Meet Zizi Donohoe, the 25-year-old designer to know taking inspiration from Hollywood’s Golden Age. After studying Footwear Design at Cordwainers LCF, she fled to Los Angeles to launch her eponymous label in 2016 – (“via NYC just for 9 months,” she says. “I saw a frozen rat and realized it wasn’t the place for me.”) From 1940s movie heroines to real-life icons of Beverly Hills, the Sheffield-born talent is our new fantasy muse to watch.
Hey Zizi! What is one of your first fashion memories?
At age 7, I went as Claudia Schiffer for my school’s World Book Day. I was painfully shy when I was younger but as Claudia I was so confident.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a designer? Did you ever have a ‘Plan B’ career choice?
I never had a singular “Ah-ha!” moment, as long as I can remember this is just the thing I can do. I can’t sing or dance. I love space, but my got a B in Physics A-Level so I can’t foresee Nasa calling me anytime soon.
Where do you feel most inspired working?
Wherever my friends are. Whether it’s collaborating on a project or working on separate tasks, having a friend and trusted opinion right next to me keeps me from getting distracted. I also love working in public spaces for the same reason. When I know other people can see what I’m working on, I actually have to get on with it. Aside from my office, I adore working from the Sunset Tower. The view is incredible and they make a mean cup of tea.
Who or what are some of your biggest inspirations?
I adore visuals, sets and costume of the technicolor films in the late 40s early 50s: What A Way To Go and Ziegfeld Follies are brilliant, Edith Head and Tony Duquette were geniuses.I also find a lot of inspiration people watching. Particularly the Golden Girls of Aspen, Bel Air, Paris, Vienna and Beverly Hills.
How would your personal style in three words?
Fabulous & situationally practical.
What’s been a career highlight for you so far?
The first time I saw a stranger in the street wearing one of my pieces. It was then I realized I had a real brand and my job wasn’t fictitious. Also, I was in the Merriam Webster dictionary under “Fabulous” this year. I considered that quite the achievement.
The film that’s shaped you the most?
I watched Pulp Fiction with my dad when I was 8 and I was blown away. Everything and everyone was so glossy and so painfully cool. I wanted to live in LA and have breakfast with Mia and Marcellus Wallace.
Your ultimate style icon and why?
The fabulous woman who drove through a stop sign in front of my car a few months ago in Beverly Hills. She was somewhere between the ages of 60 and 106, driving an early 80s dark green Rolls Royce. It was June, she was wearing a brown mink coat, dripping in diamonds with sunglasses so ginormous I couldn’t tell if they were for fashion or because she might be legally blind. She pulls past the stop sign into the middle of the cross street, whips off her wig, throws it on the passenger’s seat and carries on driving. I adored her decision to wear mink in the height of summer, and her de-wigging in broad daylight just, because.
What TV, film or literary character has inspired your style the most over the years and why?
Madeleine Ashton in Death Becomes Her (Meryl Streep)
Patsy Stone in Ab Fab
Frances Stevens in To Catch a Thief (Grace Kelly)
Who are your top five female creatives to follow on Instagram?
@Nadialeelee @Dilarafindikoglu @Chloewise_ @Mimi.wade @Bettinalooney.
What is your definition of beauty?
Me after 1.5h in the bathroom.
The one quote you live your life by?
“Don’t do anything you don’t want to do.” Obviously this probably shouldn’t be applied to unavoidable responsibilities such as paying the internet bill or waking up in the morning. However I live by this when it comes to creative projects, collaborations and social scenarios.
The number one advice you’d give to designers starting out?
Financial planning. Be responsible for how and where you’re spending and know exactly where your money is going. Use Excel and keep track of your personal/ business expenses. You can be the most brilliant talented designer, but what good is that if your brand goes broke after a year?
What’s up next for you, any upcoming projects you can share?
Working on a few different creative endeavours and lot of new products for the brand. One of my favorites is Dodi – he’s an adorable mink bear coming out around Christmas.
Finally, your dream creative goal?
I want to build an empire.
2 November 2018