Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Style Salvage Speaks to... Carolyn Massey

Carolyn Massey is one of our favourite menswear designers and we expect big things from her in 2009. She has established herself as one of the key names in British menswear, producing both her own soft, relaxed luxury clothes and a number of salivation inducing pieces for her Topman Lens line - thanks to her designs, this leading fashion retailer recently brought the cape to the High Street!

We've not got long to wait until she takes her place in London Fashion Week's first ever dedicated menswear line up with her first solo show (February 25th can't come soon enough) so we were so pleased when she agreed to answer our questions despite that fact that she must be extremely busy right now. As well as looking back on an extremely successful 2008, the interview looks forward to her upcoming solo show and the designer reveals her love of Stephen Fry and his Fair Isle jumpers...

Style Salvage: After completing your MA at the RCA in 2005, what made you take the somewhat daunting leap to start your own label?
Caroyln Massey: I was frustrated and bored with what i was doing at the time, and I had developed some good personal orders - it felt like the right thing to do.

SS: We don't have too long to wait now until your first solo show at London Fashion Week (you are the first menswear designer to get this sponosorship) and we can't wait! Combined with the seasonal diffusion lines, Topman have certainly given you a platform to show off your designs, which has grown and grown. How did you first start working with Topman and how has the relationship grown?
CM: I was approached by Matthew Murphy of b Store who coordinates the area in my 1st season at Rendezvous showroom in Paris. The collections have grown and next season we are going up to 4 collections a year which is really exciting. For me it means that I can also design in other areas- accessories for example. The show is a pretty amazing the opportunity that I have been given, but I've worked hard for it.

Massey's creations for Topman Lens, including that cape and pieces from the SS09 line.

SS: The recent seasonal diffusion line with Topman was based on 'What it is to be a gentlemen' and it was so popular that we weren't quite quick enough in getting anything! Were you surprised by the success of the line?
CM: Yes and no- it feels like I've been doing my own thing for a while and now people are coming round to it. Amongst other things, I'm obsessed with the sense of ceremony that can be attached to dress and something about that feels really important right now.

SS: Your headmasterly cape left us salivating over our keyboards and was arguably the highlight. What was the inspiration behind it?
CM: My old flatmate had this amazing Dutch nurses cape! I will often look to uniform or old garments for ideas and also to look at construction... During Paris when I go over for sales I will go off to the flea markets and second hand shops. I take a huge empty suitcase and come back with it full.

SS: What is your vision of the gentlemen today?
CM: Erm... Pass!

SS: Who are your style icons?
CM: Currently Stephen Fry- love him and his Fair Isle jumpers.

SS: What is currently inspiring your design?
CM: No one I can name- there's a sense of mystery that has to surround this for me- In my head my muse is everyone and no one, a blurred grainy black and white photograph.

SS: Congratulations on being named the first ever fashion winner of the Reflect Forward Award 2009, how important is research to your design process? Have you got a set design process? Do you use inspiration boards?
CM: Research is integral to any design process. Just lock me away in an archive! I have a design/mood wall in the studio that changes every season. There is a process of gathering ideas and fabric and trims and sticking them to the wall and then figuring out how it all sits together.

SS: What would you like to achieve in 2009 and beyond?
CM: Why, world domination, of course...

SS: Finally, what's the one question you wish people asked you but you've never had the opportunity to answer? (and what is the answer)
CM: If I told you I'd have to kill you.


Matthew Spade said...

love it love it love it, it's pretty cool that people are still talking about THAT cape, that was surely the highlight of the whole collection. the ss 09 range looks fab too, love the second one from the left, that draped cardigan/jacket is amazing and i want one right now. im exciting for the new lens collection and i only wish i could attend the show. if only my trip to london was a few weeks later.

great little interview and i hope Massey gets the exposure and recognition that she deserves.

About the still on my blog, I haven't actually seen the film that it's in but i have had that images saved for a while now, i love that picture. have you found anything else out about his work? i must by the film.

Make Do Style said...

Nice interview and I love her admiration of Stephen Fry's fair isle jumpers!

Florey by the way was a prolific Hollywood director after his early days as a screenwriter and ass to Josef von Sternberg. I think he directed the first Marx bros film.

Style Salvage Steve said...

Matt Ahoy: Glad you liked the interview. I'm not sure I'll ever stop talking about that cape, I'm still peeved that I missed out on it. As for the SS09 collection, you have picked out my favourite piece, it is actually a draped leather jacket, it looks soooo soft! Starting from her solo show this month, 2009 is going to be a big year for her. As for Florey I've not seen any of his work but have found a few more stills which have made me want to see his work.
Made Do Style: Thanks. I admit I too lonve Stephen Fry and love checking his twitter updates. Good Florey knowledge, he did indeed direct the first Marx brothers film, The Cocoanuts which sadly isn't part of my box set...

Anonymous said...

She is fast becoming one of my favourite designers. Great work again guys, I'm really enjoying this feature, can't wait to see who is next to be interviewed!

Matthew Spade said...

oh my, a draped leather jacket, do my ears deceive?!!! sounds even more amazing


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