We remember seeing Kirsty Ward's beautiful handiwork at Central Saint Martin's MA show back in 2008. With her minimal yet intricate monochrome vision one of the strongest graduate collections to hit the catwalk, it's no wonder that Kirsty was snapped up by Alberta Ferretti and moved out to Italy straight away.
As soon as we heard that the designer was launching her eponymous label during London Fashion Week this season, we knew we were in for a treat. After returning from Italy and collaborating with David Longshaw on the jewellery for his AW10 collection to the style set's acclaim, it was only a matter of time before the talented designer set up on her own.
Making her womenswear debut at the Vauxhall Fashion Scout Exhibition a few weeks ago with a stunning collection, Kirsty Ward is the new name on the lips of those in the know! Her sculptural dresses in an intricate mix of waxed cotton, sheer fabrics and contrasting textures were juxtaposed with her excessive jewellery to stunning effect and had the fashion pack scribbling 'one to watch' in their notepads.
Inspired by 1980s bad taste, tinsel, lametta, and the work of Felix Topolski, Kirsty wanted to create a minimalist, yet grossly excessive collection. As she explains, "I like simple vests, basic shapes and staple wardrobe garments. Deep down there's the minimalist in me but I create statement jewellery which adds something extra."
Here, we catch up with Kirsty to get you the inside scoop before anyone else.
What's your defining feature as a designer?
When I look back into each collection there are a few main elements that stay with me – basics versus experimental pattern cutting, masculine versus feminine. I like to have a mix of these. I'm also obsessed by sheer fabric and bias binding – I could actually call this an addiction! Oh and I'm starting to get known for large statement jewellery
What do you design first, your jewellery or clothes?
It depends really. For SS11 I designed the jewellery first. This then worked its way into the embellishment on the actual garments, but I generally don't have a structure and will design the clothing and jewellery side by side.
How does it feel to have created your first collection under your own, eponymous label?
When designing this collection, I had a great feeling about it, but then the excitement turned to worry when LFW was getting closer as I didn't know how it would be received. I knew I had to get the right mix of creativity but actually make a collection that people would want to buy and wear. Luckily, everybody has seemed to like it so far.
You've had a great response. What pieces are turning out to be press favourites?
The press seem to love the large necklaces with coloured loops, bells and Swarovski crystals. They also love the sheered layered garments that have inner boning on the outer edges which give my pieces a really interesting shape despite being so light.
Is anyone stocking your SS11 collection?
Quite a few shops and boutiques are interested in the collection both in the UK and internationally, but watch this space for when everything is confirmed.
What was on your mood boards for SS11?
The work of Felix Topolski, images of stained glass windows, black and white pictures of interesting looking women with strange hair and eyebrows, and a really old image of a woman wearing what seems to be a textural/tinsel jacket.
Where did you chosen palette come from?
My colours were all inspired by bad taste 80's interiors: peach, mint green, coral, cream and black. The bad taste theme also leaked into some of the fabric choices: waxed cotton, towelling, sheer fabric that has suggestive looking fibres!
Explain what inspired your SS11 shoot?
The strange eyebrows inspired the make-up for the shoot – I'm quite a fan of the large eyebrow! And I also wanted the pictures to have an air of the nineties about them, other than that I let the photographer go with her instincts.
How did you come to work with the photographer / make up artist?
A friend of a friend suggested Mariell Amelie as a photographer for the shoot, after I went on her website I absolutely fell in love with her pictures – they had such an interesting quality about them, then she brought Verity Cumming aboard with her to do hair/make-up as they often work together. The model Skye K-B was also a great find too, I loved her look – it was so versatile and really suited the feel of my garments.
What kind of a woman do you imagine wearing your clothes?
Someone who loves fashion and loves experimenting and having fun with it! Someone strong who likes attention to detail – tinsel filled waistbands anyone?
How have you evolved as a designer since you graduated from Saint Martins?
I have evolved by using more colour and by making my garments more wearable and flattering to the female form!
Sum up your style?
With my personal style I like to mix oversized menswear with silk t-shirts and large jewellery.
What will you be wearing for SS11?
Large necklaces of course and glittery eyebrows, oh and something underneath so I don't scare people!
What can we expect from Kirsty Ward next?
I can't wait to start designing my AW collection – I'm already feeling very excited about how I can move my SS11 collection on, and I've been talking to knitwear and shoe designers who seem keen in helping me develop those aspects into my collection. I will also still like to keep collaborating with David Longshaw on his jewellery, and perhaps some other designers too.
What’s your favourite thing about being a designer?
You get to meet so many interesting people from all levels of the industry – from the skilled seamstress' to the visionary photographers to the talented fashion journalists.