Fashion isn’t the be all and end all for Lynn Benson. It’s much more important than that.
Lynn has taught fashion, millinery and art here at Hull School Of Art and Design since the 1980s. A passion for fashion however, is simply not enough for anyone wishing to study here.
“You must be politically aware, historically aware and socially aware if you want to work in fashion,” says our BA (Hons) Fashion programme leader. “Fashion is a global marketplace and everyone can make a difference.”
Growing up, fashion and political awareness played equally strong roles in Lynn’s life. Her grandmother and mother were women’s rights activists. For women’s rights group member Lynn, who earned her fashion stripes designing clothes for her parents’ bridal and womenswear shops, fashion is undoubtedly a feminist issue. Her students, of course, don’t have to share her beliefs. But they do have to think.
A fervent believer in practising what she preaches, Lynn is currently investigating several research pathways.
“My philosophy is lifelong learning,” she says. “There is always something new to learn – you should be able to do what you teach.”
Lynn is fascinated by mathematics and the way it can touch all areas of life. Her MA, The Mathematics Of Origami, was inspired by the work of Italian Middle Ages mathematician Fibonacci, whose patterns can be found in nature, biology, music and, of course, fashion.
Her personal practice includes private commissions, millinery and corsetry, taking inspiration from history.
“I research across the eras,” says Lynn. “There is always something to inspire. I love the sophisticated dresses of the 1930s; Elizabethan ruffs; Medieval clothes; and the ethos and the simplicity of the cut of 1970s Japanese designs by people such as Yohji Yamamoto. For contemporary designs, I’m inspired by John Galliano; French fashion designer Madeleine Vionnet; Alexander McQueen; and the Belgian designers Viktor And Rolf.”
An ongoing collaboration with Hull artist Sally Tebb will result in a project that will see Sally’s abstract artwork translated into clothes designs for an exhibition.
As if that wasn’t enough, Lynn is engaged in researching and writing two books. One is on Ertre; the other is a pattern-cutting millinery book called Take A Piece Of Paper. The idea behind the latter book is to create a “fun way of educating people about millinery”. Ultimately, she says, it demonstrates an accessible method of making an extremely simple hat without the expensive tools and paraphernalia that is often required in millinery.