London-based Designer Helen Howe is an expert in creating eye-catching textiles and fashions for women. Having studied at the regaled Royal College of Art, Helen has gone on to launch a successful international career—including being exhibited in artistic venues such as New York’s Governors Island Art Fair. Helen frequently fuses contemporary technology with classic hand-sewn techniques to produce clothing that is modern in style yet manages to contain classical—even historical—themes. Largely inspired by fantasy, much of Helen’s work is colorful and it has been featured in numerous publications such as Arts Thread, Textile View, Unique Style Platform and WGSN.

Recently, she spoke about her experiences as a designer.

Early inspirations

Blasting News (BN): How did you decide to become a designer?

Helen Howe (HH): Working in fashion and textiles has always been something that I have been interested in. Since I was about five years old, I knew that this would be my career path.

BN: Which styles interested you?

HH: Growing up I was attracted to art and design that were incredibly feminine.That has faded away in my own style and life but I think you can still see it in my design work.

BN: How would you describe your work?

HH: My work is an exploration of fantasy with references to traditional and classical themes.All of my work focuses on the marriage and balance of hand and machine techniques.

BN: How did you go about getting into galleries and/or public showcases?

HH: I have had things exhibited throughout my undergraduate and Masters degree courses, but the exhibition for New York Textile Month was probably the biggest exhibition I have done.

I was invited to exhibit as part of the Royal College after my graduate exhibition.

BN: Do you have a favorite piece?

HH: My favorite piece is probably the sequin skirt.All of the sequins build off of each other and I loved seeing them develop from being two dimensional into a fabric that is fully fashioned and functioning as a three-dimensional piece.It was really satisfying to see it come together.

BN: What are your mediums of choice?

HH: I don't have a favorite material to work with.I love being challenged and learning how new materials behave so I am always looking for new things to work with. I have been working on some more development with the sequins and I am presently continuing to develop that out.

Future aspirations

BN: How did you develop your eye-catching style?

HH: The sequins that I have developed started off as hand-cut and folded embellishments that I hooked onto my stitches as I knitted.As I continued to develop them I wanted the sequins to be intrinsic to the integrity of the textile rather than just being an embellishment which is how they became tessellating and interlocking.

BN: What has been the most rewarding experience being a designer?

HH: When I design things, I sketch out ideas and then think through how I would achieve them in order to create it.It always takes development before I am able to achieve what I am hoping to, but sometimes what you create is really different from how I imagined it would look.It can be different in a really horrible way and I have to start again but sometimes it can be different in a really wonderful and magical way and look unlike I imagined.It is an incredible out-of-body experience that has happened to me a few times and is definitely the most rewarding thing about being a designer.

BN: What advice would you give to aspiring designers?

HH: Keep your eyes open and look at everything for inspiration.Understand what you like and who you are and stay true to that when you design.

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