Graduated from Winchester School of Art, Jennifer Rose Lewis is one of the new designers to be followed. Specialized in Knitwear, she likes to look back at her childhood to find inspiration: nowadays fashion is often too serious, that’s why she makes a point of having fun in her creative process, leading to a lighter approach to design. She opted to specialize in Knitwear, as it allows her to have a full control over her creation, from the fabric itself, the colors, to the final garment. And she knows how to manage it with perfection.
Jennifer Rose Lewis grew up in South London, she is the middle child of a family of three sisters and a greyhound. Since childhood she has been affected by dyslexia, instead of being a disadvantage she always used it as a strong positive influence in her life, in particular in her creative development: when you have dyslexia, unlike other children, you have to learn to find a way to express yourself and to solve problems in your own way. This is what she did: as she reached her 20’s, she started university. As you know, university is not always an easy matter; she had to struggled with her own identity and the person she wanted to be as a designer, yet it appears she has succeeded in: she is now graduated from Winchester School of Art with a degree in Fashion and Textile design, specializing in Knitwear.
When she refers to her creative process, she says that she had so much passion and inspiration bottled up, and didn’t know how she should be using it. She looked back to when she was young, reminiscing over the simpler times. When you think about it, it was all about making things just for the fun of it, like when she created props and costumes for her own make-believe games.
Looking back over the past allowed her to have a lighter approach to design: in our present-day world, fashion is often overthought and designers always try to go deeper, but sometimes their messages become meaningless. Rather than over thinking, she just decided to create things she enjoyed making. Jennifer is inspired by some new icons, leading figures of this new working way – which extols the fact to have fun in the first place – to name a few: “Tavi Gevinson, Walter Van Beirendonck, or even Dr Seuss”.
This way of thinking, a return to simplicity going against the current approach, led her to specialize in Knitwear. Besides adding spontaneity, freshness and simplicity to her work, the fact of creating her own fabrics from scratch, meant that she had full control over what she was creating and more opportunity to experiment and play: it opens up another horizon to creativity.
For her graduate collection ‘The Cactus Hill Motel’, she was inspired by the idea of “the Cowboys and Cowgirls as archetypal icons, and the stereotypical beliefs seen on TV, children’s books and imagined during childhood games.” Jennifer thought about characters such as Mike Teavee from ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ to embody her collection and mixed bright purple cowprint with fluffy gingham and cartoon cactus graphics as key points. The Cactus reoccurs a lot in her work, for her it’s the ultimate symbol for adventure as it’s from a landscape that seems so foreign and make believe.
“Cowgirl play” is important to her as it allows girls to play games other than those based around domesticity such as, playing families or looking after baby dolls – and allows them to be wild and free. In many films and TV shows, the cowgirl often serves as an accessory to the main cowboy character even if the cowgirl too, can ride a horse and wave her lasso; but she is still just regarded as the pretty girlfriend. Her main point was to try to challenge these preconceived ideas in her work: she didn’t hesitate to knit guns to be held by the models, contrasting the violence and action usually associated with weapons, to the delicate and quiet nature of knitting as a woman’s craft.
For her creations, she use only fluffy yarns – so yes, her garments are as comfortable as they seem ! Even more. The paddedness of the collection fits with her ideas of dreaming and make believe, as well as the concept of protection and the happy naivety of childhood. In a nutshell, her collection will definitely take you back to those childhood days !
For the future, she wants to keep exploring her transition into adulthood and looks forward to seeing her work change as she passes through this stage of uncertainty.