Image: Lydia Garnett
February 01 2013
There are so many enjoyable things about being a
designer; the obvious seasonal rebirth process is like the rite of spring.
January 31 is D-Day, and we begin our spring/summer 2014 collection overview and
merchandising countdown in earnest. We function within a very strict timetable
in order to process new techniques, fabric ideas and design concepts in time
for the selling period, which begins in early June. Next week I will start to
travel across Europe to visit new makers and craftspeople who we have been sounding
out over the past few months. Today, working in a global market one has access
to so many new developments in terms of technology and manufacturing concepts.
I am always learning and thrive on creating a fusion between craftsmanship and
Summer collections are always a little more challenging to design. The fabric limitations and lack of layering possibilities mean that we have to be quite ingenious in creating desirable pieces that men can enjoy in the UK and in different climates such as Singapore and LA. Opening next month in La Brea, Los Angeles, is design atelier and store Altai. It will carry the Casely-Hayford SS13 collection next to brands such as Raf Simons, Dunhill and Christophe Lemaire, the Hermès designer. The space is the brainchild of the remarkable polymath designer Amaryllis Knight, co-founder of Falcon Motorcycles. We were first attracted to the backstory of Falcon and quickly empathised with its carefully considered concept.
Some time ago I was approached to become the subject of a Joe Casely-Hayford monograph and spent several months talking with the publisher and researching material. We have a good archive of clothing and information that reflects some of our extensive activity, from curating exhibitions to designing for ballet and film, working with Terence Conran on uniforms for The Boundary/Albion project and dressing seminal musicians. Eventually, I decided to take a break from the venture, but at the beginning of this year I was contacted by another publisher who rekindled my interest and today we meet for lunch at Rochelle Canteen in Shoreditch. The menu is always deliciously simple and guaranteed to include something that you won’t find at your local bistro – Tunworth bake anyone? The dish in question is a cheese, garlic and potato delight. Well, our lunch stimulated some thought and had me mentally delving back into my archive and thinking forward about the possibilities.
After a hearty lunch I catch up on the collection we design for John Lewis. I am the first menswear designer to be asked to join forces with them in this way, creating a high-quality, modern-classic wardrobe through a series of collaborations with some of the UK’s leading makers and heritage brands, such as Barbour, Liberty, Gloverall and the Abraham Moon woollen mill in Yorkshire. Today I aim to complete specifications for some new pieces we will produce together with the respected brand Henri Lloyd. Although the same attention to detail is applied, this John Lewis collaborative range is conceived and designed to appeal to a wider audience than the Casely-Hayford collection.
I shoot over to Chelsea, to the home of my big sister, Margaret, and her husband, Giles Quarme, the conservation architect. Over a glass of wine, Giles and I talk through a new interiors project we have in the pipeline. We have spent some time putting this together; it is unchartered territory for me, but the concept is strong and I feel comfortable working with Giles. Although Margaret is a lawyer she is always guaranteed to advise me on how to improve my designs. I laugh and say that 99 per cent of lawyers give the rest a bad name. Of course, she is in the minority.
Back home to catch up on a late-night session of the last four episodes of Borgen with Maria. We are hooked on this series, but can only watch it in chunks as time allows. We fall into bed around 2am.