Emilia Wickstead is Classic with a Twist
Eight years ago, New Zealand-born Emilia Wickstead, was working from home in the sitting room of her flat in west London. Now her clothes are worn by the Duchess of Cambridge, Gwyneth Paltrow and Diane Kruger; she shows one of the most popular collections at London Fashion Week; and she has just moved into – and entirely refurbished – a store on the prestigious Sloane Street, a couple of doors down from Chloé.
If you don’t know the story, this is it: after a BA at Central Saint Martins, inspired by the haute couture designers of times past and her widowed mother’s dressmaking business back in New Zealand, with a few thousand pounds lent to her by her now- husband, Daniel Gargiulo, the 24-year-old Wickstead set up her own label in London, making elegant made-to-measure clothing for personal clients. “I saw a niche in the market where made-to-measure wasn’t being done in a modern, fresh way or in a short period of time,” she says. “Traditionally, bespoke orders take a very long time, but I thought, ‘Here we are with all these fashion-forward ideas – why not?’ I did it backwards.
“It was my dream to have a ready-to-wear collection, but in order to make some money I had to start with something that ended up becoming the heart and soul of our business.” It wasn’t easy. “A lot of people ask, ‘How did you start the business, and how did you do it money-wise?’ And the truth is that I had three jobs. A day job, an evening job and then designing my collection as well. That’s just how we did it.” When she eventually opened her first store (at a different premises) she worked there every day – as well as running the business.
Creating a look that plays on the romance of fashion and that old world of French dressing in which, we like to imagine, people had time and money and nothing to worry about but what to wear for dinner, Wickstead, 32, has made a kind of nostalgic fantasy work for modern-day life.
Original article by Kate Finnigan, The Telegraph, April 3, 2016.
Photo by Tina Hillier.