In conversation with Rachael Eustace

Edinburgh University student Rachael Eustace talks to us about her graduate collection, music, and dressing up in her mum and dad’s clothes…

The Rachael Eustace Graduate Fashion Week 2014 show.

Question: When did you first know that you wanted to be a fashion designer?

It sounds typical/cheesy, but the truth is that I have always designed clothes. For a short time I wanted to study photography; I still love taking photos and photography in general – but fashion design was always what I was going to do. I used to dress in my dad’s clothes and copy his style, then other days I would practice walking in my mum’s heels…I loved how different clothes made you feel-even at this young age of around four or five, so I guess a fascination with dressing and styling at a young age grew into a desire to design.

Question: What was the inspiration behind your graduate collection?

I spent a lot of time before entering my final year deciding and exploring what my graduate ‘theme’ would be. Only once I had exhausted all my interests, different eras, trends etc. did I realise none of it mattered – it had little substance and it didn’t feel personal enough. I wanted my inspiration to be raw and completely honest, so I began to look at whatever I wanted and didn’t question why – even if it seemed strange or all unconnected.

Only after I looked at everything I had gathered and created did I see the strands connecting – the underlying emotions and reasons I had subconsciously followed the research I had. In this way it was undiluted and I was almost self-healing through my art and learning more about my own hopes and fears through these methods of finding ‘inspiration’. In short, I was looking at myself and the world – writing personal letters, mark making, looking at old photography that moved me- water- ice-waves- everything and anything. Looking back on it as a body of work it feels highly personal to me and my life at the time it was created.

Question: Can you tell us a little bit about your creative process?

Probably explained above…but if you hadn’t gathered from my blabbering – my processes are always spontaneous, random, truthfully honest and at times abstract. Calm and crazy, organised chaos – I love balance and I love opposites. These themes drive how I see the world and how I work through my creative process. I’m a Libra so I guess this struggle to create balance is built in me somewhere! I can only be mad for so long, then I crave calm – then I’m calm for too long and crave madness. I like to just do something because it feels right and question why later, I like making a mess just to draw neat lines in between the smudges. I try to put a bit of myself into everything I do – or else I feel like what’s the point in creating?

Question: If you could pick a soundtrack for your collection, what three songs would be included?

Anything from Grant Campbell’s album Expecting Great things. He is a singer-songwriter from Glasgow and his voice sounds like it’s coming from a different body than his own. He is a friend of my family and we used a song of his as a theme tune to a video created during a road trip my father and I took across America. That particular song always takes me back to that time, immediately back. It’s extremely powerful to me and makes me feel such strong emotions every time I listen to it – it will be timeless to me for these reasons.

Anything Dylan. His songs also take me back to happy memories. Road trips up to the highlands when I was very young – in the car Dylan was always playing – most likely Mr Tambourine man or Blowing in the Wind. I still recall looking out the window to the Scottish landscapes at night and loving being up at that time, with the sound of the harmonica coming through the radio – the flashing lights of cars coming towards us…that’s the power of a song.

Lastly, Layla by Eric Clapton- I played this a lot in the studio whilst making the collection – love the song, the drama and energy around it with the electric guitars and the wholesome sounding vocals.

All three songs mean something to me, hence to the collection – they evoke memories and I find them powerful and raw. They drive me to feel. And when I feel, I can produce and create – they are all connected.

Question: How would you describe your personal style?

One day I can look very feminine – I love putting on a beautiful dress and feeling powerful and attractive – the next day I want to wear men’s clothes. My style is as random and emotionally driven as I am. One thing goes one day, and if I want to feel something else the next day, my clothes change. As I said earlier, when I was younger I would dress up in both my mum and dad’s wardrobes, without worrying that one was guys and one was girls; it wasn’t the clothes that mattered, but more what the clothes made me feel. That still stands today in my attitude to dressing, and in the way I design. I guess in this way, I’m an emotional dresser – if that’s even a thing.

Question: Where are your favourite places to visit in Edinburgh?

Mum and Dad’s house – they recently just moved from Glasgow and I couldn’t be more grateful they moved to the same city where I was studying. The house feels like a support hub, especially during final year stress it was a haven!

Edinburgh has loads of great coffee shops; really cool wee places to sit on your laptop or watch the world go by. I love doing that…not that I had much time in my final year!

Question: What tips would you give to your younger self at the start of your degree that you wish you’d known?

That my gut instinct was right and that you can never be too personal in your work.

Question: What can we expect to see next from you?

I honestly don’t know, but I’ll work it out. It’s exciting. Let’s see, something good I hope…

Words by Clare Potts. Images courtesy of Rachael Eustace.

Clare Potts

Clare Potts


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