Think Kate Middleton and an elegant,floor length chiffon dress springs to mind; classic, simple and beautifully crafted. Now take a peek at freshly graduated designer Debbie Huntley’s new label, L.2.Mae… and I think the Duchess may have found a new favourite designer.
Just a year after finishing her Fashion Design course at University of Huddersfield, Debbie has managed to find an investor and business partner,land herself a prime presentation space at the superb Future Gallery during London Fashion Week and launch her own luxurious womenswear range. Her designs are based on femininity; of a bygone era where women dressed with elegance, sophistication and a softness,where quality shines through the delicacy of the fabric and the lightness of the drapes.
L.2.Mae is an up and coming label with immense dreams; dreams that Debbie from Huddersfield is determined to make a reality.
What is the main inspiration behind your label?
I’ve been looking at the aesthetic movement and the artists that were around then; the simplicity of the landscapes in the paintings. At the same time I’ve been watching a lot of old Hollywood films; stunning, confident women and basically, mashed the two ideas together! I have been using simple lines to accentuate the figure, which gave me the idea to use size 12 models in my collection. I’m designing for women so want ‘real women’ to represent my pieces. In this industry it is normal to pick your size 8 samples but I want something different and what the brand can relate to. I want people to look at the dresses and not at the skinny frame of the model behind it; not to follow the norm. That’s why I have decided to also use pig suede, crepe de chine and double crepe; pig suede, which is the sexy side of the collection, is perfect for spring/summer. Then you have the crepe de chine and double crepe which is the fluid and feminine side, so it represents the contrast in the collection. Most importantly though, they are classic pieces which you can pick up two seasons later and add a different belt or pair of earrings and you are good to go. Instead of designing a collection that is bang on trend, then a couple of months later you cannot wear it as it is completely out of style, trend… bang, gone!
This is your first collection, how is it being perceived?
I’m getting really good feedback. People have been saying what they love is the freshness of it; instead of seeing yet another wacky designer that is trying to compete with its peers for most outrageous. But I only started working on it in May when I found my business partner, Anthony Langley so it has all happened really fast! At the moment it is all about getting the brand name out there and looking towards February, London Fashion Week and the next collection. I only graduated last July from University of Huddersfield in Fashion Design with Manufacture, Marketing and Promotion. I then went onto intern at Paul Smith and Alice Temperley; at Paul Smith I worked in the Press Office and then with Alice I was based in the studio, so I gained really good experience on both sides.
It’s all happening very quickly for you it seems?
Most definitely. I graduated last year with a First, had a bit of a summer; catching up on sleep and regaining social life as my friends thought I had disappeared completely! I got a temporary job to save up for the Short Business Course at London College of Fashion as I wanted to gain an idea of the business side of running a label. I got a business plan together and it just so happens that my business partner was the owner of the firm I was temping at, so he became an investor. We have the perfect partnership as he is totally a business mind; financial structures, how to push the label forward, giving advice on how we can grow etc, and then I handle all the creativity which is great.
How easy did you find it to launch your own label?
Everything seems to be falling into place so far (touch wood)! It has been hard work with all the long hours and I think from this point forwards it’s going to be more grafting, meeting people, gaining contacts; just networking really and getting my label and face out there and building up to the next collection,.
Have you got any ideas for Autumn/Winter yet?
Not really, I keep getting little niggles but I haven’t got a focus yet. There’s a huge fabric show coming up called, Premiere Vision which I’m going to visit and see what fabrics are coming out. Then I’ll kick about and start; I really want to get going with the next collection! I am just working on the promotional side of this one now so am extremely eager to get designing again, especially as Autumn/Winter is my favourite season. There is so much choice with different coat shapes, layering, more skins, different leathers; I want that to be my key fabric in all my collections as I absolutely adore leather.
When you are designing, is there a particular woman you have in mind?
I have a few different women in mind. I think that is because as a person I am quite eclectic and never just one style, so I see my customer base like that. I never design with a set age market because it goes on confidence. I mean, a woman of fifty may wear one dress and look completely incredible in it, then an eighteen year old will wear the exact same dress but with different shoes and it will look great also. My classic style muse would be Kate Middleton, as I can definitely imagine her wearing the dresses. Also Emma Watson, as I love her fresh appeal but with the edgy designs she chooses to wear.
Is there any designer you would love to meet?
Probably Diane Von Furstenberg and Donna Karen as they design purely for women and are still very much there, decades later; where women go back to the brand as they know they have that focus in mind and are not just the name of the moment. That’s what I want my brand to be like! Also Erdem who produces beautiful prints but his designs are really feminine and classic in cut. I would love to collaborate with him; that is something you do not see now, fun collaborations between designers!
What are your aesthetic like and dislikes in fashion?
I don’t really like anything that is too mainstream, as a lot what is coming out is all the same in trying to be overly crazy in a sense that, there is no new direction and everything just gets a bit muddled. But I do love that we have so much freedom and creativity. With my collection, I am producing it in the UK and what to keep it like that. It is more expensive but then you can keep an eye on production and you get miles better quality over here. I am UK based and our industry uses brilliant manufacture, so why go anywhere else? I love that Drapers have recently been trying to promote this and I will definitely be part of it, as I have studied manufacture and I pattern cut a lot of the pieces myself, from scratch, and I absolutely love this process.
What is your favourite film?
It is a really cheesy choice, Grease! And obviously, I’m a hardcore Sex and the City fan; even the two films I loved! I am chick flick girl all the way.
A favourite band?
Well I love indie bands like Kings of Leon and Bombay Bicycle Club, but then if I have an afternoon free I love a bit of Otis Redding. I do have an unhealthy obsession with Beyonce too! She is amazing. I had tickets to watch her at Glastonbury but had to give them up; there was no way I could have gone and finished the collection at the same time!
What are your views on social media sites?
I love twitter; I met Nina through twitter, who now helps produce my photo shoots and has been amazing. Events like London Fashion Week it is great for as everything is faster, with images being sent whilst models are still walking the catwalk; it is incredible. And blogs, which have taken over completely and I applaud that fully.
What are your favourite apps on your iphone?
EBay; the American vintage sites on there are absolutely amazing! I love vintage, the belt I am wearing today is from a flea market.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I would love to be on the main stage at London Fashion Week and have my own stand alone boutique. I don’t just want to be based in the UK; I have a great ambition like everyone else and would love to take my label further into Europe. I love the new Net-A-Porter concept where you can see your purchase online; what an amazing way to catch up on your customer base! So a stockist like that would be brilliant. I would love for my customers to send photos in of them wearing my designs, to see how they have styled it. But yeah to just take over the world really; Beyonce style!
L.2.Mae is available online .