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DESIGNER SPOTLIGHT: Grace Stephens and Amelia Bartlett






Grace and Amelia are two deeply talented young women who have created a dress nothing short of a masterpiece. Inspired by the theme ‘deconstruction’, they created an astoundingly symbolic and undeniably chic garment. The dress unveils a ‘deconstructed body’, in which, upon the black underdress, lies a red heart with pieces of a scrap red fabric flowing from it. The centrepiece was made by hand-twisting wire together to create a honeycomb effect. This wire represents the veins  circulating the human body, with the gaps between the wire symbolising cells. Fastened with thickly interwoven wire, the exoskeleton is made to resemble a spinal cord. The resulting piece holds great power in unveiling the versatility of fashion and its capacity to both visually impress and artistically express. 


Despite taking an impressive 30 hours over the course of 6 weeks to complete, the girls found all those hours of twisting wire to be quite a therapeutic experience. There was a brief period of anxiety during the garments’ creation, when they were unsure if the wired exoskeleton would form their desired shape, but evidently their hard work paid off! The duo also worked on a dress for last year’s Trashion show, made for their beautiful model Anika Chatterjee solely from cardboard and glue, which certainly had its detriments - and valuable lessons were learnt. They chose to work with wire this year as it is far more structurally sound, and twisting the wire to bind everything together is far more sustainable than glueing. 

Amelia’s visit to a Barbara Hepworth exhibition played a key role in inspiring the final piece; she adored Hepworth’s use of wire across her works surrounding costume and stage, specifically her ‘Apollo’ Sculpture. Grace was awe-stricken by Iris Van Herpen’s ‘Skeleton Dress’, which was designed and created in 2011 for her Couture Runway Show and was Van Herpen’s first ever 3D-printed piece. Grace and Amelia’s dress resembles this concept, and unsurprisingly, much like its inspiration, had all eyes turning along the runway.  


Grace and Amelia each began their garment making hobby a few years ago  and have continued to rework scrap fabric and old clothes into innovative and authentic new pieces, ranging from denim bags made from parents’ old jeans to cushions and puffer jackets. The girls hope to merge their designs and create a brand, selling reworked, genderless pieces for affordable prices.


When I asked the girls about their experiences partaking in the Trashion Show over the last couple years, their responses were overwhelmingly positive. Grace explained how endless support has been and has been constantly reminded that there truly are no rules, regulations or boundaries when it comes to expression. Amelia stated that her confidence in experimenting with new styles within her day-to-day outfits is ever-growing thanks to partaking in the show. They both enjoyed the show’s positive atmosphere, which unfortunately is not up to par with the wider fashion industry, still brimming with exclusivity and judgement. They both hope that this can change in the years to come, as smaller, yet equally talented names, such as Zomer and Diotima, are rising to the surface and unveiling their talent on the runway.  




I closed our wonderful interview by asking the girls to name their 3 current favourite people in the world of fashion, and here are their answers: 


Grace: influencer and model Mia Regan, Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake and fashion influencer Freya Mackee.


Amelia: model Iris Law, influencer Percia Verlin and Ashley Rous of Best Dressed.


When the girls, alongside their model Anika and photographer Katie Riley, were walking through the streets of central Bristol to commence this photoshoot, they were struck by a wave of people complimenting their work, a sign of a truly mesmerising and multifaceted work of art that we were lucky enough to see blessing this year’s runway. 



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