Interviews: Designer, Carolyn Massey


Some may think anachronism and traditionalist, but we think timeless strewn in with avant-garde when it comes to Carolyn Massey’s aesthetic. Hot on the heels of er AW08 Topman diffuse line, we decided to catch up with Massey to muse on fashion and life.

How did the seasonal diffusion line with Topman come about?

I was approached in my 1st season by Matthew Murphy from B Store who coordinates the LENS area. We started with a capsule collection seasonally, but the area has taken off so well that we are expanding up to 4 collections a year, and I’m excited to also be designing accessories to compliment the range.

How do you approach the design process?

My work is an ongoing love affair really. This is the reason I find it hard to write a press release of “this season its all about X!” My work follows similar themes, my research delves deeper each season. I feel like Im constantly searching, researching for ideas- research is my strength, so its completely ongoing and evolving. I am always gathering imagery and garments, I gather these together to form a story in time for a collection. I start by researching, but always imagery that I have picked up will be in my mind. I take photographs a lot, and my idea of heaven is spending a day researching in the library at the Royal College of Art, where I studied.

What’s the most defining moment thus far in your career?

I have moments of “oh my god how is this happening?!” But then quickly reality bites. I don’t help myself as often if something amazing happens I’ll have a moment of “that’s great!” But then it will be all about how I can push things further. Always- in almost a self-torturing manner.

Outside of fashion related work, what is your favourite pastime?

Dinner! Fabulous dinner out great food great service. Good and mind expanding conversation (which is rare and amazing these days) and then drinking so much gin I forget it all…. well you have to let go sometimes non?!

What are you reading now?

Currently as many books about Tokyo as I can get my hands on- I’m off for a week in mid november as I have been sponsored by the British Fashion Council to take my collection over there and present it in the English Embassy. Its an amazing opportunity for me. Other than that, re-reading Oliver Sacks’ “The Man who mistook his wife for a hat”.

As a child, say between the ages of 5 to 10, what did you want to be? Moreover, if not fashion design, what other career path would you see yourself in?

At the age of 5 I asked to be sent to boarding school. It was the most amazing time, and I can see now that this has formed my obsession with all things ‘proper’. But as for a career, I had no idea. If not fashion design, I’m not sure…maybe photography.

With all the embellishments of bows and ruffles in your designs, there’s a tad bit of androgyny and femininity that seeps into the collection. Any chance of womenswear line from Carolyn Massey?

I have just been appointed Creative Director of a womenswear label that will launch in February over london fashion week.

You’ve been heralded as a designer that seeks to relive the sartorial code of ‘what it is to be a gentleman.” What’s your idea of the perfectly dressed gentlemen? Are there any present day prototypes you take inspiration from?

This was my comment on societies assumptions of man and how this can be distorted through dress. This is something I am quite intrigued in.

Everyone who’s taken a look at your collection with Topman has been smitten with the Sherlock Holmes-esque cape. What was the inspiration behind this piece?

It was actually an idea from a Dutch nurses cape! I’m obsessed with researching- flea markets, especially in Paris, hold a wealth of inspiration.

Sum up your aesthetic in three words?

Dark, Romantic. Fabulous.

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