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The Imaginarium Apparel by Rachael Forbes

The Imaginarium Apparel by Rachael Forbes

There are few people who stand out from the crowd, especially when that crowd is a bunch of captivating, characterful goths. But Rachael Forbes is just such a person. Striking in every sense of the word, you can spend hours examining every exquisitely crafted detail of her adornment. So when I heard this lovely lady was starting business selling her designs, I felt compelled to delve into the mind behind the magic and bring to you a beauty that should be shared. This designer will defiantly be one to watch!

What attracted you to the “darker” scene and what keeps you here?
I was first attracted by the music and the dramatic otherwordly aesthetic of the darker scene. What keeps me here? The shifting and fluid aesthetic never ceases to amaze me – it is always interesting to see so many unique and creative people exploring new territory. Life needs a touch of fantasy and magic and it can be found in this culture if you look in the right places.

You recently returned from your first Wave Gotik Treffen – the biggest gothic festival in the world, can you describe your impressions of the people and place?
‘Wow!!’ Was certainly my first reaction! It was delightful to see so many people dressed up to the extreme degree. I admire and appreciate all the time and effort that people have put in. Everyone I met was very welcoming and friendly and we will certainly stay in touch and anticipate a 2012 reunion. The centre of Leipzig was very impressive with the opera house and the fantasy inspired fountain. Having never been to a festival of this scale before; it was such an inspiring experience.

What are your thoughts on the fashionsitas versus musos topic that seems to spark numerous debates within the scene?
Ah , yes. People can say what they like about others – and assume as much as they want but it doesn’t really matter to me. This kind of debate is echoed throughout history in all manner of subcultures and will continue in one form or another. It is always good to meet people who really believe in what they do; they really enjoy the music and they love dressing up in their own way.

How did you come to start designing and making clothes, have you always wanted to do this? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I started designing and making clothes during my degree, working for various theatre productions, music videos, street performance and stage before deciding to start up my own business. All I knew was I wanted to do something with Art and the first foundation year provided short sessions of each subject. The Performance Costume degree satisfied my desire for drawing, making, literature analysis and design– it seemed perfect! This first collection for The Imaginarium Apparel is inspired by insects and amphibians. To me nature is always inspiring; it provides endless textural and visual inspiration and I love being amongst it.

If you had to choose one defining moment that steered your life to where you stand now, what would that moment be?
Just after finishing my degree I realized that my research had shown me so many innovative designs in the high fashion and costume world and felt frustrated that such things are rarely available to the subculture. This frustration led me to realize that I wanted to work towards presenting my design ideas as a business accessible to the scene. The thought behind The Imaginarium Apparel is to bring my unique ideas and consideration of design typical of the high fashion scene with detailed couture, cut and fabric embellishment techniques to a culture that appreciates the theatrical, dark aesthetic more than anyone. It was a point when both of my passions met in the middle and fitted rather nicely.

Have you always live in Edinburgh? How do you find the local scene and public as a whole react to your artistically extravagant self expression?
Yes, I have always lived in Edinburgh. The local scene is really small; and is quite used to my dressing up. People often ask me questions about my makeup and are generally friendly and interested.

Your makeup is quite intricate and ornate, what inspired you to create that look?
Since I was 16 I painted the single swirl beneath the eye like Death from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and it developed from there through experimental drawing using different colours and becoming more ornate through practice and time; reflecting my passion for drawing. Makeup can be a perfect way to finish an outfit and complete the intended impression.

What brands of makeup do you use? Are there any products you’d recommend?
I use very affordable high street brands as I go through quite a lot! Barry M certainly has the most varied and dramatic colour range. Beyond the usual brands I admire Illamasqua for their strong aesthetics and the make-up artist associated with this company; Alex Box’s work is visionary!

How long would you say, on average, it takes you to get ready to go out?
When going out I sometimes just work on top of the everyday make-up I wear which is quite ornate anyway. If I am starting from the beginning to do make-up and get dressed it usually takes around 2-3 hours.

You have just launched your new website – what made you take the decision to not just make outfits for yourself but start business?
It gives me much more satisfaction and motivation to make for others. I love making presents for other people and designing and making clothing for others as a career suits me well. I like making outfits and wearing them too but there is certainly more satisfaction in creating something that makes someone feel good and feel a little of what I feel when dressed up.

Tell me about the name you have chosen to trade under and how it came about?
The Imaginarium is a realm of fantasy and imagination. Each costume has an idea behind it, an inspiration and sometimes even a character. Each fabric, texture and textile has been embroidered, decorated, embellished and considered . The word ‘ Apparel ‘ means flamboyant or theatrical clothing therefore it is theatrical clothing inspired by the imagination.

Is this your sole focus at the moment? Or like many alterative business and artists have to, do you supplement your income with another job?
Just now I work a part time job making tiaras and head pieces for weddings and special occasions in Edinburgh. I would like to make The Imaginarium Apparel my main priority and focus in the future, taking it down lots of exciting new adventures.

Sitting at the start of an exciting venture – where do you hope to see your company in ten years?
In ten years I hope to expand the company with a dedicated team working alongside me. I want to be doing fashion shows, events and expanding into creating even more crazy theatrical costumes for bands, performers, music videos and individual clients.

If you could style any person, alive or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and how would you do so?
This is a tricky one! It would be fantastic to design for the character in the NIN song’ Reptile ‘– the music and lyrics are so powerful and visual. She would have an immensely detailed scaled body with mechanical rubber and latex sections that opened fan- like when she moved. The costume would ooze ‘honey’ and the metal scales would shimmer and change colour with heat.

What do you consider the worst alternative fashion faux pas?
It is up to the individual and how they dress, carry themselves and act but in terms of style alone I’m not keen on candy or neon colours therefore do not like the lolita or neon cyber style as much.

And what would be your top fashion tip?
Enjoy dressing up at every possible opportunity and do not be afraid to push the boundaries.

What companies or brands do you admire and why?
Unfortunately the larger, mass produced clothing companies have poorly made and over-priced items. Yet, Etsy is a wonderful company to market the most unusual creations and talented creative people you have ever seen!.
When you are not making your own attire, what and from where do you choose to buy?
Ebay is a wonderful place for picking up unusual items or items that can be dressed up or altered for everyday clothing also. All of my going out clothing I make myself.

Who are your fashion icons?
Fashion is such a potent medium and some of the designers that excel in removing fashion from pretense and surface are Thierry Mugler, Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake and Gareth Pugh amongst others. They manage to create clothing that not only forms a larger than life fantastical character but extend that to creating a whole other world, story and even lifestyle attached to their designs.

When can we expect a new collection?
It is currently being scribbled down in my sketchbook and should be made and onto the website by the end of the year! A whole new range exploring a different theme but in keeping with the ideal of fantasy, myth and nature and a deadly femme fatale twist. I will also look into expanding into making men’s clothing too.

And lastly, if you were abducted by aliens and made their queen, what would be your first decree?
I would order that all the alien race were to adorn ridiculous yet fantastic headpieces and spend most of their time giggling at each other! Life shouldn’t be too serious in space.

Photos by Harryson Heidrich

Published in Devolution