Part of: Selling Sex

LiveStudio: Phoebe English

published on 6 June 2012

Young London Designer Phoebe English creates an outfit for dancer Leah Debrincat, and answers viewer questions on her work and process.

Young London Designer Phoebe English creates an outfit for dancer Leah Debrincat, and answers viewer questions on her work and process.

71 Q&A Posts

7 JUN 2012. 16:52

Q. How does the pressure of this, as in designing and making a piece in a day, compare to working on and bringing a collection together for a show?
Phoebe: It feels pretty much the  same! I never really have that much time to do a collection. It's similar to this everyday in the run up to the collections. For the last one I only had five weeks! Except here there are people watching me, which does make it a different experience.

7 JUN 2012. 16:29

Q. Hi Rose, Hi Phoebe. How do you approach starting a new collection- where is your starting point?
Rose: Lots of discussion. Although for the actual collections that aren't from a brief Phoebe just usually has a dream and then tells me about it and then the images go up on the wall!
Phoebe: I just secretly put the images on the wall in the studio and then Rose may wander past and say of that's nice and then I'm like 'yes!'. And then it's go go go with the collection!

7 JUN 2012. 16:19

Q. hi, have you ever thought about using print or do you like using only block colours?
Yer definitely. I love print. I used print in my last collection but it was quite subtle. But yer definitely.

7 JUN 2012. 15:48

Q. if you could have an exclusive model, reserved for you, who you could do fittings, shows, photoshoots, who would it be? why?
Rose: A lot of stuff we do the girl's face is actually covered. She's not looking at the camera, or their hair is covering their face. So maybe whoever it was wouldn't love it too much.
Phoebe: I'm not massively into celebrity models. I've never thought about that before!

7 JUN 2012. 15:46

Q. You said you studied knitwear, and you did hand knitted pieces in your last collection, would you consider doing more digital knitwear with art works and using Dubieds and domestic knit machines?
Phoebe: Um. I don't know. I think there is some amazing knit technology available. but I don't think we are quite at the point to access that yet. I love knit but I think you need a lot of resources to do it well, a lot of space. My knit machine won't even fit in the studio! Ordering yarns is also a nightmare. You can't really get much in this country. It's something I studied for a long time, but I didn't just want to be a knitwear designer. It's something I can do, but it's not what I wanted to be defined as. I have so many other interests.

7 JUN 2012. 15:44

Q. If you could work with one photographer to shoot your collection who would it be and why?
Phoebe: I couldn't sleep last night because I was thinking about that amazing picture Nick Knight took last night. I was so energised by it. I've never seen my work look like that before. I can't believe he just took that on his iPhone on Instagram. He just shot it so fast while she was moving. It was amazing. I love Nick.

7 JUN 2012. 15:38

Q. What do you think about the celebrity culture at the moment, such as the Kardashians? Would you like to see your pieces on them? why?
Rose: Phoebe doesn't know anything about those things!
Phoebe: I don't really watch TV.
Rose: We do get some requests to borrow stuff out. But it's not really our thing. We've never wanted to, for want of a better word, whore ourselves out to celebrities. We did once get asked to do a piece for Madonna, but we couldn't get it to her in time! We've have loved to have done that though.
Phoebe: We like strong powerful women.

7 JUN 2012. 14:59

Q. if the colour black and white were not existent, what would be its substitute? why?
Phoebe: That's a good question! I do like colour, but I just like black more! I do like green. It depends what circumstances really. I do love greys - but maybe that doesn't count. Maybe like a slatey blue. We did the pink from the last collection because it looked so disgusting - I was really drawn to that colour. I do use black for a reason. I use it to unify stuff and de-feminise what I do. A lot of my work is quite feminine, so the black is a device to balance that out. It's sort of a trick of the eye, so things that move a lot and are quite fragile and girly can be strengthened. I think it makes the work look very confident. I like that. If I couldn't use them then I guess I'd just use all the colours. A rainbow collection. Maybe we should do that.

7 JUN 2012. 14:43

Q. Hi Phoebe, Hi Rose, if you could have a dinner party with all the extravagance and fuss which 5 guests would you bring- dead or alive?
Phoebe: That's so hard. I have to go through all the history of humanity! Louise Wilson - she's amazing - and Charles James. I'm going to think mainly fashion people - that will help me narrow it down. Countess De Castiglione and Marchesa Casati. And then also Mr Pearl. Perfect! That's a great five! Louise could tell Charles James where he went wrong!

7 JUN 2012. 14:39

Q. Do you think about sound when your designing?
Sure! I think about sound, I think about movement, I think about shape, I think about fit. Everything. Because there are so many different angles you have to look at things from. The people at the show will see things very close up and in detail, but then other people will go onto and see things in a very flat 2 dimensional way, then other people will have a totally different experience if they are buying the garment and see it up close in a shop, and then you also have to think about the wearer. So there are so many different things and angles you have to consider.

7 JUN 2012. 13:55

Q. Phoebe, you just mentioned something about next season, have you started or started planning the next collection? Could you tell us what to expect next season?
People can expect something different! Actually it was quite weird when I first got that email from you guys at SHOWstudio, as there are actually a few things between this project and the collection that will overlap. You'll understand when you see it!

7 JUN 2012. 12:56

Q. What's the thought behind the headdress?
Phoebe: This is actually something I made on my MA. It was just when I started moving away from knitwear and into general textiles. So I was just experimenting with trying to create organic forms.

7 JUN 2012. 12:46

Q. Leah - do you teach your dance?
I do! But more one on one. I like teaching groups - but my schedule changes so much that it's hard to find a fixed time that I can do every week. I always end up letting people down!

7 JUN 2012. 12:41

Q. Leah - can costume have a big effect on how you feel when you're dancing?
Definitely. A lot of the time I wear headdresses and that can really change the vibe. It can put you in a mindset of a different character. Some of the headdresses I wear have feathers and bird skulls they can change the way you feel and make you feel more powerful. They make you feel a couple of feet taller - like everybody has to watch you!

7 JUN 2012. 12:18

Q. Is there a skirt today?
It's going to be another variation of what we did yesterday. A latex fin skirt. But I wanted this one to be a bit more chaotic. So it will be along a similar vein but a bit different.

7 JUN 2012. 11:35

Q. Hi Rose, hi Phoebe. It's so interesting watching you guys work live. I'm sure that many people will be inspired by watching you working very directly with Leah today. Reading through the Q&A below, I was really intrigued to see you talking about private clients - it's not something I've ever really thought about, because the idea of approaching a designer directly seemed an intrusion. Is this not the case? Do you work quite a bit with private clients? Would you encourage people to contact young designers directly if they like their work?
Rose: Generally all our private clients that we've made pieces for are people we've met and formed a relationship with. But I don't think people should ever be embarrassed about contacting designers - it's such an amazing compliment to get. But I do think a lot of people aren't willing to wait for a piece, you have to be dedicated and want it. It's at least 3 fittings and a few months. I think there are a lot of people who don't understand the process and are more interested in fast fashion. They see something and they want it now. But maybe that's changing. It is very nice to have something made for you - something bespoke.

7 JUN 2012. 11:33

Q. Hi Phoebe! Thank you so much for sharing your work, I've been watching it all while in the studio working myself and I think you and your team are lovely creative company. It seems like each collection you do is a such a radical departure from the previous collection, each time taking off from a completely new technique & textile, starting from scratch. To me, it feels almost like all of your collections are FIRST collections, almost contained brands in and of themselves. Is this intentional?
Phoebe: That's such an interesting thing to say! You learn so much about yourself from what other people think. I suppose it is like that a little bit because when I finish a collection it's over for me, its finished. I've got it out of my system and it's a relief. Then the next day I'll work on a new one. I think there is a tendency especially in London to rely on something that's worked before, but there are so many things that can be done, I don't think I could ever stay in one place. Each collection is approached with empty mind - a clean slate. Sometimes I even find it different having old work near me.

7 JUN 2012. 10:45

Q. How can we get in contact with you for internships/placements? Are there certain types of internships available like press, design, accessories? for design or for press opportunities

7 JUN 2012. 10:10

Q. Where do you tend to source your materials?
Phoebe: Just around Hackney. Or Shepards Bush. Just in London. Just places I can get to quickly and easily! I'm not really into that sending things away thing - I'd rather just have it in my hand. Sometimes it's good to have limited choice, and just work with what you've got, it forces you to commit. I've never been to Premiere Vision - I think if I had too much choice it could actually hinder me!

7 JUN 2012. 09:58

Q. if I wanted to buy your jumper – the actual one you are wearing right now, others will not do – how would I go about that? Can I come and buy it from you in person? Will I be on 'television' if I do?
The exact one I'm wearing is available at Dover Street Market!

7 JUN 2012. 09:55

Q. What three pieces in the V&A's collection inspire you?
Phoebe: There is so much! I spend a lot of time there. I go whenever I can when I can get there. I like the fashion collection there, but I find sometimes some of the other areas really inspiring as well. I really love the new sculpture gallery with the fountain - I go sit there when I can. I really like the art library there. And I used to spend a lot of time in their ceramics galleries before they'd changed them around, where you could open the draws and look at the smashed pottery. So yeah. There is a lot of stuff that I really like in there.

7 JUN 2012. 09:50

Q. What is a typical day like?
Rose: If we've got no meetings or appointments then we are just there in the studio. All the guys are there until about 6 and then Phoebe and I stay a bit later just to have some time to ourselves and to have a meeting.
Phoebe: Until a few days we used to have quite different mornings - because Rose lived so far away so she would spend her whole morning traveling across London, but now that she's moved it's better. The only average day for us is tea-drinking, it's different everyday. But that's what I like about it. But the more we have the more different it is. At the moment we have 5 different projects on the wall - I work on the wall of my studio like today - so every day is so busy and different.

7 JUN 2012. 09:50

Q. Do you guys travel a lot?
Rose: At this moment in time it's very hard to travel - we'd like to! But we always say that it is important to acknowledge where you are based. We are a London designer. But you do have to think about relevance. So now we are stocked in Australia, so you do need to think about that.
Phoebe: I am quite English. I'd say.
Rose: It's not so much that there are strong influences from other cultures, it's more that we are aware of having to be relevant.
Phoebe: I don't really travel that much. I spent time in Northern Ireland. I spent time in extreme poetic landscapes, my mum used to take myself and my sister there. Very rainy, a house with no heating. I think some of my fashion influence has that slightly poetic, outdoorsy feel.

7 JUN 2012. 09:49

Q. Who made both the outfits you are wearing? And how do I get them?
We are both wearing tops from Phoebe English! You can buy them at Dover Street Market.

7 JUN 2012. 09:40

Q. Rose, you mentioned you studied sculpture, how did you transition from a different media of art to fashion and business of fashion?
Rose: I wasn't a very good sculptor!
Phoebe: No! That's a lie - you're very good!
Rose: I was always just more interested in the curating side. I did something when I was there called The Hundred Day Museum. I just really enjoyed it and that side of it. And then I got asked to go and join the team at Bluebird as a buyer - and that was great. I had always been interested in fashion but never really sure what side of it. And then I met Phoebe. It all felt very natural, I didn't force any of it. I come from a business minded family, where as Phoebe comes from a totally arts family.
Phoebe: Our families are so different. I don't think anyone in my family is in business. Everyone is in the arts. Whereas Rose's are very entrepreneurial. It's like two sides.

7 JUN 2012. 09:20

Q. What are you writing?
'Frenetic Flesh' Phoebe English | Leah Debrincat Day 2

7 JUN 2012. 09:16

Q. Besides wearing Phoebe English what other labels do you wear? Where do you buy clothes from?
Rose: I actually spend a small fortune on my wardrobe. Today I'm wearing Marni and Cos. I love Marni. I was going to wear Simone Rocha shoes today but then I thought no - we need to be the young London designers here! But I do love her stuff.
Phoebe: I haven't bought clothes for years! I don't really have time for shopping. If I do shop I tend to go to charity shops. I seem to inherit quite a lot of clothing from my mum or my various aunts! I have a lot of clothes. I love Battersea car boot sale - I shouldn't tell everyone that! I don't really shop in shops - I don't like shops very much! I'm just not really interested in clothes very much. That's why it was great when Rose joined me, because I was so clueless about it!

7 JUN 2012. 09:15

Q. How have you altered your usual designs to work with Leah's choreography?
No I don't think I've had to change my style. I didn't want to just make something I'd done for a show - I thought that was a bit lazy! And I couldn't do that anyway because her dance requirements are so specific. It's so amazing to have a new project, new problems to solve. I get bored very easily - every time each show is over I am deeply uninterested in the work I have produced. So it's great to do something new.

7 JUN 2012. 09:10

Q. What's happening today?
Similar to yesterday we are making an outfit for Leah's dance. Today is a bit more fluid - we are just going to see what happens. We are using darker colours today, lots of black, because Leah's dance is a bit darker, the movements are a lot stronger. We have some of our same references from yesterday, but also a couple of new ones. We are going for something a bit more angular, more geometric, to compliment Leah's movements.

6 JUN 2012. 17:20

Q. Did you consciously all wear black for this live stream or just a coincidence?
Phoebe: I wear a lot of black and so does Rose. My pincushions are colourful though - my mum had one when I was little and I just really love them! They bring colour!

6 JUN 2012. 16:33

Q. We learned about latex thickness during the Atsuko Kudo LiveStudio. Are you using different thicknesses and why?
We are using 0.5. Basically the colour of the latex changes quite a lot in accordance to its thickness and weight. So we had one we were trying with, but the colour came out too strong and wasn't fleshy. So we went a bit thinner. But we do also have bits of the thicker one as well. That was one of the challenges when designing Leah's costume as usually there is a very definite centre of gravity that the models are walking with, but with Leah that's totally different because she's moving around so much - so we tried lots of different things, things that could spray out like a wing. There were lots of trials! The silhouette of the piece is really very dictated by her movement, she can't have anything above hip-line as it will move as she moves her stomach, so we had to leave that bare as well as her shoulders. She came to the studio and we discussed all the stuff she liked to wear. She told me she liked halter-necks so we started working with that. It was very led by the movement.

6 JUN 2012. 15:57

Q. Do you photograph all your work. What are the photographs Rose is taking for?
We always do it. We have huge piles of photos in the studio all around. We've scanned huge sheets of ones we've done before and send them to people. Phoebe and I are both really into hand written post so we often send stuff out with letters and photos to people who like or support the label. Other than that I don't know, it's just nice to have a record of the process - it's nice to remember how you got to the end point.

6 JUN 2012. 15:27

Q. What's the plant on your desk? Why is it there and how do you think of it?
I went to stay with my best friend and his fiancée in the Isle of White and I bought it there - it's great cos it reminds me of them. It's called a sculpture plant - I just really love it. It's a very confident looking plant and it doesn't require much care which is great because I'm never really there to look after it!

6 JUN 2012. 15:23

Q. where did you gain your experience from besides education? like have you freelanced or worked at companies before heading your own way? what made you decide to do your own thing?
Yep. I did lots of internships. I interned at Galliano for six months. And I interned in New York and I worked for the dear Mr Pearl. I did various small places in London. Small places, big places, lots of different variety. I also took a year out - actually it was like a sandwich course option in my degree, where I went away for a year.

6 JUN 2012. 15:14

Q. Would you consider ever making costume for films, instead of making fashion for fashion as your clothes are so intricate and aren't necessarily wearable?
Yeah definitely. I think that is one of our secret aspirations. It's actually not that secret. I'd love to do a really long beautiful film with beautiful costumes. I think fashion is an amazing thing but it is very transient and very ephemeral. Film can be more permanent - permanent but still transient. It's an interesting platform - let's see what happens.

6 JUN 2012. 14:59

Q. Have you ever collaborated with anyone. Would you like to with anyone in the future?
Phoebe: We haven't collaborated with anyone, other than indirectly on music and film. We have talked about it. We've only done 2 shows - it's great to test out new mediums without having to assign it completely to your label. So we would love to do it. Swimwear, pyjamas - anything we need in our life.

6 JUN 2012. 14:54

Q. What was it about Saint Martins that changed you so much?
It was the teaching. There was just this clarity. It's like gaining a deeper surrounding of aesthetics really. I think there is a tendency in the British education system, where art and design and creative things are often seen as simpler or easier. But they are actually incredibly complex and difficult. So it was a very stimulating environment to be surrounded by people who were very good at what they did. So you are propelled by the teaching but also by your peer group. You're all like 'I  get this now, I understand what's good and what's not good and what works and doesn't for me.' It's a clarity. As a course it's the most couture thing you could ever do - everyone's work is judged and critiqued in a different way to everyone else. it's like putting a microscope to yourself.

6 JUN 2012. 14:52

Q. Would you like to one day teach or freelance at Central Saint Martins, to give back to the school and help students develop and explore themselves?
Yes. Definitely - I'd love to do that. There's something really interesting about work that is so embryonic and young. I loved being at that stage.

6 JUN 2012. 14:47

Q. Dear Phoebe. I once read an article whereby they described you as a gothic Luna Lovegod. This suggests you're somewhat of a mystical creature. Is this an accurate description of your character would you say?
Phoebe: I do love unicorns. I get very cross when people don't believe they exist!

6 JUN 2012. 14:15

Q. Which designers do you admire?
I have a few favourites - each for different reasons. I really love the work of Charles James. Who was English but worked in America. I have a catalog from an exhibition of his that shows these amazing sculptural ballgowns. I really admire the engineering behind his work. I admire the craftsmanship and the quality of Alaïa's work. The knit engineering behind those works is incredible. The energy of McQueen and the kind of sublime work that Mr Pearl does, he's the corsetiere that works in Paris. So yeah there's a couple.

6 JUN 2012. 13:24

Q. How many assistants do you have?
Phoebe: We have 5. We tend to find wonderful people who stay with us for a long while. They really are the core of what we do. It's amazing to see people learn and get better - we are like a little family. I love working with interns and students, it's massively rewarding.

6 JUN 2012. 13:15

Q. Do you usually listen to music while you work in the studio and if so, what?
Phoebe: Always. I go mad if I can't. Music fills a void - because we can't be talking all the time. For the interns that help me it's probably very boring for them to see me just sitting there, so music helps. Also we are right next to a train-line! We listen to a mixture. Sometimes we'll have a day with Rose's music and then we'll have mine - because we have quite different personalities. We listen to Radio 6, I used to love Radio 4 but now that's been banished. I love the radio.

6 JUN 2012. 13:12

Q. It seems that materials such as latex are more accepted. Do you agree with this, and if so, why do you think this is?
Phoebe: I think that anything that is a subculture eventually works its way into the mainstream. Like punk. Everything eventually becomes quite normal.
Rose: I think it became a lot more accepted. Soho became a lot more gentrified, with nights like Torture Garland. It's an exciting fabric, and that was always going to shine through.
Phoebe: I like it because it causes a reaction. People notice it. I am using it in order to desexualise things. In the last collection we just used the matte side. So we did like a cropped baggy t-shirt and long granny skirts. There is a lot that you can do that is not fetishised. It is a material that holds at lot of connotations so there's lot of room to play with those connotations and expectations - you can make it your own. it's about getting things to communicate against one another.

6 JUN 2012. 12:59

Q. What is your favourite part of the process when making specific outfits for projects such as this one?
Phoebe: I like it when it's on somebody. I can also often feel really attached to the purity of the original idea. Because that vision that you have in your head is never the same as what you make. Even if you make something really good, the final product is always a compromise on your imagination. It can be hard but you have to let it be. The original idea I find really exciting because it's almost like an itch in your head that you need to get out. There's two parts I guess the beginning and the end, the middle part is traumatic! It's exhausting. The middle part is all the engineering and problem solving - I find that quite tiring. The middle part you have to be really tenacious, it can really wear you out.

6 JUN 2012. 12:25

Q. would u let the working environment, space, sound, temperature for instance, influence your mood and subsequently your collections?
Phoebe: Yeah. I think any creative working space influences people quite a lot. It affects your work because it affects your mood and mentality. I can't work at all if the floor hasn't been swept. Even if I have tonnes to do I can't work if the studio is messy - if the bins haven't been emptied and the washing up is not done. You need a nice space to work.

6 JUN 2012. 12:12

Q. What has been been the hardest piece you have made to date from initial design and why?
I think some of the pieces I did for my BA actually. They were all hand-crocheted.

6 JUN 2012. 12:03

Q. Why did you term this project 'frenetic'?
It's a word that we used right from the beginning when I first met Leah. I like it as a word. It sounds nice. It's all about respecting what something is and how something moves. We like the alliteration of Frenetic Flesh!

6 JUN 2012. 11:57

Q. How long does it normally take you to create one ready-to-wear garment?
It really varies. I'd say on average 20 hours but it can be so different depending on waht you are making. We do so much by hand, everything is made pretty much on this table. Which is so nice because when people take something home they know how much work has gone into it. There's a lot of time management that we have to focus on - as we have such a small working space. You can feel the hours, you can feel who has touched it - it's nice to have something that has been made by a lot of people over many days.

6 JUN 2012. 11:55

Q. Who would you both love to dress?
Phoebe: Yolandi Visser. I think it would be amazing to dress someone who would never be associated with my style. Someone's who is not too predictable. I think she's amazing.
Rose: We were really lucky recently we did a wonderful look for Alison Goldfrapp - we turned a skirt into a cape for her because that was how she saw it. She looked amazing - it's nice when someone can bring their own thing to what you do.

6 JUN 2012. 11:41

Q. Why did you choose to use the flesh and white colours in particular?
We spent a lot of time choosing it. The white is just the toile, the real one is in the nude. We wanted it to be like flesh. We actually sent it back to the dyers a couple of times to get it perfect.

6 JUN 2012. 11:36

Q. One for Leah, as a dancer- are the costumes really important to you for your performances? Where do you get your costumes from?
Leah: It depends on the vibe of the act I'm doing really - how important the costume is depends on what mood I'm creating. I use different sources of inspiration. I look at 20s fashion and I go to antique markets and pick out bits and pieces and put them together to make costumes. What I wear is an exaggeration of who I am and what I am saying with each performance. I think what Phoebe is making is quite empowering. The base is quite strong structures and then the outside has more movement. I like the contrast with the tassels, because when I move, when I shimmy, they move so well.
Phoebe: These latex fins we've made have a really great sound and movement. It's quite a perverted sort of flapping sound. Because the top half of the outfit is so constrained we wanted something free and dynamic on the bottom half.

6 JUN 2012. 11:30

Q. What kind of dancing does Leah do?
Leah: Well I do a fusion belly dance. But I also have sword work techniques that I use in my act. I got into it because I just went to a belly dance class out of curiosity and I just really loved it. Then  it just progressed and kept going and fell into performing by accident. Then the more I took on the more work that seemed to come available. So eventually I just quit my day time job and then it just kept going and going.

6 JUN 2012. 11:15

Q. Leah how does it feel to wear?
Leah: It feels amazing! It's very secure - it doesn't feel restrictive at all. When Phoebe first said that she was making it out of elastic I was a bit worried that it would be but it feels so easy to wear - you almost forget you are wearing it.
Rose: It just looks so amazing on Leah. Especially the way it shows off her body at at the back.

6 JUN 2012. 10:56

Q. Are you selling your clothes anywhere? Online or in a shop?
You can buy Phoebe English at Dover Street Market.

6 JUN 2012. 10:32

Q. How was studying at CSM?
Phoebe: Amazing. It really changed my life. I mean that in the sincerest way. I was there for 6 years - it's where I grew all. The people there are my family in London. Its a really amazing place. The MA is like learning to see, you see everything you've every done before that point in a completely different way. You are very different when you finish it to when you start. It's a very special course.

6 JUN 2012. 10:15

Q. How many pieces are you making?
I'm making - if I can get it all done! - I'm making a bra top and then I'm making a skirt. A frenetic latex skirt that will go with this. And then tomorrow a whole new thing. It's the first time that we've made an outfit all in one day!

6 JUN 2012. 09:36

Q. What's your personal style like?
Rose: I think the way that we dress... specifically the last collection, when it came to writing the press release we realised so much of it was all about the way Phoebe herself dressed and the way she mixed textures.
Phoebe: I think the last collection really did have a greater sense of realism to it. It's funny actually because before I worked with Rose the idea of wearing my own clothes really repulsed me. But Rose is all about the wearing of the clothes. They disappear from the studio mysteriously and end up in Rose's wardrobe. I guess Rose is quite sort of muse like. She has an amazing personal wardrobe and she wears things incredibly well. I find the way she wears clothes very inspiring. She comes from a different area of fashion, a buying area of fashion.

6 JUN 2012. 09:32

Q. How did you guys meet?
Rose: I like tracked her down. I saw this beautiful picture in Dazed. And I like tracked her down and I was like 'I love this dress I just need to have this dress'. And Phoebe wasn't replying - she's pretty bad with email. But in the end I tracked her down and she did make me a dress. And I promptly wore it to a party and destroyed it and I went back to her and I was like 'please fix it!' And we just clicked and then started working together - it was very instantaneous.
Phoebe: She just kind of waltzed into my room. And I thought who is this amazing person. And I thought I'd just met this incredible new friend. And then we started working together and Rose can actually do things like answer email - which I can never do. We are not a design duo but we do do everything together. We might as well be married! Before I met Rose the way I worked was quite monastic and very insular. It's good working in a pair as you have to be more open. Every setback we have is halved, but every achievement we have is doubled - because there are two of us!

6 JUN 2012. 09:26

Q. Which of your contemporaries do you find most interesting? And generally, what are you excited by in fashion?
Phoebe: Actually do you know what. When you are studying you are so scathing about work - you can be like that's shit, that's bad, that designer has gone bad now. Now I'm doing my own thing I have such such respect for anyone and everybody doing this because it's so hard.
Rose: Sometimes it's annoying to be put into a bracket of young London designer. but that's what it is - we are young and we are creating in London. We are alongside the kind of people who we are stocked next to in Dover Street, like Craig Lawrence and Simone Rocha. And I think its important that we see how the work sits next to theirs as that's how it will be viewed.
Phoebe: But there is room for everyone. There are infinite tastes. Even things that are hideous sell. So there is room for everyone.

6 JUN 2012. 09:25

Q. Do you think you would ever do menswear? If so, why? Or indeed, why not?
Rose: The pink latex kilt from the last collection got a lot of attention from men!
Phoebe: I don't know that much about it - I think i'd feel like a bit of a fraud. But never say never! I think a lot of what i do is about being a woman and designing for a women. Like knowing that a particular length of sleeve will make you feel protected, or that exposing a certain bit of your back will make you feel sexy. It's about tapping into a certain psychology and I'm not sure I could do that for men. But I do love it when stylists borrow our clothes and put them on men.
Rose: Maybe it could just be unisex clothing.
Phoebe: Actually maybe it would be quite fun to do menswear - let's do a little pop up menswear collection!

6 JUN 2012. 09:24

Q. Why did you incorporate hair into your last collection?
Phoebe: Oh from the MA! I'll have to think - a lot has happened since then. When I was on the BA I was on the knitwear pathway. So a lot of the work I was doing was about sourcing interesting filaments and yarns. There aren't that many! You spend a lot of time just actually trying to find something to knit with. The hair was just another filament, I just liked the way it moved. I tried with lots of different hair - horse hair, really horrible fake hair. Then I decided on the one that was slightly crimped so it had a very matte texture. I loved how it absorbed the light, a really deep black. So it all came from trying to find a material that I could knit with. It also has amazing communicative value - it's very emotive, people are either drawn to it or they are repulsed by it. At least it gets a response.
Rose: It's amazing to wear - it just completely follows your movements and the lines of your body.

6 JUN 2012. 09:22

Q. How was it to work with Dover Street Market?
Phoebe: Amazing. I could never imagine something like that happening for a million years.
Rose: We hadn't even got anything ready. They were so quick off the mark.
Pheobe: I remember going for the sales appointment. I was so scared I was shaking. I really just thought they wanted to see it. I never thought they'd want to stock it. Then suddenly they just started placing an order - I was so overwhelmed.
Rose: We went the next day and set up the company. We registered the very next day!

6 JUN 2012. 09:17

Q. How big is your production? Do you think you'll ever go for a more mass reproduction/larger market?
Phoebe: That's such a sad question!
Rose: We've always been quite clear who we are as a label. London is such a melting pot for young designers and you've got to be quite clear who you are. There's a lot of digital print in London, and that's really not what we are about. For us everything is so involved in the sampling and the hand-making. Everything we do is so beautifully done and we are very proud of that. Obviously we have to be practical, there will be a point where we will have to outsource stuff, but we would like to keep stuff close. We'd like ideally to just have a bigger studio where we can have production upstairs. We would never send stuff outside of England.
Phoebe. It's nice this way. It's a rare thing to have a maker who has a tangible link to what they are making. We like having private clients - our little database who come to the studio. I felt a bit lost after finishing uni - but now I learn so much from my clients and what they chose - just infinite opinions and infinite variety.

6 JUN 2012. 09:16

Q. What propelled you into Fashion? And what was it like when you won the Vauxhall Fashion Scout's Merit Award?
Phoebe: I guess fashion was something I was really interested in. I was always unhappy with my clothes as a child, I always had little things I wanted to change, my collar or whatever. I was always interested in fashion, as both my parents were artists so there were always lots of beautiful things around the house, kimonos and fezzes. But I was interested in lots of things. It was never like this is my first euphoric moment with fashion - I just kind of ended up doing it. And then the first time I was just like wow - felt like I'd actually got somewhere, I guess came later. I never did it because I wanted to end up with my own label. It was as just something I was going to do and see what happened. I did the BA at Central Saint Martins and then I stayed and did the MA. It all just blurred into one, just went on and on one thing 'til another. And suddenly I was at the end of the MA and I got such a nice response. It all just went very well. It was amazing to get the award. It was really nice to be supported that was really great - that someone felt I was worth investing in. It's nice to have you're own show - quite daunting but nice.

6 JUN 2012. 09:14

Q. Why do you choose more obscure materials, like latex and the like?
Rose: We always do just seem to be drawn to fabrics like rubber and latex - and they all do have quite heavy connotations. Very fetish-y connotations. But we do like to play with the fabrics. We always use the matte side of the latex not the shiny side, it's quite nice to play with those kind of things.

6 JUN 2012. 09:11

Q. Is this what your studio is normally like?
It's a lot smaller than this! So this is a luxury. We don't even have a window!

6 JUN 2012. 09:02

Q. What were the references for today's work?
Phoebe: Today there are actually a lot of women - but that's not usually the case. Usually it's objects or art or landscapes. I don't tend to reference very much from fashion - maybe that's why these references were previously unused until today's work. But then again these are more character references rather than clothes references. I think fashion is a very psychological thing. I find the relationship a garment can have with the wearer is very, very interesting. I loved Leah's reaction to the toile when she tried it on - she said it made her feel really strong. I think today is about that - it's about strength combined with femininity at the same time.

6 JUN 2012. 09:01

Q. How does your design process usually work? Do you start with references?
I'm not a massive researcher in my work. I tend to focus more on textiles. But I do collect some references for each collection - today's images come from a body of work I did a while ago and I didn't get to use them - so it's great to have the chance to use these images today.

6 JUN 2012. 09:01

Q. Why did you want to work with a dancer like Leah on this project?
Rose: It was all through SHOWstudio. But we are so glad to have met her. She's so great. We love her attitude. That's what we are all about - meeting new people.

6 JUN 2012. 09:01

Q. What was the inspiration behind today's outfits and creations?
Pheobe: It's a play on materials. I'm using a strong thick elastic in a feminine colour. And I'll also be using latex in a flesh tone. The whole point of the project is to work with the dancer and her movements.
Rose: Our designs are all about movement anyway. So this has been really fun.

6 JUN 2012. 08:04

Q. Do you wear your own designs?
Yes! We both are today - these rubber and muslin pieces.

Film Edit:
Technical Direction:
Editorial Direction:
Camera Assistance:
Camera Assistance:
Technical Assistance:
Design Assistance:
Sarah Burt, Bromleigh Budd, Lauren Selby and Joshua Beaty
Performance Music:
Milieu by Beats Antique and Grist by Drumcorps



LiveStudio: Faustine Steinmetz

12 October 2016
Sculpting Denim: Watch fashion designer Faustine Steinmetz in action as she crafts her bespoke denim and speaks in depth about her creative process and inspirations.

LiveStudio: Mary Katrantzou

06 December 2010
Designer Mary Katrantzou demonstrated her creative process (and flower arranging skills) live in our studio.

LiveStudio: Gareth Pugh

22 January 2010
Gareth Pugh took up residency at SHOWstudio to create a one-off garment live on camera.
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