An Interview With Elliott J Frieze

British label, Elliott J Frieze, creates beautifully tailored womenswear and menswear which primarily focuses on being… well, British! Although this is not Elliott’s first time showing at London Fashion Week, it is with Vauxhall Fashion Scout and we couldn’t be more excited. I caught up with Elliott last week to find out more about the man behind the name…

You had success last season at London Fashion Week, are you excited about showing with Vauxhall Fashion Scout this season?
Yes absolutely, I think initiatives such as Vauxhall Fashion Scout create great opportunities for new designers to showcase on such a great platform during London Fashion Week, which generate more scope.

For people who are unfamiliar with the Elliott J Frieze brand, how would you describe your signature style?
Elliott J Frieze is a very British brand. I grew up in the British countryside where we kept a lot of horses, so a lot of my work has references to polo, show jumping and other traditional British sports such as cricket and the Oxford and Cambridge boat races.

You have previous experience working with a couple of other designers… tell me a bit about that?
Well I have been in the industry now for about 10 years in one way or another: I started off as a model, and did campaigns for designers such as Paul smith and Michiko Koshino. I then actually started working for Michiko and stayed there for about two and half years, before co founding Qasimi.

You left Qasimi to set up your own label a couple years ago now; what sparked your decision to go at it alone?
To be honest it’s always been in the back of my mind. As a person, I don’t like to have to compromise and so prefer to be in complete control, especially when it comes to designing as I want things to be exactly how I envision them to be: The only way to have that is to have your own company!

Did working as a model help you to get a grasp of the fashion industry?
Well I think by having 10 years working within the fashion industry in all different sectors provides me with a deeper understanding as a whole. I think it’s really important as a designer and as a creative director of a brand, that you understand all aspects of the industry, from model castings to production. Some fashion students think that design is all about illustration, drawing a nice picture of a nice outfit, but it’s really important to understand how that outfit is made and how much it will cost to make that drawing a reality. I now take on a lot of students as interns, some based in London and some in Wales, to help them understand how a fashion business works: Experience is so incredibly important.

What has been your inspiration behind your SS 11 Collection?
My initial idea was to design a wardrobe for Anna Popperwell, the actress. Anna has been a loyal supporter of mine as well as a long time friend. We met together while I was working with Koshino, at the ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ premier and have remained friends ever since. I told her a couple of months ago that she was an inspiration behind my SS ‘11 collection and asked her to close my show, which she agreed to!

Another inspiration behind the collection is childhood: I have now got two young nieces and so am constantly surrounded by children’s books, especially those written by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake. One of the books in particular called ‘Boy: Tales of a Childhood’ fascinated me as has a chapter in it called ‘Mrs Pratchett’s Sweetshop’ which inspired a bold confectionary colour palette. For this latest collection I’ve also created my own Quentin Blake style illustrations, which I have then embroidered onto the fabrics.

You design both womenswear and menswear: Do the collections link each season or do you like to keep them as separate ranges?
When I am designing I always have an idea of a certain guy and girl in mind so my designs specifically suit them, but then I use the same fabric for both my menswear and womenswear collections, as what I select is never solely for one or the other. The concepts behind each link together too. This season I’ve featured the classic trench which transpires into both men’s and women’s, whether it be a short trench-dress or a classic men’s trench coat.

You have had Amber Le Bon and Jacquetta wheeler model for you already, what other style icons would you love to see in your creations?
When it comes to designing my men’s wear in particular, I’ve always got Tom Warren, (the male model) in mind, so he would be great. But it’s always got to be someone quintessentially British.

Where would you like to see your label in 5 years time?
I would love to take the label over seas and showcase at other fashion weeks. As the New York, London, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks are all back-to-back, it is impossible for some buyers to attend all. I’m actually showing in Paris as well this season which is great as it enables those who can’t come to London to hopefully get a chance to see the collection over there.
I’d also like to branch out more and create an accessories line, and a few companies have approached me to suggest collaborative projects with them, which is a possibility if I get more time.

Sarah Barlow