Julie Impens

BA (Hons) Jewellery Design 2010

Central Saint Martins

Description

Despite my mixed origin, my mother being French and my father being Belgian, I always felt deeply connected to the country where I grew up.

I have always been really interested in the history of France and its very unique notion of luxury. Nevertheless, it is only by the time I moved to London by myself, 4 years ago, that I started, in the contact of other cultures, to realise and to cherish how important my national identity was to me and to my work. I started to really understand to which extent my origin was indeed shaping the person and the designer I was becoming. Linking my collection to my home country history was therefore the path I decided to choose to explore my identity as a designer.

For my degree collection, I decided to pick a muse, to inspire my work, a woman who symbolises a sense of French grace, lavishness and femininity that I am emphasising in my designs. My muse is Marie Antoinette d’Autriche. Despite the fact that she wasn’t born French she is the most famous queen that France crowned over the centuries and symbolises in an ironic contradiction: one of the most famous era of the French monarchy and its loss.

Inspiration for my work came from Marie Antoinette herself and also the epoch she lived in, which is why I looked at the Rococo era and the splendour of the court of Versailles but I used those elements in a more modern and graphic way. My inspiration also came from Napoleon III and his famous wife Josephine’s era associated with an art current called the naturalism. In addition I have looked at the beauty of the eighteenth and nineteenth century garments and detailed laces, which also portray the wealth of French heritage, at a time when France was associated with grace, leisure and an utopian lifestyle.

My collection is a way for me to refer to the nostalgia of these times of great leisure and which had a great cultural impact, a time when life was simply different and when France shined all over the world and established itself as a cultural exemplar.

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