The British loungewear designer bringing beauty to the everyday
Rose Fulbright on taking pleasure in beauty
It’s sweltering outside but Rose Fulbright is, of course, impeccably dressed and poised. The stereotypical English rose, she’s styling out the summer heat in a silk top of her own design, all clashing corals and teal, with a casual denim midi skirt. However, it takes more than an eye for fashion to build a luxury loungewear company that has gone from zero to the pages of Vogue in just three short years—and to do all that from a baffling new country where you don’t speak the language is a feat that’s testament to the tenacity hidden behind Rose’s refined appearance.
Growing up near Stoke, the hub of British pottery, Rose never doubted that a creative career was her future. Her mother was a designer in her grandmother’s pottery company, and creativity is in her blood, with artists, designers and writers scattered throughout the family tree. “It made doing it really easy for me,” she says, “because I’ve never had to ask if it’s okay to do this as a career; it was natural.” From a young age she would draw and paint, and developed an interest in textiles from rifling through a trunk of vintage fabrics her mother had collected while growing up in London in the sixties.
Rose followed this passion for textiles to Paris, where she studied couture at Parsons and learnt the technical skills of sewing and design. Although Paris springs to mind as the dream location for a fashion student, Rose felt frustrated there—the weight of history and heritage meant experimentation was frowned upon. “I once wore a ribbon as a belt in my jeans and people looked at me like I was crazy,” she recalls, “Parisian fashion is very much a uniform.” She moved to London to study at London College of Fashion, which was a breath of fresh air. “Londoners don’t take themselves too seriously, it's way more playful and they push things—some of it’s a bit too mad, but its something mad to come back from.”
Married and living in London’s suburbs, however, the madness of fashion school was soon swapped for the path towards kids, a mortgage and routine. So, when the opportunity for her husband to transfer to Beijing cropped up, they took it, despite knowing next to nothing about China.
“China was never part of the plan, but being here is great. I have a fantastic silk supplier in Suzhou,” she says, “it’s also helped me develop my style as there’s so much freedom. Nobody is looking at you thinking that what you're wearing isn’t appropriate."
She does, however, lament the fast-fashion attitude in China, where outfits are often selected off the peg and quality vintage isn’t an option. Perhaps inspired by her mother’s trunk of found textiles, Rose loves to rifle; “my parents were bohemian and always going to charity shops. At first I hated it but then I grew to love junk—i love that feeling of finding a total gem.”
Rose’s new home has also influenced her designs. “New places often have color pallets,” she says, “Beijing is gray, with mustardy gold from the temples, terracotta red from the walls and bursts of green and ocean blue in the summer. In the winter it’s an icy, bright pale blue, totally clear and crisp.” Rose evidently has the eye of a designer, seeing her surroundings as inspiration.
But Rose also wants to bring this beauty to our day-to-day lives. Her collections are designed to bring a bit of sophistication to the everyday—perfect for those moments when you just want to throw something on, stack up a pile of toast and work from home.
Enjoying the extravagant in the everyday is a philosophy inspired by the lifestyles of London’s Bloomsbury set, a member of whom is in the Fulbright family tree. These English creatives were the original hippies, valuing peace, nature, love and aesthetics. They would paint the interior of their houses in bold colors, and surround themselves in luxury fabrics, believing in the importance of aesthetic pleasure.
The idea that beauty is an essential part of the human experience and should be accessible is at the root of Rose's collections. “Beauty is life enhancing, humans are the only species to make beautiful things to listen or read like literature, art and music,” she says, “some people might disregard fashion as fripperies, but you need balance in your life, and to take joy from beautiful things is not a crime.” Amber De La Haye
Beauty is life enhancing, humans are the only species that makes art