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Talent Emerging: Cassandra Verity Green

There is something quite bewitching about Cassandra Verity Green, the Hampstead Heath-born, London-based knitwear design and basically the next best thing to hail from Central Saint Martins – well in knitwear anyway. This bewitched feeling that you get from watching her carefully crafted and put together SS14 collection, ‘Neptune’s Daughter’, might come from several things. It may be the fact that her lovely Nan – former style icon and beauty queen – formed the inspiration behind the collection that was a roaring success at Graduate Fashion Week. It could also be because Green decided to grab her goldfish and placed them in Perspex backpacks, because who doesn’t want to take their pet fish around with them on a day-to-day basis? You kind of get the gist, Green likes to and dare I use the phrase ‘think of outside of the box’ and does so with conviction and successfully. Green has emerged from a new breed generation of designers who are bringing something new to London’s fashion table so lookout for the designer that wants to redefine knitwear in the modern sense – one where we no longer associate the craft with cute grannies who make booties. Her use of intricate fabric techniques and unconventional materials – straws and crystal spiked beaded used to adorn the garments injects a certain fun factor into her work without compromising on the element of luxury. Basically, Cassandra Verity Green is nailing it.

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Planet Notion: Hi Cassandra! Introduce yourself?
Cassandra Verity Green: Hiya! My name’s Cassandra Verity Green and I am a recent BA Knitwear graduate from Central Saint Martins. I’ve always had a strong interest in art and from a young age, experimenting with my clothing. I studied art throughout school and college, focusing on textiles and fabric manipulation. I experimented with this further during my foundation course. My Nan (Nanny B) taught me to knit at a young age and has always been one of my style icons. Also my sister is a fashion photographer and from my early teens I have always been involved with her shoots by helping with styling and creating sculptural garments utilising things from around the house. This has helped contribute to my design aesthetic and interest in fashion design.

PN: I watched your first season collection film several times. I was enticed by the fun factor in it; what is your aesthetic?
CVG: I take lots of my inspiration from memories I have as a child, from colours, textures, stories I have heard or feelings I felt at different stages of growing up – anything that brings nostalgic memories. Through studying knitwear I’m big on texture and mixing embellishment with different volumes. The whole collection has a fitted lycra element which runs throughout, even with the oversized pieces the knitting underneath is stretchy and has no fastenings. I also like using things that I find around me, which resulted in me using drinking straws as beads that I connected into the knitting. I used lots of clear elasticated knitting mixed with a fluffy eyelash yarn I used in waves of colour.

PN: So, fish swimming in Perspex backpacks – what inspired this?
CVG: The whole collection was inspired by a combination of stories that my Nan told me as a child of her 1950s beauty queen days, combined with imagery from a synchronised swimming film, “Neptune’s Daughter”, starring Esther Williams. This led me to seaside imagery, glamorous swimwear and a dreamy, pastel world. Things like water and seaweed were key inspiration for my yarn choices, so the use of these for accessories was an obvious connection. I already kept the fish as my household pets, and have always been into rucksacks and accessories in general, so was inspired by the idea of a futuristic society where people would be able to take their pets with them anywhere.

PN:Knitwear often gets a backseat in fashion, how are you bringing it to the forefront again?
CVG: Knitwear is a constantly growing area of fashion design, where the possibilities are endless. It is a traditional craft that is still only at the beginning of its revival and I want to bring a fresh, contemporary eye to knitwear design and bring it to the forefront of fashion we know today. I want to generate a reputation for innovative, creative use of techniques and fabrics, which are multi-disciplinary within textiles.

PN: I read you had a major Spice Girl obsession growing up; who inspires you today?
CVG: My Nan is, and always has been a huge inspiration for me, as well as my Mum and sister. Women in general are really inspiring, especially when they are confident, with their own style and the ability to pull off anything they want to because of this.

PN:How important do you feel it is injecting personality in your work?
CVG: I feel by creating garments with a more personal touch means that the wearers will feel they are investing not only in luxury, hand made knitwear that they will want to cherish forever, but also in my aesthetic and me. I would like to generate a following of customers and enthusiasts who are intrigued and excited to see what comes up each season. I am currently creating pieces that are flamboyant and striking, all that tell a narrative, which makes wearing them a more interactive experience that invites the audience to share my vision.

PN: What has been the most valuable lesson you have learnt so far?
CVG: It might sound a bit cheesy, but I’ve realised just how important it is having enthusiastic people around me who are willing to invest their time to help me create my collections. From my family, to my housemates, to my helpers at Uni; without their support my work wouldn’t be what it is today.

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PN: Do you feel the fashion industry provides enough support for emerging designers?
CVG: Although there are a lot of opportunities for sponsorship and investment, such as Fashion East, NEWGEN and Vauxhall Fashion Scout, I feel that unless you are based in London, it is quite hard to apply for and even hear about these options. Even though I live and studied here I feel that I wasn’t made that aware of them, and heard about them mostly through word of mouth and in industry during my internships rather than from my university. However I do feel that of all the main fashion capitals, London is known for, and does have a focus on, new, emerging talent, and is where a lot of the biggest designers around today found their feet.

PN: What was it like interning for Nasir Mazhar?
CVG: Nas has such a great energy with his work and has an amazing eye for fashion. I learnt some really great skills and had a lot of fun working with him. He experiments with so many different techniques and explores all possibilities, he is similarly quite crafty in the sense that he uses everyday objects in his work, like a mask made from trainers, but presents them in a high-fashion aesthetic.

PN: Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
CVG: My Mum always says, “Whatever happens, you’re not going to die.” Which sounds quite blunt, but while working in stressful situations it always comes to mind. I feel like although this is my passion, in the grand scheme of things it isn’t that important to everyone, so I should have fun with it and present this through what I create.

PN: What’s next?
CVG: I’d love to be able to gain backing from a sponsor, and be able to build and create a strong brand aesthetic that really allows me to express myself, and in turn inspire and interest people and help bring knitwear into the forefront of the British fashion scene.

-Hardeep Gill

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