Council for Fashion & Social Change
Social Impact Through Collaboration


Jessica Mcgrady

An exploration of self to generate a new female understanding of cultural street wear. Street wear is not about being comfortable, it is about how you carry yourself in these clothes. ‘ she is heavy in the growth of having to grow’.

Jessica McGrady is a Womenswear designer who recently graduated from the Royal College of Art’s MA Fashion (2016), prior to which she obtained a BA Fashion Atelier at University for Creative Arts, Rochester (2014). During her postgraduate studies, she was awarded the IFF Prize for having developed a highly conceptual perfume project that focused on creating new systems of assigning and curating scents, based on personality and character traits. Notable industry experience includes personal mentoring by Alan Norris, the head of Hardy Amies who is tailor to the Queen, as well as assisting avant-garde designer Iris van Herpen in the months leading up to her couture show. Describing her work as 'accepting of wearing me' and 'pack mentality of I', Jessica’s focus as a creator is fundamentally centred around the exploration of the self; giving rise to languages not yet pronounced in the current fashion landscape. It comes forth from a relentless need to investigate alternatives in design: how to create clothing that's everything one does not expect it to be? How to remove oneself from preconceived notions and add new commentaries and ways of seeing to the general discourse? Eager to move away from common thinking of design as being only ‘good’ or ‘bad’, Jessica aims to create room for understanding and interpretation. Her masters collection came to fruition through the process of creating spaces, installations and performances - which saw her install herself into a mass of materials whilst nonsensory, blind painting sessions and moulding new bodily forms. By doing so, she was able to transpose herself into unknown territory and take away the familiarity of how we generally think of clothing and how we dress as women — allowing her to not reference from the outside, but solely reflect on personal core principles and the communication of these. Drawing primarily from her south London roots, the work is a response to the unapologetic women she grew up with -- those who have their own stance and maintain a different dialogue. “They are not delicate things,” Jessica describes. And so, her garments are not weak or feeble either, but are designed to be used and worn. Documentation and analysation were of great importance to the design process, and Jessica meticulously captured the thoughts and feelings of the wearers (sometimes herself during toiling stage) in a notebook, allowing to make informed design decisions. The clothing governed how the women felt: stronger, protected, enhancing a self-assured attitude. The collection embraces the search for a new definition of femininity; challenging the ideas that have historically been assigned to this ‘mode of being’. Jessica excels in primary research, pattern cutting, tailoring, illustration and communication -- her work, at its core, is rooted in design with function, purpose, place and person -- a focused narrative in an industry where, ideally, she would like to see a greater appreciation for conceptual design in womenswear. Understanding that we find ourselves in a ‘what you see is what you get’ type of consumerism -- not entirely discarding, but appreciating the need for commercial design -- Jessica is convinced that we need to develop new conceptual frameworks; influencing emerging designers to think differently about their work and how it is received in the industry.








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