Thursday, September 28, 2023

Former Grays student is taking the America fashion world by storm

AN ART student who grew up in Thurrock but moved to the USA to Georgia is taking the fashion world by storm.

Bryony Umfreville has just graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

We wanted to find out more, so through her college, we had a Q and A with Bryony.

You can find out more about Bryony’s work here

  1. Tell us about your collection.

My menswear collection is the story of “Catch of the Day.” My original inspiration began with my grandad. He joined the Royal Navy when he was just 18 years old and his love of the sea played a major role in his life. That love was passed on to my father, who enjoys fishing as a hobby. The classical elements of my collection are directly inspired by traditional sailing uniforms mixed with the practicality of fisherman workwear. I have portrayed this through the use of fabrics, such as orange marine vinyl that is traditionally used on boats. I took these practical ideas and wove them into my own as a way to pay homage. 

My collection is a vision of my grandfather’s life and my father’s passion and translating them into my own identity as a way of honouring them both and relating to them in my own language.

  1. How much time went into preparation?

I started sketchbooking and storyboarding concepts in summer 2022, and from there, spent about three months developing and honing my ideas before I started any design sketches. I had never done menswear before so throwing myself into a completely different world was an exciting challenge. Throughout the last half of my senior year, I created samples in muslin fabric and developed my patterns before finally going into final fabric selection and creating the garments in May for the SCAD FASHION runway show. I spent almost a full year working on this collection for it to be what it is today, and I am so proud of the results.

  1. Would you say your work has style and innovation?

I think my designing style comes from studying vintage garments, past styles and trends. I absolutely loved researching the traditional navy uniforms and gaining an understanding of the practical elements of the garments, but then taking those styles forward, intertwined with my own ideas and visions to create something more modern. Fashion tends to repeat itself so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with looking back at history, I just think you need to put it into your own language because that’s when it feels fresh and like something new. My goal since the beginning was to create timeless pieces that can still be cool to wear in 50 years.

  1. Tell us a little bit about your life back in Grays/Thurrock?

I remember when I was younger my mum used to take me to Blackshots swimming pool, and I used to go kicking and screaming then. Little did I know I’d be swimming competitively for the club. Do they still make everyone wear purple?! 

I grew up in the cute little village of Orsett. Looking back I have such fond memories of that place. It’s so funny being in the U.S. and telling people I grew up in a village and them being so confused. 

I loved all the stone buildings, my favourite thing used to be stopping at the Orsett stores on Sunday mornings to pick up the newspaper for my parents and then using the spare change to buy sweets. Such good times. 

  1. How did you end up in Savannah?

My parents decided to move over to America after I finished secondary school so I think I always knew the plan was for me to go to university there. It was so strange being in sixth form and everyone was trying to fill out UCAS forms while I was looking up art institutions on the East Coast in the States. I got extremely fortunate with Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). I toured a couple of fashion schools, but none felt right for me. I visited SCAD’s location in Savannah and was instantly in love with the city and everything about SCAD. I knew it was the university for me – and their fashion design program is absolutely stellar. Here I am four years later, still in Savannah! I’d also like to say I am forever grateful to my parents for being able to make this happen for me. I am so fortunate for this opportunity.  

  1. Which artists (either side of the pond) influence you?

I think my all-time favourite fashion designer has to be Thom Browne. He is an absolute genius when it comes to menswear and womenswear. He has literally revolutionised the typical everyday suit in such a polished but fun way. It would be a dream of mine to ever get the chance to work near or for him. 

I also think Leon Dore is an amazing designer and brand. They’ve come out with a really good 2023 collection and I can’t wait to see what they do next.

  1. What happens now that you have finished the course?

Now that I’ve graduated, I’m finishing the end of June in Savannah before going up to Vermont for a couple weeks for a nice break. I plan on moving to New York in September and starting a new job within menswear while still creating my own personal projects on the side. I’m very excited for these next chapters of my life!!

  1. Is there anything else you would like to add? 

I would also love to say huge thank you to my senior fashion professor, Andrew Fionda. He was the best mentor I could ever asked for and helped pushed me to throughout the year to realize this deeply personal collection. I am so grateful to Professor Fionda and everyone within the SCAD School of Fashion. Because of the support I received, I was able to achieve everything I dreamed of with my final collection and college experience!


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