Graphic fantastic! Grazia Daily meets Holly Fulton!

25 August 2010


When Grazia Daily went to visit Holly Fulton at her Hackney studio, we trailed upstairs from the activity of assistants rustling away at the collection to talk about Holly’s career so far. She’s the girl behind the dazzlingly graphic prints – whether you’ve seen them in a catwalk report or in her collection for ASOS, OR on her oversized graphic jewellery, it’s impossible to mistake her pieces for anyone else’s. We wanted to find out how she’s found her way from Scotland, to selling jewellery round the world to designing Paris fashion houses and now her own NEWGEN sponsored label and this is what she told us . .

Hello – how are you?

Very well thank you. We’ve just sent all of our designs off to the printers so now we’ll wait for the textiles to come back and then make the collection from that. I’m feeling quite calm actually, almost too calm. It’s like I’m asking myself – is everything ok? Are we on track to get this collection done? I mean, I THINK we are, but you always feel as if you should be panicking, in a way, even if you don’t need to be!

Holly's latest collection - A/W '10

SO! This coming fashion week marks your first catwalk show for NEWGEN! Congratulations!

Thanks! Last season I had a space in the exhibition and the two seasons before that I’ve had a show with Fashion East. It feels like a nice progression for me, one step at a time.

Are you looking forward to having a show again or is that an added pressure?

No, I’m really excited. Of course! With a catwalk show compared to an exhibition I will have a few extra things to think about, but we always use the same hair and makeup people and they are really relaxed and fun to be around, the production of the show is all organised by the BFC, and we get the shoes from Christian Louboutin. In fact, come to think about it, we are getting some AMAZING shoes this season. The shoes just really add finesse. Seeing your clothes on a girl with hair, makeup and all the bits and seeing the models move is incredible. You can never fully imagine it beforehand.


S/S '10 (note the brilliant accessories - bags and jewellery!)

What is it like, being part of NEWGEN?

It’s amazing to have a network like that to rely on and use. I mean, the show or the space at London Fashion Week is the biggest thing but the help and support they give you is tremendous too. You really can ask them any question you like even if you think it’s stupid. You can call on them for anything. We all went to Goodwood on Sunday – it was like a school trip, all of us lot with Sarah Mower on a coach!

Holly's MA graduate collection at the ROyal College of Art

You’ve got a very interesting fashion CV haven’t you Holly? Tell us about your work experience so far

Well, I never thought I’d be running my own label, that’s for sure. When I graduated from my first degree in 1999 I had no intention of going for something like that. I went abroad and I worked in antique jewellery for a while. I taught fashion students as well.

I worked for Lanvin in Paris for quite a while, doing womenswear and accessories and making the jewellery for the catwalk shows.

I nearly enrolled on an MA course in Australia, while I was living there for a while, but then I decided that if I was going to do an MA, I wanted to do the best one I possibly could, so I had to apply in London. I didn’t think I would get in, but I ended up going to the Royal College of Art and then straight after that I ended up getting support from Lulu Kennedy at Fashion East and it has kind of gathered momentum every season since then.


Details from the S/S '10 collection

Wow! How does it work since you specialise in womenswear and in accessories? Does one come before the other? Do people try and pin you down on this?

Yes, people ALWAYS try and pin you down and say things like, ‘but which one do you really want to do?’ To me there’s no division, I always think about them both and neither one is more important than the other. It’s not like it’s a commercial decision, like, I have to sell the one to fund the other either. When you get involved with buyers, they seem to want quite a cross section of everything you do, so a few really showy crystal dresses, [Holly is sponsored by Swaroski], a few bright silk really printed dresses and a few bags, and some jewellery too. They like a full range.

Tell us about teaching fashion students – what college is that in?

I’ve been working as a teacher at my old college in Edinburgh right up until this summer. I really like teaching actually and I think doing something like that is really good for you – it keeps you grounded and it keeps you on your toes, having 30 people all asking you things really forces you to think on your feet!

Winning the Swarovski Emerging Talent Award for Accessories last year

Do you ever see elements of your aesthetic coming through in your students work? 

Err, no, not too much. Or if I do, it’s something I try and nip in the bud. I wouldn’t want anyone to be encouraged to copy, although of course some of the techniques I might teach are things that I use myself. The main thing is this – it’s modern womenswear and does it cut it? And if not, why not!

Can you give us any hints or clues about the upcoming collection? What are you feeling for S/S ’11?

It’ll be the usual starting point of engineered prints plus embellished dresses, some crystal dresses and although it’s still very geometric, this time round there’s a shift in colour palette and I’ve gone much more pastel. I’ve been looking at this thing called the Memphis Design movement for inspiration; it started in the 80’s in Milan. [Grazia Daily checked this out, it’s as colourful and geometric as you would expect!]

The work of Pop artist Nicholas Krushenick

Does most of your inspiration come from outside of fashion, would you say?

Yes and no. I’ve always said I’m inspired by architecture, the Art Deco movement and Pop Art – Eduardo Paolozzi and also an artist called Nicholas Krushenick. Also jewellery – I love all kinds of jewellery too. I’m not a trained jeweller I just love it, I worked in antique jewellery and I ended up designing jewellery for Lanvin purely because I was going in to work wearing so much of the stuff, they said – you like jewellery, can you make us some?


A piece by Eduardo Paolozzi

Fashion-wise I mostly like stuff that is just about on the cusp of bad taste! Like those sort of weird knock-off Hermes prints you see with the twisted ropes in loads of different colours, or ‘90’s Versace or old Moschino. I love a busy print! I also LOVE Joan Collins! [Stands up and wanders to the bookshelf returning with a volume entitled ‘Joan’s Secrets’]


Oh my goodness! Joan Collins was GORGEOUS back in the day!

She’s an amazing woman. She still is now. But look! Here she is doing exercises in a leotard – here she is lying on a lilo fully made up in an infinity pool! The idea behind the collection was – if I was going to dress Joan Collins for a cruise, then how many different outfits would I have to make her?

That is genius! We can’t wait to see the collection, Thanks for chatting to us Holly!

Holly's Offical website

-Naomi Attwood


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