We had an opportunity to look back at the madness with British designer Louise Gray, a dynamic fixture of the East London fashion scene. She recently wrapped up London Fashion Week and is currently showing at Paris Fashion Week, but took a few minutes in the midst of her hectic schedule to talk with us.
Vice: I'm guessing the month before Fashion Week is like your husband's favorite time in the whole entire world. Describe the stress levels in the Louise Gray household. Do you walk around with a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of disinfectant spray in the other?
Louise Gray: Yeah, I definitely smoke a lot... I've only been married seven weeks and seen him for two, which was fashion week. So I don't really see him or my house--more like the Turkish kebab store and late-night sewing sessions infused with cigarettes and gossip.
How crazy does it actually get that week? What's a typical day like during the madness?
On the show day I was up at 5 AM to get to the venue and get the models ready. We set up an installation with set designer Tony Horneker.... Amazing 1980s designer Judy Blame arrives and perks up all the accessories bits we collaborated on. The presentation happens: everyone arrives, the room fills, lots of friends and people stay around hanging out smoking cigs. I can't 'cause I am chatting to press--and then it finished, so we pack down, move the collection to a static space for the rest of the week, and then it's off to friends' catwalk shows and afterparties and catching up with everyone. Then my feet fall off the next day 'cause I've worn heels for 36 hours and I actually still can't walk a week later!
Looking back, which collections stood out to you? Any new trends that surprised you?
London designers really pushed it this season--it's almost like it was in everyone's minds that is was 25 years of British fashion celebration and everyone got into that and made their best work. London was [busy] this season, lots more press and buyers in town and ginormous amounts of talent to behold.
What differentiates your spring line from your past work? I noticed a move away from the embroidery details that really defined your past collections. Any particular reason for that?
I wanted to move my work on. I wanted to create a wardrobe, how I would dress and wear things. Pieces and textile-based and immersing myself in this dream creation.
The hair bobs and eye makeup on the models are super cute. Any particular inspiration for that?
It was about this idea of just, be literal and get it on. I work with stylist Richard Sloan and we tried to channel this girl we imagined. I was inspired by this New York tranny in the 80s that I look at all the time on YouTube who looks like this cartoon, and we tried to make this idea young and new. So we were like, just put color on your thumb and press it on. Richard was like, earlobes and tummy buttons--getting beautiful color straight on, no faff. I love the mix you get with being so messy.
How does Courtney Love fit into this new collection? What about Keith Haring?
I was inspired by boys, really prolific, wondrous men. I am surrounded by them in London. I love Keith Haring, Warhol, Basquait--that whole movement. I love Slash and Jeannette and Boy London and Boy George, Bram Bogart, Judy Blame, Michael Clarke's dance group, and so many people. I was just trying to think of them and my complete awe of them and their work.
You're in Paris now for Paris Fashion Week. How's that?
I am here for a week doing sales on my collection and basically tramping around town having fun.
What differentiates London Fashion week from New York, Paris, and Milan?
London is more raw. There is this youngness around and I really find it inspiring. I don't know if it is because of the people, but I think more it's the place that's ingrained with fun.
Ok, so let's cut to the chase-- I'm a girl and I've got $50 and I walk into the best thrift store in the world. What am I hoping to walk away with?
God, if your lucky, everything you imagine you'll find, but mostly it's CK jeans and horrid lingerie. I live for thrifts though.
And as a boy?
American flag cut off shorts, but the hipsters probably already bought those three years ago.
Have you gotten any fun new things at the dollar store lately?
I got a leather clip-on fringed ponytail that was kinda Cher-mazement.