“Maybe it’s because we dream more” is the answer Louise Gray gives when asked why so many talented British designers come, like her, from Scotland. ‘When you’re boxed up in your home and it’s snowing – it’s as much dreaming as what you’re surrounded by” she continues, this time explaining the origin of her love affair with colours.
Louise Gray grew up in Fraserburgh, Scotland where she spent most of her childhood outdoors, appreciating the nature surrounding her but also dreaming of what it was lacking in. At 17, she left home and moved to Glasgow to study textiles. A risk, that paid off when 2 years later, she was granted a place in the Glasgow School of Arts, an environment she describes as ‘a fun cliché’. There, she was taught the arts of knitting, weaving, prints and embroidery. Finding weaving ‘too Victorian’ and knitting too limiting in its progression, she quickly found out that her heart lay in embroidery and print, the techniques that have since become her signature style.
Feeling the need to discover a world outside of Glasgow and inspired by Jonathan Saunders, Louise applied for an MA at Central Saint Martins. Despite still being in university, she was accepted. So off she went, dreams and colours in tact, and landed at Charing Cross. During her studies, she worked for Peter Jensen who gave her the opportunity to do the hand embroideries in his fanny collection. Louise’s career had already started.
Almost immediately after successfully acquiring an MA in 2007, she became involved with the Fashion East scheme for young designers. Lulu Kennedy, the scheme’s founder, saw something special in Louise Gray who refused to follow the usual route of money driven monochromatic choices. ‘Nana Fashion’, as Louise refers to Lulu Kennedy, made the young designer realise that she did not have to work for other designers. She could launch her own, eponymous line. And so, she did. This self-proclaimed optimism junkie’s bright colour combinations, clashing textures and modern folk style, stole the show and earned her the coveted nomination of ‘Scottish New Talent of the Year’ in 2007. Louise Gray, with the oxymoron surname was unstoppable. The Catwalks of LFW were painted with neon-enhanced tweed and the world fell in love.
‘’The world does seem a whole lot rosier when a bit of Louise Gray is on my back’’, fashion blogger Susie Lau gushes, before adding ‘She sends feel good vibes that make you think that fashion is not stuck up’. No surprises then that she was chosen for a collaboration with Smiley Company in 2010. In a five-piece collection, Louise used all her quirky magic and threw a big sartorial party that PVC, Smiley Faces and Swarovski crystals all attended.
A collaboration with ASOS.com followed soon after, giving the internationally accessible online wardrobe a spring in its step. It is now filled with Louise’s leather cobalt joggers, bright mohair jumpers, patterns, colours and eye popping, golden jewellery.
But that is still, only the beginning. The fruits of her shoe collaboration with Pollini, adorn the legs of actress Emma Watson on the cover of November’s Elle magazine and a collection for the V&A is out soon in a big South Kensington museum near you.
For this S/S ’12 collection, Louise Gray says ‘Trust Me’ and to be honest, you would be crazy not too.
For a rosier world, Louise Gray for ASOS is available here.