Backstage shot by Marco Walker
I caught up with up and coming textile designer Angela Hooker in London’s Covent Garden – the epicentre of UK fashion retail. Born and raised in similarly fashion conscious France, Hooker became fascinated by designers such as Alexander Mcqueen and Martin Margiela, who were making strong conceptual statements via fashion.
After graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2006, Angela tried to launch herself into the industry and found herself working within every aspect of the industry from buying to design. Angela’s first job on graduation was as a pattern cutter for a small company, but she didn't find it very enjoyable, and after a few months she went on to become a brand specialist for Balenciaga in Selfridges.
This position allowed her to have direct communication with customers and to start to understand their buying patterns. During her time at Selfridges, Angela was also involved in buying trips as an assistant buyer for Balenciaga, which culminated in her having a deeper understanding of the designer retail field and also helped to shape her perspective on textile design for designer brands.
Angela’s next step was to jump at the opportunity of working with her fellow student friends from Central St Martins, Danni and Annette Felder. Little did she know that by 2010, her second successful collaboration with the Felder sisters would be gracing the London Fashion Week catwalk – a pretty exciting prospect for any textile designer!
I posed a few questions to Angela :
What was the main inspiration for your print designs for the Felder Felder S/S 11 collection?
I’d been looking at some under water photographs in The National Geographic magazine. You can pick up so many colours from the sea – I really loved the rich pink of the coral.
We also produced a black and white version and did a lot of experimenting with bleaching.
When I first started with Annette and Danni, I did a lot of tie-dye; it’s a kind of trademark technique that we really want to push further every season, comprising digital design and bleaching.
What’s the design process for each new season? Is it difficult sticking to the Felder Felder design identity?
We talk about the collection from the beginning and then we brainstorm the silhouette, cut and colours. My job is to design the textiles and choose the colour palette. I then work on my ideas for the new season, and refine these to choose exactly what would suit the brand.
I’m finding that I am now learning exactly what Felder and Felder love, and what they want to see. I tend to mould my designs to them. I usually come up with 6-12 fabric samples – some of them are as tiny as A5 paper! – and surprisingly that’s the start of the collection.
Why did you decide to go into textile design rather than garment design?
I find that with textile design, you can make your artistic canvas come to life in 3D. You can still do that artistic thing and be creative, but you can also see people wearing it, which is great.
In school I learnt silk screen printing, which is very artisanal, but recently I’ve been really into digital design. I absolutely love it and I’m buying lots of books on it! I’m going to be focusing on digital design in future because it’s a really exciting technique and I’m really passionate about it.
Do you have any particular fabrics you love and hate working with?
I try to use modern textiles. I love velvet for its texture and shine, but it’s really hard to work with. I just want to now work on fabric that doesn’t fray when you cut it! I’d like to work with more modern fabrics.
Angela is now in the process of developing ideas for the next collection, but as we are rounding up the interview, she is excitedly discussing future ambitions for the brand.
From the Felder Felder pre collection to looking into the possibility of moving into the homewares market, Angela has ambitions.
The Henson apartment designed by the Felder twins using textiles designed by Angela
“I’m excited to work with furniture, so hopefully in the next few years I will be working on that, and you never know, you might just see my textile designs gracing the shelves of Liberty’s in London soon!”.
I hope so too.