The man who relaunched Ossie Clark tells Giselle Wainwright how M&S lured him from Israel and why he is focusing on his own label
How did you get into fashion?
I grew up in Israel and studied at the Shenkar College of Textile Technology and Fashion in Tel Aviv, where I ended up taking a placement in London at Marks & Spencer. That first experience was key to my understanding of the UK high street and London Fashion Week; it fuelled my knowledge and passion for the UK fashion industry. I went on to study at Central Saint Martins College where [fashion course director] Louise Wilson honed my talent and disciplined my creativity.
The list of names you’ve worked with is long and impressive. How did you come to work with them?
After graduating I did anything and everything I could in the industry, from working on the high street as a visual merchandiser to designing swimwear. I started customising T-shirts and selling them in Brick Lane, east London. Donna Karan became a fan and she employed me as a junior designer. I realised while working for her that what I was good at was working to a designer’s brief without compromising the nature of truly invigorating design. This in turn led to me working at Nicole Farhi, Chloé and Roberto Cavalli.
When you were offered the position as creative director to relaunch the Ossie Clark brand, you were relatively unknown. How did this come about?
By the time this happened I was working on my own label, Avsh Alom Gur. It was starting to sell well, I had a loyal customer base and the directional fashion press were featuring it regularly. Then the Ossie Clark opportunity presented itself.
You are now going to focus solely on your Avsh Alom Gur label. Did you feel it had been neglected?
Not at all. Luckily I had a fabulous design team that allowed my label to flourish while I nurtured the reborn Ossie Clarke. While I love to be working on many projects at any one time, I still need to be able to step back. This time the speed I work at will be slower. However, the design process will be deeper and more intellectual.
What can we expect from your label?
It will still be effortless and desirable clothing that women will covet. I will be reconsidering how I present it at this season’s London Fashion Week. I believe the communication of the final product is going to change within the industry. The way people want to receive information is changing and I want to be receptive to that. Therefore, I’m considering alternative formats, whether that be an exhibition, a multimedia presentation or an online idea.
Given the economic climate, how do you see your brand expanding?
It is important to me to keep my own atelier [work studio] for my idea development. I can also see the potential of gaining a knowledgeable and passionate business partner. I would also not rule out another consultancy position or the possibility of developing a more accessible version of the Avsh Alom Gur label.
What is your favourite shop? Uniqlo - I love the colours.
Who do you most admire? Nicole Farhi and Donna Karan (pictured), who contributed a lot to my career and inspire my design to this day.
What other ambitions do you have? Homeware, cosmetics, books - my list is endless. The ultimate would be to design the interior of a yacht, as that encompasses everything.
What is your favourite thing to do in London? I love to use the river boats as a method of transport as opposed to the Tube. They make me feel like I’m in Miami Vice (pictured).