I’ll be talking to people and not listening to a thing that they’re saying, because my mind’s just ‘ch-ch-ch!’, thinking about all the other things that I need to do, projects I want to do. I can’t control it. Every season I think I’m never doing it again and then about a month later, the ideas are just uncontrollable. I’ll be dreaming ideas.” So says Katie Eary – earnestly, rapidly – when asked what motivates her to do what she does.
A blonde bundle of energy, she is a designer LIFE who proudly beats her own path, avoids easy options and – despite the often dark themes behind her collections – laughs a lot. Katie describes herself as “a really kooky, happy person but I think deep down I am quite an angry beaver!” She suggests her creations could be “for people like Macaulay Culkin! A forever young child that doesn’t really exist.” Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2008 with a masters, and unleashing a menswear label shortly thereafter, Katie – who introduced womenswear in 2011 – has brought much excitement to London Fashion Week’s MAN days and way beyond, with her shows, films and installations. References and inspirations for her impeccably crafted street couture-type collections have so far included prose by Hunter S Thompson and Irvine Welsh, plus other gritty stuff like boxers, bruisers, addicts, rent boys, dog fighting, gangs and horror films.
Early industry support for the designer came from London-based fashion writer Dean Mayo Davies and photographer Brett Lloyd, not to mention the super-stylist and Mugler creative director, Nicola Formichetti. Katie’s reputation, sales and stockists have since expanded internationally, with a keen fan base for her work noticeably growing in Korea, China and Japan. She has also worked in a low-key capacity with Kanye West on his fashion label, collaborated with Nike on running shoes, as well as joining forces with the photographer Fabien Kruszelnicki to publish a book about teenage life. Touchingly, Katie is aware of having engineered her own success, to some extent, against the odds. “I’m from Stevenage and a lot of statistics would say a girl coming from there – my mum a single parent, three brothers, had nothing, grew up on a council estate – would never be in this position.”
For Autumn/Winter 2012, Katie upped the ante in a collection simultaneously showcasing dramatic men’s and women’s pieces full of her trademark use of texture and contrasting fabrics – patent leather, ponyskin, mock crocodile skin, marabou, crystals, saga raccoon and fox furs. The palette placed an emphasis on dense black – noticeably devoid of that bilious green hue, hitherto an Eary staple. “The inspiration was Warhammer-esque… a Middle Earth-y kind of army,” she explains. “Every fairy tale from Sleeping Beauty to Lord of the Rings – any fictional kids’ story – there’s always a dark army or a villain. I thought, this season, I’m going down that avenue. I’m going to do a completely self-indulgent collection. This isn’t for anyone else, this is for me, because it’s the first season that I’m not under any kind of support system so I don’t have to please anyone apart from myself.”
Read more of our exclusive interview and Thriving Brits feature in Issue Two of The Hunger, on sale now.
See more of Katie Eary’s collection on her website.