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Lucinda Graham is a Belfast creative and stylist who has just come to the end of an intense year of working alongside some of fashion’s biggest players in London, representing Northern Ireland’s creative landscape through various creative collectives, and building a tribe on social media whilst championing individuality and being an advocate for self-confidence. And she shows no signs of stopping anytime soon!

I recently met up with this forceful woman to find out about the driving forces of her creative practice, hear more about her current projects, and learn about her upcoming plans for designing her own fashion collection.

When Lucy arrives to meet me, she brings a burst of energy to the room with her infectious smile, upbeat enthusiasm and a dazzling array of earrings framing her face. For someone who seems to be constantly   on the go, working on multiple creative collaborations and events at any time, she exudes energy and readiness for the next challenge.

“I hate to be that person, but I struggle to make plans within short time-frames and I always need to refer to my diary. It can be hard not knowing what the next month or year will look like, but when I reflect on the past year, I couldn’t have anticipated some of the opportunities that arose, so I wouldn’t have it any other way. Though, in saying that, I am looking forward to taking a step back soon to focus on my own projects and get a little more of a routine on the go”, 

September marks the end of a 16-month placement period where Lucy threw herself into freelance creative work encompassing the role of stylist, creative director, social media manager, and photographer (among many more) for I AM Models, AVA Festival, Sunflower Festival and DSNT among others. She talked about the natural progression through the various positions within each organisation, and the importance of working hard on every opportunity in order to build good relationships with people within the industry.

“I got involved with DSNT through working with AVA Festival on a modelling job, and I have since been working in the team as a stylist, and covering their events as a social media manager and photographer, whilst also engaging with their online following. Northern Ireland is such a great place for building and maintaining working relationships as it is a small place and easy to connect with new people. However, its peripherality can also mean a lack of opportunities in comparison to other places, like London.”

This statement comes after Lucy took some time to experience life as a creative in London. “One of my best friends was getting a lot of work in London and offered me a place to stay for a while, so I just seized the opportunity and booked a flight. I thought: nothing gained, nothing lost”. 

During her two months stay in the big smoke, Lucy worked on a few modelling campaigns, took on a number of visual merchandising jobs and gained experience as an assistant stylist after bumping into Phoebe Lettice (Creative Director of Illustrated People, Stylist, Made In Chelsea). “She told me she really liked my hair, and I simply asked her for the opportunity to work with her and gave her my Instagram. She dropped me a line and offered me work as an assistant stylist on the 2002 video (Anne-Marie). I’ve never worked with anyone who was so calm when problems arose, she was really caring and verbally affirming.

Lucy also spoke about working as Zoe Costello’s assistant for the Migos UK tour – “Here I was wearing my forty quid Burberry jacket which I picked up from Oxfam, mixing with people cladded in Versace head to toe. I was surrounded by clothes I never thought I would see in person, with people who had a wealth of knowledge for me to learn from. I was learning on my feet, taking in as much as I could, and I felt so alive and filled with gratitude for the experience, despite working 20-hour days.”

But home is where her heart is, and she came back to Belfast ready to create her own opportunities. “All of the resources I have are not mine to keep. Belfast is filled with creatives, so it’s important to have collectives to lean   on and collaborate with, all in pursuit of a shared goal.” Melt Fashion Collective share the goal of creating a safe space for fashion and art within Belfast, which is inviting to all, and free of discrimination. “We are creating a scene that wasn’t here 10 years ago and providing opportunities for the youth to gain knowledge and experience within the industry. Melt has been growing faster than anticipated and encouraging collaborations and networking across disciplines. Our mantra is ‘come as you are’, with your unique perspective and experience and be a part of it.”

The passion that Lucy has for creative direction is made clear not only through her verbal enthusiasm but also in her eclectic personal style. “This is me, knowing who I am, and knowing I can try things without fear. I’m not aiming for controversy when I get dressed; I just don’t think about other people until I’m confronted with their opinions in public. But it’s not an issue for me as I am strong in my identity – if anything, I want to inspire people to wear what they want to express themselves.” 

It is the collective experiences from the last year, along with her ‘can do, will do’ attitude and strong sense of self which will help to inform her next design endeavour; a fashion collection. “When you choose a creative career like fashion, those who watch from the outside don’t necessarily know or appreciate the sacrifices, stress, risks and work that goes into each piece. It’s not a 9-5 job, but it is a labour of love, and I’m ready for the challenge”.

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