Thursday, 24 March 2011

EMILIA WICKSTEAD AND HER THOUGHTS ON DESIGNING


How long have you been a designer?

I moved to London when I was 19 years old to study my degree in Fashion Design and Marketing at Central Saint Martin’s and eventually pursue my career in fashion.

I have been designing since I graduated in 2007 and I launched my label in 2008 with private showrooms in Chelsea. In October 2009 I opened the Emilia Wickstead flagship Atelier in Belgravia.

What inspires you?

Timeless, classic era’s such as the 1950’s – I think icons such as Grace Kelly have inspired my work.

My current 2011 collection is reminiscent of playful Palm Springs, elegant pool parties and the romantic ally chic lounging lifestyle of the 1970’s. I am also inspired by vibrant colour palettes and unusual textured fabrics that bring garments to life.

How many collections do you do a year?

We show collections twice a year for both seasons– however our concept is slightly different to most designers in the sense that we show the current season rather than the one ahead.

So at the moment we have Spring Summer in the Atelier but this can be adapted and worn throughout the year and is ultimately trans seasonal luxury.

You allow clients to choose fabric and make their clothes almost couture, why do you this, other designers are not able to do this?

I believe that it is important for my clients to feel as if they can become a part of the design process and create something totally unique.

That is why we stock limited prints every season so that once they sell out not everyone is wearing them. Clients love having the option of choosing from a wide variety of colours and fabrics and we have the ability offer this service to them.

Your mother was a dressmaker how involved is she with your collection?

From a very young age I used to sit and watch my mother in her work room. She was also a designer at the time and I would watch her for hours and take in the surroundings.

So in that sense my mother has been involved since the beginning and been a huge inspiration to me as well as giving advice when it comes to the business and helping out with fashion shows we hold in London.

In fact we have just taken her on full-time to run the production from Italy and she is a great asset to the company.

You are from New Zealand, when did you start working here?

I first started working here during my time at Central Saint Martin’s. I had a part-time job at a store called Birgit Israel and once graduated I then decided to start my own business.

Who is your favourite designer ever?

Miuccia Prada - If there is one luxury brand that I love, especially for its accessories then it would have to be this one. I have a collection of her handbags, wallets and shoes because the quality is beautiful and they never date.

What books and music do you read?

The latest book I have purchased is “Once Upon a Time” by Slim Aarons.  Inspiration!!
Music: van Morrison, Fleetwood mac, bruce springstein


You have received a lot of attention in the press recently, has this changed the boutique at all in Pont Street.

The more coverage we get the more enquiries and visitors we have at the Atelier. Styles sell out when featured in the press absolutely however, I don’t believe this has changed the Atelier. We still very much remain a niche brand and have regular clients who have shopped with us from the beginning and select a new wardrobe every season to suit their individual needs.
We just happen to be a lot busier and the business is expanding dramatically with the helping hand of press!

What dress of yours would you like Kate Middleton to wear if you had any choice?

I think Kate would suit any of our styles as they are simple and classic and she also has an amazing figure that would be easy to dress.

If I had to choose any dress then it would be something young and colourful with a slight twist to keep her look fresh.

With the world changing rapidly how do you think the fashion world will cope? Eg earthquakes libya etc.

I think that the fashion world will cope. There is always fashion constant desire internationally. Enough of it to keep sales coming for the time being.

Which celebrity would you like to wear a dress or yours in Los Angeles.

Angelina Jolie - she has a great presence in the fashion world and is extremely beautiful. I like that she wears classic, elegant dresses but manages to give them an interesting / unique edge.

Do you think you will increase your collection?

This season we have certainly created a lot more looks and I think the bigger we get the more styles I will design but I want to keep it true to what i represent for the female form and not too overwhelming for the clients.

The idea is that they can adapt a style and add a sleeve, change the neckline or fabric and colour etc so this means there is much more scope to create something that you wouldn’t necessarily see hanging on the rail in store.
I would love to expand into the US market for sure.

By the time you are fifty what would like to have achieved?

I would love for Emilia Wickstead to become a successful, established international brand that is widely recognised in the fashion world and also renowned for its quality and unique approach to made-to-measure clothing.
It would be great to have our same atelier in a few other cities and working in the same way as we do in London.
I would also like to have dressed some of the most influential women of our time and to be widely recognised for this.

How do you feel about John Galliano and his dismissal at Dior? Would you like to be attached to a big name?

I feel very sad for him to have had such a public and tragic dismissal.  What he did was completely incorrect and unforgivable however I do feel for him at the same time.  His life was Dior.
Never say never – with regards to being attached to a big name!!


How many people do you employ?


In total London Based 8 full-time staff, wonderful interns and a small factory based in Italy.

Where do you like to spend your holidays?

I absolutely love Italy – the food, the people and of course the weather. You cannot go wrong!
Brazil is also a favourite which i visit often – home to my Brazilian fiancĂ©.


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