Interview with rising fashion designer: Jessica-Ann Shepherd

by Jade Rhode

Fashion allows you to be creative in your own right. Some might see your vision as odd, but for this rising fashion designer, there is always a place for oddity.

Jessica-Ann Shepherd is a 20-year-old fashion graduate who hails from Cape Town in the Western Cape. No stranger to art, this talented designer graduated from Cape Town College of Fashion Design (CTCFD) with a diploma in fashion.

Jessica is also the creator of the up and coming brand Oddity. “My brand’s name is Oddity, which is inspired by my personality. I'd say I'm a strange person and others would say a bit odd”, explains the quirky designer.

Fashion designer Jessica-Ann Shepherd looks back, knowing she has a bright future ahead of her. Jessica-Ann Shepherd. (Captured by Tristan Shaun Henry.)

What sparked your interest in fashion?

I basically grew up wanting to be a fashion designer and used to watch movies like Bratz and Barbie, which were probably my biggest influences at the time. I thought it would be a phase, but the thought of doing something else didn't pass me at all. High school came, and everyone wanted to do something academic. Doing something creative just seemed way more interesting and fun.

How would you describe your style?

I would describe my style as very simple or sophisticated, but my design style I would say is a mix of art and minimalism with sophistication.

Why do you think your personal style differs from your design style?

I think the two differ because when I create something, I like to go wild and think outside of the box. There are no limitations to what I want to do. When it comes to personal style, as a student I prefer to be almost plain and simple. There’s always something that stops me from dressing the way I design.

You have a graduate collection. What is the name of your collection and the inspiration behind it?

My collection’s name is Revive and was inspired by bee extinction. I called it Revive because it's like bringing the bees back to life by sending awareness through my clothes. One thing I'm passionate about is telling a story through clothing, and also saving the bees.

he graduate collection being displayed outside the silos at the Waterfront in Cape Town for the Bokeh South African International Fashion Film Festival. Jessica-Ann Shepherd. (Captured by Jessica-Ann Shepherd.)

You mentioned that your collection was inspired by bee extinction. What made you decide to use white and orange in your collection when bees are typically known to be black and yellow?

My third year collection was actually inspired by three things [and colours]: the mustard yellow was colour-picked from an image of honey; the off-white was inspired by the bee suit which is mainly white and the grey tones were inspired by the smoke/pesticides used in honey harvesting. The reason for not making it black and yellow was because I didn’t want it to be an obvious bee collection but rather have small details, such as colour, to tell the story.

Which fabrics did you use for your collection? Were they easy to work with?

I used five fabrics in the whole collection. Some were a bit challenging, but others were a breeze to sew. Power mesh and soft tulle were so difficult to handle. They slipped when sewing and they had to have French seams for a cleaner look. Duchess satin and Quantec were the easiest fabrics to use because they were stable enough to iron and sew and took the print on really well. The last fabric [I] use[d] was a ribbed knit which came out to be a dream because it wasn't as stretchy as other knits are.

Did you use any textile manipulations?

My textile manipulation included quilting hexagons on two metres of fabric for a puffer jacket - this took really long. The other was making a vest out of chain but with hexagon shapes, which was also really time consuming, but both were worth it in the end.

What advice would you give to young designers?

Keep pushing yourself and don't give up. Most importantly, don't let others bring you down. It's going to happen, so take it as fuel to do your best and show them how good you really are because “[S]ometimes, the greatest part of being underestimated is that the rise is all the more impressive.”

What would you like to achieve before the end of 2020?

I would like to finish my Advance Diploma in Fashion Design and have the qualification of specializing in print design, and hopefully get a job so I'm not unemployed!

Finally, where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

I see myself working for a retailer overseas, working as a print designer (hopefully!)

Jessica-Ann’s poster for the collection Revive. Instagram. (Captured by @jose_pyladh.)

Jessica-Ann shows us that it’s normal to be different and to be ourselves. For the latest buzz on her collection and brand, be sure to follow her Instagram accounts @itsjessica_ann and @o_ddity.

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