Unlike the trend-focused media frenzy surrounding most designers, Phoebe English is quietly eccentric – not in her street style (a concept beyond boring), but in her – gasp – ideas. With needle and thread, she builds witty concepts. We ask the designer just how she got to where she is, and how she created a glass bead globe for Dover Street Market.
How did you decide to pursue fashion design?
It was a series of fatalistic events really alongside a long standing interest in it, I first started to apply to drama schools and then after being unsuccessful decided to do fashion, after getting into Central Saint Martins I just carried on doing it. The label didn’t come into life until I met my business partner Rose Easton and we set up the company together.
What is your process from concept to creation?
Everything just starts out as a bit of imagination then everything from that point consists of trying, failing trying, failing, trying, trying, trying and trying until you get to the right ending!
Do abstract touches, like the mouth pieces in your last collection, influence the path of your designs?
Yes they do lead the path of the designs very much, they are often the first things that I arrive at and often the clothes come after this initial and central visual statement.
Do you find your designs are very textile-focused, especially as a womenswear focused designer?
The collections are always about trying to strike an equal balance between textiles and cut and sew womenswear pieces, it is often quite hard to split my mind in half to develop both these sides but as they both serve equal importance in the final spectacle it is very important.
So, what made you decide to create this glass globe?
I wanted to make something that referenced the blue prints of the womenswear collections but was the label reimagined into a large object, it was about filling the space in a dramatic but sympathetic way, the viewer can walk around all sides to examine its surface.
Are intricate and highly specified inspirations, like the Astrolabes, prevalent in all of your work?
Yes I suppose so, its often about finding very differing routes of inspirations and juxtaposing them in interesting ways.
The process sounds very intricate – can you explain how your team managed to create it?
It was a long process of hours and hours of hand sewing and complicated geometry and maths to get the grids to hug the dome in a tight and fitted way so it could look like a solid floating object.
What is the meaning behind leaving cotton threads exposed, as a ‘reminder of its construction’?
The cotton threads were all used to stitch the piece together so leaving them in evidence and not trimming them off to tidy them up was a reference to the piece being constructed by hand, they are left hanging as if the piece has only just been finished.
What does the future hold for Pheobe English?
We are working on the next fashion film, and some really exciting commissions and projects for exhibitions and events.
And finally, tea or coffee?
The Phoebe English installation is displayed from May at Dover Street Market
Words: Elise Marraro (follow Elise on Twitter: PardonMe_Lissie)