Halfway Across the Galaxy: Designer Kerry Crone

With a graduate collection inspired by outer space and experience designing for the high street already under her belt, Liverpool John Moores University alumnus Kerry Crone is on the track to success

Feature by Jessica Campbell | 02 May 2014

Fresh from university, Liverpool native and John Moores 2013 graduate Kerry Crone has already made an impact on the high street, showcasing a capsule collection with commercial brand Matalan.

Having developed a liking for art and design at a young age, which later progressed to a love of fashion design, Crone recalls: “I enjoyed buying patterns and making my own clothes as well as customising clothing that I already had.” It was this creativity, mixed with an ability to manipulate fabric to create interesting shapes and patterns, that led her to pursue a career in fashion design.

Choosing to study locally at Liverpool John Moores, Crone believes the BA (Hons) Fashion course has helped her achieve her goals. “The course was very supportive,” she states; “we were taught how to pattern cut, which I believe has helped my design work, for example in creating shape or panelling details.” During her time at the university, Crone was encouraged to enter competitions, resulting in her success with Matalan. “I entered a competition shortly before my graduation,” she explains. “The competition was to design a collection based around the punk trend, and luckily I won!”

Crone was then offered the opportunity to work alongside Matalan’s design team, developing her collection for production. As part of her experience she was able to visit the suppliers during manufacturing, giving her first-hand insight into the processes of the fashion industry.

When designing around the theme, Crone strayed away from the traditional trends typically associated with ‘punk’. Taking a fresh approach, she used pastel shades and cutesy silhouettes, adding femininity – and, inspired by traditional tartan, she developed a print for the collection. Using safety pins she created her own version of the classic check formation; and little black collars with stud details kept the ‘punk’ theme alive throughout the collection, contrasting against the soft, pastel hues in a striking way. Crone's resulting collection consisted of eight jersey pieces that were sold in the Liverpool city centre store, and were also available to purchase online.

Following the success of her collection, Crone was offered the job of Junior Designer at Matalan, where she now works within the dress design department.

When designing, Crone begins with first-hand research from museums or galleries, which she later translates to a narrative that becomes the theme of her collection. From her research she likes to recreate interesting shapes, firstly working three-dimensionally on a stand. Through illustration, she then develops her designs, taking influence from unusual fabrics and photographs that relate to her theme.

While at university, Crone was lucky enough to have her own workspace within the studio, meaning she could pin up her ideas and inspiration as visual aids when designing. However, it was a different story outside of university: “When working at home my studio was the living room floor!”

Inspired by the future and outer space, Crone’s graduate collection was entitled Terra Nova, meaning ‘new world’. She explains the development of this theme: “I was firstly inspired by the exploration of Mars, by climate change and the structures of spacecraft and modern architecture. This then led to me looking at images of galaxies and researching space exploration.”

Crone likes to use an "eclectic mix of materials": influenced by an astronaut suit, she used functional fabrics such as neoprene and Kevlar to create texture and add an exciting element to the garments within her collection. She also enjoys combining contrasting fabrics to enhance their qualities. For example, “To make the texture of the neoprene more interesting I layered perforated suede over the top,” she explains.

Evident within Crone's work is a focus on narrative. She likes to place herself in a situation and consider how she would react to a particular environment. “I wondered what it would be like if we were to move to another planet; what would we have to wear?" she explains. "I used my research from the structures and robotics of spacecraft to create shape, and this also inspired me to incorporate metallics into my colour palette. I also looked at galaxies to add a pop of colour into the collection.” Crone avoids using technology within her work, favouring a more traditional hands-on approach when making garments; however, she does use computer programmes such a Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to aid her design process.

Self-described as "feminine, eclectic and quirky", Crone’s collection made a dramatic impact on the catwalk at Graduate Fashion Week. Silhouette and shape are her strong points, and her designs lent the models an almost sculptural quality. Her use of block colour was very considered, too, and complemented the structural aspect of the garments.

Another informative experience in Crone's development was a summer work placement, taken while at university, with print specialist and high-end designer Mary Katrantzou. Here, Crone gained a vast amount of experience while working on her SS13 collection. Her role as intern involved helping with the creation of patterns, fabric sourcing and embroidery – and she also benefited from the opportunity to work at the prestigious London Fashion Week show. In her spare time, self-motivated Crone also completed a live project with the English National Ballet, creating costumes for one of their performances.

In the future, Crone hopes to create her own brand and work for herself. “My dream job would be to have my own label and to be able to show my collections in fashion shows or exhibitions,” she says. At the moment, however, she is thoroughly enjoying her time working for the high street and hopes to progress within the company of Matalan. 

As for Crone’s personal style? In some ways, it is similar to her design style: “I like to have a mix of items in my wardrobe," she says, "I like to look at current trends along with mixing in more unusual or one-off pieces that could be found in a vintage or charity shop.” 

With successful catwalk and high street collections already under her belt, as well as securing a job fresh from university, ambitious Kerry Crone is certainly a young designer to watch.