Specialising in woven and knitted artisanal wear, Nicholas Coutts talks us through the inspiration behind his craft in the December issue of House and Leisure. Here, we chat to the local fashion designer about his new fabric collection, Optimistically Abstract.
What are the defining features of the Arts & Crafts movement that inspires your designs?
The Arts & Crafts movement constantly inspires my designs as my core concepts always evolve from my weaving. To quote William Morris, ‘Industrially manufactured items lack the honesty of handmade ones’. This is the philosophy I stand by and try to incorporate into my designs – simple forms, inspiration from nature, travel and culture.
What inspired the range?
My initial inspiration always comes from nature. This time, mountain contours, and then the inspirational process progressed to include other influences. For this range, I worked with weavers in Khayelitsha in Cape Town who helped me build my woven tapestries and taught me new skills, which was a very inspirational experience.
What materials did you use for the new collection and why?
The fabrics are high resolution scans of my woven tapestries. The whole process is quite lengthy and challenging. The materials used in the tapestries are wool, lurex, cotton, bamboo and sometimes acrylic. The scans are then printed onto silk, mesh and neoprene.
How does the range reflect African culture?
With this collection, vibrant colours and the ancient art of weaving are projected into a modern, yet classical vision of African culture.
What do you love most about fabric and fashion design?
I love it all! From the initial design, sourcing the yarns for the tapestries, the weaving process, deciding which sections to use, seeing the outcome of the printed fabrics and, finally, making the garments. I feel great satisfaction and pride when the garments are complete as they are completely unique to my vision.
Favourite designer to work for?
Dries van Noten.
Plans for the future?
Concentrating on womenswear and evolving my fabrics for interior and decor projects.