From Heriot-Watt to Harper’s Bazaar

Bold colours, distorted faces and digital components have brought a 21-year-old textiles student to the attention of fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar. 

Hannah Paxton, who is in her third year at Heriot-Watt University, spoke to Keep Edinburgh Thriving about the opportunity. 

“The whole thing happened quite fast and the whole time I thought: is this real? It felt so weird but it’s been really exciting.” - Hannah Paxton

Paxton was contacted by Fashion Crossover London, which runs a graduate talent programme that selects promising young designers to promote and connect with the global fashion industry. 

Hannah Paxton

They had found Paxton's work on social media and prompted her to apply based on what they saw. “They sent me a message to my Instagram but it went into my message requests at first because I hadn’t followed them. It was only by chance that I had a look.”

Intrigued by their message, Paxton wanted to find out more. “I went on their profile and they had over 20,000 followers. I thought this was insane, especially as they had messaged me. I thought I may as well apply even if nothing comes from it. I didn't think anything would happen.” 

She put her collection forward to be considered for the programme but wasn’t convinced they would pick her work to be featured. 

“I got an email saying they liked the work and they wanted to put me through to the next stage. It was about a week later they told me that I’d been selected.“

Now part of the talent programme Paxton’s collection has already been featured on the Fashion Crossover London but to be featured in Harper's Bazaar Paxton needed to pay a fee. 

“You get a complimentary feature on their website but to get featured in a magazine there is a printing fee so I set up a gofundme page and I managed to raise the money.”

Within a few days, she had raised over £800 through gofundme and help from her family and friends. 

Instagram has played a critical role in helping Paxton accomplish a print feature from her initial scouting to sharing her 'go fund me' page. It’s fitting that social media was part of her inspiration for the collection in the first place. 

“While social media can be an amazing place to connect to people it does have its negative side, especially Instagram. Especially right now because of lockdown and Covid, everything is online so much more. So I thought I could play into that with my collection.”

Paxton created this collection as part of her degree and was influenced by how digitised as a society we had become. 

“It was mostly looking into the twisted side of the internet and social media with everything being digital now. I wanted to show that through photography.”

Incorporated throughout Paxton’s designs are distorted images that she shot herself during the last year. This was a completely new technique for her. 

“When you're doing a design course, they always say to push your limits and try something you've never tried before. Photography was something that I had never done. In textiles it's normally more painting or drawing. I had never tried taking photos and editing them.”

Although the final product has brought her success this process was not without its challenges. 

“I had all these big ideas in my head but because I don’t have a professional camera, I had never done photography before and because of Covid restrictions it was quite challenging. I did find so many times that I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like but it didn’t go to plan.”

But Paxton persevered and found that unique style. Now that she has found some recognition, it has given her the confidence boost she needed. 

“I know from doing a design course it can be competitive sometimes, not against each other but in yourself. I do think in a way it made me realise that I don't need to compare myself to other people. It’s given me hope, and I hope it can give other people hope to know that they can get recognised.”

With only one year left of her degree, Paxton is optimistic about what the future holds. She is hoping to start her own side business selling her designs and is open-minded about what doors her upcoming feature may unlock. 

To see more of Hannah's work take a look at her instagram @hannahlynpaxtontextiles

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