Charlotte Valkeniers and her S/S 2013 Black collection
Charlotte Valkeniers, 25, studied at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium, taking an Erasmus year at Buckingham New University. This is where she finished her BA, and what led her to go on to get the Fashion Artifact MA at London College of Fashion. Her curiosity for different materials and techniques has taken her to new levels of jewellery design.
Which of your current designs is your favourite?
If the final outcome of a certain piece is not fully what I want, I’d rather not put it in the collection or change it until it works, rather than be dissatisfied. However, if I had to pick one, it would be the big twisted bangle.
How do you personally feel about fashion, and how do you use it to express yourself?
I admire fashion for the reason that it allows you to see different sides to people’s personality. For me, trend-driven design is not high on my wish list, as I have found my style, what suits my shape, my personality and me.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I’ve only been out there for a few months, so everything so far it has been surprising and incredible. However, being in the finals of the ITS 2012 competition was without a doubt one of the biggest honours and a very encouraging experience.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Working with knitwear designer Sandra Backlund would be amazing!
Would you say your work is directed at a particular trend or group of people?
No, not at all. I do think my work has a strong visual signature and therefore would only appeal to people that are comfortable with standing out a bit.
What would you say your own personal style is? Do you have a favourite item in your wardrobe?
I would describe my style as being 80s, grungy, Scandinavian-ish. My favourite item would probably be a cobalt blue, draped, 80s cocktail dress. Day-to-day, however, my uniform is mainly coloured jeans and a silk shirt, casual jumper and biker jacket.
What are your favourite things about your job, any negatives?
The freedom and diversity it offers. Every day is different. As my studio is at home it does tend to take over life. At the moment it is also still incredibly nerve-wrecking as the future is completely unknown, but hopefully in a few years things will be a bit more secure.
When was your brand created, and what was the inspiration behind it?
My brand was created straight after graduation. Initially this wasn’t really the plan as I wanted to work for another label for a while before setting up my own. It all happened quite quickly when Blow Presents picked up my work at my graduation show.
Please tell us about the creative process that went into your current collection. What techniques were used?
The collection was inspired by a trip to Africa. The intense darkness that can be experienced there at night was something I had never come across. When you look around and the only thing you can see are thousands of stars… It’s pretty special.
Initially my creative process is spiked by researching the theme of the collection and making some initial drawings. At that point I mostly start making samples as I believe that 3D pieces should develop through making rather than drawing on paper. The development stage of the collection will often take a few months. Once a few key pieces are perfected, the others will just come naturally.
How would you describe your personality, and is this reflected in your work?
I would say I’m loud, curious, impulsive and I’d like to think funny and probably a little weird. I think this is not directly reflected in my collections. However, I do believe they add to my personality as they are simple pieces, yet they stand out.
What made you decide to become a fashion designer?
I don’t think it was ever a decision I took. It just happened.
To see Valkenier’s latest work and previous collection, click here to see her website of extraordinary pieces.