We caught up with designer Isabel Manns before her London Fashion Week presentation. We discussed her previous career at Burberry, sustainability and of course, the inspiration behind her upcoming AW20 collection.
Tomi: Your AW20 Collection is inspired by the huge rocks in the Costa Brava region in Northern Catalonia. What are the special qualities about this place that helped inspire the collection?
Isabel: I was there on holiday with my family and we took a boat trip. As we were passing the rocks I felt a huge wave of inspiration and so as soon as I got back to the hotel I started painting, which was the first step towards designing the prints.
T: When creating your collection is there a particular type of person you envision wearing one of your pieces?
I: Yes, I am always thinking about my customers and listening to what they would like to see. It is important for me that the clothes are items that I would wear as well as any other age group.
T: If you could have one of your pieces worn by an icon or celebrity from a previous era, who would it be and why?
I: It would be either Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly, as I love both their timeless styles and the way that they accessorized each of their outfits.
T: What steps are you taking to ensure that your collection is as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible?
I: All of the clothes are made in the UK and we source as much as we can from Britain or European countries. Even our labels and hangtags are made in the UK!
As the clothes are reversible it means that you get “two in one,” with one side being print and the other side being a plain colour, which further increases the versatility of the clothes. We hope that this will reduce people’s consumption of clothing as our clothes are designed to last a lifetime.
We also work with seamstresses who are just as conscious about waste as we are. We work together to make sure that we are minimising our fabric waste as much as possible. Any leftover fabric is then used to make scarfs. We are now also using more sustainable fabrics such as recycled wool and viscose.
T: What did working at Burberry teach you about design and how do you implement now with your own brand?
I: I worked with the buying team at Burberry and we visited all the stores in London to see what was selling well or not selling and why. I work to try and implement some of the lessons that I learned and instill the same mindset into my clothing: timeless, British made fashion.
T: Who are your favourite female designers at the moment?
I: Temperley London, Emilia Wickstead, Mary Katrantzou, Tanya Taylor, Lela Rose and Carolina Herrera.
T: How has both London and New York influenced your brand?
I: I think due to my prints I am definitely a London designer. However, my time in New York taught me to design for people who also need comfort and who live a fast paced life. I love designing dresses that can be dressed up for the evening or put on with some trainers. I find this is a very New York style!
T: How do you set the mood when creating a new collection? (Do you play music, light candles, design in a bright room etc)
I: When I am designing the styles and prints I get comfortable and put on my favourite playlist that always consists of Florence and the Machine!
T: What is your ideal vacation?
I: I love going to places where I can visit a historic city or town but then also be close enough to a beach or lake. I am going to Lisbon in March, which I am very excited about.
T: When you get a minute to pause, what do you like to do for self care?
I: On weekends I like going for long walks around London and to be a tourist in my own city. I also visit my parents who live in Herefordshire. It is such a relaxing place, surrounded by nature and so it is a great way to recuperate.