Claudia Savage designer Natalie Hutton Q&A with


Interview with Natalie Hutton

by Brooke Hunter

Question: Congratulations! How did it feel to win the World Of Wearable Arts Avante-Garde award? 

Natalie Hutton: Thank you. Outer body experience would the best way to describe it. It's taken some time to sink in. I'm an exceptionally hard critic on myself at all times in all things so having such a long standing and internationally renowned creative institution recognise you in such a way has really knocked me into and unfamiliar head space. I'm not used to feeling "good enough" and my brain is having to re-evaluate that narrative right now. 

Question: Can you tell us about the piece, Echoplex – Goddess of Reverb? 

Natalie Hutton: Firstly, it's heavy – around 15kgs thanks to almost 50m of heavy silk satin which was hand stitched and sculpted into "honeycomb" like patterns that flow into an almost 2 meter train. All of this is held on the body by a tight lace corset covered a delicate beaded French lace and built up at the shoulders with clusters and dripping Swarovski crystals. I first came up with the design in 2010 but didn't start working on the piece until approximately 2015 before finishing it approximately 3 days before the deadline for submission to the WOW Awards. 

Question: What inspired the creation of Echoplex – Goddess of Reverb? 

Natalie Hutton: All my work is inspired by the shapes I see when listening to music (Weird, I know.) but it's something my brain has always done and over the years I've let it influence my work – it's hard not to. The garment was actually never intended for the World of Wearable Art competition, it was the finishing piece to my current collection "Synaesthetics". 


Question: What originally motivated you to start Claudia Savage? 

Natalie Hutton: The long of it is I had always wanted to be "an artist" which to me was drawing and painting what I wanted and living off the proceeds of sales. Well, a combination of losing my folio in a fire and the discovery that most people wanted me to draw their partner or pets put me well and truly off the idea of illustrating for others. 

I decided it was worth trying to tap into something else I was good at but felt there was more extensive career abilities in the fashion and related industries such as pattern making which is needed in so many areas of life that wasn't just fashion so I had a few not as creative, creative fall backs! I then spent a year building a design folio to use for applications in to fashion related courses and during that time thought I should brand myself with a label name. Claudia because I'd always loved it and Savage because I wanted a cutting sound after the curvy "Claudia", thus Claudia Savage was born. 

Question: Can you share advice for up and coming designers? 

Natalie Hutton: First up, stop reading about what I'm doing and get back to what you were doing, those garments aren't making themselves! But really, if you're spending a lot of time worrying about what others are doing you'll never get to your own work and you will have a LOT of work. If you're interested in the more high-end or artistic areas of fashion, remember that what you are creating is a luxury product and what you are doing predominantly (to the outside world) is being creative, so be prepared for people to perpetually question what you're doing, why you're doing and no matter how well you think you're explaining yourself, them not understanding and gently offering or insisting you "get a real job". Also, being a luxury product means that people don't need what you're making so get ready to advertise why they should come to you when they do decide they want something special. 

Be very prepared to do everything – designing, researching, fabric and trim sourcing, learning new technologies, courses, pattern making, construction, marketing, websites, social media, PR etc but realise there are times you'll have to let go and have others do things for you (I'm looking at you fellow control freaks). 

It's not always going to be fun but the fun parts should be worth the epic stresses of it all. 

And finally, don't work for free. I repeat: DO. NOT. WORK. FOR. FREE. You will be approached by many people asking to provide them with garments, styling etc for exposure or worse, asking you to pay for the privilege of having your work featured in someone else's event. What you will get is damaged garments, lost garments, a couple of photos that don't say anything about your brand and no ability to use your work for your own purposes because it's covered in makeup, ripped and…..what even is that stain?! 

Your time and your skills are worth paying for just like everyone else on that shoot or in that event being paid to be there. 

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Question: Can you talk us through the ethos of Claudia Savage? 

Natalie Hutton: Opulent. Singular. Savage. 

Opulent - We want to focus on creating a feeling of luxury through the use of materials such as wools, silks and combine this with patternmaking that moulds the body while still maintain comfort. You my laugh at the prospect of a 15kg gown feeling comfortable but if a garment is made correctly then it will feel amazing regardless! 

Singular – We aim for truly unique works which are guided both by our unique designs process, extensive use of hand stitching applications and patience to see them through. Combine this with the influence of our clients and you have something that has never been done before and frankly, you'd have to be slightly nuts to take on again! 

Savage – Because sometime you just want to make a statement without words. 

Question: What's next for you and Claudia Savage? 

Natalie Hutton: I have a capsule bridal range to create; I've been working on the possibilities of a small ready to wear range which I'd like to release as "limited edition" quantities. There are still pieces related to our "Synaesthetics" collection that I would like to tackle thanks to the volume of knowledge I've collected working through the other pieces. Clients, let's not forget my clients! 

And somewhere, in the distant future, I hope to sleep but not quite yet. 

Interview by Brooke Hunter

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