Thursday, 2 May 2013

Designer Spotlight Fiona Somerville

I came across Edinburgh based Fiona Somerville quite by accident and I couldn't be happier that I did. A local designer that specialises in luxury chunky knitwear? HELLO. I spend half my life (under-exagerating) huddling in a variety of jumpers, coats and cardis and Somerville's luxury knitwear with her skillfull use of draping and layering  just ticks an awful lot of boxes for me (especially that little striped number..I mean COME ON.) Naturally I need to ask all the things.

First things first - tell me about your background: 
I am originally from Falkirk, moved to Edinburgh in 2008 and graduated from Edinburgh College of Art with a BA Honours degree in Fashion in 2011. I live with my boyfriend and our fat cat Betsy, I work between my flat and the little studio I rent at the Arts complex here in Edinburgh.

Having gained lots of interest in my graduate year and at London Graduate Fashion Week I was also a winner of the Scottish Cashmere Club competition 2011. Having developed one of my oversized embellished cardigan designs, I worked with Hawick Knitwear and manufactured my design with the factory in the borders. Since graduation I have furthered my experience and worked in various design roles and with the high end cashmere label Belinda Robertson developing skills in E-commerce, marketing and wholesale. I am now pushing my fashion label to the next stage, developing my e - commerce platform through my website which I hope to have up and running by summer 2013 and will be selling through various online boutiques in the near future. 
I like to design feminine, desirable and flattering garments for every woman to lust for. Combining my Scottish heritage with cutting edge contemporary fashion I strives to create a luxe product that will catch your eye from across a room, a garment that you just cannot resist! Combining heavy piles of embellishment, with flattering cutting, draping and luxury knitwear is my design ethos.

Tell me a bit about your latest collection: 
My latest collection is all about simplicity and layering. Using luxe fabrics with clean long lines and layering these key pieces with heavier textures and introducing key patches of embellishment. The colour palette is influenced by Manhattan at night and the different colours, shapes and glamour that oozes from the skyline as the thousands of lights are switched on. 

You specialise in luxury knitwear - was there anything in particular that drew you to working with it: 
 I chose to specialise in luxury knitwear mainly because I love it! Considering its pretty damn cold in Scotland 80% of the year it also made sense. I love the shapes and drapes you can make with a knit, and with it being a good sturdy texture to work with this makes for a perfect embellishment surface. What a combination!

What (or indeed who) would you say are the biggest influences on how you design - why: 
 I would say the weather, I think this is why I never design too summery and why I love to style with layering!

My favourite designer has got to be Dries Van Noten. I think his designs are so beautiful and I would love to work with him if even for a day. I am drawn to his collections every season because of his clash of fabrics and mixture of separates in unusual ways. As a designer I love to experiment with a mix of textures, smart and casual and bit of androgyny. I think this is why I am drawn to the label.

Could you talk me through your design process (from conception to actually creating the garment): 
I work best when I work fast, I sketch quickly and loosely with suggestions of colour or embellishment and then move straight to toiling up an idea. I cut a lot of corners to get the shape just right and then I go back to create patterns neatly. 

Do you pay attention to trends or do you feel you follow your own formula: 
I tend to follow my own formula and just design what feels right. .I love looking at current catwalk collections so I am undoubtedly influenced in some way but I don't go out of my way to fit in with 'trends'
Do you have any favourite pieces you've designed: 
 All of my big chunky knitted coats have a soft spot in my heart - this is probably because I know the hours that have gone into them. I love the long evening gowns I created for Edinburgh Online fashion week too - even better these worn together. 
You focus on creating heritage designs with an edge - how important do you feel it is to produce within Scotland:
I am certainly always conscious of this, we have huge resources on our door step and I want to utilise these skills and use scottish product where possible.  I am always on the look out for groups and organisations to help make it possible to produce within Scotland. 

My favourite part. QUICK FIRE.

3 words to describe your design aesthetic: Opulence, Textured, Glamorous

Tartan or tweed: Tweed

Mohair, cashmere or angora: Cashmere

Chunky or fine (knit): Chunky

Pugs or Dachshunds: Dachshunds

Bruce Campbell or Bruce Lee: Bruce Campbell

Jammy dodgers or Jaffa cakes: Jaffa Cakes 

Somerville is a total hidden gem of the Scottish fashion scene and I've fallen head over heels with her knitwear. Bold colours, embellishment and draping? GURL. Just everything that's going on here. Definitely a name to keep an eye out for. 

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