Giles Deacon: the man and his muses
As he teams up with accessories brand Aspinal of London, designer Giles Deacon tells Laura Antonia Jordan about the women who have fired his imagination
it’s impossible to pigeonhole the Giles Deacon woman. Pippa Middleton commissioned the couture designer to make her wedding dress (and showed of an unexpectedly fun side with the heart-shaped cut-out), but so did Abbey Clancy. Sarah Jessica Parker and Solange made memorable turns on the Met Gala red carpet in his designs, but discreet business women are also his core clientele. His partner, Gwendoline Christie, has looked as outrageously good in a languid emerald green pyjama set as she does in a bombshell gown. ‘I’m very lucky to dress an interesting cross-section of women,’ he agrees. And now Giles, who’s renowned for his peppy glamour and playful take on femininity, is bringing elements of all these diferent women to his new collaboration with Aspinal of London. The brand invited Giles to ‘dress’ some of his favourite designs. So, a hat box is reimagined in gold moiré, a mini trunk in coral satin. But, fittingly, it’s his illustrations of women that really form the core of the collection – splashed on to everything from tote bags to silk scarves, luggage tags and diaries. ‘I illustrated a whole load of characters that I thought exemplified Aspinal through the eyes of Giles. Cosmopolitan, contemporary women who can live in a million diferent cities, who love fashion, who love art, who love music, who love going to events,’ he explains. ‘If you’re able to explore, be creative and curious in life it’s quite a treat.’ Here Giles reveals some of the women who’ve inspired him throughout his career.
My friend Rachel is a fantastically brilliant artist. From a style perspective, she has the most extraordinary look and spontaneity to her. I’m lucky enough to own a drawing of her by John [Currin, her husband] which I treasure, in which she looks like some Rubens [muse]. When I’m designing I often think, ‘ What would Rachel look like in this? Would she want something grander? Would she want something more abstract?’ Everything she makes is incredibly beautiful and womanly, which is what I like about her and her work. She’s such a woman, in every sense.
My dear friend, collaborator and troublemaker, I’ve known Katie since St Martins. Her intuition is incredible. We work very intuitively together – she’s never going to give you the same thing again and again – she always comes up with something very surprising and clever. We have our own language and vocabulary of how we work and I really enjoy that. I think she dresses extraordinarily, like a modern version of someone from a
Cecil Beaton photo. These odd combinations, having that playfulness, is something I really like.
We first met on a trip and got on fantastically well. I thought she was extraordinarily beautiful and dressed immaculately. She looks as if she means business. That is how you would want to look if you were a modern business woman. She mixes high and low really well. Vanessa is effortlessly at home with her own style.
I met Gwendoline six years ago through a mutual friend and was instantly smitten. For a million different reasons, I thought she was extraordinary. The way she carries herself, it was not like anything I’d seen before. She’s been an absolute joy to work with professionally, and we’ve dressed her for many occasions, most recently at the Emmys. She has her very own innate sense of self and her knowledge of film, and fashion in film, wipes the floor with mine. It’s great to have that to play with.
FLEUR FENTON COWLES
She was an American writer, artist and editor who started Flair magazine, which only ran for 11 months from 1950 to 1951. I’m lucky enough to own a few copies; they’re beautiful. She had the most incredible style, she wore couture made by a gentleman called Phillipe Lempriere, headdresses and always this enormous emerald ring on her finger. She had all that brilliant American/english eccentricity that I really love, and when she died they did a sale of all of her effects and found out that it was all fake. She was really playing with it all and having a lot of fun with it. She was kind of wild!
AUBREY BEARDSLEY’S SALOMÉ ILLUSTRATIONS
I find their gothic darkness extraordinarily beautiful, a bit erotic. I love the grand scale proportions, the visceral quality, it’s really, really beautiful. It’s so simple but just conveys really wonderful emotion and storytelling and character. In contrast to that is George Barbier, the 1920s Art Deco illustrator. He was really brilliant; his work has a sauciness and cheekiness to it.
From far left: Gwendoline Christie; Fleur Fenton Cowles; Rachel Feinstein; illustrations by Barbier; Katie Grand; Vanessa Kingori; Salomé by Aubrey Beardsley