Wonderland heads to the sweetshop with BFC award-winning Gabriella Sardena.


The candy man has nothing on Gabriella Sardena. Her ultra-feminine BA Graduate Collection ‘Sugar’ was brought on by a full-on candy craze, boasting bright pink pleats, floral prints, candy graphics and layered lace. The Manchester School of Art womenswear graduate is one of this year’s British Fashion Council’s MA Scholarship recipients, with her sweet inspired garments earning her a place on Central Saint Martins prestigious MA in Fashion Textiles. Gabriella’s collection has had us buzzing around the Wonderland office’s on a total sugar high and if we needed one more good reason to bring Summer back – it’s her candy shop-fashion frenzy of pom-poms and playful textiles.

Wonderland traded some penny sweets with Gabriella in return for an insight into her sugar-coated world.



What drew you to study fashion?

I have always loved drawing and sketching. What drew me to fashion was being able to express your imagination and creativity through clothing, where you can create a 2-dimensional drawing and bring it to life in a 3-dimensional piece of wearable art.

What were some valuable lessons learned during your BA?

Time management and working under pressure towards a deadline. Working on multiple projects at a time is something that will constantly happen when working in the fast pace industry.

Can you tell me more about your work experience and what designers you have assisted?

My last placement took place in San Francisco last summer. I interned with GAP Inc’s Old Navy brand. It was a great experience. I learnt a lot about production from the start to finish.

Surrounded by the Californian environment I was filled with inspiration, and it was where my initial research began for my graduate collection.

Can you elaborate on what inspired your BA Graduate Collection?

My final collection was inspired by the innocence of femininity in contrast to the obsessive compulsion with everything sickly sweet. After exploring every sweetshop in San Francisco and a crazy sugar rush, I was inspired to create a narrative as the starting point to my research. This lead to sweet covered face prints, sweet bag pockets and icing-like dripped jackets.

I was also sponsored by Sophie Hallette lace. Working with the lace was great and really brought out the innocent feminine side to my collection. Alongside the pleats that replicate cupcake cases, trapping pom-poms into the lace created a beautiful texture and volume to the fabric, it gave my collection movement and fluidity.

Do you design for yourself or who do you have in mind?

The woman I design for is youthful, playful, eccentric yet sophisticated.

You received a lot of praise for your footwear in your final show. How was it working on accessories?

Working on accessories was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed creating the footwear as when I was designing I constantly had the whole look in mind.

Is this a direction you would like to continue to explore?

Accessories are something I would definitely be interested in as a collaborative project. Collaboration is so important as it allows various creative people to share and bounce ideas of one another to create something pretty spectacular.

What do you hope to achieve by completing the MA Fashion Textiles course at CSM?

I am really happy to have been awarded the scholarship by the British Fashion Council. It will be a huge help towards me MA. I am super excited to start at CSM.

I hope to continue developing as a designer, especially now specialising on textiles and strengthening this pathway. I am excited and want to push myself, and explore all the areas and new ideas with surface textures and silhouettes. I hope to achieve a collection that reflects who I am as a designer with a strong aesthetic.

What are some common threads that run through everything you create?

I always base my research on a narrative, or some sort of backstory. This helps me go into depth with my research and dig deep into the meaning behind it. It is also a great way to link the odd or random influences that may come across.

What are your favourite materials and fabrics to work with?

I love working with silks, lace and various transparent fabrics. I find it so beautiful to work with and there is so much you can do with then to alter the fabric with out it getting to bulky or heavy.

What are you plans after you graduate?

After I graduate from my MA I would like to work in the high end industry for a few years, gain experience and try my best to work my way up the ladder. Ultimately, I would like to create my own label.

What are your aspirations?

My aspirations are to continue working hard towards the goal of becoming a successful womenswear designer. I want to make clothes that put a smile on peoples’ faces and that reflect my personality. Clothes where women feel quirky and confident when they wear them. 


Words: Janine Leah Bartels


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