Second Look | Lou Dalton talks influences, Gypsies and the time Present’s Steve Davies walked for her catwalk

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Second Look | Lou Dalton talks influences, Gypsies and the time Presents Steve Davies walked for her catwalk

The second look series rolls on with a look at British designer Lou Dalton. We talk about everything from her AW10 presentation to patchwork to one of her more notable ex catwalk models.

Take a leap to read the back and forth.

SL: Back when Style Salvage featured your AW10 collection you’d just missed out on a catwalk schedule spot for Menswear Day (mercifully, Fashion East stepped up to the plate and the collection became a highlight). In hindsight, was it a benefit to have that collection shown in a different environment to that of the runway, as it allowed people to really get up-close-and-personable and delve into the detailing of it all?

If Lulu and all at Fashion East hadn’t come to the rescue & offered us a slot at that time I don’t know what we would have done – I will be forever grateful to them. That collection was a turning point for us, the concept, the way it was executed & yes, the fact that it gave folk the opportunity to be up close & personal with the product itself. What we have tried to maintain since then is that, whatever the way we present the Lou Dalton collection, the surroundings are considered, the more intimate they are the better. The Salon show of AW11 & that of SS12 were as such that all though we sent the boys down a reduced form of a runway, the public were still able to see & relate to the product around them. I do find a Salon show a lot easier to orchestrate than a static presentation and I do try to make it feel as intimate as possible.

SL: Theres a discernable semi-rustic vagabond feel to the SS11 collection, now, theres always an intriguing acorn from which your collections grow, so what were the inspirations behind this one?

The SS12 collection was inspired by a number of things from romany gypsies, to Heathcliffe, the male lead in Wuthering Heights. A nomadic lifestyle that could take you from continent to continent & with a magpie’s eye picking up wonderful colourful things along the way.

SL: What are the key pieces that really tie the collection together?

The african prints, the raw edge jackets & trousers. I used old bike chains to create necklaces wrapped in colourful dutch wax cottons, there are so many things I love about this collection.

SL: The pass-me-down style patchwork that features heavily is a really eye-catching detail. What fabrics did you go with for that and whats the story behind the prints themselves?

I looked at a lot of old dutch wax cottons, mainly for the richness of the print & colours used, along with the glossy texture of the fabric. They felt so rich against the other cotton qualities I wanted to use, which looked almost poor in comparison. however when put together they complimented each other. The prints themselves emulated this nomadic free spirited individual that I tried to get across within the collection, they felt right & relevant to where I was at in terms of the design aesthetic.

In stark contrast to last years AW10, the AW11/12 collection comes across a lot more urbane and utilitarian harder, even. If AW10 was all about natural, folksy, cultural identity (the Bonnie Prince Billy / Highland Clans references), this one seems to exude a more calculated, ruthless, sense of arrogance.

Believe it or not I design with the same chap in mind every season. If you look back over these last 3 collections, each of the concepts brought to light show a courageous somewhat arrogant chap who against all the odds will fight for what he believes in. This current AW12 collection is just another spin on that same old theme. Yes it is a little more urban but, once again, this was very much a natural progression from SS as it should be.

SL: You’re really sticking it to winter this time round, eh?

I am very please with the outcome of this collection even more so now with Liberty placing an order. The design developments from the knitwear through to the woven tailoring are a particular favourite & do feel strong.

SL: The neckwear jewellery is an eye-catching addition to your work, what was the significance of those pieces in this collection?

I work with the wonderful stylist John McCarthy & the fabulous illustrator Ricardo Fumanal. Ricardo produced some amazing illustrations for the collection which were transformed into embroidery & printed artworks. A couple of the designs we felt would make beautiful jewellery pieces in the form of a brooch, necklace. John Whittles & asked a friend of his to collaborate with us on the jewellery. All of the pieces shown throughout the show are whittled out of pear wood. Love love love them all.

SL: We know that you’re itching to increase the global profile and accessibility of your brand (almost as itching as we are), so what news on the online store?

We are getting there, it has taken us a little longer than we had hoped mainly as we have been focussing on the sales & the manufacturing side of the business. With that now taken care of we hope to be able to launch the website properly by the beginning of September.

SL: And a little birdie tells us that Steve Davies (co-owner of Present) walked down the catwalk for your student show? So now we know the real power behind the throne?!

I have known Steve for many years, whilst I was a student at the Royal College of art. I was introduced to both Steve & Eddie via my dear friend, the Tailor Charlie Allen, who was my mentor during my time at the RCA. Although the college provided us with a selection of male models, a few of us menswear students at the time had very strong ideas on the kind of look we were trying to emulate throughout our wares, Steve kindly agreed to model & did so also for my designer friend Hamish Morrow, Hamish & I had a whole group of fierce looking stylish boys from Steve through to the artist George Shaw, one of which did a (lovely) hand gesture to the then prime minister’s wife Cherie Blair…

Words by Alex Jackson

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