Senior Spotlight: Emma Gage
This week we got to know senior designer Emma Gage. Keep reading below to learn more about her life as a design major, and make sure to follow the @maristfash Snapchat to see Emma take over for the day!
K&E: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where you’re from, if you have a minor, anything you’d like people to know about you?
Emma: I’m originally from Medina, Minnesota where I was born and raised. I didn’t really have a playground to spend most of my days because I lived out in the country. I have a twin brother, and younger twin sisters, so growing up there was never a dull moment. I’m currently minoring in product development.
K&E: What has your 4-year journey in the Marist fashion program been like?
Emma: Continuous growth. Over these four years, I discovered what I am passionate about within the industry and what inspires me to design. I grew my interest in combatting human trafficking within the supply chain. There has also been immense personal growth. Through some difficult moments and great moments, I learned how to progress through the ebb and flow that life offers. I have had countless experiences in the fashion industry, from internships to conferences held at the UN pertaining to ethics within fashion. These four years have set me up for what I want to do following graduation and they have given me the ability to do so.
K&E: What is a typical day for you like while capping as a senior designer?
Emma: There’s never really a typical day, but usually I go into the studio around 8:30/9 and then spend the rest of the day working. Usually, I’ll leave around 12 am, but every day is different. Some days I’m working on making garments, cutting fabric and sewing everything together. Other days I’m dyeing fabric or adding beading or embroidery to my work. It really depends on the day to day.
K&E: What inspires you as a designer, where do you find inspiration?
Emma: I’m usually inspired by personal emotions or literature/poetry that evokes emotions or deep thoughts. Everything has a story or a meaning behind it. Some examples of my inspirations are 1984 by George Orwell, White Bird in a Blizzard by Laura Kasischke, The Royal Tenenbaums, When I think of Death a poem by Maya Angelou, and To Be or Not to Be Hamlet’s soliloquy.
K&E: How has your work changed in the time that you have been a design major at Marist?
Emma: I would say my work has been more of a progression rather than a change. I put more of myself into what I do now, though. This collection and my one from last year have more meaning, personally to me than what I created before.
K&E: Are there any specific designer(s) that inspire you?
Emma: I’ve always been inspired by Alexander McQueen. Not in the sense that I want to aspire to that aesthetic, but rather that I have always looked to the stories and meanings behind the work that he created. There was always a voice and a message which I find to be intriguing. Rick Owens and Yohji Yamamoto are some other designers I like looking at.
K&E: What are the hardest parts of being a design major?
Emma: It’s all hard work, late nights, holes on my finger tips from needles poking into them, the constant desire for coffee, the personal criticism, the thoughts of hoping my emotions are coming through in what I’m doing, but that’s what makes all of it worth it. From start to finish every step of the process was something I created and I worked for which is ultimately very rewarding.
K&E: Do you have any hobbies outside of fashion design?
Emma: I love writing. I have a bunny so spending time with her is great. Reading, especially poetry. I love spending time in bookstores, not Barnes and Noble though. I also love watching movie trailers. I love spending time doing things that make me more observant or understanding of humanity. One of my favorite things to do is go to record stores with my dad.
K&E: What advice would you give to younger designers or prospective Marist Fashion students?
Emma: Learn the basics and the rules first. Get through those and when problems arise, learn how to move forward from the problem rather than thinking you have to start everything over from the beginning again. Be okay with mistakes and move forwards from them. Walk around the wall, climb over it, dig under it if you have to, but don’t allow yourself to be daunted by the fact that there’s a wall.
K&E: Could you tell us a little bit about your creative process/design process?
Emma: Every collection is different, especially this one. Usually, I begin with drapes and then print photos of those in different sizes to play around with scale and then I go from there. For this, though, when I first started I really had lost a lot of motivation. I had a lot of emotions running through me but wasn’t really sure how to translate that into my work. The only thing I really felt like doing was throwing paint down onto the figures I had sketched because I was at such a loss. So that’s what I did. I took different kinds of paint, dripped it onto my figures and after they dried I found the shapes of garments from them. Now as I continue working I allow the ideas to flow. I’m not chained to anything, but I know what I want to portray. I really do work as though I’m painting, building on top, taking away. There’s constant fluctuation.
K&E: How would you describe the aesthetic of the collection?
Emma: Empowered. This is about strength through hardship, through the challenges life throws us that we would never ask for, but have to find our way through. It’s about making it to the other side and seeing the resilience, the beauty, the struggle, and the triumph.
K&E: Could you describe your collection in three words?
Emma: Impassioned, Strong, Salubrious
K&E: Have any personal experiences inspired your collection?
Emma: Everything that comes through in this collection has to do with personal experiences. If certain events hadn’t taken place, if certain things hadn’t been said to me I would not have what I have today. Initially, it began as a way to discuss mental health. I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression, as have many close friends and family members. So my personal experiences with that motivated this. However, as time went on it became something even more personal to me that what I had initially intended, and it became a way for me to express emotions in a positive way while taking responsibility for them.