Re-Writing The Fashion Rules
One of the most eclectic creative hubs in the world, with roots deep in heritage and an eye fixed firmly on the future, British designers are changing up the landscape of fashion. We spoke to some of the industry's key Brit-based designers to get their take on all things GB...
On British Design…
"I think being a British brand you can’t help but be influenced by the cultural diversity and rich heritage that the UK offers, which make British fashion so innovative and unique. There’s a braveness to design in the UK, a bending of rules and an entrepreneurial spirit, which constantly inspires me to push the boundaries of what we have done before,” explains accessories designer Anya Hindmarch.
“British designers aren't afraid to take risks or break away from trends, I guess we like to make our own rules,” agrees shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood. “There is a real sense of being a team with other London designers. We definitely all support each other and I have been lucky enough to work with some of my friends including Erdem, Roksanda and Peter Pilotto, collaborating with them on collections. There is a real sense of camaraderie here which I don't think you see in other fashion capitals,” he adds.
For womenswear designer Mary Katrantzou, the UK; “Is such a creative hub where individuality is sought after and applauded. Like-minded people function as a support system for each other here, they inspire and encourage, and that’s why creativity blossoms.”
On British Style…
“I’ve always thought that British fashion was obviously the best,” shares Stella McCartney. “I think it’s the best on the street. For me fashion starts with real people, it’s not necessarily the design houses, it’s the culture, it’s the melting pot of madness of the city, the way that people express themselves, they’re kind of fearless, they have a great sense of humour, they’re irreverent. We created punk rock here and I think you can see that in the fashion."
“British style is eclectic, diverse and audacious. It’s forward thinking and non-conformist," agrees Mary Katrantzou.
British style for Nicholas Kirkwood is "Experimental and influential. British women have an amazing ability to piece together items in unexpected ways."
On British Roots…
At Jimmy Choo, Creative Director, Sandra Choi gets back to the brand's Brit foundations; “Jimmy Choo is a quintessentially British brand because we have that sense of wit and humour – at times irreverent – which are inherent in all our designs. There is a sense of refinement too which gives it a handcrafted allure, it’s that combination of all those little details that make us so British."
“The UK allows for designers to be creatively free," explains Nicholas Kirkwood. “I am constantly inspired by my surroundings, whether that be a new art exhibition, a new piece of architecture or someone I see in the street. I trained at Cordwainers where we were encouraged to learn the craft as well as the design element and I feel like this level of craftsmanship is unique to the UK.”
For Anya Hindmarch; "Humour is one of the things I love most about England. Laughter is our lifeblood at AH HQ which I think comes through in the product. Seasonally we are inspired by everyday familiar items, from the Crisp Packet, to the most recent SS16 collection of familiar patterns which when tessellated and reworked emerged as something new and unexpected. I’m always looking to treat the everyday ordinary in an extraordinary way, using beautiful materials and craftsmanship. Like a mink scourer!"
And in agreement on the humour front, designer Annoushka Ducas of jewellery brand Annoushka shares; "Our ability not to take ourselves too seriously is also a constant source of inspiration. I feel particularly proud of British design – the diversity and emerging talent consistently sets us apart from the rest of the world."
While for Prism swimwear and accessories designer Anna Laub, being British "pushes me to be individual and push boundaries and not worry about what anyone else is doing. It helps me be very single-minded about doing my own thing."
On British Icons...
"I had the pleasure of lodging with the late and great Isabella Blow. She was incredibly selfless and encouraging, and although she passed not long after I started my own brand I still find her inspiring. She knew how to dress and wasn't afraid to make bold choices; she is one of the greatest British icons and loved by so many," says Nicholas Kirkwood.
For Anya Hindmarch, it has to be; "Grayson Perry. He dresses as art. The craftmanship of what he wears in incredible. What a hero!"
"My icon is David Bowie. He was the ultimate fashion chameleon. He embodied the mindset and bold attitude to fashion that characterises British style. He was unapologetic in his experimentations, and encouraged us to escape reality," explains Mary Katrantzou.
And for Annoushka Ducas, her icon is actress; "Kristin Scott-Thomas. She is elegant, refined and has an effortless style."
Shop our edit of the best of British design below...