EAST END Eclecticism, BIN BAG ELITISM: LOUISE GRAY
Emerging British designer Louise Gray‘s prints are full of contrasting color and sparkle, and like her accessories are influenced by the weirder bits of modern art, punk and post modernism through to rave. The designer’s silhouettes are mostly plain of shape: shirts, tea dresses, shift skirts, and skirt suits. Think contrasting pattern and fabrics, clashing colors, huge earrings and standout headpieces (designed by Nasir Mazhar and this season Stephen Jones), always matched with bird of paradise make-up and hair. This season’s collection was called Hey Crazy for a reason.
Recent best sellers are according to Gray, "statement coats, printed shirts, but mostly always the dresses". This season’s toilet roll broaches and bin bag hats where meant to evoke the idea of "seeing beauty in rubbish and in everything for everyone, in use and re-use, while prints must "ultimately be punchy".
In the five years since Gray first showed at Fashion East, her hair has changed color on a weekly or monthly basis, but it also regularly moves through extreme changes in cut, including a recent skinhead phase. Gray wears her wild prints and pendulous, dangling accessories all day every day. She lives in an old factory space in Dalston, where else? Where she plays host to the sort of insider’s insider, morning after parties that will one day feature in various fashion designers biographies, and has a cat named Mary Jane.
It’s easy to feel that in Gray’s world no situation is too formal or high class, informal or ordinary for the wearing of outfits that shout pop star-on-stage-glamour and easy dance-floor flexibility. This take on life and style has elevated Gray beyond mere designer to fashion icon status for a new wave London fashion pack, for whom post web 2.0, fame of the internet variety at least, is a choice, fun vocation with a strong sense of individual style an essential qualification
Indeed she once told Interview magazine, "my clothes are never going to make you feel thinner or younger, but they going to make you look cooler" and told MilkMade, "great style is not being scared to have fun, experiment or mix things up. I think that’s a great message for girls." Just in case you’re wondering Louise’s hair is "black and up" right now, she’s "loving it and so it’s staying put!"