Angie Backsocky

By Roshannah Bagley

VIRGINIA, United States of America:: It isn’t everyday that as a young student one is given the opportunity to display their talent at Paris Fashion Week, however for Angie Backsocky this was exactly the case. Digital prints Backsocky had produced whilst an intern for Alexander McQueen were chosen to feature in the then Spring Summer 2009 collection. Despite already having worked with the Felder twins and a reputable British tailor, it was this moment that really confirmed Bacskocky’s entrance into the international fashion industry – albeit unintentional, one couldn’t have aimed higher. Bacskocky has since returned to her native home in the US to complete her studies in Fashion at Virginia’s Commonwealth University. Now in the midst of establishing her own line, Bacskocky allows FAULT the very first look at her debut collection.

FAULT:: Where are you currently based?

Angie:: Richmond, Virginia, USA. On the east coast, right in the centre, not too far from anything. Richmond has a cosy little community of artists and musicians so I bought a house here in 2005 when I started going to school for fashion.

FAULT:: Since graduating from VCU what have you been up to?

Angie:: I’ve done freelance menswear design work, taken on a few private clients, been working on a bridal collection… but recently I’ve been anxiously preparing for the launch of my own line. I briefly entertained the idea of moving to New York or L.A. and trying to get a design job with a major fashion label, but I’m pretty sure I’ll die if I don’t work for myself. So now I’ve been working on getting my website up and running with images and video of recent work and, hopefully soon, information on my new collection.

FAULT:: During your studies, you undertook internships with Alexander McQueen and Felder Felder. What drew you to develop your aesthetic in the British fashion industry?

Angie:: I’ve always wanted to live in London, being the epicentre of the United Kingdom and having the best style, the best designers, the best music, etc. London fashion seems so sharp and tailored, camp and dandy, steeped in history and tradition that is just really appealing to me. I did a summer course at Glasgow School of Art and I really fell in love with the city and the art and music scene there. However, GSA didn’t exactly have the fashion program I was looking for and Central St. Martins became the obvious choice when I received an information packet that listed Joe Strummer and Alexander McQueen alongside each other as previous students.

My original interest with fashion was in menswear so I got on the Menswear Design course at St. Martins and went for a year, but then ran out of money and started working. I worked for a tailor near Liverpool Street while simultaneously interning with Felder Felder on their Autumn/Winter 2008 collection. The Felders are amazing and their rock star aesthetic is so similar to my own. I’m really grateful that I had the opportunity to work for a design house that was still small and intimate, where you can work closely with the designers and learn so much. The McQueen studios are completely the opposite, but the talent and available resources there are endless and absolutely no expense is spared in the creative process.

FAULT:: How did it feel to have the prints you produced during your internship selected for McQueen’s Spring Summer 2009 collection?

Angie:: I must admit that I was surprised to see that something I had worked on made it to the final collection. It seemed that there were so many amazing ideas that would get cut as the process evolved and I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I finally saw images from the runway show. I left the McQueen studio in August to complete my final year at school here in America and the collection wasn’t shown until October so I assumed anything could have changed in that time.

There was an amazing group of people working on that collection and the vibe in the studio was completely liberating. True experimentation was encouraged and I don’t think I’ll ever work in a more innovative and fearless environment.

FAULT:: Is there a particular process you follow when designing?

Angie:: I usually research a topic obsessively and have to practically deem myself an expert on the subject before allowing myself to do any sketches or development. I want to make sure my ideas are coming from a clear, specific place so the designs can just flow from me naturally. I’ll usually fill up a notebook or files on my computer with images and text and I’ll seek out every book on the subject and every image, sometimes even audio and video. This is actually my favourite part of the process because no results are expected at this point of fact gathering and research. When I’ve found sufficient information or gotten almost bored of the subject, I still don’t sketch but instead make a lot of notes for myself. And, as I work so much better three dimensionally, I usually dive in and start constructing a garment once I have a base idea.

FAULT:: How does working in the American fashion industry differ to its British counterpart?

Angie:: I’ve always really appreciated the politics and turmoil in British design. There’s a sense of purpose and ritual and a story that’s been cycling for a thousand years. British designers offer tradition and simultaneously rebel against it which usually yields amazing results. I found British schools to be very free and creative and working in the British fashion industry was no different. This was initially very off putting because my American-bred habits were so structured. I feel like Americans, in general, lack that sense of belonging and history and cling to what little they have.

I never felt more instinctively American than when I was living abroad. The uniqueness of our situation, every one of us immigrants from some foreign land, draws us all together into the same search of self.

FAULT:: Where do you find inspiration?

Angie:: I will always find inspiration in history, politics, and necessity. My senior collection was inspired by Hungarian folk culture and superstition. I’m a second generation Hungarian immigrant and, after a trip to Budapest, became fascinated with their art and customs. The garments showcase their folk art and peasant costume as well as their military and revolutionary uniform and feature Hungarian furs and my own print designs.

Currently I’m finding inspiration in my friends, my physical surroundings, and my own psychosis. This new collection I’m working on will be extremely personal and it’s giving me such a clear direction to follow. Every part of my day and everything I come in contact with will be pulled into the concept and designs. I have a feeling that this will resonate locally and hopefully universally.

FAULT:: What are your hopes for the future?

Angie:: I’m working on a debut collection for the launch of my own line. I want to present the work more as a multimedia art installation rather than a runway show. I’m collaborating with other artists and musicians so music and sculpture will play a significant role. The collection is inspired by classical ideas of lunacy, isolation and hibernation. I’ve been allowing myself to fully explore my own manic-depressive tendencies, à la Sophie Calle, in attempt to overcome these habits and turn them into something worthwhile. This has been one of the most frightening experiments, but I’m really excited about the potential of the outcome.

FAULT:: What is your FAULT?

Angie:: Aside from obsessive compulsions, bouts of mania, and tendencies toward isolation? I haven’t got any.