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Artist Bruce Asbestos collaborates with Art & Design students to launch his first fashion collection

The Nottingham-based artist worked with students from a number of course areas to produce a clothing collection, which debuted in an impressive catwalk show at Nottingham Contemporary last month

Outfits from Bruce Asbestos' A/W18 collection. Photo David Severn
Outfits from Bruce Asbestos' AW18 Collection. Photo David Severn

Oversized structures, waffle dresses and shoes made from loaves of bread. These were just a handful of the outrageous and unexpected designs which made their way down the runway at BA (Hons) Fine Art alumni Bruce Asbestos’ debut catwalk show last month, in which he launched his first clothing collection for A/W 2018.

Opening to a sell-out crowd at Nottingham Contemporary in the Lace Market, the garments marked the culmination of a year's work and included collaborations with students from NTU’s School of Art & Design. He described the project as “one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.”

This remarkable project - a true crossover between fashion and art - was born from Asbestos’ fascination with Textile Design. Having taken the subject at school, Asbestos has been harbouring a regret that he had never explored the use of textiles in his art practice thus far. So he approached the BA (Hons) Textile Design course here at NTU, and set Year 2 students a live project to devise concepts in response to his brief, challenging them to taking European folk tales and surrealism as starting points.

The Textile Design students’ responses to the brief impressed Asbestos hugely; resonating with his own creative approach and ideas, he was spurred on to continue the collaborations and to develop the concepts into something costume and performance-based.

“It has been a fantastic experience. The students were exceptionally creative, and were significant in bringing the collection to life.” - Bruce Asbestos

As an artist not afraid of challenging the conventions of the art world, a clothing collection represented something more broadly available than other art forms, whilst remaining performative and new. With an interest in the choices and decisions made as an intrinsic part of being human, Asbestos was drawn to creating a relevant participatory artwork; “Even the most unfashionable person still makes decisions about what clothes they wear”, Asbestos says.

To support the fruition of his collection, Asbestos collaborated with MA Fashion Knitwear Design alumna Ruby Kirby, along with a number of BA (Hons) Costume Design and Making students who joined him on placements. A photoshoot ahead of the catwalk show provided further scope for student involvement; Asbestos enlisted the support of students from the BA (Hons) Fashion Communication and Promotion (FCP) course, who helped to develop his brand through styling and shooting look book content, maximising this across his eminent social media channels.

Textile Design student Lauren Brooks told us: “Experimentation is something that’s important to me, and through the other live projects I haven’t had the chance to be this creative.”

FCP student Zoe Brice added: “It was an incredible experience to be able to have such a creative input, working in an industry environment and most importantly helping to achieve the client’s vision.”

Asbestos commented: “It has been a fantastic experience. The students were exceptionally creative, and were significant in bringing the collection to life.”

And by the sounds of it, this will be the first of many collaborative projects between Bruce Asbestos and students from NTU’s School of Art & Design. We can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with in the future.

Published on 18 June 2018
  • Category: School of Art & Design