At 24, he’s already had placements with Diane von Fürstenberg, John Galliano and Louise Gray.
He’s also worked with sportswear brand Gola and customised trainers for auction, Art Against Knives. What’s more, this talented MA Fashion Knitwear student has been making his own clothes since 2005.
Originally from York, Matthew Bovan is one of the select students from Central Saint Martins to show his graduate collection at London Fashion Week, the end-of-year goal for all post-grads.
Growing up, Matthew knew he wanted to become a fashion designer. From quite a young age – inspired by his mum’s creativity – he began making his own clothes. “I’m still surprised I was focused that young,” he recalls.
After Leeds College of Art & Design, he applied to Central Saint Martins in 2009 to study Knitwear. “Being able to create your own fabrics gives you more scope. [Knitwear] is the foundation of a lot of textiles. [It] also gives more creative room to the design process,” says Matthew on why he chose this path.
For Matthew, fashion is about personal expression, creativity and energy, which he finds liberating.
Having a personal viewpoint is very important. “Sometimes it takes months for something to fully form itself and sometimes it can happen in 10 minutes – it can’t be theorised or explained. It’s like a personal barometer – only I can see when something is finished.”
“I find it very liberating knowing I can have a platform to show my ideas.”
Spending time with fashion houses such as Diane von Fürstenberg in New York and John Galliano in Paris helped Matthew realise his own unique style. “You quickly find out what’s good for you, and what’s bad for you. [Working in those places] makes things feel slightly more real.”
Working for Galliano is a big deal to most aspiring designers, yet Matthew has a different perspective on this. “It was a hard time to be at the house [due to the designer’s well-chronicled personal problems] and it made me appreciate being able to work on my own projects.”
Matthew describes his own style as “clashes of texture”. Indeed, mixed materials form a core component of his collections – he uses traditional wools, plastics, rubber, resin, clay and even plastic sheets.
The starting point for all of them is “the initial feeling” followed by inspiration from books, films and simple things around him: “My research is very personal and it reflects me and my taste.”
Matthew’s BA graduate collection was “the fine line between horror and movie”. Inspired by gore movies, jelly-like yarns and plastics were all incorporated into his colourful collection.
“Everything was hand-drawn with hidden symbols and meanings, very personal to myself, then translated into hand-sewn pony beads or computerised knitwear,” he explains.
His boundary-pushing vision is central to his current collection. Being true to his style, Matthew is going to use a lot of colours and textures in his final-year collection for London Fashion Week: “There’s a huge mix [of materials]: lurex, cashmere, plastic and foam.”
This time he’ll also be experimenting with shapes and incorporating jewellery into the garments.
“I feel it’s really sincere to my style and feels even more personal this time.”
Photographs by Gabriela Antunes