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Catching up with Charlotte Taylor

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Sunday 19th September – Last time we spoke to Charlotte, she was planning a trip to Costa Rica so we asked her how it went.

“It got cancelled because of the volcanic ash disruption,” she told us. “So I went to Ibiza instead. But I’m still planning to go to Costa Rica in November.”

However, it seems that she’s had plenty to keep her busy since launching her label at VFS back in February. Her debut collection is being stocked by two online retailers. “One of them was through VFS – that was Young British Designers – and the other one is Coggles,” Charlotte told us. “It was really nice to start off with a couple and just find my feet, deal with the production, get all that sorted. I spent a lot of time going around to different factories. It was really important to me that I got on with the people. Everything’s getting made in East London in a little family-run factory. It’s quite important to me [to manufacture locally] because my stuff’s quite strongly associated with bring really British. It wouldn’t be as good if I went and got it made somewhere else at this stage. Also, it’s good to be able to monitor it – if something goes wrong, I don’t have to fly to Istanbul to change it.”

“It’s been a long few months just pushing it [the label] and I haven’t had a day off in months,” Charlotte admitted. We asked her if it was still worth it. She responded emphatically. “Oh yeah, I love it! It’s so worth it. Otherwise I wouldn’t do it. I don’t think you can be a designer unless you absolutely love it because you have to do those hours and you have to put in a million per cent of effort. You’re not earning any money at the beginning so if I didn’t love it, I’d be insane!”

We asked whether, with sales beginning to come through, the label is beginning to look like a business. “Yes, it’s always difficult, though, when you start because you’re only producing a few and because I’m not going for £1,000 dresses, I’m going more accessible, until I start really bulking up my orders, that’s when I’ll start to make money. But at this stage, I don’t want to get too many on because I don’t want to be unable to fulfil them and look like an idiot. It was never going to be a really lucrative start but hopefully that will come. I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve!”

This season, Charlotte was chosen as one of VFS’s Ones to Watch, which meant she made her catwalk debut. “Friday [her catwalk show] was one of the best yet one of the worst days of my life because it was just so stressful. I wasn’t panicking stressed but internally I felt sick from apprehension. Then at the last minute, they decided to move the collection into a different room.”

Last season, there was a strong penguin theme in Charlotte’s designs. This season, she’s moved to robots.

“I’ve kind of been obsessed with robots for a long time. I think it started when I bought my ex-boyfriend a robot pencil sharpener for Valentines Day, about three or four years ago. When you sharpened your pencil, the robot moved and it was really cool. That’s when it started and now I just love them. There’s a lot of inspiration in them.”

VFS sponsors Vauxhall obviously liked the concept. They covered one of their cars with Charlotte’s robots and parked it outside the venue.

“The other theme sailmaking and spinnakers. Because it’s my last season on the island, I wanted to take something from the Isle of Wight. That transpires into the cut-out panels – on sails you have plastic panels you can see through – and the bold colours.

“The colour palette comes from rust and copper – oranges through to greens and blues. I think it’s more wearable than my last collection. I think the robot print is subtler than the penguin. It’s not obvious that it’s got little robots over it, which some people would think would be a bit too much. The fabric’s lighter because it’s spring/summer.”

She reckons that this collection, like her last one, appeals to a wide potential market. “Teenagers could wear it but there’s items that older people could wear.” She indicates a long, cream dress. “Some of my mum’s friends said they’d love to wear that, so it’s quite broad. When I’m designing, I have someone of my age in mind – mid-twenties – but it’s not got any set rules. It’s quite broad.”

We asked what was next on the schedule. “I’m moving the label from the Isle of Wight up to London this week so I’ll be working on getting the studio and salesroom ready. Hopefully selling it to a few more buyers this year. Taking on PRs, looking at what I’m going to do next season because it’s quite a short gap – September to February is going to be quite hectic. Just growing it, really.”

We hope to catch up with Charlotte again between now and next season but, in the meantime, you can follow her blog.

Written by Myles

September 27th, 2010 at 5:40 pm

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