As part of the 'Student Spotlight' series, Student President Ada Palmer-Jones interviews Gracie D'silva, who is currently studying BA (Hons) Fashion Design. Find out more about Gracie's time in Leeds...

What do you want people to know about your practice?

I am very much driven by sustainability, what I can do to fix the damage already done to the environment and how I can continue designing without adding to the problem anymore. In addition, I enjoy exploring my ethnic heritage and using elements of this to develop my research through the use of embroidery, fabric and colour.

Where is your happy place/place for inspiration? 


Pinterest and galleries have always been my starting point for ideas. I don’t really have a happy place to work, but back home I live by the canal and it's nice to escape back into the countryside after being in the city for a while.

Is it important for your practice to have a meaning/message?

In my opinion, it’s more important than ever to be a sustainable and responsible designer whether that is through using deadstock, upcycling or using sustainable and organic materials. I don’t want my actions to continue to add to the second most polluting industry in the world, the fashion industry.

Image: Courtesy of Gracie D'silvia

What book do you recommend most to others?

'Meat Market' by Juno Dawson, it was like reading a hidden inside view of the modelling industry in which is very much under hush according to the book.

In terms of your creative journey, which lesson has been hardest to learn?

I think the hardest lesson I have learned was being confident in my own work and using this confidence to take risks and experiment without the fear of doing something wrong.

Who inspires you?


I think we are all inspired by everything around us; nature, other creatives work, what people wear, travel. I am most inspired while listening to music, particularly to music from different countries. I think experiencing new sounds encourages me to be more free and more expressive whilst working.

What artist do you want to tell people about?

Ahluwalia Studio is a fashion designer inspired by her Indian-Nigerian heritage with London roots and uses second-hand clothes and dead stock to create her designs. Ahluwalia’s AW19 collection took inspiration from the tradition of passing clothing down to family and friends using old family photos as a reference point. I think this is quite a homely tradition that I remember doing during my childhood.

Most important medium?

I have recently become inspired through creating mixed media fashion illustrations and then using these ideas to inspire me when I am creating designs on the mannequin.

Image: Courtesy of Gracie D'silvia

Favourite art gallery?

Always the V&A, my all-time favourite exhibition I have been to there, is still Alexander McQueen’s, ‘Savage Beauty’.

Favourite place to eat in Leeds.

It has to be Bakery 164, I have been going since I was in first year. I am going to miss it when I graduate next year.

Life hack/student hack.

Don’t overthink university life, it comes with ups and downs and you just have to take them as they come. Say yes to as many opportunities while at university (within reason) as possible, as you only do university once (unless you do another degree) and you’re not going to remember the nights you stayed in and got a good night's sleep.

Favourite facility at Uni.

I am in love with the new library, I could spend all day in there since it’s been refurbished.

Society you have always wanted to start.

A trampolining society, I did trampolining when I was younger and I loved it. It would be a lot of fun to start doing it again and see what I can remember from those lessons when I was 11 years old.

Medium you can’t live without.

An industrial sewing machine, as much as I love my domestic machine that I've had for years, you can’t go wrong with an industrial machine.

@gracie_dsilva_