Interviews

5 Minutes With: Sophie Anderson

Sophier Anderson

If, like me, a day rarely goes by without you checking the Matches website then you’ll no doubt have spotted the work of Sophie Anderson. Given how bright her deliciously colourful, bold patterned, hand crafted handbags are, it’s pretty hard to miss them. Since launching her label in 2011 Sophie Anderson’s eclectic creations have been something of a sartorial sensation. Having lived everywhere from Kuwait to Columbia and worked as yoga teacher and interior stylist, Sophie’s own journey to accessory stardom is equally fascinating. I caught up with the globe trotting designer to talk inspirations, aspirations and of course, travel…

Sophie Anderson

LPA: Born in Kuwait and raised in Oman, I think it’s fair to say you’ve had a fairly exotic upbringing. How do you feel this has influenced your creative process and design aesthetic?

SA: I think wherever we are we absorb the environment in a way that influences and inspires our creatively. My travels and up bringing, not only added more inspiration and ideas to my work but form an enormous part of my personality and also Sophie Anderson as a brand.

LPA: Having grown up in Oman, travelled extensively and launched your brand while living in South America, I can imagine adjusting to London life could have been quite a shock to the system. What prompted your decision to relocate here? How does it compare to the other places you’ve lived?

SA: We loved living in South America, but that’s life sadly, all great adventures come to an end. I cried and cried leaving Colombia. I just love the excitement and unfamiliarity of living abroad. It keeps everything real.

LPA: I was interested to learn that you first trained in Montessori Education then as a Yoga teacher and then also worked in interior design before turning your hand to fashion. What drove these changes of career direction? Do you think now you’ll stick with accessories or could something else be on the cards?

SA: None of it was planned it just happened like that. I loved all of them and still do, I think in this world it’s important to be able to be interested and capable in many skills…. with the Sophie Anderson brand who knows! Let’s see if all the Wayuu weavers continue their magic and don’t take too many ‘Sacred Ritual festivals’ throughout valuable production time again!

LPA: Since launching the Sophie Anderson brand in 2011, your designs have been picked up by numerous top stockist including Matches, Browns and Fenwicks. Did you have a clear cut business/PR strategy or was it a case of right time right place?

SA: I was a very lucky person in the right place at the right time …. I had no idea what I was doing!  I had very few weavers when I first started.  Since the launch in October 2011, I was lucky to meet people who share the same passion of fun, vibrant colours and designs as I do. Now it’s a matter of jumping on a plane and getting back to the desert searching for hundreds more to increase the demands.

LPA: How would you describe your personal style? Do you follow trends or read fashion magazines?

SA: Summer is my season; it really brings out the true me I could say I blossom during summer. As for trends I do not tend to follow them; It doesn’t really interest me. I much prefer individuality. I believe everyone has a unique colour and that’s how they should be.

LPA: Which other designers do you particularly rate and why?

SA: I like many of course so it’s difficult to pick, but I particularly like….Temperley, Dolce Gabbana as I find them romantic and flirtatious. I also love Vintage as they have so much character and history behind them.

LPA: Who, dead or alive, would you most like to see wearing your designs?

SA: Id love to do a photo shoot of the beautiful young Wayuu Girls in the desert wearing all their mothers woven work, wearing any designer outfits they wanted! That would be so fun …. My dear friend and Photographer Hannah Dakin – would come with me and we would have the most amazing time shooting it- I would then take her to go and party in Cartagena!

LPA: What’s next for Sophie Anderson? Could you ever see yourself expanding into ready-to-wear?

SA: I’d like to think so… but for now I am just going to focus on what I have and keep it tight. But who knows what will happen in the future, the possibilities are endless.

Love Ella. X

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5 Minutes With: Grazia Daily Editor Jessica Vince

I definitely don’t need to tell you how much I adore Grazia. Be it the weekly print edition (I count down the days until Tuesday, seriously) I curl up in bed with, or the website I hit up every time I need to know anything, my love for this mag borders on the obsessive. With this in mind, it is my great delight to introduce my latest victim interviewee, Grazia Daily‘s Digital Editor, Jessica Vince…

Grazia Daily Jessica Vince

LPA: You started out as an intern at Grazia just four years ago and now you’re digital editor! Was that internship your first experience in the fashion industry? How did you get from there to your current position?

JV: It wasn’t my first experience, no. I worked at my local newspaper for a few months, writing about egg and spoon races (seriously), then sent clippings to the magazines I dreamed of working for. Glamour got in touch and I did a month’s work experience with the editorial team before staying on for a six-month internship as Features Assistant. I also got work experience at OK! Magazine, Easy Living and Brides before starting a six-week internship when Grazia launched their website. That was the end of 2008 and the internship got extended then extended again before I became Digital Editorial Assistant then Assistant Digital Editor and now Digital Editor. It’s been a steady process but every step has been very exciting!

LPA: Talk me through a typical day as Digital Editor for Grazia Magazine…

JV: I wake up pretty early hence the eye bags and go through news stories from home. Occasionally I post a story from home, particularly if a story has just broken because I’m keen to get it up quickly. Once I’m in the office, I discuss the day’s stories with the wider team during morning conference when we decide which angle to take. I then commission each story to the various teams – Fashion, Beauty, Features, Entertainment, News and Web – before compiling the weblist. The rest of the day is spent writing and posting stories as well as editing copy and tweaking posts. There’s always a meeting or two to discuss digital developments, commercial ideas or traffic driving tactics and whenever I can, I go to press days or events and meet PRs. If I’m lucky, I get a 5-minute lunch break too! It’s non-stop when you’re working on the web.

LPA: What are your views on the print V digital debate, should one be awarded more gravitas than the other? And do you think that the rise of digital press will ever leave print publications redundant?

JV: I see print and digital as more of a collaborative process – they can both do different things that it makes sense to combine the strengths of both. I work closely with the print team to ensure all of Grazia’s platforms are complementing and enhancing each other, whether you’re experiencing the brand on a mobile, an iPad or on Twitter. The rise of digital innovations is so exciting and developments will continue at a rapid pace but that doesn’t mean print publications have to become redundant.

LPA: I can only imagine how many hundreds of press releases, emails and tweets you receive pitching stories and brands every day. How do you decide which ones to feature?

JV: I do get quite a few! I’m typically looking for an exclusive angle – whether it’s breaking a story or running extra assets like quotes, pictures or behind-the-scenes videos. I look at analytics daily so I know the topics that will be of most interest to our users, which influences what we write about. We also aim to give something extra to our users, especially when so many outlets are reporting on the same story, so if there’s a story I feel we can give a spin to or take on further, that’s great.

As most of us know, monthly fashion magazines are always working at least three months ahead of time meaning that while their content is brilliant, it isn’t necessarily breaking news. Grazia Daily is, of course, the online accompaniment of a weekly mag so I imagine things work a bit differently. How “breaking” are your stories? What’s the average length of time it takes to get one from pitch to published?

JV: Breaking news is a huge priority for Grazia Daily so the magazine deadlines don’t inhibit that. Online needs to be as reactive as possible so there’s no point running a news story that was in the magazine a week ago. Whether it’s staying up all night to watch the Oscar Awards in order to post dress credits instantly or breaking the news that Cara Delevingne is the face of Burberry Beauty, we always aim to be first. Luckily Jane Bruton, Grazia’s editor, trusts me when it comes to web content so I don’t have to pitch every story to her before I post it because that would slow down the process. If Kate Middleton’s just announced she’s pregnant, for example, we all know the priority is to get the news live as quickly as possible!

LPA: I was very surprised to discover that there are only two permanent members of the Grazia Daily team including you! How on earth do you manage to generate all that content? Do you employ many freelancers and if so, where do generally find them?

JV: It certainly makes for busy days but I enjoy the fast-pace and the immediacy of online. I work with Julia Fernandez, our Community Editor, who is an absolute dream, constantly churning out ideas and stories while also managing our social media as well as working with our blogger community.  But we couldn’t do it without the wider editorial team who have been trained to write and upload web stories which allows us to generate a lot of brilliant content. It’s certainly a challenge when they’re having to create web stories on top of their work for the magazine but it makes sense that print and digital is a combined effort. As for freelancers, I commission a couple of stories a week, especially for evergreen content which we don’t have as much time to work on. The freelancers are either contacts that I already have or people who’ve contacted me asking to write for the site.

LPA: The past 12 months have seen increasing numbers of editors and journalists leaving publications in order to take up positions at major e-tailers like those I mentioned earlier. What do you think is the main reason for this trend? Could you ever see yourself being tempted to swap publishing for retail?

JV: I’m really excited by how ecommerce is mixing with editorial and it’s happening across more sites than ever so it makes sense that some editors are using their skills to combine the two. I don’t necessarily want to swap one for the other, but I am interested in how the two can work together, like how to combine news with shopping. ‘News with shoes’ has always been one of Grazia’s selling points.

LPA: What advice would you give to an aspiring journalist hoping to one-day land a position like yours?

JV: The interns we’ve had at Grazia Daily who really stand out are those prepared to go the extra mile. With online, you need to be willing to tweet live from a red carpet or Instagram from a store launch. And when it comes to posting web stories, the more online experience you have the better because speed is key as are Photoshop and CMS skills as well as having a sense of what’s news worthy. So I’d recommend using those platforms as much as possible – tweeting, Instagramming and blogging as well as regularly looking at a variety of sites that inspire you. Then, if you do get experience at your dream company, give it all you’ve got.

Love Ella. X

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5 Minutes With: Aloe Founder, Claire Judge

A few weeks ago I attended the launch of Jaeger’s A-MAZING new Boutique Gallery where I got the chance to do a video interview with Claire Judge, Founder of divine lingerie and ready-to-wear brand, Aloe Loungewear. The lovely Jaeger team sent me over the film a couple of days later so I apologise for taking such a long time to get it up. Between various shoots and projects, attending Vogue Festival, writing my thesis proposal (eek) and making the all important transition into actual Spring clothes, things have been a bit full on. So without further ado, here’s the long awaited interview… Enjoy!

Love Ella. X

Filming & Editing by Maud Craigie

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5 Minutes With: Charlotte Simone

If you ask most people what they were doing at 23, the answer isn’t usually running their own business. Of course that’s not to say there aren’t exceptions and young entrepreneursout out there but on the whole, most 23 year olds spend their days attending – or not attending – university lectures, placing a tentative foot on the first rung of the career ladder, odd jobbing, post-graduation travelling and generally having a good time. Fashion may be fun and frivolous in many ways but it’s also an industry in which many people start their own flourishing businesses in their early twenties. One such sartorial success story is that of Charlotte Simone. Inspired by the chicness of the Parisiennes she spotted (who isn’t!) while studying in the French fashion capital and decided to launch her own scarf label straight after graduating. Less than two years on, Charlotte’s scarves are stocked everywhere from London to Lebanon and with Rita Ora her devoted (and perma-papped) fan, the future looks pretty rosy. I caught up with the budding accessory guru to talk inspirations, aspirations and those dastardly stylish Parisians…

Charlotte Simone

LPA: Tell me a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where your family involved in fashion?

CS: I grew up in London – woo! My family is not involved in fashion but they are all creative with motivated minds. ‘Work hard, play hard’ is very much the family motto.

LPA: I was intrigued to hear that you decided to launch your brand while studying in Paris. I started my blog while interning there! What was it about Parisian style that particularly inspired you? How do you feel it compares to London?

CS: I just fell in love with the beauty of Paris.  It’s overpopulated with gorgeous woman, carb loaded treats and amazing architecture. As a lover of all three it was kind of hard not to be inspired. London has a great eclectic/rock and roll edge to its style, whereas Paris feels more classic, with neutral tones and clean silhouettes. I have to say, for me the Parisians win every damn time.

LPA: Perhaps a rather simple question, why scarves in particular?

CS: Charlotte Simone is different in that it not only functions as an item of practicality but also a statement of style. I want my scarves to be an accessory that girls will choose to invest in – just as they do jewellery, handbags and shoes.

LPA: On the subject of fur, how do you translate your designs for Summer? Miserable though British weather is, even we can’t wear mink all year round…

CS: I don’t yet do a Spring/Summer line. I do a small capsule line round January to accommodate the gap between my winter sales period.

LPA: In just 18 months you’ve landed over 100 stockists, that’s pretty incredible. Once you’d had the idea of launching Charlotte Simone what were the next steps you took to put your plans into motion?

CS: I luckily had a great team of motivated and talented friends who helped me get all the selling tools together – Then I just got on the road and sold my line from door to door.

LPA: As a 23 year old running a successful business within a hugely competitive industry, do you struggle to strike a work/life balance? I imagine a lot of your friends are just finishing uni…

CS: It is extremely hard – I have surrender myself to the fact that I’m going to have to make some real sacrifices to get to where I want to be. But im fine with that, I really love what I do.

LPA: What is your ultimate aim for Charlotte Simone the brand?

CS: To be recognized as a great scarf designer – an accessory all women would save a dollar for.

Love Ella. X

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5 Minutes with: Peter Jensen

Peter Jensen
As far as I’m concerned, I don’t have nearly enough Peter Jensen in my life. A couple of seasons ago I fell head-over-heels for what must have been his SS12 collection but somehow haven’t made it to any of his presentations since then… Damn you fashion week scheduling disasters, damn you to hell! Anyway, enough ranting, and back to the matter at hand. With their bold hues, kooky details and tongue-in-cheek edge the Danish designer’s quirky cool creations are totally covetable and entirely up my street. Even more intriguing than his penchant for cute collars (of which I wholehartedly approve) is the fact that every season Jensen looks to a different iconic woman to inspire his work. Having already cited a diverse range of ladies including Cindy Sherman and Tippi Hendran as muses, we should have lost our capacity for suprise by now but Jensen still managed to deliver a blinder with an SS13 collection in homage to Yorkshire born sculptress Barbara Hepworth.

peter jensen

Peter Jensen SS13

In the lead up to his forthcoming exibition in Hepworth’s hometown of Wakefield, I caught up with Peter to get the inside scoop on his latest offerings and fashion career so far…

LPA: You’re well known for always looking to a particular muse to inspire your collections. Why do you look to an individual woman rather than something more abstract?

PJ: I think that the only way to answer that is to say that these women brings something special to the Peter Jensen universe. I use them as a tool, I let myself live within there world for as long as I’m working on the collection, this is the way I have always worked and it makes sense in my head.

LPA: In previous seasons your muses have included hugely varied women ranging from Cindy Sherman to Helena Rubenstein. What was it about sculptress Barbara Hepworth that inspired you for SS13?

PJ: Her work. I didn’t know much about her before I started to look at her work for the SS13 collection, it fascinated me, I liked her lines in her work, her use of colours and her way of making it work so nobody would be in doubt that you are looking at a Hepworth piece.

LPA: The sculptural, minimalist aesthetic of SS13 seemed very different to the bold prints and bright hues of your resort collection inspired by Tippi Hendren. Would you say this is largely down to you having chosen such a contrasting muse or were you consciously trying to move away from your previous collection?

PJ: Funnily enough I always think that there is a red thread though all the collections, but of course working with a different muse every season brings something new to the table, which I like. It keeps me going and it tells a story, which I think fashion should do.

LPA: One of my favourite things about your designs is that they always seem to have a sense of humour or playfulness to them. How important is that to you as a designer? Do you think that fashion sometimes takes itself too seriously?

PJ: I don’t know if fashion takes itself too seriously, but fashion is a funny thing to talk about, what is there to say about it more then it should be fun make you feel good about oneself. I can only say that I have a sense of humor, I think I see the world though some very childish pair of glasses.

LPA: Who, dead or alive, would you most like to see wearing your SS13 collection? Aside from Barbara Hepworth of course…

PJ: I very much like the women that I know already wear Peter Jensen like Kirsten Dunst, Nina Persson and Lena Dunham. I would love to dress Jessica Lange

LPA: What is your ultimate aim for the Peter Jensen brand?

PJ: To make a lot of money…

Love Ella. X

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