When leaving Central St Martins, five years ago, Olivia Rubin was picked for the prestigious Press Show and gained much attention with a “standout collection”.
I remember very clearly the first time I saw Olivia’s famous brick print pieces – this was because I immediately fell in love with them. Her prints are always distinctive with beautiful colours – and she creates “fashionable yet timeless” which I really admire in a Designer.
Five years on she has seven fabulous seasons under her belt, cool collaborations with ASOS, Dorothy Perkins, Very.co.uk and a huge amount of fans including Fearne Cotton, Tess Daly and Una Healy.
So, it is a real pleasure to share this ‘Inspire Me’ interview with you…
Your brand won notoriety immediately on leaving Central St Martins – how did this come about and were you ready for all the attention ?
It was very competitive to get into the press show at CSM so out of hundreds of students I was obviously super chuffed just to make it that far. My final collection was based on art deco lesbians and teddy boys so it had a very significant hand writing. I think this drew in attention particularly to my ‘naked lady’ prints and that’s when I started to grow my name and portfolio.
Is your home full of bold colours and graphic prints?
Definitely not at the moment. My husband and I are in the process of moving but as soon as we get settled into a new home I have big interior design plans. I am envisioning bold colour and possibly some brick print wall paper !
Was it always your vision to become a fashion designer ?
As clichéd as it sounds it always was. I inherited my grandpa’s artistic flair at a very young age and was constantly painting and sketching. I even used to set up a little stall outside my parents house and sold some of my paintings, so I think the combination of creativity and business nous was present in my early teen years.
You use silk in lots of your garments – is it your favourite fabric to work with ?
Silk lends itself to bright colours and prints so it was the obvious fabric of choice to start with. It is also a very luxurious fabric that can be manipulated in a variety of ways so it is definitely one of my favourite fabrics to use and a garment in silk lasts forever !
Your prints are so eye catching. Do you use manual screen printing methods or Photoshop – and why ?
At CSM we were always encouraged to hand draw elements to start off with to give prints a unique hand writing. That method has stuck with me and I normally start off with some drawing or painting and then develop the patterns on Photoshop to give them a more intense dimension. It also completely depends on the print/look I’m trying to achieve-some of my prints are bold and graphic which lends itself to computer lead work, whereas others have a more organic feel so I try and limit the work on Photoshop so they retain a hand drawn feel.
I love your signature print and have several of the dresses ! Might you ever produce a homeware brick print range ?
Definitely ! I have been really keen to explore where my prints could go outside of the fashion realms so I am in talks with different areas and licensors to discuss potential opportunities. I think it’s a natural progression I have reached in my career.
You have worked with ASOS, Very.co.uk, Dorothy Perkins to name a few – Who else would you love to collaborate with ?
There’s a lot of other potential retailers I would love to collaborate with. I don’t want to stretch my brand too thinly though so I think for the moment I am focusing on exploring potential ranges outside of fashion, which could work with my prints.
Please can you offer some inspiring words for new designers ?
Take your time and stay focused on your goal. Work experience is key as it really gives you an insight into what area of fashion you really want to focus on. After interning at John Galliano I knew my strength and passion was print so I started to concentrate more on that side of my work. Then when the timing was right and the perfect opportunity came along to showcase my collection I went for it and have grown my brand since then.
Five years on – what would you say have been the highlights so far ?.. and where do you see your brand in another five years ?
So many highlights; showing at LFW, dressing Cheryl Cole, getting my first exclusive in Vogue, setting up my South Molton street showroom, working with some great companies and brands, meeting some life long friends, travelling, producing some key pieces….
The first 5 years was so focused on the fashion industry that I hope the next five I can take my prints and grow my brand into other areas and make my prints iconic while still retaining my presence within fashion.
Big thanks to Olivia for sharing some advice and her time.
I cannot wait for the homeware :) Do you have a favourite Olivia Rubin design ?
Please share the love by clicking on the links below xx
All images copyright Olivia Rubin 2013