Saffron Walden fashion designer breaks the mould

A FASHION designer has broken the mould by creating a line which is full of deliberate mistakes…to rave reviews.

Kingston University student Vic Riches, from Saffron Walden, designed womanswear collection called Defects and Remedies which consists of asymmetric garments, eccentric tailoring and apparent mismatches.

“The errors had to look clear, deliberate and bold, really exaggerated,” said the 22-year-old. “It had to be obvious that they were meant to be mistakes.

“It was a very tough compilation to assemble. Working out how to rectify the defects was like doing algebra. It reminded me of simultaneous equations - and I hated maths at school. But this was a very enjoyable process and I got to try out methods I hadn’t used before.”

The outfits fit perfectly while, at the same time, appearing misshapen. Vic’s collection uses bold colours ��– blood red, sky blue and steel grey. The shirts all have oversized pleats and began life as experiments using leftover cuts of cotton, while three of her looks feature shirt cuffs without sleeves.

The collection has been funded by drawings she was commissioned to do for ‘Fashion Bites’, a book of spicy quotes about the industry, and is regularly hired to sketch weddings by couples who want something a little different to a traditional photographer.

“During my first year, I sent some illustrations on spec to fashion blog Style Bubble which then commissioned me to do some more. Other people spotted them and I’ve also been working for several popular magazines and retailers.

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“The editor of one magazine asked me to cover her wedding in Florence,” she added. “Word got around and I was interviewed by Brides magazine. After that, I’ve had people ringing me up the whole time – often a year and a half in advance. I normally do about 20 sketches at a wedding. I have to work quite fast – there’s no time to plot them out first.”

At the end of her second year, Vic won a competition run by Kingston University, with the prize of a three-month internship at Old Navy. The San Francisco-based designers were so impressed with her that they have now offered her a full-time job as a womenswear designer. Deciding to go to California was a difficult decision as she had also been offered a scholarship to study for an MA at Parsons School of Fashion in New York.

“Someone like Vic comes along very rarely,” Kingston University academic director of fashion Elinor Renfrew said. “Her final collection typifies her approach throughout her time at Kingston. She’s set out to stretch herself, to find out how she can repair designs that most of us would regard as damaged beyond hope. In the process she’s learned a great deal about fashion – and about herself.”