Jessica Lawrence enrolled at Kangan as a mature aged student, it was a big decision for her at the time, she didn't know what to expect, but knew in her heart it was the right decision.
Sticking to her passion, she has since shined in the industry, having won countless awards for her hard work.
During the student graduate runway her collection " Scent of a woman" stole the show, with her superb collection, it was fearless and strong. With the combination of mixing different fabrics such as faux fur, animal print, fringing and sequins. Jessica has also recently won the High Street Fashion Award for New and Emerging Designers at the 2016 Fashion Awards Australia, she is one to watch in the coming years.
Congratulations, you've graduated! Tell us your experience studying fashion design at Kangan? What were your fashion moments?
I have absolutely loved my three years of studying fashion design.
It was a big decision to go back to school as a ‘mature aged’ student. At the time I felt as though I had done every other form of career to avoid facing what in my heart, I had always wanted to do, and in the end, I ran out of excuses. Time to face the self-doubt. It had to be done.
Thank goodness I did, I really don’t know where I would be if I had not gone back.
I've had so many ‘fashion moments’ I guess you would say, and to be completely honest, all have astounded me. I am not comfortable talking myself up and writing this. Talking about myself has been by far the hardest part of the course!
But I am going to list my achievements as requested.
During second year of my course I won the ‘Fantasy’ section of Hamilton Fashion Awards
At Fashion Awards Australia I won 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Prize in the ‘Up-cycle’ category, and Tafe Student of the Year.
At the end of year Kangan Graduation Parade, I won ‘Diploma Student of the year’ It was a big year, and overwhelming.
This year, third year, At Fashion Awards Australia I won ‘New and Emerging Designer – High Street Fashion’
I was also one of the students selected in the ‘Emerging Collective Runway’ at Melbourne Spring Fashion Week.
This would have to be my biggest and most proud achievement. I am emotional even writing this. It meant so much to be selected and I put everything into it.
At this year's end of year Graduation Parade, I was voted ‘Best Runway Collection’
It has been truly amazing, but that is the highlights, and what I notice is that people think that everything is perfect and amazing, and they forget that so much happens behind the scenes.
As a mature aged student, I had to support myself throughout my schooling, so for most of my three years of full time school, I have worked two jobs to contribute my part to our household, and also to fund my studies, it has not been easy.
For huge periods of time, I lived on 25 minutes to 3 hours sleep a night. Don’t ask me how I survived, I don’t know, but I did it.
There is a saying – ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’
It's NOT necessarily an easy way, but there is a way.
My designs were very involved and took hours to develop, let alone construct, my time was restricted, but I was not going to compromise on my designs, so I cut out sleep and did them.
I knew what I wanted to achieve, so I did whatever it took.
You ask about the hard times finishing? Well because of my designs and time pressure, I was always running right up to the deadline, and yes sometimes over it.
My nature is not one to ever push boundaries, and going over deadlines was a boundary that I felt sick about pushing, but I had denied myself this course for so long, that I had to do this for me and what I had to express, so deadlines were pushed. There have been so many tears over the amount of work I had set for myself, and so many times that my job had to come before my course that I could have given up. But I don’t do that.
So I kept going, and suffered the embarrassment I put on myself for being so stretched.
For your final collection, what was your inspiration behind it, and how long did it take you to complete?
My inspiration came from a number of areas. The name of my collection is called ‘Scent of a Woman’ And it is reflective of everything it is to be a woman. The inspiration comes from the Art Deco era, and well as ‘Old Hollywood’ Glamour, and also the liberation of Disco in the 70’s. The four outfits each had an animal appliquéd/ made on it. Each of these animals spiritual meaning reflected back to us as women, and who we are.
The Leopard reflects strength,The Horse Wisdom,The Eagle – Freedom,and the last one, not a traditional creature to put on an outfit – the spider, reflecting creativity and Feminine Energy.
One key point is that all of my garments UNDER each coat was incredibly involved and complicated, even though you could not see a lot of the work. This also reflects back to us as women, because while you may not see all our detail, we are very deep and yes complicated, and there is far more to us than meets the eye.
The time they took to complete? Each outfit would have been a minimum of 100 hours, but most would be closer to 150 hours.
The Leopard appliqué, for example, took 8 hours just to attach to the coat, and that is without any other part of its construction included.
The spider’s web took 20-25 hours and the spider itself took 25-30 hours or more.
But everything has to be perfect - in proportion, and in execution - to be sure people are receiving the message I am sending, so the time is vital and worth it. For example, I unpicked and moved the spider legs sometimes only 3 – 5 millimetres because they were wrong. Wrong is wrong no matter how small an amount they need to be changed.
Most difficult thing you've had to learn since studying fashion design?
Not being the perfect student, and by that I mean, not getting everything in on time or achieving High Distinctions every time. Sometimes all you need is a pass. I am sure the teachers may disagree, but when you have to balance family, life, work and school, then sometimes not perfect is needed. I have had to put up with comments about me pushing deadlines, that cut deeper than you would think, but I had to do what I had to do.
..And the best thing studying fashion design?
I'm finally doing what I believe I was destined to do. Sounds big, and who knows where I will end up, but this was something I had to do.
I have a voice and a vision I would like to share.
Also being totally impractical with clothing. So fun, and why not have fun with what we wear?
You've only just started your fashion journey, what's next for you?
I would like to work in the fashion industry, within an established business, and contribute and learn within that business, and I would like to also start my own label at the same time. It has to be done, I have come this far.
Advice to anyone wanting to study your course?
Don’t look to other current fashion labels for ideas. Those ideas have been done, find your own, but DO learn about history and fashion history. Listen to other people's input, but don’t just do it because they say, express your own voice.
Be confident and strong with your belief in yourself. Sometimes this only comes with time, and it has been an advantage being older, but don’t be swayed by others. You may be doing something no one else has done, that’s not wrong, that is new, and that is what history has shown that the world remembers.
I remember part of the reason I did not start earlier was because my ideas were different to what I could see around me, and I thought that meant my ideas were wrong.
Finally, just do it. Don’t look for, or expect an easy ride. It won’t happen.
It's simple: Work hard. Do more. Work hard. Do more. Work hard. Do more.
As I was setting out on this path, Frank my husband and I had discussed, that I was 38, and going to be 41!!! When I finished. Yikes.
But you know what, I was going to be 41 anyway. If this is something you think you want, Be bold. Back yourself. Do it.
photo credit: PNP media.