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Hannah Marshall

The womenswear designer is softening her spring 11 collection in a bid to make it more commercial.

Hannah Marshall is best known for her fierce, black, highly sculptured womens-wear designs, but in a controversial move the designer is making a sharp departure almost as pointed as her favourite pitched shoulders.

In her spring 11 collection, which debuts at London Fashion Week today, Marshall will be using colour as part of a move to make her contemporary couture aesthetic more commercial.

The designer played with dashes of purple and white in her spring 10 collection but spring 11 marks a move towards brightening up her offer. It might not sound a big deal but for Marshall, who has not really deviated from a black palette since launching her label in autumn 07, using colour along with more wearable designs marks the next phase in the label’s development.

Marshall’s designs have been championed by models and pop stars alike and shot for endless glossy magazine editorials. Marshall herself was selected as a rising star in the Drapers 30 under 30 list of rising talent this year - not bad for a designer who is just 28 and has produced just three catwalk collections.
Despite her notoriety among edgy east London fashion circles, something that sets Marshall apart from many of her young design peers is that she combines skilled craftsmanship with business acumen. She graduated from Colchester School of Art and Design with a degree in fashion design in 2003, and during her studies worked on the shopfloor of premium Colchester indie Turners, where she assisted with the buying of brands such as Valentino, Chloé and Ghost, giving her an insight into how a designer label can achieve commercial success.

After graduating she took 18 months out to research the market before setting up her label. “I worked for designer Jonathan Saunders, did business courses and entrepreneurship programmes,” she says.

Taking care of business

Marshall takes the development of her business seriously and has a few carefully crafted plans up her sculptured sleeves to boost awareness of and accessibility to her label, which at present has just one UK stockist, Harrods. “The bigger picture is to become a global brand,” she says. “My ultimate goal is to work with investors to grow the brand.”

Marshall is not afraid of shedding the elitist perception that comes with catwalk collections and is launching separates including jackets, trousers and bodysuits for spring 11. Wholesale prices have yet to be finalised but for autumn were between £89 and £649. She doesn’t want to give too much away ahead of the LFW show but says: “Black is the most powerful colour and is empowering for women. I like to stick to my guns but I’ll incorporate colour in my own way.”
She adds that the collection will be “minimalist and stripped away”, an aesthetic achieved through a mixture of softer fabrications such as suedes and silks and minimal precision cutting.

“The collection’s got a nice balance,” she says. “It’s not as hard as previous seasons. It’s quieter but is still strong and elegant.”

Hannah Marshall 020 7249 5664

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