I know, right? As interviewees go, Giles Deacon is a pretty big cheese. Actually scratch that. As people in the fashion industry full stop go Giles is an important one. I suspect you know as much about the designer as I do, if not more, but just in case I’ll tell you a little about him and his career so far before we get on to the interview. Giles Deacon exploded onto the fashion scene in 1992 with a Central Saint Martins graduate collection that landed him a job with Jean Charles De Castelbajac in Paris. Since then he has worked for the likes of Bottega Venetta and Tom Ford at Gucci before launching the eponymous, insta-hit, award winning label we all know and wish we owned pieces of. On top of all this, Giles has also found time to do everything from concocting high street capsule collections to starring on Britain’s Next Top Model and his latest side project even sees him giving Müller’s yogurt pots a fash-over!
I caught up with the designer to talk career highlights, style icons and all the bits in between…
LPA: From designing for Jean Charles de Castelbajac straight out of Central Saint Martins then moving on to Bottega Venetta before being scooped up by Tom Ford to work with him on Gucci womenswear, your early career seems something of a baptism of fire into the world of high fashion. How did you cope with launching straight into all of that? Were there ever times you just thought, “oh God, take me back to Cumbria!” or did you love it from the word go?
GD: Loved it from word go, it was an amazing opportunity to work with such an iconic fashion designer. I learnt a huge amount and we remain good friends.
LPA: What were the most valuable lessons you gained during those experiences and how do you feel they influenced you after setting up your own brand in 2004?
The most important lesson I’ve learnt is to work hard and be nice to people. This on the whole seems to have paid off as you never know who you are going to meet going up or going down in this business.
LPA: Your debut solo collection in February 2004 was styled by Katie Grand, walked in by a coterie of supers and hailed by critics. It would be tempting to assume that all has been plain sailing for Giles Deacon but I suspect that’s not the case and some say we learn more from our failures than our successes (I remain dubious about this). When have things gone well and truly tits up and how did you deal with it?
GD: To get any new business underway is a phenomenal amount of work and from a dedicated team it is impossible to do alone. Favours from old friends such as Karen Elson and Katie Grand were instrumental in getting me to this point. When things do go wrong, I try to deal with them in a sane way and find the best way to move on.
LPA: I know there’s no such thing as a “typical day” in fashion but what does a day in the Giles studio look like during the run up to fashion week and how does it compare to a non fashion week day in terms of sheer insanity?
GD: In the run up to the show I am generally in the studio at 8am with back to back fittings, production, lighting, casting and director meetings to maintain the focus of the show. I try to keep insanity to a minimum but there are always some surprises that are guaranteed to appear!
LPA: The phrase “style icon” is bandied about a lot these days. Who, if anyone, do you feel truly deserves to be called iconic and why?
GD: Lauren Bacall, she lived an extraordinary varied and diverse life, was married to phenomenally interesting men, has been in some of the most impressive important movies in history and always maintained a style that can’t be copied.
LPA: In 2011 you took part in Channel 4 programme New Look Style The Nation having appeared as a judge on Britain’s Next Top Model the year before. How do you find being in front of the camera as opposed to dressing those in front of it? Could we potentially see more Giles Deacon on our screens in the years to come?
GD: I really enjoy being in front of the camera as much as dressing those behind it – I’d love to do more.
LPA: Besides designing for Giles collections per year, you’ve also collaborated with the likes of New Look and Nine West on capsule collections as well as previously designing for Ungaro and Daks. How do you choose the projects you work on and, perhaps more importantly, how the hell do you fit it all in?
GD: It’s always interesting to do outside projects; it’s a great way to get your brand introduced to a new market and to bring interesting, exciting products to the masses. Luckily I can work quickly yet focus which helps these projects happen.
LPA: On that subject, tell me a little about your work with Muller. How did it come about and what can we expect from the collaboration?
GD: I designed two pots for Müllerlight – Ms Strawberry and Ms Toffee (below), I wanted to give individual characters based upon imaginary fashion characters.
LPA: If you had to pinpoint one career moment you’re most proud of what would it be and why?
GD: It was fantastic to be named Designer of the Year award in 2007 and finishing any fashion collection is always a high point for myself and the team.
LPA: Who’s your young designer to watch for 2014?
GD: Simone Rocha has a fantastic individual accessible style that feels new.
Love Ella. X