Paul Costelloe interview at London Fashion Week – by Paul Winstone
Hello. It’s a pleasure to talk with you. This is for FabUk Magazine…we’re a fashion and entertainments magazine
So the first question I suppose is what are the themes and inspirations for this collection
This collection is a move away from my normal tailoring – it’s very much for the casual woman…lifestyle, goes to the gym in the morning, leads a very strict diet, she then comes out of the shower, clothes on…big bag and off she goes. And that’s an international lifestyle form of dressing now. Everybody…
A new woman that your designing for…
She’s not a new woman, she’s a modern person, a modern lifestyle…she’s very fit, more involvement in all these relevant factors, and she has a little psychologist somewhere, lyinging there somewhere.
So you’re having to evolve your design as society changes?
Yes, people are wearing trainers…people are looking at comfort, ease, flexible clothing, changing…basically she’s just…she’s not really a catwalk person.
Is there some evening wear as well in the collection?
There is a little evening wear in there…no, no she still does her red carpet but it’s just more of a fringe than her general commitment. Her general commitment is to me, and keeping fit, keeping her job and looking good
Thinking of your design process, how many people in your team, how do you work, is it a collaborative process?
It’s a …in a sense it’s a small team…it’s rather like the way they work in Milan…we’ve got little units that’ll make certain parts of the collection. That’s done outside of our studios…so we have a team in London, that’s the place where our design students also come in…a couple of interns. And then at that point I hope I have my ideas in place. This (collection) has specifically been more difficult for me…not difficult…a challenge for me
Do you still draw everything out?
I still draw everything…everything is sketched because it’s easier than spending money on samples and then I change my mind.
So you process hasn’t changed in that sense since you started?
No, no not at all. Exactly, it’s still the pen and the eye.
From there it’s a matter of getting the look…we toile everything…from the sketch to a toile…like they do in Paris…and then we have our fit model…we have two people we specifically use. And then we make the changes on the toile and then we go into the material we are going to use, sourced from either Paris or Milan
And of course, your experience…you’ve worked in Paris, you’ve worked in Milan, you’ve worked in New York and now you’re based in London?
Oh yes, yes ..based in London…totally London.
And in terms of fabrics…are they changing…is that evolving too?
You’re absolutely right, because of this sustainability. Because I’m so untechnical…it’s becoming quite interesting. For instance, this word polyester – it’s becoming quite vogue…because it’s manmade and it’s sustainable. But I still work in natural fibres – that’s in my DNA, because it’s warm…
So is that Scottish…
Yes Scottish, Tweeds this season, from the Boarders…which I hope they’re all Ok and haven’t all drowned if they haven’t washed away.
I came from a textile family in Dublin, a factory in Dublin making raincoats.We had a very good business making raincoats.
That was your family business before you got involved in fashion?
Yes we had a big old house in Dublin, you know beautiful gardens, croquet lawns, tennis courts and things…very old fashioned…kind of like the garden of Finzi-Contini, with built-in walls. So that’s how I grew up. We’ve always attained a certain level of quality. I think it’s partly being Catholic…you know you’re slightly reserved…you sneak in there…you can’t be too risky in the sense someone is always watching you. I’m lapsed but it kind of stays with you. I’m always guilty (laughs).
Where do you see fashion going in the next two or three years…I mean sustainability is a huge issue at the moment…will that grow?
It’s a lot to do with the economy…we can have all these wonderful designers, natural ingredients, everything correct, but as soon as you have a credit crunch, which I think could happen especially in the UK, I predict a rough time.
Triggered by Brexit?
I don’t think we know what will happen…I think it will be difficult.
Will it impact you?
At this stage in life (laughs)…I think it’ll be, another word I hate, I think it will be ‘challenging’. But I think in this situation creativity will become more and more relevant. Everything has to be different and special and unique coming from the UK…just going down the line of importing from China and putting a Union Jack on it ..I think it has to change.
So yes I think it’s going to require…I mean there is a lot of talent here in the UK. The trouble is they all end up working for Italian companies or American companies. So we have to produce less (fewer) fashion students maybe, but better. ‘Cos there are too many schools …too many fashion schools for the work that’s available.
But I suppose the cream rises to the top?
The cream does rise to the top but I’m sorry for the kids that have spent 3 or 4 years in college. I mean I’ve got two lovely girls working for me from Birmingham School of Fashion, a very good school, but from 50 students only 4 got work, of which 2 were with me.
It’s not a good hit rate!
Look I may be exaggerating but it’s difficult.
It’s been a pleasure
Yes, a pleasure. Thanks for asking the questions.