Quantum mechanics isn't a subject that features commonly on most fashion designers' list of influences, but then again, Glasgow-born Rebecca Torres isn't like most designers.
For Torres, who can count nominations at the Scottish Fashion Awards for Young Designer of the Year for two years running, has eschewed more orthodox ideas and instead looked to science fiction cinema and a form of quantum mechanics known as many-worlds interpretation as the starting point for her latest collection, Dimensions. The result arrives in the form of pieces featuring Torres' signature electric shades interspersed with geometric patterns and classic structure that clings to the body like a sinuous second skin.
It's not just those two prestigious nominations the designer keeps in her sewing box, either. Managing to successfully combine the business side of her brand (Torres was shortlisted for a Highly Commended Business award at the Lloyds TSB Enterprise Awards 2012) with a high-end creative output (which, in turn, gained recognition from Vice magazine's Creative 30) has seen the popularity of the designer's womenswear continue on a steady ascent to ubiquity in wardrobes all over the world, as well as hats being tipped in her direction from fashion powerhouses Grazia and Vogue who featured her frocks on their pages.
Incubating an abstract concept in its developmental stages has allowed Dimensions to metamorphose from something entirely unrelated to the sartorial world into a collection with wearability at its core. We talk to Rebecca Torres about the journey so far.
How has your creative output changed from the beginning of career to now?
Since starting out I would say I am more aware of how I get to my end product. I wouldn't class myself as the conventional designer - everyone has their own way of working. For me, if I have a strong idea I instantly sketch it down and work my collection around that. Usually my first idea is the one I always go back to, and I think a lot of what I do is on a gut feeling and instinct (though I'm sure most people are the same). Plus, I now find myself wanting to be in a quiet space designing which is something I never used to do before.
What advice would you give to yourself as a fledgling designer?
If I could give myself any advice it would be not to consume yourself or compare yourself to anyone else. Go at your own pace and never give up on what you truly believe in.
Which women in power do you admire and why?
The woman who I admire are woman who may not be CEOs of big companies but ones who are trying to make a difference in the world using their status to raise awareness. Ellen Page announcing she was gay during a human right campaign was so moving. I hope it gave some people hope not to be embarrassed about who they are. It baffles me that in 2014 being gay or transgender is even an issue.
How do you deal with disappointment in business?
With any business they are going to be highs and lows and I have definitely experienced both. I let the emotions out and move on; it's important not to dwell on what could have been, if it was supposed to have worked out then it would have.
Describe a pivotal moment in your career.
The most pivotal moment I would say would be seeing my garments in store for the first time at House of Fraser. It's great when you see them online but seeing them in store surrounded by big brands and seeing the concession I had put together was a proud moment for me. I usually get too consumed with everything to appreciate things. I remember walking up to the third floor and looking down at my concession space and thinking, "that's me, I did that."
What do you wish you'd designed and why?
There isn't anything I wish I had designed, but I can tell you what I would like to. And it would be a wedding dress, not because I want to get into that field but just to have the experience of doing something completely different. Though there is a lot of pressure doing a bespoke bridal dress for someone but I think I would like the challenge.
Who have been your mentors over the course of your career?
Over the course of my career I have meet some amazing people. Firstly a woman called Jenny Holloway who runs a company called Fashion Enter who discovered my collection that then went into ASOS. She was honest, showed me the ropes and believed in me, which at 24 (at the time) and not having a clue what to do with such an order I needed. She took me under her wing. Sarah Scarce, who was my advisor at Princes Trust, was also another amazing person who helped me along the way with great advice and belief. And I have to say more recently Fiona Chuatard at Fashion Foundry and my mentor during the program Mhairi Taylor from Bebaroque. I've just realised all of these are woman!
If money and prior commitments were no object, describe how you would spend your dream year.
I would love to spend the year with my husband Michael travelling around the world. First visiting my friends in Dubai, and seeing family in Portugal. Then travelling around America - my husband is a massive film geek so going to the U.S. would be amazing and of course Disneyland as neither of us have ever been.
Which one thing would you change about the fashion industry if you had the chance?
If I had to change anything it would be for big businesses to appreciate and think about where they are getting their garments made. I know we are all here to make a living but it's important to be more conscious as no one wants to see a repeat of what happened in Bangladesh.
Tell us about your latest collection, Dimensions.
As a designer I have always been interested by how fabric can alter a person's perception and the potential, on a daily basis, for people to re-invent themselves and by association their outlook on the world.
This led to the creation of Dimensions influenced by both the aesthetic of 60s/70s science fiction cinema (the vision of the future through the lens of the past) and quantum theory, specifically the many-worlds interpretation. I became fascinated with the possibility that there could be infinite versions of ourselves, each unique and yet the same.
What's next for Rebecca Torres?
For the brand we have just launched our new website and are concentrating on growing our online side of things. Plus we are going to be taking some time to develop new ranges and are working closely with House of Fraser. It's really exciting and we're just taking each day as it comes.
Rebecca Torres' collection Dimensions is available to buy from her website www.rebeccatorres.co.uk.