14 June 2009

Luella Bartley

Luella Bartley inspires envy for having the perfect life. With three children, an idyllic home in Cornwall and surfer photographer partner David Sims, she also runs an uber-successful fashion label.
Her life seems laced with serendipity - the invaluable induction into fashion journalism on the Evening Standard, Vogue, The Face and Dazed & Confused that led her back to her first love of design, then a catwalk debut in 2000 supported financially by the backing of a close friend. Sounds perfect.

Think of a nice, polite, knee-length dress you might find a rather mature royal wearing to a garden party, add an ample amount of sickly sweet confectionary colour, then look at it through psychedelic tinted glasses, give it a matching handbag, shoe and hat and this season's character is born.
Pink, purple, lilac, orange all done to punk proportion. This is cute and proper to the point of subversion; from the pink velvet tatler bow right at the top of the rock Sloane quiff down to the paneled tweed and lace skirt suit, and to the multi-coloured heart fronted heel at the bottom.
On first glance everything is rather proper, with bow fronted blouses, pleated skirts and mini, structured queen mum bags but there's a strange, wonky undertone. Things aren't quite present and correct.

After several years pursuing her options at St Martins, Luella Bartley finally settled on the path of journalism. Leaving college for a job in the fashion dept at the Evening Standard, until a job at British Vogue called. There she happily stayed for two years before her true calling took hold and she left to set up her own label.
Her launch season SS'00 was a very British inspired collection entitled 'Daddy I Want a Pony', shown at her friend's flat [Steve Mackay - bassist from Pulp]; it was hard to tell who were the guests and who were the models. Although small and low key, a spark had been ignited with the press, buyers and London's in crowd who were all keen for more. The following season Luella came back with 'Daddy Who Are The Clash'. A chat with Paul Simonon post-show provided Luella with a quote which would go on be a huge inspiration "Pink is the only true rock and roll colour".
The SS01 collection entitled 'Dial F for Fluro' catapulted brand awareness to an international level. Supers, such as Kate and Kirsten Owen, modelled graffiti dresses that were still being sprayed with cans as the girls lined up backstage. Now being hailed as London’s hot young designer Luella took a risk and started what she now refers to as The Luella Roadshow, taking her team and shows first to Milan for AW01 and then to New York for SS02. It was a risk that paid off and Luella proved herself to be a Young British Designer who could take on the big boys at their own game, on their home turf. Global distribution soon followed for both ready-to-wear and accessories - it was not long before Luella made a triumphant return to London in September 2007, coinciding with the launch of her first flagship store on Brook Street, Mayfair.
2008-2009 have also been an incredible couple years for Luella, seeing the brand win four 'Designer of the Year' awards, including the British Fashion Council’s prestigious "Designer of the Year" in November 2008, having been nominated previously for two consecutive years. With a book and exciting new launches planned for the end of the year, roll on the rest of 2009…

Loved for a fun but distinctly wearable aesthetic, recent inspirations include Wicker Man and Ghostworld.

Now dividing her time between London (where she has a store on Brook Street) and Cornwall, Bartley collaborated with surf brand O’Neill for spring/summer. After showing in New York for six and half years, Luella returned to London September 2007 and stays put for spring/summer 2009.

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