The 2006 Project Catwalk winner tells Emma Ciufo about how her stint on reality TV put her design career in the spotlight.
What was the biggest thing you learnt from your time on Sky One’s Project Catwalk show? It gave me a platform to start from and made me realise how far I could push myself. Being a northern designer [Doyle is from Liverpool] it was great to gain national exposure. I had my own business before the show, but it’s competitive for young designers and it has been important to maintain the contacts I made.
Tell us about your shop, the Kirsty Doyle store. I opened the Kirsty Doyle store at the Metquarter centre in Liverpool in August and I think of it as a luxurious concept store that is also very quirky. The first floor carries my ready-to-wear clothing and my lingerie line [Kiki by Kirsty Doyle], and then accessories and lifestyle items from other designers. The second floor is for private appointments. It’s got the feel of an apartment and you can have tea or coffee at your leisure – we try to make shoppers comfortable rather than overwhelming them like some high-end designer stores can do.
Why did you open it in Liverpool rather than London? It’s a very supportive city. I’m from there, and the people are interested in how my company has grown. We have stockists in London and sell online via My-Wardrobe, so I feel like we have all our bases covered.
What are your thoughts on exhibiting or showing at London Fashion Week? We were offered a stand at London Fashion Week but it was around the time we were opening the store. We wanted to focus on doing one thing really well, so for now it is the store but I think we’ll do something at LFW in February.
When and why did you decide to launch a lingerie line? Kiki by Kirsty Doyle will be one year old in October. It wasn’t a massive leap for me as I think of it more as loungewear. I design a lot of evening dresses and these pieces stem from that. The designs are in similar shapes but softer fabrics than the ready-to-wear. I’m inspired by black and white 1930s movies when women waltz down the stairs in amazing gowns, so I wanted my loungewear to capture that glamorous feel, with full sleeves, lots of volume and lots of fabric.
How do you see your brand growing? As a young designer getting so many great offers in terms of stockists, I need to ensure that the quality of my work stays the same. We have buying appointments with three major stores, which we’ve been working towards for years, so that’s really important, but I’m interested in building on relationships with our existing stockists, such as London lingerie boutiques Apartment C and Coco de Mer and My-Wardrobe too.
What does the future hold? I’m focusing on the store and looking for more London stockists. Going forward, I want to expand internationally in the Republic of Ireland and the US and build stronger relationships with buyers. For spring 10 you can expect a harder edge, with a bit more rock ’n’ roll.
Kirsty Doyle was the winner of reality show Project Catwalk in 2006. She has her own ready-to-wear and lingerie brands
What’s your favourite fashion era?
I love the 1930s and 1940s for the glamour.
Who is your favourite designer?
I like lots, but if I had to say just one it would be Balenciaga.
Who is your style icon?
Karl Lagerfeld. If I could dress like him everyday, I think I would.
What’s your favourite item in your wardrobe?
My Jessica dress from my autumn 09 range. It’s a 1940s-inspired cream dress, cut close to the body in wool jersey.
- Kirsty Doyle was the winner of reality show Project Catwalk in 2006. She has her own ready-to-wear and lingerie brands