Whether you’re more into something silky and smooth or mate and moody, a good red lipstick can change everything.. and I mean everything. It’s a statement of confidence and one of the most instant attainments of an" “ok world, I’m ready for you” kind of mood, of course not forgetting the tiny detail that takes many an outfit from day to night in the simple swipe of an application. High-pigment is vital for a power play while slightly more subtle options that can be worn during the day are also a good addition to your lipstick wardrobe. Here we look at 12 of the best on the beauty market, from MAC’s cult favourite Ruby Roo to Tom Ford’s ever classic take on the world of red in Armie 33 from the Boys & Girls II collection and of course one of my all time favourites, Modern Matte Powder Lipstick in Flame 509 from Shiseido.
Born and raised in Seoul, Eudon Choi is one of fashion’s hottest young designers right now. The London based womenswear designer originally studied and worked in menswear in his home city in Korea before moving to London where he attained his MA in womenswear in 2006 from the Royal College of Art. Sitting somewhere chic between designer and contemporary the outrageously talented designer creates exquisitely tailored pieces that have won the hearts of fashionistas the world over.
So notably talented for the get-go, Choi was offered a job with All Saints a year before graduating, with the company holding a job for him as a Senior Designer upon completing his course. In the meantime his final collection was swooped up by one of the industries most prestigious stockists, Dover Street Market, which for any designer stands as a mark of reaching the top - which for Choi was a mark set before he even began. Despite his ‘arrival’ as such, Choi decided to take the opportunity to hone his craft learning from others; taking a job at Twenty8Twelve. He worked as one of the brands Senior Designers white also playing a part in the the overall picture of the company, working with top casting directors and stylists during the brand’s London Fashion Week shows, all of which gave Choi a taste of what it’s like to put together a show. This experience proved all too valuable now that he is creating his own collections which he began doing in 2009 with his eponymous label Eudon Choi.
For his collections, he cuts every pattern by hand and works very closely with his seamstresses on the process of each single garment, finalising each piece with any concluding tweaks. Describing his designs as ‘unique, understated and intellectual’, Choi is known for his in-depth knowledge of tailoring techniques and his flawless eye for detail. With a distinct emphasis placed in his origins of tailored detailing, he tends to draws upon the beauty at the crux of more masculine cuts, reworking them into his vision for his now predominately female customer base.
Supported by the industry from the beginning, Choi has received many awards for his work. And deservedly so, including backing from the British Fashion Council and the Fashion Trust through the Fashion Trust Initiative.
Classic but with a contemporary twist, he continues to develop his own aesthetics and evolve his signature style season on season. Its safe t say that investing in a piece of Choi for your wardrobe is likely to last a lifetime, marrying it’s way into your style like the most perfectly fitting glove.
SHOP EUDON CHOI
Image Credit vogue.com
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Maybe you’re a spin enthusiast or a resistance-goddess, perhaps you love your morning run or sweating it out at Bikram? Whatever your chosen method of movement you understand and agree with the benefits in time spent working the body and a dedicated commitment to strengthening the muscles of our body; simply put it pays off to workout, right? Why then have we never connected such dedication to the face? Step forth FaceGym, the world’s first ever gym session for the face.
FaceGym was founded in 2016, by ex-beauty journalist Inge Theron who as a contributor for the Financial Times, documented her search for the next big thing in beauty in her column ‘Chronicles of a Spa Junkie”. Over a 3 year period she visited 57 spas, tried 25 anti-ageing treatments, tolerated 15 detoxes and sweated her way through 32 different types of movement classes. In her extreme search she underwent a face-lift procedure that left her house-bound due to complications and with a new outlook on skincare and the search for what works, she wondered if perhaps there was a less invasive was of ageing gracefully?
FaceGym is her resulting creation, the fruits of a two-year study that saw her travel the world to work with fitness experts, doctors, gurus and facialists. It’s a non-invasive facial workout requiring no knives, needles or recovery time; just 45 - 60 minutes in the hands of one of the company’s expert trainers. Exercising the face works to increase the blood circulation (allowing oxygen and nourishment to reach skin cells) and develop the 43 muscles in the face, making the shape of the face more full and defined. The ‘training’ part of the workout varies depending on the outcome you desire, so whether it’s a lifted look, tightening, detox, de-puffing or sculpting there is a varying custom-created workout. However the overall aim of a session at FaceGym is to stimulate the muscles, bringing back the skin’s natural elasticity and promoting collagen production.
With similar steps to a body workout, the trainer will take you through the warm up, cardio, sculpting, and cool down stages of the workout. Using high energy kneading movements, a carefully selected selection of high-quality products from around the globe alongside optional vitamin boosters, a jade gua sha tool, a yoga ball and an electrical muscle stimulator (EMS), a session at FaceGym leaves your skin looks instantly tighter and brighter with your face visibly more sculpted. Fresh skin, the natural way, what’s not to love?
Available in London, Manchester, New York & coming soon to Los Angeles // Book your workout here // Workouts cost bewteen £50 and £225 or $70 and $270
SHOP FACEGYM APPROVED PRODCUTS
With his 18 inch trained waistline, Mark Erskine-Pullin famously known as Mr. Pearl is something of a 21st century genius and a mysterious father figure in the fashion world. It is not just his commitment to his beloved craft as a corsetier - he wears a corset 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (relieving himself of the garments only to bath) - that he really skyrocketed to fame but rather the fact that he is arguably the most iconic, talented and sought-after corset maker in existence.
Born in South Africa in 1962, he grew up in a working class family and lived a modest life there with his father Neil, an English toolmaker and his half-English, half-Dutch mother Yvette. Upon their divorce however, he was sent to live with his grandparents Hetty and Ruben Searle. Falling in love with corsets and the art of waist training at a young age, his fascination was encouraged living with his Grandmother, where he would lace her into her corsets upon her request and, loving every minute of it, so his journey into the fashion world was born. Feeling under much pressure to conform, Pullin married a South African actress but later ended it before moving to London, where he found his freedom. He worked as a dresser and costume designer for the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden by day and by night he was a regular nightclub attendee and performer - going under his alter ego “Pearl”; it was later that Isabella Blow named him “Mr. Pearl”, which has stuck ever since.
After a stint working under the legendary performance artist, fashion designer and club promoter, Leigh Bowery, Pullin moved to Paris to pursue his career as a corsetier after meeting designer Thierry Mugler at the Love Ball in New York City. Paris has become his home and there he works on a made-to-order basis for private clients only. Marking a history of controversy, the corset is often seen as a symbol of female oppression, yet to the contrary a sign of sexuality, power and the pursuit of pleasure. For Pullin it is a form of self-discipline and of his work he says, “it is not about being fashionable. I do not follow fashion at all. I’m interested in an ideal, a kind of expression of elegance, which really has nothing to do with fashion”.
From conception to materialisation, a Mr. Pearl piece can take months of hard work and craftsmanship. Mr. Pearl has produced creations for designers such as Chloe, John Galliano, Thierry Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier, Alexander McQueen, Christian Lacroix and Antonio Berardi, while celebrities like Kylie Minogue, Jerry Hall, Sophie Dahl, Victoria Beckham, Kim Kardashian not forgetting his long-term collaborator Dita Von Teese have been known to wear his designs.
In a time when fashion is fast and seasons are multiplying, there’s something nurturing in the fact that Mr. Pearl’s work will always take time. His dedication to the art sees him refuse to use any form of modern technology in the making of his famously extravagant and opulent inventions. And so it stands that if you’re in the market for one of the world’s most iconic corsets, Paris is calling.
Tim Walk: Wonderful Things is open at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London till March 8th 2020, find out who the infamous fashion photographer is here on Haute So Fabulous.
It’s not always easy to follow your heart but taking the lead from Sophie Buhai, self-reinvention seems all too easily attainable, not to mention rather stylish.
Leading the way as the ultimate example of originality, Sophie Buhai is firmly back in her native LA lifestyle, having left her life in NYC and selling her stake in Vena Cava, the clothing line she co-founded and designed with her friend Lisa Mayock, straight out of Parsons. With 10 years experience in the industry, not to mention a manic New York City paced career in the rearview, she took a year out to develop other passions. During that time, Sophie thoughtfully designed her newly purchased home which led to her organic movement into an interiors role - a role she still holds today, designing for fashion insiders. However, it was in 2015 that she truly found her feet, launching her namesake jewellery brand, Sophie Buhai. Housed on her website, alongside a wide variety of life-style findings she has discovered along the way, including a Natalie Smith painting, Mark Pavlovits homeware and an Elsa Peretti terracotta vase, her designs and collections have been received with significant regard. Known now for her beautifully bold yet powerfully delicate modernist pieces, Sophie continues to reinvent the world of sculptural silhouettes, bringing to life her take on modern classics.
Shop the collection now at Net-A-Porter.com
Dainty jewels are always a good idea. And as we come to the end of January, not to mention the end of those January blues there’s absolutely every excuse to treat yourself to a little self-gifting of some pretty little treasures. In a follow up edition to my new “Considered Curation” series, a new venture in which I share the brands, people and places I love, today it’s all about decorating yourself and those you love with something beautiful from local and international designers who have built something that simply must be shared and worn.
So darlings, get in, we’re going shopping!
Soru is a UK based jewellery brand that has brought all my jewellery dreams to life. Soru, meaning sisters in Sicilian, was aptly created and curated by two half English-Sicilian sisters Francesca Kelly and Marianna Doyle in 2013. Full of ornate flair and made for the every-day wearer, carrying her to those every-night occasions, each Soru creation is ethically handmade in Italy or Turkey using gold plated sterling silver, set to precious metals and semi precious gemstones. Francesca and Marianna’s story is a gorgeous one and their philosophy, that jewellery should complete a look and make you feel transformed, is part of the brand’s elegant aesthetic. To say I’m in love would be an understatement.
Founded in Madrid in 2011 by Beatriz Palacios Jiménez, Beatriz Palacios, is an elegant mix of feminine strength and unconventional sophistication. After graduating as a mining engineer, Beatriz worked as a jewellery designer in Dublin before moving back to her hometown of Madrid to embark upon her own creative journey with her now well-established brand. With a strong insistence on quality and craftsmanship, each season sees a newly developed collection originating from the depts of her innate sense of playful experimentation with new forms and previously unused materials.
Creating the pieces that can’t be found anywhere else, Leah Alexandra, knows exactly what we need in to create the most beautifully adorned jewellery wardrobe. Having spent time as a metalsmith, Leah now marries her love of creation by traveling the world to source the most unique, beautiful materials which play part in the distinctive nature of all her designs. Versatile and timeless, investing in a Leah Alexandra piece will never loose it’s charm.
Delicate by nature and simply irresistible, MoMuse Jewellery is a stunning collection of contemporary jewellery pieces designed by Irish native Margaret O’Rourke. Margaret has seen herself go from selling her designs at weekend markets to being recommended by the New York Times as one of the most coveted shops to visit in Dublin (don’t miss her haven, MoMuse in the Powerscourt Townhouse in Dublin’s city centre). Classic and unapologetically simple, her designs are a clear vision of her own beautiful way of seeing the world and have made their way into the lives and wardrobes of many in all their elegantly understated glory. Expect diamonds in white, champagne and black as well as emeralds, sapphires & rubies set to the backdrop of 9 karat gold metals.
Setting the ethical standards high, Mujuri is an everyday touch of luxury at dangerously seductive prices. Working to make luxury so affordable, this beautiful brand teams up with their manufacturers to sell directly to their consumer, meaning they get to create using top quality materials and craftsmanship without the mainstream markups. Each piece is inspired by the idea of quality essentials being a fun and fabulous part of your everyday looks.
Scent is an important part of one’s identity. Unlike the clothes we wear and the manner in which we act - both of which are only linkable to a physical interaction, the scent a person wears is a beautiful, delicate impression that lingers and lives on long past the time spent in their company. It can also ignite memories- sometimes in the most unassuming and unexpected places, reminding you of them from a far. Frangrance is sexy. In a way, so sneakily suggestive, you don’t even need to see or feel the person to know it’s theirs.
It’s important to really know what you want and love when it comes to fragrances, to find something sexily unidentifiable yet distinctly all encompassing. I’m a believer in building out a wardrobe of scents, ones for different situations in life; the one you wear during the day and then a special one for nighttime only. Ones for summer and others for winter. Our senses change all the time, be it due to seasonal changes or situational ones. Really it’s all about moods, the mood you’re in or the one you want to project and a scent always helps create that.
In an age where brands bang out a million products and cover every imaginable genre of commodities, it’s an understatement to say how much I love a good niche perfume brand! My all time favourite is ROADS, an Irish brand that has gone super global. They focus on incredible, multi-layered scents which take a year to create from the birth of idea to the end product and the luxuriousness of each scent transport you into the person you want to be while wearing it. Here, we take a look at some of my favourite luxury perfume brands and a personal favourite in each one..
Unsaid Eau de Parfum 50ml
Bal D'Afrique Eau de Parfum - Neroli & Cedar Wood, 50ml
Maison Margiela Replica
Beach Walk Eau de Toilette 100ml
Santal 33 - Eau de Parfum, 50ml
L'Eau D'Hiver Eau De Parfum 100ml
ACQUA DI PARMA
Colonia Eau de Cologne Spray 100ml
Philosykos Eau de Parfum 75ml
Good Girl Gone Bad Icon Eau de Parfum
Top Image via Pinterest
Online browsing (ok who are we kidding, it’s full on shopping) is a dangerously addictive and highly enjoyable act. However small and no matter the price, if you’re like me and you much rather shopping online these days, my new series “Considered Curations” in which I will be sharing the brands I love to hit up is here to help you find your next wardrobe hit. With the excitement of your parcel arriving to the door and getting to try things on in the comfort of your own home, while also getting to test it out with other existing pieces and do the whole mix-and-match review (we all do it) and well, with the ease of online returns these days there is little left to say but this..
Get in darlings, we’re going shopping!
FRANKIE THE SHOP
Classic with a twist, Frankie the Shop is consistently a firm favourite. Authentically cool in pretty much everything they produce, it’s a perfectly inspired place to seek out your next ‘unfussy, minimal, wallet-conscious’ purchase. With locations in NYC and Paris their online store is a mixture of on-the-pulse designers and Pinterest worthy pieces.
Founded by Australian born fashion stylist Vanessa Cocchiaro, Les Heroines is a stunning creation focusing on occasion-wear and custom made designs for bridesmaids; taking care of your every wedding day dress dream; whether your looking for your bridesmaids or simply something fabulous to wear as a guest. Elegant and gracefully stylish, Cocchiaro designs for the abundance of shapes, ages, tastes and styles of women everywhere.
From simple everyday essentials to tasteful one-off finds, Witchery covers your every need in terms of taking you from a casual look on your day off to the bright lights of a Saturday night out. With a focus on muted tones and a satisfactory balance between separates and one-piece buys, shopping on Witchery is exactly the place to add a little something different to your style story.
Gu-De, one of the hottest new kids on the block, is a luxury leather handbags brand that had just been picked up by Net-a-Porter. Timeless beauty and unique design dusted with delightful ladylike details are the foundations to this 70’s inspired handbag collection, brought to life by Seoul-based founder and designer, Ji Hye Koo.
For those who shop summer in winter (cause let’s face it, whoever let the weather deter from a good shoe investment), A.Emery is an Australian shoe brand that is set to light your heart on fire. It’s minimalist modernism meets Ancient Greek and their core collections are something your wardrobe will forever thank you for.
Born and raised in Egypt, Noha Raouf is a Dallas-based womenswear designer whose love of design stems way back to her early childhood when, by the age of five, she delved into the art of dress making under the mentorship of her grandmother.
After attaining her BA in Mass Communication in Egypt, Raouf worked in the PR world for a number of years before moving to Dallas with her husband to pursue her love of design. She attended El Centro School of Design where upon graduating, her graduate collection earned her well-deserved recognition and the best fashion collection accolade.
Having since launched her synonymous brand, the designer is focused on extraordinary textures, clean cuts and distinctive constructions. On her own personal direction and as the driving force behind the brand, she says, “NOHA RAOUF is specifically designed for the fiercely independent and the exceptionally original.” With both read-to-wear and demi-couture pieces available, the NOHA RAOUF brand is one of Dallas’s finest and is committed to bring character to women’s wardrobes while enhancing the individual character of her consumer.
Website noharaouf.com | Location, Dallas, Texas | Graduation Year, 2017
All Images: Noha Raouf
Over the past number of years we’ve seen loungewear completely come into its own. Stepping out of the house in your Olivia von Halle pyjama’s (accompanied by killer heels of course) seems altogether normal right? Not to mention, dressing up a comfy Zoe Jordan tracksuit for a Thursday night dinner date with your girls. Loungewear as daywear; well, it’s a thing that can’t be denied.
However what about the all original concept of loungewear. The kind you actually lounge around in at home. With the sizzle of summer well behind us, it’s no longer so hard to fathom the act of lounging again, now that the beauty of Fall days are creeping in. It’s all about getting cosy and igniting that hygge life again. Whether you work from home, simply don’t like wearing (quote unquote) real clothes or are planning a gorgeous snuggly night in - insert Netflix and chill - HSF has you covered for every lounge-worthy situation..
Velvet fringe dressing gown
With an MA in design from the Royal college of Art and a BA in womenswear from Central Saint Martins, Yvonne Lin is a womenswear designer carving out her niche with an innate and intimate understanding of the creative as an all-encompassing state of being.
Speaking through many forms of visual language, Lin incorporates her love of theatre, performance and the body into her mastery of the female form; within which each piece combines an element of powerful elegance with conscious modernism. Laster pattern cutting and structured coats meet billowing layers of dreamy draping and the contrast of heavy fabrics against exposed skin.
Through a compilation of accessories, footwear, installation art, stills and film, the Chinese-Canadian designer, who grew up in a small town in China, brings to life her empowered silhouettes while playing homage to both the feminine and masculine, honouring the delicate while acknowledging the indestructible.
Her graduate collection, as pictured below, comes from her inspiration of the latin words Vulnus Cura which mean ‘to wound and to heal’ as she seeks to confront the human emotions that require us to mend the parts of us that have become fragmented and fractured.
Minimal to the eye yet deeply meaningful in her approach, Lin continues to evolve through an array of multi-disciplinary processes and seeks to stay true to the confluence of contrasting cultures and realities that influence her everyday.
Website ylin.co.uk | Location, London | Graduation Year, 2017
PHOTOS: YVONNE LIN
Cyber Monday deals are hotting up our winter cool lives this week. An American tradition that signifies the commercial commencement of Christmas (a truly deep and meaningful moment in time you'll agree), it's now a firm favourite the world over thanks to the ease of online shopping.
So to make your life even easier and help you along the way to possible financial ruin this weekend, here are our top links and codes to the best of the rest! (Don't worry, your wallets and wardrobes can thank me later!)
Farfetch // 10% off full price items for one day only (Friday) with the code BF10
Topshop // Up to 50% off and free international shipping
Net-a-Porter.com US // Up to 50% off
Cáfune // 30% off selected items
MyTheresa.com // Up to 70% off
Shopbop // Up to 75% off with the code MORE17
MatchesFashion.com // up to 70% off sales items
Luisaviaroma.com // extra 20% off sale items
Asos // 20% off everything with code WIN20
Nordstrom // Up to 40% off
BeautyBay // Up to 30% off
LK Bennett // 20% off everything
Monica Vinader // Up to 30% off
Petria Lenehan is a woman with perpetual beauty on her mind. Designing clothes that stand the test of time and trends, the designer bases herself in Upstate New York's Hudson Valley, where she lives with her family and heads up her own fashion company. The Irish native is no stranger to her field having studied her trade in Florence, Italy before setting up her own retail store in her hometown of Dublin. Narrowing in on her passions however, she now designs with, as she describes herself, “notions of authenticity, nature, craftsmanship and tradition”. Uncomplicated, effortless and continuous in their delicate authority her collections create a loyal and retuning customer who knows that no matter the seasons runway flings, a lovingly-made staple by Petria Lenehan is always a good idea.
Cafuné - pronounced ka.fu.nay is not just a beautiful Brazilian-Portuguese word meaning the act of playing with a lover's hair but one of the luxury market's most recently established accessories brand. Founded in 2015 by childhood friends Day Lau and Queenie Fan, the company is making it's mark on an industry that is slowly but surely finding it's worth in more niche markets and tightly directed and curated design. After a lifelong love affair with arts and culture in general and a fondness for minimalist design, the duo pay close attention to strong construction in their collections and the finer details in each piece. With Cafuné, an immense weight is also placed in craftsmanship and the materials used to bring to life modern yet timeless creations that have found themselves in the style stores of consumers around the world.
In such a short space of time, we've seen them grow vastly with front row presence on the arms of some of the most influential bloggers and editors in the world and are stocked in some of the most notable retailers in Asia. Here we chat to Day about realising the dram of setting up Cafuné, the challenges faced and what's next for the brand..
Day, would you kindly tell us about your career thus far and what brought you to the point of creating Cafuné?
After graduating from LSE, I moved back to Hong Kong and worked in Giant Communications, a boutique communications agency that specialises in property and architecture. They specialise in strategy, marketing and PR work for clients in the real estate sector, e.g. Swire Properties, SOM and Heatherwick Studios. During that period, I also helped with the setting up of Very Hong Kong, an independent art and culture programme with a strong community focus; and Event Horizon by Antony Gormley, the most extensive public art installation in HK.
Around 2014, Queenie (who used to work in New York as a handbag designer) and I started to discuss the idea of creating our own brand together. When she relocated back to Hong Kong in mid 2015, we started Cafuné.
What is the philosophy behind the brand?
Cafuné’s accessories portrays the beauty of shapes and forms. Our accessories are minimal and timeless with well-considered details. Carefully crafted with Italian leather, offering superb quality that does not cost a fortune. Our brand is not trend focus, and instead we focus on the purity of design and construction; creating accessories with quiet elegance.
What roll do you play in the everyday running of the company?
As Managing Director of Cafuné, I oversee the operations, finance, sales and marketing of the company. Day to day work varies a lot, since we are still a small team, Queenie (our Creative Director) and I share all the work between ourselves. For example, I still have to pack the goods and deal with shipping and logistics! All in all though I think my biggest responsibility is to ensure that Cafuné has a solid business foundation so that Queenie can have a stress-free environment to design without worry.
How would you describe yourself professionally?
Motivated, organised and meticulous.
When in the concept and design phase of creating a new product, what or who inspires you guys?
Queenie does all the design work, but as a brand, we are often inspired by sculptures and architecture, the play of positive and negative spaces in relation to form.
Seeing a gap in the market for a simplified but high-quality luxury accessories brand, Cafuné is really making a mark on the industry but how difficult is it in reality to break into that kind of a niche market?
I think there is opportunity for us in the luxury sector now because it has shifted focus to the mass market. To me, luxury is not just the price tag, but the design, the quality and exclusivity. Yet, many brands are now introducing second line with more ‘affordable' prices and subpar quality for a wider market, which to me, dilutes luxury. So what we are trying to do is to stay focused (it is so easy to lose sight of your own path in such a fast pace ever changing industry) on our aesthetic and quality, to slowly build a reputation and position in our targeted market.
Starting any new business is a huge risk and comes with many complications, what advice would you impart to those at the beginning of such a process?
Do research - we took a year to research and save up, before launching Cafuné. It is quite important to understand the industry and business environment you are going to be in.
And don’t be afraid to ask questions - at the beginning there will be a thousand questions in your head because there is no rule book on how to start a new business, so we would often just ask experts in the field for advice. It is a great learning process to meet with people who have more experience than you.
The collections are minimalist in nature - endlessly elegant and empowering, how do you set yourselves apart from the masses of new brands emerging?
You are certainly right about MASSES of new brands! There are so many brands out there nowadays, and customers are exposed to new information, fresh visuals so frequently it is hard to stand out. Being able to ride out trend-based waves, and offer customers a strong modern design that speaks quietly of luxury is how we set ourselves apart.
Where are your products produced and how does the process unfold from concept to consumer?
We are produced in China, with a factory partner that has always worked with European and American contemporary labels. They have been a great partner, their team has a great sense and understanding of our brand, so our designs can be fully realised through their workmanship.
Often times our inspirations come from nature, sculptural forms, and architectural structures. It’s always a fun challenge to implement these ideas into a functional everyday product. Hence, it’s important to convey our ideas through materials, colors and details. We source from across the world (leather from Italy, trimmings from South East Asia, fabric from Europe etc), and our materials really strengthen the concept and complete the product.
Season by season, 'influencers' are taking their positions front row alongside high-powered editors and season after season are becoming more and more powerful in the industry, what are your thoughts on the digital age and the rise of the ‘influencer’?
There is no doubt how big a role influencers play in the fashion industry now. I think the main reason is their ‘closeness’ to ordinary customers who feel they can strongly relate to them. Brands nowadays have to be really agile, to respond to new digital trends so not to lose touch with their audience, and influencers is one such channel to stay connected to our audience now.
Where do you see you relationship as a brand sit in terms of collaborating with influencers?
As a brand, it is up to us to find creative collaborations and partnerships with influencers, to offer our customers and future customers a fresh take of our products in new contexts.
What do you look for when teaming up? Is it all about the number of followers or the quality of content created by an individual and perhaps the direct link to your exact client?
We look for influencers’ sense of style and aesthetics, whether it aligns with our brand and if they represent our customers well. Also, we look at an influencer’s quality of content and his/her engagement rate with followers. I believe the better the engagement rate, the better the result. We would also look for individuals that have a strong regional reach, so we can tap into new audiences in places that we aren’t exposed to or stocked at.
Your pieces are stocked in both bricks-and-mortar stores in Asia and online at Shopbop and LUISAVIAROMA - are there plans to expand into Europe and North America?
Certainly, Europe is our major focus now so we go to Premiere Classe every season to showcase our collection and meet buyers. There is a lot of potential in the market despite great competition!
Do you have a personal motto that you live by?
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing where might we find you?
I might still be in the property marketing field since it was actually really exciting work. I used to work on projects from scratch - from naming, to branding, strategy planning, wayfinding design, marketing angles etc. There was also chance to meet with really talented architects (e.g. Thomas Heatherwick)!
Shop Cafuné 2017
Having graduated from Central Saint Martins just three years ago, there is something extraordinary about Richard Malone and his impeccably chic yet distinctly powerful impact on the fashion industry thus far.
The designer, born and raised in Co. Wexford, Ireland, is a true talent and beyond having mastered pattern cutting and a flair for seriously original creations, he possess a refreshingly humble approach to his success thus far, not forgetting the pressures designers face in the ‘real world’ today. Living in a time where the designer is glorified as a celebrity in their own right, his sole aim is admirable as it is discerning and quite simply put, is to design clothes for a generation under pressure; bringing about a sense of authenticity and threading through each collection a feeling of what’s truly important.
With a mission to change the way we look at fashion - all while remaining far from airbrushed front pages and filtered Instagram feeds - this young designer has an array of accolades under his belt including LVMH’s honourable Grand Prix scholarship, the Deutsche Bank Award for Fashion (previously won by Christopher Kane) alongside being considered one of the Best young Artists under 25 in the UK by the BBC.
His collections have been received with high regard from the influences of international press and have appeared in some of the most respected publications worldwide from LOVE and Dazed, British Vogue and WWD to AnOther and Interview.
Malone’s collections are stocked at some of the globe’s most prolific stores including Brown Thomas in Dublin, Selfridges in London and Joyce in Hong Kong.
In conjunction with and with sincere gratitude to Kildare Village, I chatted to Richard about his path to date and his recent undertaking as judge at Kildare Village’s Racing Colours Competition. The winner, Kate McGowan has been awarded a year long internship with him at his London studio and with Richard Malone as a mentor we’re sure Kate’s name is one you’ll want to know in the very near future..
Richard, you’re currently one of Ireland’s most prolific young designers with many accolades to your credit thus far. Where did your love of design begin?
I feel like it has always been there but perhaps a bit more abstract in the beginning. I was constantly drawing or sculpting - making anything from anything really so it was probably very obvious I would end up doing something creative, even though we haven't any other artists or designers in the family. Working with my Dad on building sites from a very young age and also being forced to wear a school uniform made me very aware of different types of dressing - things like functionality, conformity, how clothes can construct parts of an identity etc. Originally I was doing sculpture and performance before a tutor introduced me to Central Saint Martins and I thought I’d better go there even though I had no fashion experience and art at my school was completely shit. It was only when I did a short course in Waterford when I was 17 that a tutor introduced me to contemporary art, she was absolutely brilliant in pushing you outside your comfort zone and getting you back in line, she really made you take things seriously, her name was Anne O’Regan.
You’re incredibly open about your upbringing in Ireland with your current collection paying tribute to the work uniforms your Mum and other family members wore on a daily basis. Can you tell us a little about the process of each collection, from idea to customer.
I never try to focus on other references, looking at other designers or time periods etc - its such an easy formula. Originality is something I believe to be incredibly important, especially at a time when it is so lacking and so many seem so happy to conform, also we have a real problem with people from backgrounds like mine not having access to education. I really believe that your upbringing and surroundings are crucial to your identity as a designer, I’ve never tried to ignore where I’m from and luckily at Saint Martins it was really encouraged. My point of view is totally different as a result, and especially in an industry that is full of the upper class and extremely privileged. Theres something to be said for having to fight for your place, and I’m happy creating and working in the way I always have; essentially making something from nothing - its very creative and quite erratic, often creating forms away from the body and constant trials and errors. Its also super private and my working process/drawings and video works are never something I’ve allowed to be published although I’ve been lucky enough to have them collected by some amazing museums around the world. I’ve taught myself some quite extreme pattern cutting skills so I’m really proud that every piece that comes from the studio is pattern cut by me, as it's a skill that designers are losing all the time. People forget that creating garments is a skill, theres so much rubbish now thats made for Instagram, this front on image of a white teenage model that no woman can really relate to. Its really important to me that there is diversity in my casting for the shows, and that we aren't having negative conversations about womens bodies in the studio, or projecting negative ideals out there. I also hate that fashion is consumed as a front on image now, as opposed to being experienced. I alway design totally 3d, sometimes focusing silhouettes to the back or details all on the back of a garment, I really like when things don't register properly in those photos, as that's not their purpose for me.
Upon graduating from Central Saint Martins was it difficult to navigate the working world as a designer? In essence, to bridge that gap between the uninhibited world of creativity and the reality of making a living..
I was incredibly lucky on leaving Saint Martins. I’d already spent a year in the design team for Louis Vuitton in Paris and then came back for my final year, where I won the LVMH scholarship. It was my first time in uni that I didnt have to work 2 part time jobs to pay for it so I was just ploughing through all this work I would have never had the time to do before between jobs, and we’re always in 7.30am-10pm at CSM.. I think because I’d already been at Vuitton, which is fashions biggest company so I knew the inner workings of a corporate beast and I knew I couldn't really be part of that machine for any longer, its just a system that at its very core I despise, even though I absolutely loved the people I worked with it was just too much ‘stuff’. The day after I graduated CSM I was lucky enough to have two amazing job offers from huge houses in Paris who’s creative directors were changing hands, I met with both teams but said no to each one, even though everyone thought I was insane. I knew after final year and that accomplishment that I should just do my own thing and always stick to my guns. Creativity is now at the core of everything I do, I get to work on a tonne of projects and commissions that you would miss out on if you worked at a huge company, and working with private clients and working on your own terms is so much more rewarding. Everything is a risk but every accomplishment feels magnified because you did it entirely off your own back.
Working at a large fashion house can be restricted I would imagine, it’s not the designers who direct but rather the businessmen who need to see the return. Time at Louis Vuitton was clearly a hug3e learning curve but what was the greatest lesson you learned at such a huge house?
The power of saying no. Designers are expected to jump up and down for these companies but you have to give yourself some worth. I’ve been lucky to have that experience with Vuitton for over a year and I've consulted for some big brands since - there are times that are brilliant and obvious perks but it all depends on your mindset and your personality. At the end of the day I’ve never had money, I didnt grow up with money or excess so making decisions based on how much money I’ll get from it has never appealed to me, the cash reward doesnt interest me one bit, and some of these companies will throw money at designers but they just don't know the value in having creative freedom. I actually find it so weird when I go into a Vuitton store and you see things you've designed selling to thousands, well more like hundreds of thousands of people, it doesn't feel very personal or special, it's just product after product after product and nothing like I’d design for myself. These luxury brands have really killed what those namesakes originally stood for, I bet they'd turn in there graves seeing how these beautiful artisinal pieces have been reduced to something similar to a pound shop find but with a massive mark up. I mean Vuitton was never a fashion brand until the 90s, its bizarre that they do eight shows a year now really. It taught me much being there. If you figure out what you actually want to be doing decisions become extremely easy. At the end of the day creatives are the bread and butter of all of these companies, the business men know strategy and market but have zero taste or initiative. It's the same as all of these ‘business’ fashion brands like The Row and Victoria Beckham, they are not designers but brands, and there is a real difference between a designer and a brand - anyone with money can start a brand and hire the right people but you know something personal and raw and real when you see it, it doesn't need an explanation. The best lesson is to have balls and work harder.
Now that you’re well established with your own design house, how do you find or create that much-needed assurance between creativity and consumerism?
I’m very lucky to work with some incredible private clients who respond to the most creative pieces, and they've been selling really well since my graduate collection. I think when you are doing something creative and have an identity you’ll always have a customer. When you start doing bullshit cap sleeved shift dresses then you're up against every other brand with bullshit cap sleeve shift dresses. The reason I started my own brand was so I could avoid the easy selling crap, I also never work in black which scares some stores, but I just don't - I also don't own anything black, I have a complete aversion to it.
What does a day in the life of Richard Malone look like?
Hectic. It peaks sometimes around showtimes or when I have particularly hectic deadlines. Like at the minute I’m working on a project in the states so in the last 2 weeks alone I’ve been to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Mexico, New York, Ireland for a day, back to London and now I’m in India looking at some sustainable production and development techniques. But everyday is totally different so there is never really a typical day as such, if I had a routine I’d get bored too easily. Except on Fridays and Saturdays you can pretty much guarantee I’ll be watching RuPauls Drag Race somewhere. I’m also obsessed with dogs so anytime I can be around dogs I’m pretty much there.
Where do you find yourself most inspired? And by whom?
Anywhere, although I do love Wexford when I’m home as its so relaxing and so far from everything else. My family and my grandmother are always very inspiring because they don't give a shit and know how to have laugh, everything is a joke and its always great to be around that.
It’s an admirable trait in a designer to leave behind the trappings of the fantastical and bring about a foundation of the everyday in their designs. Your humility and lack of vanity in your work is beautiful and very much reflects that value. Is that a conscious direction you’re taking?
Not necessarily, I mean some clothes I design to be extremely functional, some are more like limited and one off pieces or ‘museum’ pieces, there has to be a balance - if I did 10 extreme sculptural pieces I’d be equally as bored as doing 10 pairs of flares.
Taking into account the world of social media and the pressures on designers these days to share their every move in the attaining of celebrity status themselves, how do you deal with such pressures and where do your values stand on the world as it is today?
I ignore it completely. Social media can be a good thing in terms of transparency or rallying for elections, but its so fake and forced the majority of the time. If it's proven anything to me its how bored most of the world is and also how there is such a lack of individual identity now - I mean what is with this bizarre contouring make up? And everyone trying to look like a Kardashian? Or Gucci making collection after collection that looks like any charity shop find with a logo on it, it's actually mortifying. Its really shown me that most people are sheep and we have to fight against that, having an individual taste is dying so quickly, I mean how many posts can there be about a minging Chanel bag thats been around for 60 years or how clever someone is for rolling up there fake worn in jeans to show off some Stan Smiths, it's sometimes plain stupid. I just hate the idea of making money out of someones insecurities, because at the root of it thats what it really fosters and its a bit of an epidemic. A place where people can boast about shit and make a fake personality they spend all day hiding in their real lives. We have to remember how to have conversations and stop using it as a distraction - get out and talk to people. I’m the same as my Mam in a way, if you even take to your phone at dinner with me I lose my mind, although my Mam would probably throw something at you.
In a natural evolution, designers tend to find their own signature inclinations as each collection accumulates over time. How do you ensure your collections remain fresh and never become stale to your customers?
Keep honest, work hard, only listen to the few people you trust.
Do you have a mentor and what has been the greatest learnings up to this point that you hold on to?
I have a small group of people who's opinion I really, truly value, my boyfriend is one of them. We actually met before applying for Saint Martins and we both applied and got accepted, the odds of that happening were crazy and the odds of us both coming out the other side unharmed and not psychologically damaged are almost unheard of. He’s a genuinely brilliant artist and is always by my side and vice versa. His work is so intelligent and sophisticated its inspires an awful lot of people. Also my family, my grandmother is brilliantly honest and incredibly creative - she's constantly busy painting or making photo books or getting back to her countless friends, she's 83 and slaying life basically. I've never come across someone that age with such a modern take on life. I’ve also a couple of close friends who are also artists and some of my incredible tutors from Saint Martins who have since retired. Other than that I rely on myself for most things.
Do you have a life motto that you live by?
Not really, although I’d never base a decision on money, it's the most useless thing.
Your pieces have been worn by some incredibly famous people and shot in the world’s most influential magazines. What does it mean to you to have that recognition and ultimately, who is your ideal customer?
I think its nice but I don’t place much real value on that side of things. Press has never really interested me and although my works been in all of these incredible magazines I dont really read fashion magazines at all. The recognition is lovely and much appreciated but I think learning to critique your own work and value it differently and individually is more important, away from current trends that don’t relate to it. Being nominated for designer of the year at the Design Museum this year was really incredible and so unexpected - it was really surreal seeing it in the exhibition, I also have a really exciting museum project coming up in New York that I feel so honoured to be a part of. Seeing your clothes worn and lived in by women who inspire you is the most rewarding thing - from Bjork and Roisin Murphy to some incredible artists, collectors and gallerists, you get to learn from them and have brilliant conversations about anything and everything, that's really my favourite thing. It's also really funny when I think that I made my first collection in the top of my Dad's shed in a tiny room and now the label is stocked all around the world, from 8 locations in America and Canada through to stores in South Korea, Hong Kong, Shanghai and of course Europe. It's a bit mental.
You recently sat on the judging panel of The Racing Colours competition in association with Kildare Village. What was the like to reach a point where your opinion and level of excellence hold so much influence?
It's great and its nice to have really open conversations with other people in the industry. I think you learn that every opinion is important, and also that opinions are just opinions at the end of the day and they should never deter you from doing anything. You also realise there is so much support there if you look for it. I’ve tutored several times at Central Saint Martins since and its really quite a weird experience - I’m not even out of it three years yet, same as the judging, I just think that it's best to be totally and brutally honest and give the best feedback you can, that's the only way any of us learn. We all have to support each other at the end of the day and if there's a way I can help someone I certainly will. I also think what Kildare Village are doing in sponsoring students education, showing their work etc is really incredible and so so smart, that is really what is needed. Even through these internship programmes it's such a great way of getting these students and graduates into the industry, as obviously there is no fashion industry here that can create jobs and sustain lots of progress for designers. It breaks down that homogenised thing where only rich students can do internships, now it goes to the person with the most talent. You have these stores here who do pop up events for graduates and students but its completely self serving - it's a way of them making more money for themselves and promoting themselves in the right light whereas Kildare Village are willing to actually put the money on the table and get these students into education and show their work in real exhibitions, we need more of this - actual tangible support that will help these students succeed. I mean stores are only good if they have your customer and the customer base here is tiny. I’ve seen work here that I would never have really seen otherwise, and I can help people out as we’re all very closely connected in the fashion industry, I mean its tiny. If theres an opportunity for someone that I think suits whether its in Paris with one of the houses or with another young designer that I think they’d love I’ll definitely put them forward for it.
What do you look for in young designers wishing to make their own mark?
Honesty and integrity, you also need to work fucking hard, like more-than-you-can-imagine hard. Designers are the most critiqued people in the whole industry, there's thousands of fashion graduates every year and hardly any jobs, like close to zero with the big houses. There are tonnes of rich privileged kids ready to intern for free so you better be doing something right to get your foot in the door. Have a point of view also, I’ve come across so many students who want to work at Celine or Dior, so they make a collection that looks like Celine or Dior and thats completely the wrong way to go about it, they already have teams of people to create that, what they need is a new voice and a new perspective.
I understand the winner of the competition, Kate McGowan will enjoy a stint of work experience with you in your studio in London, how did internships add to your own personal growth as a designer and what do you wish to give back to those who will in turn learn from you?
Yes they did, I helped out a lot of young labels and friends at CSM too. Internships are super important in understanding how this bizarre industry works and also finding your place within it, not everyone is a designer - in fact it's a very rare trait. I hope that they have fun in my studio, enjoy it enough to work hard at it and are committed to seeing it through - there is nothing worse than someone not wanting to be there, you usually end up doing them a favour and asking them to leave. It is important also to surround yourself with people who are passionate and excited about what there doing.
If you weren’t a world-famous designer, what do you think would fill your days?
Sculpting or painting, and walking and entertaining several dogs. I also read like crazy, so I would probably read even more.
This publishing of this interview is with great thanks to Kildare Village.
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