Designing a life in fashion
With a first class degree under her fashionable belt and a place in the finals of a major fashion award this month Tattenhall-based designer Bethany Hilton has got her future sewn up.
The 22-year-old former pupil of Bishop Heber in Malpas has ambitions to launch her own label after wowing the fashion crowd at Graduate Fashion Week with her nomadicinspired first collection.
Bethany, who studied art, textiles, business studies and Spanish at South Cheshire College before honing her craft at Birmingham University has a hands-on approach to her work which makes it fresh and exciting.
Textiles are what she has focused on in her budding career and she has used her experience of screen printing and fabric manipulation to create a unique first collection.
‘The design came from mapping as the concept was all about travel and nomadic movements and nomadic lifestyles,’ she says.
‘The print I took in a personal direction and created a map of Chester for one of the designs as that is where I grew up. Then there’s another print that featured circles and which represents my connection to the map and where my family lives or the important journeys I have taken myself.’
She created her designs through a mixture of screen printing and using glue and foils to create shapes and lines.
‘All the colour came from my research. I used blue, aubergine and navy as my colours, with highlights of a paler bluey grey. They came from when I was looking at the surroundings of Tibet and Peru
and those colours came from the rainbow mountains in Peru where a lot of nomadic people travel to. I was also inspired by the lifestyle of these tribes.’
Her debut collection of six outfits and accessories earned her a first class BA Hons degree and was achieved through hard work and some help from top name design houses, including Chester-born designer Amanda Wakeley and bridal designer Emma Beaumont, based in Knutsford.
‘I did some short work experiences with Amanda Wakeley and Emma Beaumont,’ she explains.
‘And I took a year out and did a placement as part of my degree, which is when I went to work for Iris van Herpen who is a couture designer in Amsterdam .
‘There I became a team leader at Paris Fashion Week and worked really closely with them to develop my hand work skills as all the collection was made by hand.’
While she worked fleetingly with Amanda Wakeley and on the team of Julien Macdonald and JW Anderson during her placement year it was working with Iris van Herpen which gave her a real insight into the couture world.
‘With Iris Van Herpen it was a close relationship. It was a really nice working environment in Amsterdam,’ reveals Bethany.
‘They taught me a lot about couture and about doing things by hand so I really appreciate the craft within fashion. I wanted to develop that and bring it into my designs. I have done everything myself, screen print by myself, hand print. It was really nice to develop those skills and learn new techniques.’
Bethany was lucky to experience with Iris something that every fashion student must dream of - working at Paris Fashion Week.
‘It was one of the most memorable experiences,’ she says.
‘I was working backstage, dressing the models and helping with the organisation. I helped with a lot of fittings and the castings of the models and it gave me such a huge insight into the industry. It was so memorable. I was with a great team of people and although it was very long hours and exhausting you were so motivated because it was so exciting.’
Now, fresh from her degree show triumph Bethany is busy honing her collection for the finals of the Midland Fashion Awards which are being held on October 12th.
She works in a summer house in the back garden of the Tattenhall home she shares with her mum Fiona, dad Martin and sister Ellie, aged 20.
‘They’re really supportive of what I do and helped me with a lot of the funding for my first collection,’ she says. ‘I couldn’t ask for better.’ Bethany’s dream is to launch her own label one day but for now she’s seeking an assistant position, maybe with a luxury brand so she can continue learning all about the techniques she loves to use.
‘I am looking for funding currently to get started,’ she says.
‘I’m looking for a large studio space as I would like to retain that crafted element of my work, whether it is screen print or fabric manipulation or embroidery. I’d really like to develop some funding and eventually launch my own label.’ bethanyhilton.co.uk
“The print I took in a personal direction and created a map of Chester for one of the designs”