Founding her own label in 2011 after working with Louise Goldin and Thomas Tait, British designer Charlie May‘s understated, effortless designs have already developed a cult following.
When did you know that this was what you wanted to do with your life? How did you get started?
I didn’t know until college that my career could be in fashion. I was studying business and started playing around with the sewing machine, customising my clothes and realised that I needed to take a more creative path. I moved to Bristol to study fashion and was opened up to a whole new world.
What effect (if any) do you think your childhood has had on the creativity you display as an adult? What are your earliest memories involving fashion?
There are no specific memories of fashion from my childhood but Devon (where I grew up) inspires me with every collection. The landscape and mood of the countryside is just so evocative. The horizons are so wide and you can walk for miles without ever seeing another person. The seaside just 10 minutes away from my house is so moody and powerful. I didn’t really realise how much my home inspires me until I moved to London and realised how lucky I was growing up there.
What is your design process?
My process starts with image and fabric collecting, starting to piece together the kind of silhouette and colour palette I want to go for. I work a lot with textures, they inspire me the most, whilst the silhouette is kept clean. Then we start toiling and pattern cutting until the pieces are created and we’re trying them on fit models.
Have you ever doubted your talent/work? If so, how did you work through it?
Every day! I think every creative or artist is constantly doubting themselves, but only because you constantly strive to be better and to learn every step of the way. I’m still young and have a long way to go before perfection is even close to being achieved.
Do you design with a specific client in mind? If so, who is that person?
Mostly myself, but I’m inspired by my friends and women I look up to in the industry.
Is there a piece or a collection you are most proud of?
You’re only as good as your last collection, right? :) AW14 is my favourite so far. It’s the most accomplished and well rounded I think.
Have commercialism and/or the media had any impact on your work? Is this good or bad?
I think it’s good. There’s no point in making a collection if there isn’t a commercial/saleable element to it. It’s easy to be very arty and produce wild collections but this is a business.
Who/what is something or someone fabulous that you think is underrated or overlooked?
Quiet walks in the park.
Do you have any words of wisdom for someone starting out in your field?
Don’t give up, keep working and keep improving. Use social media and blogs as much as you can. They’re amazing tools, so useful for start up companies to get themselves better known to the industry and the consumer.