Meet Charlie May the 24 year-old London based designer. She graduated from the University of the West of England in 2010 with a BA (hons) in Fashion Design, and achieved her London Fashion Week debut with her own label at such a young age. Presenting her first full Spring-Summer 2012 women’s ready-to-wear collection. Ms. May’s designs are a reflection of her passion for fashion which she combines with minimalism, precise interesting tailoring and impeccable finishing to clothing. In addition, her designs are freshly charming with simple silhouettes that slip on your body with elegance.
RH: You were born and raised on a farm in the South West of England. How did you manage to make the transition to fashion designer esp. at such a young age?
CM: I was totally unaware of fashion until college, I loved shoes and was planning to open a shoe shop, so started a business course. It was then I started getting into Riot Grrl music and DIYing my clothes, I very quickly realised I needed to switch to Art & Design, specialising in Fashion and fell more and more in love!
RH: Tell us about your design process from beginning to end and what is a typical day for you?
CM: My day really varies depending on the stage of the season! The design process for a collection starts usually in the middle of creating the last one; I think about it a lot, the colour palette, the fabrics, the whole mood, and then about 3 months before fashion week and start designing and buying the fabrics. The fabrics then need to be dyed, I toile for a couple of months until the garments are spot on and then start working with my seamstress. The original design sheet usually ends up quite different as I chop and change a lot as I go on, the styling is also changed around before the presentation.
RH: How do you select your fabrics, before or after you draw your collection? And what you look for when choosing a fabric?
CM: I love using naturals fabrics; silks, wools and leathers are my favourite! I’ll loosely design the collection, then buy the fabrics and re draw, letting the newly bought fabrics inspire the designing. As soon as I feel the fabric, I know the purpose they should have.
RH: What does fashion mean to you? And do you have any other passions besides fashion?
CM: Fashion is all about design to me personally. A garment that makes you ask how it was made and the story behind it. My other passions are travel and photography which I share through my blog Girl a la Mode.
RH: What part of your job do you like the best? and Least?
CM: Seeing your garments being worn and loved is the absolute best feeling in the world! Also seeing them in editorials in a completely different context is a great feeling. I dislike the struggle for funding; as creating a collection is a huge money vacuum, but that is to be expected.
RH: Do you remember your very first sale?
CH: Yes of course! I got an overwhelming response for the gold studded pony skin headbands from SS12 which I saw being worn around London fashion week!
RH: What’s the biggest, most important lesson your parents taught you?
CH: Work hard for what you want.
RH: What 5 words would best describe your brand?
CM: Minimal, clean, textured, androgynous and effortless,
RH: How would you define your style? If you could give women a fashion tip(s) to be fabulous, what would it be?
CM: Quite minimal and clean but tailored as well. I believe a woman looks more chic when she is comfortable with herself so don’t choose shoes you can’t walk in or a skirt that’s too short because it will show. Just be comfortable with who you are!
RH: Who would you most like to see wearing your clothes?
CM: Tilda Swinton!
RH: Who is your style icon(s) and why?
CM: I take a lot of style inspiration from bloggers; here are some of my favourites – Ivania of Love Aesthetics, Jayne of Stop It Right Now, Josefin of Fashion Sphere
RH: What are your goals with your brand? How do you see yourself progressing?
CM: I hope to show on schedule at fashion week and be selling in boutiques worldwide, when I get there, I’ll be happy.
RH: Do you have any any hidden or unusual talents?
CM: I can bend my arms back pretty far, I guess that’s just a talent for creeping people out.
RH: What’s your favorite getaway spot? And where would you like to live other than London?
CM: I love to getaway to my hometown in Devon, on the farm and in the countryside, it’s my happy place! I wouldn’t want to live in London forever, but I wouldn’t want to go back to Devon either; I’ll have to do some more traveling to find out.
RH: Is there anything you’d like to share with us about upcoming project(s)?
CM: Nothing I can talk about yet but watch this space for some exciting collaborations!
PS: All images here are used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the designer.