Outspoken designer Clio Peppiatt is not one to conform to ideals, and her AW14 collection is testament to that. Her second collection since graduating from Print Design at Ravensbourne rebels against stereotypical ideals of female beauty and instead explores what it means to be a woman today. By focussing the theme around that of a beauty pageant Clio confronts the norm and in doing so puts her own unique stamp on the fashion landscape. Clio’s designs also juxtapose modern day imagery with traditionally feminine techniques of hand-embroidery and crochet, adding a further layer to her concept.
We sit her down to find out what being a woman today means to her.
WHAT INITIALLY INSPIRED YOU TO LOOK INTO THE COMPETITIVE WORLD OF BEAUTY PAGEANTS?
I wanted this collection to be about celebrating women and girl power. This lead me to have a look at what has been valued as traditional markers of femininity, including beauty pageants.
AND WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS COLLECTION?
Ultimately to make a collection of clothes that are fun to wear! I want the women to feel empowered and beautiful when they put them on but also just to enjoy the feeling of dressing up and wearing something special. In terms of the concept behind the collection, I hope to have touched on a re-definition of female stereotypes and ideals. All women deserve to feel beautiful, even if they don’t necessarily fit into to the industry’s typical version of beauty.
SO WHAT IS BEAUTY TO YOU?
More than what meets the eye – confidence, individuality, passion, curiosity and a sense of fun.
IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A WOMAN TODAY?
I hope the options are pretty open. We’ve seen a huge break through in gradually distancing ourselves from stereotypes – which is really encouraging. In the past, it feels like a woman’s ‘success’ at being feminine has always been so closely linked with her appearance and I think people are embracing a new and more varied definition of those values.
WHICH ASPECTS OF THE COLLECTION REPRESENT YOUR STATEMENT OF BEAUTY AND REBELLION?
The collection represents a melting pot of femininity. So on one hand, the clothes have aspects of traditional frothy clichéd girliness with pink and fluffy soft textures. Nevertheless, I wanted this to be a modern take on celebrating being a woman, so it’s also very playfully sexy and a little more grown up. The prints in this collection directly illustrate the concept of beauty rebellion. Instead of supermodels, I painted faces of girls and women who may not usually be considered typically beautiful. Girls with braces, freckles and glasses. The naked ladies print is made up of loads of different women ; old ladies, fat ladies, skinny ladies, female bodybuilders… The little cat which features on nearly all of the prints in this collection is a simple symbol of girl power. I named this collection ‘The Cat that Got the Queen’ to remind us that all women are and should feel like queens.
YOU EXPERIMENTED WITH TRADITIONALLY FEMININE METHODS FOR CREATING THE COLLECTION – CROCHET AND NEEDLEWORK FOR EXAMPLE – DID YOU FEEL THIS ADDED FURTHER DEPTH TO THE COLLECTION?
Yes, I think so. In mixing old and new ideas of femininity, I wanted to reflect this down to the process of the design. I combined hand and machine embroidery, embellishment, knit and crochet and print with more unusual and modern methods and materials like hand-made latex pom-poms.
MIXING UP TRADITIONAL METHODS WITH CONTEMPORARY IMAGERY CREATES A REFRESHING APPROACH ON YOUR CONCEPT. DO YOU FEEL YOUR BACKGROUND IN TEXTILE INNOVATION INFLUENCED YOU TO EXPLORE THIS PERSPECTIVE?
I like designing simple and wearable shapes, so this makes the surface design really important to me. My taste in fashion is quite eclectic and over the top, so this comes through textile innovation. By simplifying on garments shapes it means I can push the print and surface design to be a bit more wild.
THE COLLECTION EXPLORES WHAT IT MEANS TO BE THE ‘PERFECT’ WOMAN TODAY IN THE EYES OF SOCIETY. AND IN THE INDUSTRY WE ARE STEADILY SEEING A BREAKTHROUGH WITH FEMININITY IN ALL ITS FORMS BEING EMBRACED. IS THIS AN IMPORTANT ISSUE TO YOU?
It’s very important and exciting. I feel like there is a growing sense of solidarity between girls – we want to help each other be the best we can be.
WILL WE SEE VERSIONS OF YOUR HAND DRAWN PRINTS INCORPORATED INTO THE COLLECTION?
I hand draw all of the prints in my collections, it’s my way of getting my point across through my designs.
IS IT YOUR AIM FOR THIS COLLECTION TO REACH OUT TO A YOUNGER GENERATION, AS AN INFLUENCE ON THEIR IDEA OF BEAUTY?
Not necessarily, I hope it’s something that women of all ages can relate to. I’d love to see some older women looking fabulous in some of the clothes just as much!