Interview with designer Jay Briggs

is a fashion designer and headpiece designer who graduated in 2013 with a BA Honours in Fashion Design from Manchester and showed  last year at

How did you know you wanted to study fashion design?
Fashion and making clothes is something that has always been with me for as long as I can remember. As a child I can remember not being allowed a barbie doll to dress up and play with “as they were for girls”, so I made my own by making a wool wig for my Ty Beenie Monkey and making her clothes with bits of fabric my nan gave me, and out of old socks I found in my mums cleaning cupboard. Or at Halloween I always used to make my own costume (that being a witch, naturally) out of bin bags I’d cut up and stick together with cello tape, and I’d always be the first one in the dressing up box, especially when dresses were in the equation, so I suppose it was only natural that I’d go into fashion eventually.

Who were you influenced by while you were growing up?
You could say that my nan was the biggest inspiration to me growing up as naturally we have a special bond which has got stronger as I’ve got older. She always allowed me to express myself as an individual, and inspire me on a creative level by helping me make costumes for school productions, taking me to the theatre and to the Gilbert and Sullivan shows which she used to take part in.

She will forever be the goddess of the fantasy world which I live in, and I wouldn’t be on the yellow brick road to my dream if it wasn’t for her constant love and support.

Can you tell me about the inspiration for your graduate collection 2013?
Spirituality and witchcraft is something that never fails to inspire me. Its always been a huge fascination of mine ever since childhood, I love the pre-conceptions and mystery which surrounds the concept or idea of witchcraft in general, so it made my debut/graduate collection “Malleus Maleficurm” personal to me, knowing it came from within.

The “Malleus Maleficurum” is based on witchcraft throughout the 15th and 16th century. The “Malleus Maleficurum” was a book written on the prosecution of witches in 1486 by Heinrich Kramer, a German Catholic monk, which served as a guidebook for inquisitors during the Inquisition, and was designed to aid them in the identification, prosecution, and dispatching of witches in the later years.

Did you do any internship that influenced your work, gave you insight or that was significant in any way?
I think interning is a crucial part within a fashion students studies, you don’t really understand how much knowledge you absorb until you get back to working on your own projects. It gives you a true insight into the industry with how it works, the real pace of it all, and genuinely inspires you as a creative, by giving you the hands on experience and meeting a wide range of people. But most importantly it develops you on a personal level and makes you understand more clearly where you want to be within an industry which so many creative and talented students are fighting to get into.

I interned with East London based fashion designer and visual artist Alex Noble for 3 months, and a further 3 months with the milliner Piers Atkinson, both designers offered me invaluable experience on different levels, but above all making me understand the concept that everything you can imagine is real.

What is your inspiration for your AW14 collection?
My “Melusina” collection is split up into two parts. AW14 showcases the collection of headpieces and SS15 will showcase the bespoke full looks which go alongside these headpieces.

The “Melusina” collection is based on the 14th century Plangent myth and tells the story of the water nymph, however I’ve given the tale my own dark, gothic twist.

Melusina was born half water nymph and half human. When her mother punished her for wrongdoings against her father Melusina was cursed to become a serpent from the waist down until she met a man who would marry her under the condition of never seeing her on a Saturday and keeping his promise, so that she could bathe in the water and transform into the water nymth her mother had cursed her with…

It was instant love between Melusina and her prince. He took her to his kingdom that very day and married her, with the promise she may bathe alone, however as the years went by Melusinas prince slowly aged, yet she remained radient, beautiful and enchanting, as immortals do. Slowly curiosity got the better of the prince, and he broke the promise, as men always do, and she sweeps him into the depths of the water with her scaled, fishy tail and turns his faithless blood to water…

The story of the collection goes, “that man will always promise more than he can do to a woman he cannot understand.”

Who are your favourite authors?
Phillipia Gregory is my ray of light. My main source of inspiration comes from historical references, mainly from the Plantagenet, Tudor and Elizabethan periods of British History, and the whole idea of dressing up for daily court life and putting on a show for the monarchy. I’m literally entrapped in the novels written by Phillipa Gregory which tell the story of women who history forgot, around this period, yet initially were the driving forces behind the huge changes evolving the shape of the country, however their whole lives were suppressed by men, just their vanity and enchantment went to their advantage. Its these types of women which I want to dress, the women who take power into their own hands, stand tall for what they believe in, but above all enchant their victim.

What do you eat for breakfast?
I’m a black filter coffee and a cigarette kinda guy, hung out the window talking to the stray cats.

Do you feel that there is a lot of pressure for a new graduate to start showing a collection the next season after graduating?
On a personal level I feel that there’s an unbelievable amount of pressure surrounding the collection which follows your graduate collection, as when you show at Graduate Fashion Week, you have then set the bar with what is expected from you, so you have to go beyond what is expected of you to gain credit, so your not deemed a one hit wonder, and fight to keep your name out there as there are many talented and creative students, universities from all across England produce year after year. Its easy to get lost amongst it all and I just think you start university with a dream, see it through until the end, no matter how hard the battle can get at times. You have to fight through, as only you can do it, you command your own army.

How would you describe your aesthetic/brand?
Captivating the empowerment of women with a dark fairytale twist.

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