Grazia Daily meets Louise Gray, plus WIN one of her T-shirts!

17 December 2010

Like this top? YOU could WIN it-see below for details!

Upstairs in a big building crammed with various NEWgen London designers we meet Louise Gray in a room crowed with busy interns, a million bolts of fabric, finished and half finished samples on hangers and swathes of freshly dyed material hanging from the rafters to dry. Louise greets us and comments on the studio – ‘I hate the fact we’re in a college, it feels like I’m back at school!’ in her soft, calm voice without a hint of actually hating anything.

We get the feeling that Louise is a bit too cool for school, which she is – although not too cool to give Grazia Daily an extended chat about shows, her London heroes and what inspires her to design . . .

the latest collection - S/S '11

Grazia Daily: Tell us about preparing for a catwalk show – is the prospect exciting or do you get terribly stressed out?

Louise Gray: It’s exciting of course! I love it when I get to show. It’s what we work the whole time for – that bloody 10 minutes!

GD: How did you get started into designing your own label?

LG: I graduated from CSM three years ago. I showed that February, with Fashion East. Lulu Kennedy [founder of fashion East and fashion legend] has to be one of the best people I’ve met so far. She’s fantastic, hooking people up with people they need to know. Her background is in the club scene, and she just knows everyone. She’s an expert networker.

A/W '10 looks

GD: Would you say you’ve found that being in London in a good place for becoming part of that kind of network?

LG: Oh definitely. London is full of energy and excitement; I mean the fashion scene certainly, but also the scene in general. There are so many creative people in such a small area and they are all able to feed off each other and pass that energy on to one another. I’m a very social person and I know I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t enjoy it. Because we’re young and working in a creative industry, being in Hackney helps too. When you venture out into central London or other parts of the city you’re reminded how different and special Hackney is. Everything is here. Work, the studio, home and the social side of things – the clubs and parties.

GD: Your work fits well into the idea of what ‘London fashion’ looks like. What are the other fabulous Londoners do you hang out with, or which heroes of yours have you been able to meet through doing your job?

LG: Oh loads. I absolutely love Pam Hogg, Judy Blame is a good example of someone who I admired for ages and have since been able to collaborate with – he made me some bags and rucksacks. He’s had a really long career despite how ‘outsidery’ his work seems. He’s got a brilliant voice as well he just sounds so Londony. [DJ] Princess Julia would be another person. She does the mixes for my shows and she’s another wonderful character and definitely an East London legend. I met Celia Birtwell [iconic Sixties print designer and partner of Ossie Clark] on a shoot I was in – for women in fashion. I was a bit star struck when I was in the room with her – she’s such a fashion legend.

Nicholas Kirkwood for Pollini shoes - from Louise's S/S '11 show

GD: Who else have you collaborated with?

LG: The Smiley Company – they are great, and the smiley emblem is something that fits in perfectly with my aesthetic anyway. Nicholas Kirkwood I think is great and we collaborated on some shoes together.

GD: What makes your work different, what would you say your visual signature is?

LG: Probably the textile aspect. I love coming up with new techniques – like prints, dyes and the 3D devoré stuff. It’s a kind of ‘burn out’ technique, You start off with a piece of fabric and then we use chemicals to burn half the surface off which leaves us with the finished print. Plus the kind of collage aspect to the pieces. It’s a way of doing prints then mixing them up and jigsawing them together to create something new and unique.

A/W '09

GD: Your clothes seem like quite an obvious extension of your own personal style

LG: Yep! I make what I want to wear, and what I think women want to wear. I get so excited when I get samples back and I spend a lot of time wearing my own creations.

GD: You’re not from London are you Louise? Is it correct that you are from a really tiny teeny town in the middle of Scotland?

LG: Ha ha ha. Absolutely tiny. Just me and my family, trampling around through fields!

A/W '08 at Fashion East

GD: Do you think there are quite a few designers who come from quite remote, unheard of towns or rural areas? Why do you think that might be?

I would say the daydreaming. You have more time to daydream because there is less time to be rushing around doing things because there’s less stuff to do. Also dressing up – it’s not so easy to go shopping for clothes but we loved dressing up. So daydreaming and dressing up and then you realise that could be your route out of there!

* * If you want to get your hands on this fabulous collage T-shirt designed by Louise herself, then praise be for COTTON USA (who sponsored her LFW show) and are offering it to one of you lucky lot. Just answer the question below to be in with a chance of winning! * *


-Naomi Attwood


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