The director and designer of Darling tells Graeme Moran about her new label, Beloved, and her roots in indie retail.
You will unveil new brand Beloved at Pure London this month. Tell us about it.
We created Beloved as Darling’s sister label. It’s edgier and bolder for when the Darling girl is in a mischievous mood. We’ve created a great range of going-out pieces and day-to-night dresses. Darling and Beloved sit perfectly together. Both are feminine, unique and inspired by the vintage aesthetic. But while Darling’s look works brilliantly for daytime dressing, Beloved is a playful partywear label.
Tell us about Darling’s spring 13 collection.
We’ve experimented with a brighter palette so expect coral, turquoise and yellow, and our signature blush tones and chic neutrals. Longer-length pencil skirts and fitted dresses are key as is knitwear with a home-spun feel. Statement pieces include a ruffled coral party dress with a crystal-embellished neckline, a 1950s-inspired floral-print dress, and a contrast-lace biker jacket.
What’s next? Menswear?
Expanding the accessories line to include costume jewellery. Customers have asked if we make our embellished collars as standalone pieces and this would be a natural progression. Menswear? Well, our Beloved girl might get a boyfriend!
You started out running your own womenswear indie, Leila, which has three stores in north London. Why did you move into design?
As an indie, I spent many years sourcing brands for my stores, but I felt there was a lack of choice. Also, working on the shop floor gave me the opportunity to understand my customer. Drawing on this experience inspired me to launch my own brand.
Do you prefer designing your own brands or running your stores?
The experience I’ve gained from both businesses has given me great insight into the industry right from the source to the end user. I love everything I do and feel so fortunate.
Would you ever open standalone stores for Darling?
Absolutely! I feel it’s key for the future of the brand and to reinforce our identity. I’m as passionate about retail as I am about design, so for me the two go hand in hand. We’ve worked hard to expand the range by introducing accessories and adding Beloved to the family, so the time feels right. We’re on the lookout for the right location for a flagship Darling/Beloved store in London.
Darling has seen great success since it launched in 2008. What’s your secret?
There are no shortcuts. My secret is hard work, single-minded vision and a love for what I do.
What has been your career highlight?
Winning the Womenswear Brand of the Year award at the Drapers Fashion Awards 2011.
What other indies do you admire?
Am I allowed to say Leila? Only joking … I like The Women’s Society [in Hertford] and The Lilac Room [in Hastings].