“The next big thing” is a phrase that is thrown around in a seemingly loose manner within the fashion industry at large, but seldom does it have any real consequence to the chosen novice. When said novice has the likes of international heavyweights Miuccia Prada and Bryan Boy express interest in his designs, however, the prophecy is far more likely to be fulfilled. And so it is with near certainty that Elliot Ward-Fear will make his mark in the fashion world, and Sydney will always be able to lay claim to his starting point. If isn’t the praise that drives his success, it will undoubtedly be his passionate ambition and the sheer confidence he has in himself, which saw him set his own forecast for achievement long before it appeared in any blogs or magazines. Forging the ever forgotten relationship between fashion and art with a mark that is truly his own, Elliot has brought an almost foreign avant-garde aesthetic into Australian fashion, and it was one which turned heads throughout the industry when he launched his label this past fashion week. Elliot paused from his plan for world fashion domination to tell us what the future has in store for him and why he owes it all to his family.
I have read that you pretty much always wanted to work in fashion. How was this nurtured when you were growing up?
My family always encouraged me to draw clothes and make them once they saw that I had a keen interest in dresses – back then it was not so much about fashion. So from about the age of five my interest has been fostered and encouraged.
What are your earliest memories of yourself designing?
My earliest memory of designing would be when I was around five, flying on a plane to London with the family. My Sister Georgia and I were playing with those paper fashion dolls, where you folded different outfits around her little flat body. I didn't like the clothes that she was wearing so I drew my own.
Seeing as you just recently graduated, tell us a little about what the school experience was like. Did it help you hone your design philosophy? How did you progress as an artist?
Yes it Definitely did. At the start of design college I was very much a raw talent. I had concept and great illustration skills but my designs were all very deconstructed and leant towards haute couture, as that was what first really inspired my passion for design. College taught me about the principals of design and how to collate a unified range drawing from all of the elements of design that I had learned. There was a lot of trial and error. I was lucky enough to have teachers that allowed for experimentation and really let us explore our imagination. Needless to say, they also weren't afraid to tear you to shit if you fucked up, but it was all a part the learning process. It certainly toughened my skin. I was given so many amazing opportunities at TAFE, I wouldn't be where I am now without having gone there.
You have had a pretty positive response since you launched at fashion week. What is your reaction to it all? What do you attribute your success so far to?
I'm totally humbled by the response that I've had so far – I feel a great sense of being embraced by an industry that wants to foster and promote my brand. I attribute my success so far to my family, first, as they have put so much of themselves into my success, friends and teachers for their support and those who have seen something unique and created opportunities to share my vision with others. Also to myself!! I've worked damn hard over the last few years.
What has it been like getting support from the likes of Bryan Boy and Miuccia?
It's been phenomenal to be given the opportunity to put my clothes in front of a really dense international fashion audience. I've had a great response with some pretty exciting possibilities having come out of it.
“Edgy”, “futuristic” and “avant-garde” are words that have repeatedly been used to describe you. Would you say you’re intentionally creating clothes that fit that description? What aesthetic are you aiming for?
I intentionally aim to interpret a concept; the clothes just tend to move in that direction . It's something that I can't move away from...not that I want to! That said, innovation and the avant-garde are tattooed all over my mission statement, ergo my brain! I will always innovate and push boundaries.
I’ve also read that you will soon move to London. When will this happen? What are you aiming to achieve there? Why London?
It's the mother country for me! My family is from England so I want to spend time there fostering my brand as well, and using it as a base to launch myself further into the international realm. Plus I feel like my design aesthetic is very "Londonish".
What are your thoughts on the Australian fashion industry and where you fit in with it all?
I really respect the Australian Fashion Industry. It's a fast growing Industry and I feel really privileged to be launching into it at a time of such growth both domestically and internationally.
What is your general philosophy on fashion – and the world of fashion – at large?
I think that fashion should always excite and inspire its audience and take them on an adventure. The world of fashion I don't fully understand yet as I've only experienced certain facets of it so far. I can't wait to see it all.
Where do you want to see yourself in 10 years?
In ten years I see myself being creative director of my own multi national fashion label that stems into every facet of design, from both women's and menswear to accessories to perfume and skincare. I'd also like to have a go at industrial design and object design.
interview: Seema Duggal