We’ve been following CHARLOTTE TAYLOR closely, from the start of her journey to preparing her first ever collection and have attached ourselves to this girl’s ethos, which seemed to signify everything that Sketchbook has embraced since the beginning. From the start, Taylor has been transparent in documenting and sharing her experiences on her blog of pulling a 30-piece collection from start to finish; from putting together to-do lists of unfinished tasks to scouting out fabrics in the middle of nowhere to incidents as small as receiving the wrong tags from Mr. Label.
To those who don’t know Charlotte, a graduate of Central Saint Martin’s, she worked at the currently ‘deceased thanks to the recession brand’ LUELLA, which she said played a big part in understanding the importance of building a consistently strong brand and developing her own, from details as small as creating a personal font to stationary and building a clear identity of herself, to obviously some of the design skills she learned during her time there. She was absolutely gutted when she heard the great British label went under as not only were they wonderful clothes, but a wonderful team as well.
It’s now been 6 months since she first launched her blog and so when we finally found out we would get a chance to preview her debut collection during London Fashion Week S/S 2010 at VFS (that we had become so intrinsically attached to), it was only natural to meet her again and find out what inspired her collection, what makes her tick and those little in between quirks (referencing trashy grannies in your collection would be categorised as such!) that make Charlotte Taylor, well, Charlotte Taylor.
What made you decide to start your own collection?
I guess it was a number of things at the time. I’ve always wanted to do my own thing and I got to a point in my life where I felt like I wasn’t doing anything that was really hard work. And I found a guy to do the business side and give me advice on that and help me with that stuff and I managed to secure the funding for the initial stages and I was really craving a challenge and I was sort of, I was very happy at that moment. Everything was just a bit too “fine”. I had a 9-5 job, my house was really great, all of my friends were around me, it was really just a bit too easy, I’m not really good at that… I need a challenge.
What was the inspiration for the collection?
The collection is inspired by trashy grannies, penguins and the eccentric within. I take aspects from all of these. Colour, shape, fabric, story etc…The clothes do not look like they have been swiped from a granny’s back; they just have hints of it.
I got a very personal feel from your blog; what do you feel that adds to the brand? Why did you decide to do it that way?
I don’t know. I really don’t think I could have done it any other way. It wasn’t like when I set out writing the blog I decided that I was going to try to do it this way, or do it that way, it sort of just grew. And I think a lot of it, I’m quite relaxed with it, I try to crack a few gags. That was never intentional in the beginning. I’m one of those people that really random stuff happens to. My life day to day is not typically normal. Random stuff just always happens and I don’t think it would have had any content if I didn’t put that in there. I’m not a very serious person. I take what I do very seriously but I’m always falling over or laughing. I t just lets people relate with me and see what inspires me.
You’ve documented your entire collection from start to finish on your blog. How has that helped, or hindered? What’s been the response?
It’s definitely helped. I guess the only hindrance is finding the time to do it. And sometimes I don’t keep up at all. But mostly I think it’s been a massive help, with all the publicity that comes with it, and also developed into more my life and where I go. It’s always been really important to me that my brand has a real familiarity to it. It’s really small and really personal and sort of developing really slowly and the blog sort of supports that in a way. I think it’s very specific about what the brand is about, where I get my inspirations from, what kind of person I am, what kind of a designer I am.
How was the Vauxhall Fashion Scout experience for you?
It was great. It was a massive learning experience. VFS is really structured, and business oriented. They’re really there to see you grow; and the two guys, John and Mark, are so nice. Its not like they don’t know your name or anything. They know each designer and they spend time with you and they know your story. I guess on the whole it was just really great. It was the first time I had ever been daunted by what I was doing. When I arrived at Freemason’s Hall and everyone was there; big bouncers at the door, while I was there with my bags and my ironing board and they wanted to know who I was. I had to convince them I was a designer. It was really daunting.
How has the response been since you’ve had your show?
Really good! A lot of people said it was really different, especially with the colours. I think it’s been great, especially on the blog and with people who have done features on me. I don’t have anything to compare it with since I’ve never done this before. But I think on the whole it’ been quite positive. I haven’t gotten much negative feedback. Obviously some people won’t like it, but I mean, you can’t please everybody.
What’s with the penguins?
It actually started with this whole granny obsession thing then it kind of developed into penguins. It’s the way they move, its sort of like old ladies. It’s been my brother’s favorite animal since he was young, and one of mine as well. It’s the sort of humor, of penguins sort of falling over, with their small legs, and its really hard for them to walk around. It’s my sense of humor, really simple. And when they fall over, it will make me laugh until I cry. I don’t know, I just love it. I really love the shapes, and the colors.
What came first, the grannies or the penguins?
Do you just have a thing for grannies?
I do. It started with my grandmother’s face. She’s got the wrinkliest face ever, wrinkles all over. I used to paint when I was younger and I was always just fascinated by crinkly faces. I never liked smooth skin. And then there’s this artist Jenny Saville who painted in very similar ways to what I was interested in. She was all about painting fat babies and old bodies and just sort of ugly paintings.
So what’s next?
With the business I would like to be selling worldwide and have opened at least one stand-alone CHARLOTTE TAYLOR shop. I would like to have done a couple of collaborations with brands. Fred Perry or a similar sports brand would be great as well as potentially children’s wear and leather goods (although I hope to develop these within my own label). On a personal level I would like to own my own house. I desperately would like a campervan and an old school Mercedes SL and to be able to travel to at least 1 new country per year.
Visit Charlotte’s blog here.
Text by ELIZABETH PASQUALE
Images courtesy of CHARLOTTE TAYLOR