I wanted to talk to you about family and creativity. Do you feel like you’re the designer that you are because you inherited something? Or is it because you grew up in a certain environment with creative parents?
It’s an interesting question, and one I thought about a lot when I was growing up. I think that one can’t help but be steered and navigated in ways; it’s just kind of what you know. I also think that part of it is DNA. For instance, I don’t do music, but I see a talent for it in my siblings and even in my own children, and my father’s father was in a band. But you do acquire a lot from your surroundings as a child—and you are a very good example of that. Most people stick to what they know from their upbringing in their career, and I really admire people who go in a completely different direction.
I tried to do that. I worked in the private sector for years and tried very hard to care about things that were different from what my parents cared about. But as you said, I just couldn’t because of the environment in which I grew up and the examples that my parents set for me.
I often question why I didn’t rebel more. Why didn’t I try to do stuff that was really shocking? But if you have respect for your parents, then it is quite hard. I think that my slight rebellion was going into fashion and not music or photography or something directly related to what my parents did.
Mine was to declare that I was a vegetarian. It’s kind of sad to say that that was my major act of rebellion.
It is actually quite rebellious because the traditions of eating meat are huge, and there is such pressure on all levels to do so. But your dad now has taken it a step further by turning vegan, so I guess he is the real rebel.
Do you remember when you first became aware of fashion?
I was brought up in a way that was based purely on the senses. Everything in my upbringing was a reaction to growing up on an organic farm or to the emotions of animal cruelty, as well as the visuals of my mum’s and my father’s art—he was also an art collector. I would watch films. And then there was obviously music in the house 24/7. These sensory experiences had such an impact on me. My eyes were open. I would also go into my parents’ wardrobe. I was so aware of the stage clothes versus the everyday-life clothes, and the extremeness of the stage clothes that my parents had designed. Even coming across my dad’s old Beatles suits from Savile Row and the history attached to them—the masculinity and simplicity compared to the ’70s glitz and glamour of Wings. I was so visually excited by it all. So the more I think about it, the younger I think I first became aware of my interest in fashion.
Do you remember having conversations with your parents about fashion in the same way I had conversations with mine about healthcare around the breakfast table?
My parents were pretty uninterested in fashion; it just was part of what they did. I think that’s why I was so visually inspired by them—because their fashion sense was not strategic or overthought. It came naturally, the whole mix between old and new and glamorous and timeless. My mum was notorious for not wearing makeup. We never really talked about fashion in particular—we talked about healthcare too.
Do you feel like that enabled you to develop your own creative sensibility? In some ways, maybe it was an advantage.
I think the fact that my parents weren’t conventional— especially considering their position—had a big influence on the way that I conduct myself now in design and business. It had a huge impact on my wanting to do something a bit more than just designing a pretty dress and putting it on a runway and making it glamorous.
I really admire how both your clothes and your company reflect your ethics, whether it’s choosing not to use animal products or the commitment that you’ve made to responsible manufacturing.
It’s that idea of not just thinking in a conventional way and approaching life with different eyes. I don’t mind if I’m ridiculous. I’m probably still ridiculous in my industry for not using leather and fur. But I guess I inherited this incredible thing of not being afraid to be challenged.
Something I have become more aware of as I’ve gotten older is the gift my parents gave me of believing that nothing is impossible and that any challenges can be overcome.
When you have kids yourself, you start to see it from so many angles. It’s the biggest pressure of all: How do you inspire for the betterment of the next generation?
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