Couture king GILES DEACON shows off his whimsical new bags of style
The couture king on red carpet moments, colourful celebrity clients and the importance of craftsmanship
There’s no question we all want to be Giles girls. From the fairy-tale confection he fashioned for Pippa Middleton on her wedding day to the dramatic silhouettes he saves for the ever-stylish Sarah Jessica Parker, not to mention the ensembles he conjures up for Lady Gaga,
Cate Blanchett, Rita Ora and every fashionista worthy of her FROW pew, he always weaves a story of perfection around the wearer.
If, however, immaculately crafted couture is not in your budget, you too can invest in the British tastemaker’s aesthetic by splashing out on accessories from his latest collaboration with Aspinal of London.
HELLO! caught up with the couture king in Dubai to talk intricate illustrations, creative inspiration and whimsical design.
This isn’t your first time to the region is it?
No, I have been coming here on and off for about 15 years. Always working. I have never been on holiday here. That is one thing I would like to do here, come on holiday. Usually my trips are a combination of PR work and meeting private clients. I have been all over the place. The UAE, Saudi Arabia a few times, Dubai many many times, Kuwait, Oman – the whole region.
We have seen shots of you in full Arabic regalia in fact.
Yes, in full tobe. I was going to bring it back this time but I needed to dry-clean it! When I was last in Saudi, I got that all fitted and everything. I asked if I could wear it anywhere, and they said: “Yes, it is just like black tie. It is ceremonial.”
How did this particular accessories collaboration even come about?
Through wonderful Maria [Dykalo, creative director of Aspinal] who has been a private couture client of mine for the past two years. She is always arriving with these gorgeous bags, as you can
imagine. I knew of Aspinal historically and we talked about a few things and she suggested that I do a capsule holiday collection.
Was the fact that Aspinal is known for its craftsmanship a big bonus for you?
Yes, absolutely. It is all about handraftedness, the quintessential Englishness of it as well. The playfulness and whimsy.
It is very whimsical.
Which I love. I always knew that was what it was going to be like. I love bags that have personality. We really don’t need another bag collection that people need a manual for, to understand how it works. I want it to be very emotive and joyful. They are these jewel-like things that you want to keep and cherish.
When it comes to the silhouettes, did you work with the established ones that the brand uses?
I had a meeting with Iain [Burton, the founder) and Maria and what I thought would be great would be to do Aspinal through my eyes. So it’s my take on their classic shapes. It wasn’t about doing new designs of bag for this capsule, it was to work with existing silhouettes, play with the scale of them and to think about clever things I could do that would put my stamp on them. Working with my illustrations, doing specific new illustrations, embroideries, the moiré that we usually do on silk we did on leather, putting in metallics… all the elements that I would play with within a couture collection.
Have you done many bags before?
I have worked with places silently before and once with Mulberry about fifteen years ago when Stuart [Vevers] was the creative director there. That was all black and vinyl with big brass and gold studs on it. Very different. This is the first time I have done a full collaboration.
Was there any aspect of it that you had to learn?
The creative process is very similar. Especially when you have such nice product to work with. That was the joy of working with the existing shapes.
Do you personally have an accessory that has sentimental value for you?
I have a very, very dear pencil case that I carry all my pencils and my sharpener in. It is made from silk from a collection a few years ago.
Is it a challenge to work at a different price point?
No, that is the nice thing about working with Aspinal because the quality, the
detailing involved, is great. It was not a problem.
Is this going to be an ongoing collaboration?
Yes it is. We are working on the next collection that will be presented in London in February and we are also looking at ideas and colours for September next year.
Whose style do you admire?
I am very lucky that I have dressed so many fantastic clients. Someone I continually enjoy to dress is Sarah Jessica Parker. We dressed her last in September and we have dressed her for the Met Ball, too. Cate Blanchett is another joy. Gwendoline Christie too. Lady Gaga – we have dressed her a number of times.
You also did Pippa Middleton’s wedding gown – do you have any commissions that are truly special to you?
Many. One of the joys of couture is that pretty much all of them are for special occasions for people. Even when they are repeat buyers – they are for specific events and important milestones. Birthdays, weddings, graduations – you name it. The thing about working with people like that is that you are making something very personal for them.
What is the common thread between all your couture clients?
Personal aesthetics can be quite different... but there is a real appreciation and love of craftsmanship and personalisation. They don’t want to be wearing something that anyone else is wearing. Every piece is a one-off. The more in-depth you work with somebody, the more special it becomes.
Is there a piece from this line you truly love?
All of them. It depends who I was buying it for. Different clients would go for different styles. My Middle Eastern clients would definitely like the coral and green silk trunks with embroidery.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
I think NASA would be a really interesting company to work with. They have phenomenal technical expertise in lots of different areas from technology to fabrications and ways in which things could be manufactured. They are phenomally forward-thinking.
Which new designers do you rate?
Golly – so many. There’s the lovely Matty Bovan who is also a dear friend. Simone Rocha – who isn’t that new -- she does fantastic pieces and is a lovely person.
Giles (below, in Saudi Arabia) brought his own stamp to Aspinal classics. Fans of the couture king, who has designed for the NYC ballet (below right), include Kate Moss (right) and Gisele Bündchen (top)
Giles loves working with fashion icon Sarah Jessica Parker (top left, with Kelly Ripa and the designer). He feels this Hepburn bag will especially appeal to his American clients