Louise Bennetts constructs fashion collection
from cork and horsehair

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Louise Bennetts collection

Steel corset boning holds together garments made from thin layers of cork and horsehair canvas in Royal College of Art graduate Louise Bennetts' fashion collection.

Louise Bennetts collection

For her Phosphorescent collection, Louise Bennetts suspended fabric volumes from corset boning that was left exposed – rather than hidden under the material – and stained gun-metal black.

Louise Bennetts collection

"The sculptural properties of the corset boning really led the collection," said Bennetts. "I had to respond to its natural sense of movement as much as guide it."

Louise Bennetts collection

Bennetts used cork supplied by Portuguese company Pelcor Items, which she said had been mistaken for leather on multiple occasions. Glossy black jackets were made from horsehair canvas woven by English company John Boyd Textiles.

Louise Bennetts collection

"The materials are unique, and consistently mistaken for being things that they're not – it's great fun revealing to people what they really are."

Louise Bennetts collection

Bennetts also hand-foiled linens and canvases to look like shuttered concrete, which matched accessories cast in the architectural material and also stained black.

Clear rubber threads connecting different sections of the clothing allowed for a small amount of movement and bounce as the models walked.

Louise Bennetts collection

Elements from pieces in the first looks were reinterpreted as different sections in outfits later on. "I wanted to create a sense of each piece having developed from one that preceded it," said Bennetts.

She chose the dark colours and rough textures to contrast with the wearers' skin. "I wanted to create an overall aesthetic that felt strong, sculptural, but also distinctly feminine, achieved through subtle flashes of skin seen through the structure of the garments," she said.

Louise Bennetts collection

The conceptual designs include cuts and materials that can be adapted into production pieces, according to the designer.

"There are wearable pieces in amongst the more conceptual ones," said Bennetts. "The jeans represent how the cutting can be translated to wearable pieces, and how the materials can be made into small details, rather than dominating sculptural ones."

Louise Bennetts collection

The Royal College of Art fashion show took place in London on Thursday, when Marta Jakubowski presented her collection connected by trains of jersey fabric attached to metal headgear.