Life in Technicolour
LIFE IN TECHNICOLOUR
We spoke to designer Billie Jacobina about her foray into high-fashion and retaining a slot at London Fashion Week.
Kent never ceases to amaze. In our previous editions, we have seen a local start-up t-shirt company, an ultra-sustainable brand exhibiting in Paris and now we have our own designer making an assault on high-fashion.
Strolling along Canterbury’s famous city walls, Billie Jacobina recounts a whirlwind year which will see her present at London Fashion week in September… for the second time.
“Pigeonhole my style? A bit mental probably,” she says. “My personality comes out in my clothes I think. Colourful and crazy.”
Jacobina graduated last summer from the legendary University for Creative Arts in Rochester, which is known for its alumni of fashion icons such as high-street conqueror Karen Millen, jeweller Stephen Webster and designer Dame Zandra Rhodes – who remains as the Chancellor of the University.
“Zandra is like my fashion mum,” says Jacobina, referring to their similar style outlook. “I have met her a few times and she is a bit crazy, too. After uni I applied to work for her but she told me to go and do my own thing , and that I didn’t need to work for her, which was really nice to hear.”
Having finished her studies, Jacobina was selected to show her collection at Graduate Fashion Week 2016, and that’s where the whirlwind began.
She was awarded the British Council GFW Residency Award which saw her first fly out to Indonesia for three months to work closely with fashion brand ‘Lekat’ which resulted in a collaboration for Jakarta Fashion Week 2016.
“It was amazing to come out of university and win an award,” she says. “I worked with the designer out in Jakarta and learned all about sustainable fashion and new ways of creating fashion.”
But it didn’t stop there. Jacobina was then awarded the Fashion Scouts ‘Ones To Watch’ award for her Graduate Collection, which is highly regarded for up and coming designers.
“It has been a crazy year. In February they gave me my own presentation slot, which is a two-hour slot at Fashion Week. We created this set which was based on a party so it had loads of pink balloons and bright colours everywhere.
“It all went really well and it had a load of press and interest and people buying stuff. It was an amazing experience to have, and we have got another one coming up in September. It’s all go.”
The press attention has seen Jacobina have her on slot on the British Vogue website while her pieces were also used in the latest music video from X-Factor winner Louisa Johnson – Best Behaviour – which to date is closing in on 12 million YouTube views. Not bad exposure eh?
“It’s actually the outfit we are using today (‘cene shoot). I went to LA with all my clothes for the Louisa Johnson shoot. That was really cool.”
So where does her inspiration come from?
“It all comes from experiences I have had,” she explains. “So my first collection was based on a trip to Morrocco, and this collection is based on my trip to Bali. I designed the collection while I was still out in Indonesia, and then came back and made it all.
“One of my favourite pieces is a long coat that is hand-dyed and hand-made. It is all based on mermaids… I am sure people think I’m a nutter.”
Jacobina still has a part-time job just to pay the bills, but her fashion label is a real full time career now, too, with another London Fashion Week presentation in the offing. But that does mean that there is not too much time for multi-piece production to make more cash.
“I am not fully stuck into production yet, because a lot of people want the sequin-based products and they are very expensive to make,” she explains. “At the moment I’m making all the special pieces myself still. I am getting a lot of orders for pieces, but with fashion Week coming up I have no time. But we will get there.”
However, there is a Billie Jacobina online store which features British-made t-shirts, leggings and accessories based on Billie’s styles
For more information on Billie Jacobina, visit billiejacobina.com