“To me, the story represents romantic encounters in the contemporary age, where image and status are at the heart of attraction between beings; a tragic ode to the cycles of finding stability in people who are not right for us.”
Rhiannon Davies is a Fashion Designer and Artist based in London, whose Welsh decent - and more specifically, the Celtic goddess Rhiannon - inspires her practice as a multimedia designer. A recent graduate of Central Saint Martins, Rhiannon received a scholarship from the British Fashion Council for her graduate collection and has subsequently gained recognition in The Face Magazine, ShowStudio and various publications such as Numero, Apart, and Womenswear Daily.
Through combining her design with fine art, audio, and movement Rhiannon seeks to curate an artistic practice around her designs. Davies’ culmination of sound art and fashion has generated a unique fashion experience that is distinctive to her name. Rhiannon has just released a capsule collection, so we caught up with the designer to learn more about her practice and inspirations for the new collection:
Hey Rhiannon, we love your work! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your practice.
Thank you, I love Sick Love Zine! So my work in fashion is really one big introspective memoir into my identity, which was born out of a series of disorganised beliefs and finding out my name's meaning. After being conflicted for a while about what I believe, I was able to escape into the fantasy of the Celtic deity Rhiannon - the goddess of horses recorded in the ancient Welsh Mabinogion. Using the idea of a goddess as a muse helped me create a whole new other world that I could dwell in, a scrapbook of equestrian inspired costume, mythology, feminist conversation, and sometimes beautiful melodies.
You use multimedia in your practice, how do you feel the use of audio (and fine art) enhance or perhaps define your fashion work?
They say that everything in the universe has a vibration, therefore having a sound. It’s usually so small that it’s lost in the background of everything else that is moving. I want my work to be recognised - so the audio and anything else I create to accompany the fashion experience is a way of turning up the volume on the garments and enhancing the overall experience. The melodies you hear are the sound my garments resonate. The goddess Rhiannon was also known to have a singing voice which had the power to lure people to life or lull the living to sleep. I’ve also been a singer my whole life. It all links and is fully immersive.
You recently graduated, congrats! How have you found the transition from university to the fashion industry?
So I graduated from studying fashion at Central Saint Martins in the height of the pandemic. Similarly I’ve launched my brand in the pandemic. Graduating was always going to be daunting, let alone the current circumstances. However, the fact that I have my work to explore these feelings is a blessing and I wouldn’t have chosen another path or industry. I’m currently balancing freelance work with my own personal projects, a bit of risk taking, and plenty of gym and homemade old fashioned cocktails.
Your new capsule collection was inspired by an unreleased Fleetwood Mac demo, is
music your usual source of inspiration?
Not explicitly but I was just inspired by the fact that Stevie Nicks was also inspired by the goddess Rhiannon. When I heard an unreleased song by her called ‘Maker of birds’ it allowed me to delve deeper into the story. I learnt about her one particular interaction with a Prince from the human world called Pywell. It’s a tragic love letter from him to Rhiannon. Romantic tragedy seems to be what I have found myself in recently, but hearing it empowers me. Stevie Nicks own words, - it’s a ‘pain pill’.
What does this capsule collection represent?
So the song follows the story of Rhiannon and her encounter with Pwyll in the forest by night.
Pwyll is entranced by the mysterious woman on a
white horse and orders his horsemen to capture Rhiannon. For two days and two nights they chase her, but the goddess simply evaded their pursuits each time they neared. Pwyll finally attempts to reach her by calling her name, she complies and they agree to marry. Even though the story is presented in the rose-tinted guise of a fairy tale, the toxicity of the encounter is visible. To me, the story represents romantic encounters in the contemporary age, where image and status are at the heart of attraction between beings; a tragic ode to the cycles of finding stability in people who are not right for us.
I decided to create a ‘His and Hers’ look to illustrate what they would be wearing on horseback during the romantic chase but in a contemporary format. The lookbook presents documented ‘mug shots’ of the outfits embodied by their loyal subjects in the castle stable courts in the alternating morning light. Golden jersey, up-cycled horse saddle corsetry, and re-imagined fly sheet jacket’s flocked with hair are also worn by ‘The Pony Club’ a dynamic group of individuals from London of regal status in their own right, presented as they are.
How important is narrative to your fashion work?
The narrative of Rhiannon has been important - The Welsh Mabinogion which it comes from is one of the oldest prose in British literature. It’s important to me to keep this story alive, and preserve Welsh/Celtic heritage. Even if my concepts evolve from what I’m doing in a literal sense now, my Welsh connection has been the origin of my own story and relationship with my work and I imagine it to continue feeding into future projects.
What are your next steps after the release of this capsule collection?
The next steps are thanking everyone that has worked with me the last couple of months. I’ve got some amazing lucky horseshoes I want to handpaint gold and give to my close friends and collaborators. The horseshoes come with mud still in the crevices, which goes alongside the phrase ‘extra muck = extra luck’! But back to the fashion - this collection is a ready to wear collection, and very much outerwear based. It’s heavily crafted - the drama is in the detail. Next I’d love to add even more drama with the silhouette and branch out to couture and a few red carpet looks.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to get started in the industry?
I’d say to anyone - figure out what your obsessions are, whether it’s sea cows or 17th century puritan hats…maybe your great aunts wardrobe. Pursue them and regenerate these themes in your own way - collage, drawing, a print on a basic t-shirt, whatever you’re feeling. See if you can even make some money with your amazing personal uniqueness to fund future projects. Definitely take a business course. Just generate work at an unstoppable pace, share your creations with the world, and get a few conversations going.
Photography: Megan Chloé Bowles Styling: David Kobé Jewellery: In collaboration with Siobhan Wallace Makeup: Daeun Jung Hair (For Scarlett, Charlie and Julie): Daniel Moura Models (in order of appearance): Charlie Spence, HASZNAT*, Julie the Obscure