of detail or quality could be tricky. With enthusiasm she speaks of how working with Santoni is such a great opportunity to help her figure out how to manufacture CVG in the longer run, as well as fundamental to understanding the future of knitwear.
Not the most obvious fashion choice, knitwear is certainly an interesting one. Being a very traditional craft it also has limitless options to experiment. Playing with materials, prints, volumes, embellishments and cuts is what Cassandra loves. Materials are a key element to her as they give a chance to work with a huge variety of textures and creating unique structures. Using different techniques and blending them all together, exciting fashion pieces are created. It's hardly the stuff the average grandmother keeps herself busy with. "You can construct a whole garment from a strand of yarn, which I find really fascinating," she says, adding the possibilities in knitwear are literally endless. You know, unless you run out of yarn. During her time in China she's been toying with techniques and fabrics in a creative way to get the most out of the technology - so that her designs are intricate and luxurious while still having the feel of lightheartedness. Fun is a word that rings through many times, it's what she wants fashion to be like. Her goal is to create an aesthetic that allows the people in her garments to enjoy themselves, be playful. She doesn't want fashion to be all serious. Neither do we! We're excited, both for her upcoming work in Shanghai and the collaboration with Miista. Her lust to experiment pushes forward and having her on board for the SS15 collection is a dead giveaway there's a lot to look forward to. Here's to Cassandra!