Richard Dawson graduated from the highly coveted Central Saint Martins College in London, and this coincided with working with Kylie Minogue’s creative team so you couldn’t look for a greater break. Following an extensive series of positions in the fashion world, Richard founded his own label Forgotten Future in 2009. Embellishing on various themes, each season shows great strength with the label set for a strong future with the vision of a true creative mind.
James Oliver: Can you tell us about how your childhood and how you first got interested in fashion?
Richard Dawson: I grew in the Midlands during the 80s and 90s, I was one of 5 children. I had a fairly creative upbringing during my early years. My mother was a keen dressmaker and my sisters were always sewing clothes for their dolls; our school jumpers were hand knitted, so I suppose I grew up with fashion of a sort, in a home spun way.
JO: How do you think studying at St Martins has shaped your critique and career? There is much made about the illustrious school and the names to have graduated are quite notable so can you provide us with an insight as to how the school makes a difference.
RD: The uniqueness of St Martins and what sets it apart from other fashion colleges are the characters on the courses, the colourful staff and one is treated like an individual – there’s no right or wrong way. I’m sure it’s different there nowadays but when I was a student you had to be self-motivated in order to survive, as guidance on the BA was fairly thin on the ground but this is good practice for working on your own label. Everything I learned on the MA from course director Louise Wilson I put into work with Forgotten Future, it made me a much better designer: I only design what I or my friends would wear and appreciate the importance of tweaking the silhouette into something more subversive and interesting.
JO: Can you go into a bit of detail about what you have done since graduating from St Martins?
RD: My experiences have been fairly eclectic during the past 10yrs: after graduating I worked as a styling assistant with Kylie Minogues creative team until my first design position, which is always tough to get!
I have designed for various well-known High Street retailers, independent brands and designers, in both women’s wear and menswear across all product areas. I’ve always tried to work freelance as the flexibility suits me and you don’t get involved with company politics. Most recently I’ve been designing shoes and a capsule knitwear range for Nana Aganovich’s Spring/Summer 2012 collection.
JO: What are five words to describe Forgotten Future?
RD: Boyish, progressive, modern, eclectic, spirited.
JO: How would you explain your style?
RD: This would have to be the same as answer 4.
JO: What is the core concept of Forgotten Future? Can you please explain?
RD: The core concept for my brand is to take inspiration from a discarded (forgotten) item. As a starting point this could be from a vintage source such as old photographs and clothing. I like to take influence from these finds, reinterpreting them with a modern new take (future).
JO: You apply some very interesting themes to your collections, can you explain the source and where you find inspiration from these themes?
RD: Initially I look to bring a new perspective on an ignored or unknown subject matter incorporating a sense of my own past and interests. Personal memories crossed with artistic sources such as the iconic self-portrait of Cornish artist Christopher Wood and photos from family holidays to Cornwall during the 80s helped influence the Spring/Summer 2012 collection. For Spring/Summer 2011 I found inspiration from a photo album bought in Spitafields Market featuring scouts during the post war, both in and out of uniform. I combined the utility qualities of their clothing with vintage sportswear from my own wardrobe/archive, interpreting in a modern way.
JO: What is the theme for the autumn/winter 2011 collection? Can you tell us more about it?
RD: I started with the palette first as I really wanted to make a strong colour statement. An image of a Russian artist wearing a cubist pattern scarf was the original inspiration and it grew and developed from there. I knew of the work of photographer Perry Ogden who in the 90s documented the disappearing youth culture at Dublin’s horse fairs in a much-loved book ‘Pony Kids’. The photographs pictured the youths wearing an eclectic mix of pattern, texture and generational hand-me-downs with sportswear styling creating a pared down equestrian tribal uniform. This helped influence the collections proportions and prints. I was also looking at the post war vibe of utility and the ‘make do and mend’ approach too much-loved garments.
JO: What direction do you see Forgotten Future going from here?
RD: I would like to collaborate with a jewellery designer, work on an accessories line and maybe some kind of presentation during fashion week, fingers crossed.
JO: What music are you listening to at the moment?
RD: I’m listening to Bjork’s new tracks ‘Biophillia’, Patrick Wolf and Sylvester at the mo.
JO: Favorite film?
RD: That’s impossible to answer and often changes! I can think of three though that really stand out and I’ve watched many times: ‘Donnie Darko’, ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ and ‘A taste of Honey’.
JO: Who do you think we should interview next?
RD: You should interview my friend Illustrator/Artist, Cary Kwok, he’s very talented, funny and one of the most stylish guys I know.
Interview by James Oliver