Members of the invitation-only TheFashionSpot forums are well-known among other fashion lovers for their enthusiastic reactions to new runway collections and fast sharing of new pictures and scans. Some have already made a name for themselves in the industry and some have all the potential to become part of the fashion elite in the future. In our continuing series, we are spotlighting some of the most outstanding and interesting contributors to the tFS forums and giving a peek inside their offline lives.
During Fashion Week, the Fashion Spot forums are the place to be for all fashion fanatics wanting to share pictures and opinions on recent Spring 2013 collections. One member whose comments one can always look forward to reading during Fashion Week is Joshua, a fashion design graduate who posts under the alias Crying Diamonds.
Joshua is 22 years old and based in the UK, having just recently graduated in fashion design from Bath Spa University. He hopes to secure a six-month internship in either London or somewhere else in Europe soon. Joshua has been a member of the forums for four years and is well-respected for his insightful posts about design techniques and historical aspects of fashion. As someone who understands the process of creating fashion, he offers highly interesting reviews on Haute Couture collections, those on the most recent Valentino and the much discussed debut collection by Raf Simons for Christian Dior Haute Couture being just two examples of his many great contributions.
Joshua waring a silk-satin version of the coat on the mannequin, both of which he designed.
In our interview, he told us more about his appreciation for history and craftsmanship and his plans for the future as a designer.
The Fashion Spot: Joshua, when did you start becoming interested in fashion? Has the design aspect of fashion always been your main interest?
Joshua: As tacky as it sounds, even as a child I used to draw Snow White with felt-tip pens wearing puff-sleeves and trailing skirts. I used to create magazines of designs for different members of the family, usually incorporating some sort of crinoline taffeta ballgown.
Though I imagined myself designing, I was just drawing, and this lasted right up until I started attending Art College. Breaking free from school uniform I discovered charity shops and became something of an obsessive label whore for a while, scouring the charity shops only for labels.
As a side effect, I honed my eye to quality, details, and gained fake-spotting abilities.
tFS: How has studying fashion design changed the way you look at collections and the design teams that are behind them?
J: My mother is a metalworker and jewelery designer and she has always told me that whenever you start understanding how an object is made, it ruins buying that particular object for you for life. This is because you can now tell how much work has been put into an object and can appreciate it or dismiss it accordingly. I suppose you lose the consumer's view.
This can be very true of fashion design, mainly because fashion has such an enormous front to it — shiny shop windows on the exclusive Bond Street and perfect women in prestigious shows in the city of love. Though I now know the ins and outs of garments and I have had first-hand experience of the enormous amount of work and the stress that goes into creating this enormous facade, I find that being away from it, as I am now, I get that desperate desire to go back to it, strangely attracted, once again, by the same things that attract a consumer.
I think by studying fashion design or interning at fashion houses and then looking at the collections shown during Fashion Week, you learn to respect the designers and design teams that you can see are truly doing a lot of work, and suspect the people that only appear to be. Like I have previously mentioned with my mother's pearl of wisdom; it sort of ruins the romantic aspect of a fashion show.
tFS: I’m always impressed by how much you know about the history of fashion. Did you learn most of that at University or did you read up on those things yourself? What are some fashion books you would recommend?
J: History absolutely fascinates me, and this is not at all exclusive to the history of fashion; history and art are my two other great passions apart from fashion.
I really don't know where I learn what I know, I tend to have a very selective memory — I will remember a random fact, often without the source, and forget my friends' birthdays. I suppose I learn them from books, documentaries, museums, etc. I found the fashion design course's Historical and Contextual Studies absolutely fascinating, especially seeing as it was set in the world famous Bath Fashion Museum.
'Fashion, Desire and Anxiety: Image and Morality in the 20th century' by Rebecca Arnold and 'Fashion at the Edge: Spectacle, Modernity and Deathliness' by Caroline Evans are two incredible books that delve into the meaning of fashion, historical and modern.
tFS: Who do you think are the most exciting new designers to have emerged in recent years?
J: This is one of those questions that makes one's mind go blank. I think in terms of bringing something new and interesting to Fashion Month, Pedro Lourenço is very exciting with some really great ideas, but I find that he lacks that sort of newcomer's charm which is inherent to those designers who struggle financially to put together a collection.
In terms of relatively new designers at fashion houses, I always look forward to seeing what Peter Copping puts forward for Nina Ricci, it isn't always to my taste but he really has a great aesthetic with an eye for those details that make garments interesting and unique.
I'm also extremely happy with what Clare Waight Keller is doing at Chloe, though she isn't new talent, so to speak, I very much appreciated her work at Pringle and was very pleased when she was chosen to replace McGibbon.
tFS: What shows and collections do you always most look forward to seeing in the show season?
Of course there are many others, and if in terms of excitement for magnificent presentation there's Chanel and Louis Vuitton, and Alexander Wang is usually pretty dramatic with some great music, though I don't always appreciate his designs.
tFS: You recently graduated from University. Do you plan to work as a designer, or what is your dream job?
J: My dream job is to be Karl Lagerfeld's heir! I've been applying for numerous jobs and hand writing letters to Houses applying for internships. I've had replies and been invited for some interviews. The plan is to save a lot of money so I can intern in London or abroad.
It's a matter of keeping the skills learned on the course fresh in your memory, I've been doing this by voluntarily making costumes for local productions and designing myself a new wardrobe.
The skills and my curriculum vitae are very specialized and so it's quite hard to find a non-fashion job for the timebeing — going by my C.V. I can make a dress but I can't mop a floor!
tFS: You always engage in interesting discussions in the Designers & Collections and the Fashion…In Depth forum. What are some of the other sections of the tFS forums you like reading? Do you have any favorite threads?
J: I love reading people's opinions, though I'm often mystified by them, so the Designers & Collections and the Fashion…in Depth parts of the forum are my regular haunts, especially during fashion week.
I think I made a thread named, 'What is your favorite thread?' a few months ago actually! I made it especially to express my enjoyment of the Overpriced Designers thread; if something is very expensive I want to know why — appearances can be deceiving. It's this fact and a little of the label whore seeping through, getting excited over a five-figure price tag.
I also enjoy the When Stars Wear Runway Looks thread, just out of curiosity, and of course the quiet Fashion History subforum which could be really great if the abundance of forum members with their wide knowledge could take part.