Designer sketches way to runway


Fashion designer junior Graham Williams, who is preparing his first collection, “Elvira,” for the annual Grady fashion show Une Belle Revolution, sits down with The Southerner to discuss his creative process, New York, drag queens and his journey with fashion.

Why did you join the fashion department?

When I was in eighth grade, I saw Fibers 1 on the list of classes I could take (back when the program was named Fibers instead of Applied Design). It seemed really interesting. My mom has always been fashion forward and my grandmother was a seamstress, so I decided to put the class as my first choice. I’ve been in it ever since.

What have you learned since freshman year?

I didn’t know how to sew anything before I came. We went from learning designers in Fibers 1 to illustrating and sewing. I also did Fashion Club and so that really pushed me. Fashion Club taught me more sewing and patternmaking.  I went from not being able to make anything to just whipping out pieces in a week and fitting models.

Describe your creative process.

I basically sit down and sketch whatever comes to my mind. I try to get as many illustrations down on paper as I can, then I look at those and see which ones can be feasibly created and which ones I like.

I look at each design and break it down from the bodice to the skirt to the sleeve, instead of looking at it as a whole which can become really stressful.

What is your collection’s theme?

The collection I’m working on now is very New York inspired, which is where I want to go to school.

There are lots of fabrics, like pleather, that give you the New York vibes of going out. That’s the inspiration behind it, sexy clothing that is not too revealing but makes people feel empowered.

What is the inspiration behind your theme?

I love New York but I also love the creative spirit of New York.

I didn’t really take fashion risks back in middle school. At the beginning of high school, I wore elastic waistband shorts and now I’ve evolved my own style.

If I want to wear heels one day to school, I’m going to put on my heels and go; I don’t care. It’s that transformative nature of fashion and playing with gender and sexiness that I enjoy and found myself connecting with.

Who has influenced you?

Drag queens have inspired me. I’m very into that culture and again with the transformative nature where you can put something on and transform into a different thing then take it all off and start from scratch again. I also like the whole juxtaposition between male and female.

How do you deal with an unexpected challenge?

My nature as a person is I want everything to be perfect the first time around. My mom has had to tell me nothing is going to be perfect every time you do it.

As far as the learning process goes, you’re going to mess up. You’re going to make mistakes and you’re just going to have to work through that.

Every time something doesn’t fit perfectly I freak out a little bit but then I look at how I’m gaining more experience fitting models and changing things and making them great.

I’m getting better at dealing with challenges but it’s very difficult putting all your hard work into collections and illustrations and final products when you want them to be the best they can be.  


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