“My clothes are never going to make you feel thinner or younger, but they are going to make you look cooler,” Louise Gray tells Interview in her strong Scottish accent. She’s known for her psychedelic jigsaws of print, pattern and woven textiles that are a melting pot of color. Gray’s designs are craft in a pure form, rejecting digital prints for carefully designed fabrics that are as detailed as they are audacious. Five years into designing her eponymous label, this August Gray is collaborating with UK high street kingpin Topshop on a makeup collection.
Originally from the Scottish countryside, Gray makes clothes that exude metropolitan London and New York style. “I grew up in rural Scotland, and my first childhood house was in the middle of four fields, we were really cut off from everything, so the only way I saw fashion was through magazines and TV,” she says. After completing an art foundation and a degree in Scotland, Gray then headed to London. “I only applied to Central Saint Martins when I finished at The Glasgow School of Art because I knew that was the only place that I wanted to go,” Louise remembers. “I think it is hilarious now how driven I was, but I guess I knew the things that I wanted and just did them.”
Gray’s designs are driven by color and fabric not silhouette. Gray says, “The shapes are very plain: a shirt, a dress—it’s not like some big hoo-ha, the hoo-ha is the textile and the fact that it is bright, and young, and fun. I don’t think it is a difficult product.” The designer is influenced by London, New York, the ’80s, club kids, and nightlife. Her color combinations can be complex, but the shapes are simple. For example, Gray’s Fall/Winter 2012 collection was mostly uncomplicated shifts, skirt suits and tea-dresses that brimmed with the zigzagging prints, layered fabrics and clashing colors, topped off with soaring headpieces.
Each season Gray’s fabrics and color combinations becoming more complex. “People say to me, ‘How do I digest it? How do I wear it?’ and I am like, you don’t have to wear the tights, the boots and the whole matching thing, but you can wear the dress however you want. It is a dress and it’s banging, so just wear it.”
Regardless of her success she is plagued by the worries that affect all young designers. “I don’t know if it is because I am getting older and I am wondering what’s next,” Louise confides. “There is such a drive for in London (which is great and the reason why we love it), but there needs to be some consideration for continuing support. Otherwise, it feels like a factory where people just fall off the end if they don’t make it.”
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