Instead of shooting her visually-striking and sensual scarf collection on professional models, designer Louisa Parris photographed it on ordinary men of all ages, shape and race. “I like to try and do something different every collection. I thought why not on some dashing gentlemen?” explains the CSM graduate, who has since then worked for Donna Karan, Mulberry and Ghost on both sides of the Atlantic before establishing her eponymous brand in 2011. “In England you don’t see guys wearing silk scarves that often, but in Italy for example it’s not a big deal. I also wanted to show that a guy in his 20s can carry the scarves off as beautifully as my great uncle Terry who is 76.” What appears is an exceptional lookbook, which flawlessly expresses the freedom of her design as well as her refined technique - its drape, color and line.
Here, Ms. Parris talks to Playing Fashion about her role as creative director and designer juggling her business from the design to its sales as well as family life.
FASHION HAS BEEN AROUND ME SINCE I CAN REMEMBER
my mother Cherrill Parris-Fox is in the same industry. She studied at Central Saint Martins like me, but did fashion illustration and has been doing that for most of her career. My mum is also an amazingly stylish lady. My sister Georgia and I have always been influenced by the way she puts her clothes together - whether it's the silhouette or color.
MY FAMILY IS VERY CREATIVE
and we are always developing new projects around the kitchen table, but it does all stem from mum and dad, as well as my uncle and aunt who are actors. I think they have given us the creative freedom to do what we want, but at the same time a very strong work ethic. None of our ideas happen overnight, many months go into planning… Our last short fashion film ‘Every Savage Can Dance’ had 44 people work on it and I was 8 months pregnant. Not sure how we did it all, but the day of filming was magical and I’m sure I welled-up more than once.
FASHION IS FANTASY AND DRAMA, MAYBE EVEN ESCAPISM
It’s very easy to get caught up the fast moving fashion industry and as I get older I have a better understanding of it. I must listen to my gut instinct. If I want to be here in many years to come, I need to stay focused on the work, keep developing accessories and gowns that are the most beautiful I can do and be honest with my customer.
IT'S SO INCREDIBLY HARD TO GET A BALANCE
I know that most of my time is spent on the business end, and not even just on sales which are so important. I have enjoyed developing the brand over the last couple of years, but my heart will always be in the design side. To make the company a success I need to be spinning a lot of plates. They do not teach you how to run a business at college and in hindsight that's a good thing. Otherwise you may never take on such a huge job as running your own label. College should be about creativity and finding your signature.
MY SON ART IS ONLY 19 MONTHS OLD
If anything you just don’t have the luxury of time. The days of working late into the night on each collection are getting less. Knowing you may need to be up at 5.30am puts things in perspective - including the amount you worry about work.
Photography by Lukasz Suchorab; styling by Liza Jugolainen; makeup by Ekaterina Novinskaya using Yabi Cosmetics; hair by Delphine Bonnet; model: Darya Savchenko / Premier Models; stylist's assistant: Kane Cheng; photographer's assistant: Ufuk Ildir.