Editorial Note: This month, in advance of NYFW and World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept 10, 2020, and in conjunction with Mikeysline in the Scottish Highlands, FWO is featuring outstanding young designers with a focus on mental health and wellness.
Miriam Thompson, Chatham NJ
Designer Miriam Thompson has lived all over the globe, but completed high school in New Jersey. She moved to Nottingham to go to college for fashion design. She participated in a fashion design competition hosted by her high school for four years and even came in first place in her sophomore year.
“The monochrome design is inspired by a very overwhelming time for me. My parents were heading towards a divorce and I went to work for hours everyday after school. Around the same time I was starting my college application process. This cumulation of stress really weighed down on my mental health, and I started having some eating issues.”
Miriam Thompson, Chatham NJ
I lost 20 pounds, making me almost underweight and leaving me constantly dizzy and queasy. I was at my most depressed feeling at this time. The heavy cape shows the way that I was being dragged down by things around me, and the bones sewn onto the shirt represent my insecurities about my eating problems, and the fact that you could see my ribs if I wore a crop top. The monochrome shows my personal lowest point, where my mom found me in the bathroom and I told her I was scared to be left alone. That was when my parents found me a therapist.
To me, the colorful outfit represents spring and shows my personal path of healing through therapy. My therapist helped me talk through my stress, and helped me accept that sometimes I need to take breaks for myself. The bright yellow cape is delicate and shows how I tried to be less anxious. It contrasts against the heavy cape on the monochrome outfit and represents sunshine. The roses on the bones show something beautiful coming from something painful as I slowly gained back some of the weight I had lost – and with it some of my lost confidence. Both pants have mountains on the hems to show the difficulties I overcame to go from seeing the world as dull and colorless , as well as being a small nod to Scottish highlands.
To me, these designs are very representative of suicide prevention. I was at my lowest point, struggling with family issues, eating troubles and the feeling of working 30 hours as a high schooler. However, with the help of my therapist I learnt how to stand up to my parents and she also helped me approach eating from a healthier way. I wasn’t immediately happier, but slowly I got better. I know that at the time I felt like things would never get better but they did. I think people who struggle with depression often only see the bad, but with a strong support system and help, there is a silver lining. I am also glad that my parents and I were able to find help, and I wanted to put my experience into my designs.
Q: What sparked your interest in fashion?
When I was younger I was given a TOPModel coloring book. Inside were blank templates to design clothing, shoes and hair for certain characters. I used up every page in that first book, drawing dresses and shirts and fancy hairstyles for every girl. I designed these outfits and began to find my own sense of style. As I grew up I found myself invested in international fashion weeks and the designs of big brands.
The thing that sparked my interest most, however, was my first year of Catwalk. I heard of this school-hosted design competition my first year of high school and rushed to enter. Based on the tv show Project Runway, the designers were given a theme and a max of $70 to be spent at our local fabric store. It was such an amazing experience to be surrounded by similarly inexperienced designers and volunteer seamstresses as we learnt how to sew. I was so proud when I placed 2nd out of fifteen and I knew then that I wanted to be part of the fashion world.
Q: As a designer, what matters to you most?
To me, the most important part of designing is to always push yourself to try new things. In my last year of Catwalk I wanted to create a leopard print jacket because I never used animal print and wanted to challenge myself with a different piece of clothing. I made my first pair of pants for the FWO x Mikeys Line competition and I’m so glad I did. I always want to push myself to go out of my comfort zone and to remember that fashion is about experimentation. Often my designs will turn out different than I envisioned, but I still have to be proud that I made something from nothing.
Q: Who do you envision as your “core customer?”
My core customer would be a girl who finds incredible confidence wearing my clothing. A lot of my confidence comes from what I wear and I want to make things that someone puts on and feels like a whole new person. I want to make her smile and look at herself in a bright light when she wears something that I’ve created.
Q: What’s your vision for the future?
Some of my goals for the future include participating in more design competitions, such as the World of Wearable Art based in New Zealand. I also would love to try being on a fashion tv show, like Netflix’s Next In Fashion or Project Runway. I want to have some impressive accomplishments under my belt and to eventually open my own atelier in France or London. A big dream of mine is to design for the Met Gala someday. My biggest hope is that I’m known all over the globe for my designs.