The Made in Chelsea star tells Graeme Moran why anyone can get involved with designing her womenswear label ISWAI.
You have just launched clothing line ISWAI – tell us a about this.
Through [Made in Chelsea] I was approached to represent brands to boost their profile through the show, but I decided instead to turn that on its head, so to speak, and use my profile to boost other designers out there who otherwise might not be given the time. ISWAI stands for It Starts With An Idea, because that’s all it was. It’s exciting, as long as enough people understand what I’m trying to do, which is create an artistic hub that invites anyone who wants to be part of it.
How would you sum up the ISWAI style?
The ISWAI style is very free spirited, bohemian chic, or ‘dishevelled chic’ I like to call it. It’s about combining creativity with comfort. One doesn’t need to be uncomfortable to be fashionable as many often think! ISWAI’s attitude is about throwing stuff together, unplanned and spontaneous – but it just works.
Where did the name ISWAI come from?
I was thinking about names for so long, playing around with all sorts of stuff and making it overly complicated yet not grasping the concept of the brand. So I took it back to basics. What anything creative starts with - an idea - putting it in layman’s terms. Pleasingly it formed an acronym that sounds quite cool, even if you don’t know how to say it!
You ask people to submit designs, which you then use within the collection – why did you decide to do this?
Initially I did all the designs myself, but then this idea hit me to involve my fans, make it something people can be a part of. I saw it like a spider web, you start small and then it grows, that’s why our logo has a spider web effect.
Why do you believe in supporting new designers?
For me personally, I’m going into industries, being fashion, film and music that are notorious for being cut throat. You have to deal with so much rejection. It’s exhausting, most of the time no one wants to know. I think everyone deserves a break, an opportunity to say, “Hello, I’m here and this is what I can do!” So I’m just trying to do what I can to give a little platform.
Tell us about the T-shirt you designed – where did the idea come from?
I’ve always been fascinated by the universe and I came across this illustration by Sir Thomas Digges, which I thought was beautiful. The symmetry and the simplicity of something so grand and complex.
You are also creating an ISWAI jewellery collection, tell us about this.
My taste in jewellery is quite unique so I have been working with a designer who I think really grasps what my style is about. It’s things that you won’t find anywhere else: feather cuff earrings, hand chain bracelets, a combination of golds, silvers and crosses.
I want to create a set of summer dresses, which I have designed. Denim is going to feature heavily soon too, so that’s exciting.
Lots of reality TV stars launch fashion lines - what makes ISWAI different?
The difference is I’ve had no help. No established label that just pays me a licencing fee to use my name. The exciting thing is that although I’m ‘the sculptor’ of it, it’s essentially going to be moulded by every designer who gets involved. It’s more risky, but a whole lot more satisfying.
How much creative input do you have?
I’m in charge of everything that is done creatively. I come up with the concepts, the names, and the ideas. I obviously wouldn’t sell anything that I wouldn’t wear, or that I don’t think is in keeping with my sense of style.
You’ve said that ISWAI represents your style, how would you sum this up?
Dishevelled chic. I think it’s nice to save dressing up for events and parties, I couldn’t walk around in high heels. Plus I cycle everywhere, I don’t think it would be very practical.
What are your favourite brands or designers?
Zadig & Voltaire, Austique, Equipment and Alexander Wang.
Where are your favourite places to shop? What is the one shop you’ll always go back to?
Massimo Dutti. It’s so chic and reliable. Covent Garden and Portobello Road have long been hits with me, whenever I go to either I find something great.
What has been your biggest ever fashion splurge?
An Acne jumper for $350. I rarely spend a lot of clothes, it has to be something I can’t live without.
What is your top fashion tip?
Dress for you, not for others.
Who is your style icon?
Erin Wasson. I think she is so cool. And Kate Bosworth always gets it right. She is more put together though, which I’m not!
Who do you think has bad style?!
There’s a country that shares her name, and her second name rhymes with rice. I’m sure you can work it out.