Let’s talk about AW15. We loved it. There were quite a few “how did she think of that!?” moments, such as the netted trousers filled with glitter.
Oh, thank you! I’m really pleased with the collection. The glitter thing has been on my mind for a few years, but initially I thought I would never be able to use it in an installation, because any building that it would be in [would end up] with glitter everywhere! It took two years to figure out how to use it. And also, at first I wasn’t sure if it was right for my brand, because it’s so fun and joyous. But actually, although it’s fun and joyous and lovely, it’s also quite interesting, so I think it sat quite well in the collection. I like how it ended up looking just like the fluff you might have stuck at the bottom of your pocket, or just like loads of trapped memories. I thought that was quite romantic and poetic. But it took a lot of different trials — we tried loads of glitter, and then not very much, and now we have the smooth little lines that work well.
Yeah, exactly. I think we got there in the end. And it’s been really popular. It’s our bestseller this season. I thought it would only be a certain type of person who would like it, but it seems to be a universal thing. In fact, it’s been a really good season in terms of realising what people want from us. And they seem to be buying into the super special rather than the very wearable, nice, everyday pieces. As a collection it’s been a good gauge of where we sit as a company.
That’s interesting. And you’ve just done your first menswear collection.
People have been asking us for a while now, so I wanted to do it really quietly and just a small amount, to see how things are received from a shop level. Then we’ll just see how it progresses. It’s been good to do things I don’t normally do! It’s good to break it up, and keep it fresh, and not only be designing one type of thing all the time.Because it does get a bit boring after a while. Not that it ever was completely boring, but it’s good to have new challenges. Menswear is just a totally different kettle of fish. It’s really interesting; there are really subtle differences, but really important ones.
And how long do the pieces take?
A couple of days. They’re long, and the sampling process is long — we’ll do like 20 samples over several weeks until we get to the right size and colour, and the right fabrics. It’s a lot of work, but whenever you do something new, from scratch, you have to put in that time. Otherwise you don’t get anything new or interesting. You can work by just buying vintage stuff and rehashing that, or you can start from the beginning and put the hours in, and then get something really unique at the end. And I’m very much about the latter: just starting with a blank page and seeing where it goes.
Do you feel like the couture process speaks to you?
Definitely. I worked in Paris when I was 18 for a couturier, and that has never left me. Once you experience that level of finish and that level of work you can’t ever [forget] it, because it’s so intensely special, and it really only exists properly in one place. So though I would never say that I do couture, I definitely admit that the ethos of couture is within me and within the spirit of what I do. So it would be nice if people thought that.
To read more of Phoebe’s interview pick up issue nine of Hunger magazine, out now