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Matilda Norberg

MA Fashion Womenswear, 2013–2015

Before starting at the Royal College of Art, I’d been working primarily with textiles. I did a couple of courses prior to undergraduate study, in weaving and embroidery. I worked in styling costume and as an assistant designer. I was always a consultant, in a way, but I wanted to have my own initiatives and decide the direction of my work myself. So I did my BA in Textiles at Konstfack University College of Arts in Stockholm, and graduated in 2013. Having worked in fashion before that, towards the end of my BA, I was starting to combine the two, making my textiles into garments. I wanted to find a programme where I could continue to combine the technical skills and making, but take that all the way into finished garments.

I’d heard a lot of good things about the RCA, seen the shows, and trusted tutors recommended it to me, and the Knitwear specialism in particular. I couldn’t find any other programmes that would allow me to do exactly what I wanted, combining textiles and fashion at a high level. It completely lived up to my expectations.

Starting out was exciting; I felt the energy of the course straight away. We got down to working right from the beginning, so that was great. Overall, the programme made me work really hard, and I got so much out of it so it was all worthwhile. The workshops and technicians were great, and always understood the importance of your work and would help you achieve anything.

Collaborations with industry and competitions were also really valuable. It was great to be able to test our abilities in industry, in that way. We did a knitwear competition where we went to Pitti Filati in Florence, which is an international yarn trade show. We made two outfits for the competition using techniques I invented, in collaboration with a spinner there. I got to test out two ideas for knitwear techniques on a large scale, and it worked out well. I won the competition, which I think opened a lot of doors for me, including the companies I worked with for my final collection. We got to meet so many industry people, and it was a great opportunity to get their feedback and see your work in a wider context. 

The Final Show was probably the best part, when you can actually work on a collection for a couple of months. Having tutor support and crits along the way was also amazing. I made a collection using three techniques that I developed across the whole MA, including bonding knits onto foam and rubber, and using specific knitting techniques to make round shapes. The work came about from research into the Earth’s crust, different stones and minerals, and the relationships, movements and tensions between different materials.

The biggest thing for me is that I have become much more fashion conscious, and that I can now take my textiles skills into a fashion context. I have much more confidence in that now. I really value the skills and techniques I have from my background in textiles, so I could really concentrate on developing design and new techniques while at the RCA. I’ve also worked out my design process and how I work best; I’m confident in my design development and how to get a collection together. 

Since graduating, I’ve had a baby, but I’m planning on starting to work in the next few months. When you graduate from the RCA, you get a lot of opportunities to show your work and meet people, so I feel like there are potential opportunities on the horizon. I won the Loro Piana Best Knitwear Collection Award for my graduate collection, so hopefully that recognition will stand me in good stead for the future.

"Starting out was exciting; I felt the energy of the course straight away. We got down to working right from the beginning, so that was great. Overall, the programme made me work really hard, and I got so much out of it so it was all worthwhile."
Matilda Norberg
Matilda Norberg