Charlie May is a young designer who really cares about the small details, the cut and the feel, and produces garments that she can wear over and over. Here AnOther introduces her A/W12 collection and invites the designer to share her influences and inspirations.
Does your work reflect your personal style?
When I'm designing, I think a lot about what I like and what I expect from a garment, such as a certain length or where the pocket feels right. It's insightful wearing your own clothes to realise what improvements can be made. Other items I've designed purely from not being able to find anywhere, for example, that perfect shirt dress.
Are you inspired by fabrics first or do you design first?
The fabrics are the biggest inspiration for me; usually I will roughly sketch the collection before sourcing the fabrics, and then almost always the whole collection will be redrawn when I have a clearer idea of the material's purpose. I love using natural fibres such as silks, wools and leathers, in muted soft colour palettes so the focus is left on the design and cut of the piece.
"I'm more inspired by androgyny than the idea of femininity"
Your garments are architectural and minimal but the cut and lines are very feminine. Are there any female figures that inspire you when designing?
I'm more inspired by androgyny than the idea of femininity; I think my cut can be quite strict but that is softened by the use of fabrics. Tilda Swinton is a big inspiration to me, she's such a striking woman and can seem quite fierce, but she's clearly a softy too; I think my clothes are more like that.
You assisted Thomas Tait. What did you learn from him?
I learnt so much over the couple of seasons I was with him, mainly about having a clear vision of what you like and more importantly what you don't like. He's always stayed true to himself and has gained a loyal following because of it. I always hoped I could have the same direction, and I think I'm achieving that.
What do you hope to establish in the next couple of years?
Currently I'm focusing on going into production in the UK and learning everything new that comes from that. Over the next couple of years I want to grow and focus on building my brand. I enjoy showing unique, off-schedule presentations at London Fashion Week but am looking forward to the next steps to come.
Do you have a dream as a designer?
I wish more British designers made their garments in the UK, there should be a bigger demand for it.
Charlie May's A/W12 collection is stocked here.
Photography: Tatiana Leshkina
Styling & interview: Nobuko Tannawa
Hair: Louis Ghewy using Bumble & Bumble
Make-up: Sonia Bhogal using Sisley Paris
Stylist assistant: Katherine Whyte
Model: Ellen Pinaffi @ Union Models
All clothes by Charlie May
All shoes by Repetto