Sophie Cull-Candy

Words Stefania Tejada

 

 

What’s your perspective towards the constant change in the fashion industry?

I think change is a good thing, I think it’s fun, but having things so fast paced creates a feeling that if you don’t have the latest thing you're not doing well and that’s unsustainable. I think it’s great to be new and making exciting things but there’s no gain in creating just for the sake of it. One small change in high fashion makes ten thousand changes in high street fashion because they pick up on it and produce at a much quicker rate; which results in a terrible waste.

 

What differentiates your brand from others?

I want to create really timeless pieces, things you will still want to be wearing in 50 years time. The brand has a definite sense of nostalgia to it, I want everything to be much slower paced so the customer really has the chance to be involved and appreciate this world you’ve created for them.

 

How would you describe your aesthetics?

The label has quite a mixed aesthetic, last season (AW15) I was really excited by colour and cocooning yourself in the clothes and this season (SS16) I’m really into painting and stitching, but the overarching theme that seems to run through is having a boyish touch to the femininity of the garments.

 

When did you first feel the need to create through fashion?

Making has always surrounded me, when I was little people in my family made their own clothes and gave each other things they’d made. I probably first started doing it when I made my doll’s clothes, I also loved dressing up and creating this fantasy around myself so I’d decorate my room to fit into this new character I was portraying. I would get really into it, and I don’t think that’s ever really stopped. I just apply it now to being a fashion designer.

 

What do you hope to communicate through your brand?

Something fun and lighthearted, I want to create things that make people feel beautiful and strong.

 

 

What are the beliefs of the brand? And what about your personal beliefs?

The brand is very much about quality; I’m very much against fast fashion and creating things for the sake of it. Everything in each collection is made with a purpose to tell a story and to draw in the audience or the wearer, but ultimately I want to make things that people will enjoy wearing and keep for a long time. The world wastes so much and I’d hate to think I’m contributing to that, it would be so much better if rather than buying 10 cheap throw away things people were to buy just one thing they would really love and keep.

Where did the inspiration of your latest collection originate?

For my AW15 collection the inspiration came from my love of nature and landscape, I think nothing is more impressive than the naturally created colours. I’m half Scottish and I really enjoy spending time there, the coast and the hills are just beautiful. So when I realized I had such a huge collection of photographs taken in Scotland by my granddad, my mum and myself I instantly wanted to base a collection on it.

 

Tell us about the colour palette, what do you intend to transmit?

The AW15 colours were taken directly from the colours of the landscape, hills and plants in west Scotland, they included bright colours like red from berries, pinky purple and yellow; but I also wanted more shimmery fabrics and colours such as velvet, silk dupion and glitter Perspex to give the impression of light coming through trees, the shine from a silver birch tree and twinkling light reflected off of water. I wanted the overall palette to be strong and confident with the ability to have a quiet and relaxing side to it depending on how you wear it.

 

Why is your brand important to the industry? What do you have to offer?

It is important because it’s going back to the idea of slower production, that not a vast quantity of things needs to be made extremely quickly – everything I do at the moment is hand made and I do limited runs of it all. I really want to promote the idea of luxury but not needing to be wasteful, you should buy pieces you will really value and want to keep on wearing. In terms of the design I offer the customer pieces that are fun, very wearable and luxurious – each piece is feminine with boyish touches so it can be worn casually or dressed up.

 

Could you tell us about yourself? How would you describe your personality?

I’d say I’m a perfectionist, and I get very excited by one idea – when I think of it I have to do or make it right there and then! I’m also ambitious with doing things, I was raised to think that anything was possible and I’ve always gone with that idea. If you're positive and kind, things work out.

 

 

Do you follow rules?

It’s hard to know really, what are the rules?

 

Do you believe in trends?

Trends definitely exist and I think they can be fun, but I try not to stick to them when I’m working because you don’t really create anything new or timeless if you're just following a trend. In terms of shopping there’s nothing exciting in looking like everyone else, just because something’s trending, it doesn’t mean it will look good on you.

 

What goes through your mind at the beginning and at the end of the each collection?

I’ve only completed one collection since I graduated and with AW15 I’d already decided while doing my graduate collection, that I wanted my next one to be landscape inspired, and about half way through AW15 I had already decided what I wanted SS16 to be based on. Now that I’ve nearly finished SS16 I’ve also been thinking a lot about the next one and other projects I want to run alongside. So it’s always non-stop. But at the beginning of each, I try to immerse myself as much as possible in the theme, I read all about anything related, I visit museums and by the end of the collection when everything’s been photographed and put out there I just feel relieved that things have been well received.

 

When I see the photos of your latest campaign, I get this feeling of naivety. Is it part of the concept of your brand? Is it intentional?

A lot of people say that to me. I think it’s partly intentional and partly subconscious. I’ve always sat half way between reality and imagination, and I have quite a nostalgic temperament. I’d love to live in my own world, like something out of a Wes Anderson movie set and I think that probably shows in my work. I’m also really interested in things that fit a little awkwardly, as if you’ve grown out of them, and I think that gives a naïve feeling to the pieces in AW15.

 

Why did you decide to name your latest collection “Into the Wild”? What does it mean to you?

Well aside from the initial fact that the collection was landscape based, the book ‘Into the Wild’ about Christopher Mc Candless by Jon Krakauer, has always intrigued me – imagining this landscape in Alaska and all the little details – it just seemed appropriate to me, the phrase conjures up the excitement in the unknown.

 

 

What’s your perception towards the transition and evolution of your work?

I don’t really think about it that much, but I suppose there must be quite a natural transition – each collection essentially influences the next. Anything I learn in the previous one will inform the next one, the SS16 one I’m working on now is much more refined than the AW15 collection, it has a lot less looks with a lot more experimentation having gone into the textiles. The things that will evolve with each collection and become stronger are definitely the textiles because I love experimenting with new techniques.

 

What elements are essential during your creative process?

To a certain extent I need to work on my own – to draw and develop designs, but I also have to be able to talk and work things through with another person – you think of new things when you're talking and it’s just good to hear someone else’s opinion on your work – good or bad. I also really struggle to work in silence; I like to have music or the TV just for background noise because it allows me to focus. I can narrow down my mind to focus on the thing I’m doing; in a silent room my mind is just all over the place.

 

What do you intend to tell the world without the use of words?

I think with every collection the message I want to convey is different, but as I’ve grown up I’ve become a lot more politically and socially aware and this is something I would definitely like to get across in future collections – I think fashion can be fun and just be aesthetic but it can also be an important tool for change. I do think an overarching theme in my work though is to be expressive, opulent, luxurious and to feel relaxed in wearing my pieces but not to be wasteful – and I think this is a movement that is definitely happening right now, people are becoming more willing to spend more on an item and keep it for longer and not buy into fast fashion. I want to make people realize that by buying like this, you are helping the planet little by little.

 

Who influenced your work?

So many people do, my family, celebrities, people I see in paintings, anyone I meet really; I take so many qualities I admire from other people like their attitude or the way they wear something and make it little features in my design. But equally I see things I don’t like and make sure I work against that or do the opposite.

 

What are some of your favorite artists?

Definitely Yayoi Kusama and Louise Bourgeois, my graduate collection was heavily based on them. Tracey Emin is an artist I also really admire, I think her work is incredibly beautiful and very inspiring – her work has the ability to be loud and brash but also delicate and quiet. There are so many artists I could list, I look at art everyday – in books, online and in galleries; at the moment I’m looking a lot at Duncan and Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry, Lucian Freud and William Strang.

 

 

And photographers?

In terms of photographers, I love the work of Katie Silvester – she shot photos for my graduate collection and my AW15 lookbook – her work is so dreamy. Also at the moment I’m really enjoying looking at the work of William Eggleston, Juergen Teller and Claude Cahun.

 

What’s the last exhibition you have visited? What did you take from this?

I went to see Ai Weiwei’s exhibition at the Royal Academy, a really amazing hard-hitting exhibition. It left me wanting to learn more and to take nothing at face value, it also made me realize the importance of political messages through art – people really do take notice – and this is something I want to incorporate more into my own work.

 

Which was the last book you read?

The last book I read was the ‘Why Fashion Matters’ by Frances Corner, but that was several months ago now and I haven’t had time to read anything other than work related research books since then. I currently have a pile of books to read next to my bed – Lena Dunhams book ‘Not that kind of Girl’, A Brief introduction to Reality, A brief introduction to Islam and Japanese Short Stories byRyūnosuke Akutagawa.

 

Who are some of your favorite writers?

Quite a few years ago a family friend gave me ‘Kitchen’ by Banana Yoshimoto, who is an excellent writer. I also really enjoy thrillers and crime fiction but I haven’t read any in such a long time I couldn’t pick a favorite!

 

Is music essential to you during your creative episodes?

Yes, definitely, music can be so influential– it can change your mood or transport you to a different place. I’m really looking forward to moving forward into fashion film and presentations so I can incorporate music into my work and add another dimension to the collections.

 

 

What’s your perspective towards the human need to communicate through music, art and/or fashion?

It's such a natural thing and its so beneficial – so many people have talked about how art is a healing tool and it's so true, if you find yourself able to relate to a piece of art or take on board something from it, it's so satisfying. I think the government and other bodies of power really underestimate the arts and how it can be used to improve people's lives – without any of these things life would be so dull.

 

How does living in London influence your work?

Living in London means I get to see so much – so many new exhibitions come here and the city is packed with museums and cinemas. It's really interesting to see all the people as well and the architecture is an interesting mix. I think the busyness of London makes me want my work to go against the tide of the city.

 

What are some of the places you visit when you are searching for inspiration?

The Victoria and Albert museum is my go to place, I also really like the British museum and the Wallace Collection. The De La Warr Pavillion is also on of my favorite places when I’m not in London. Another way to find inspiration is to just absorb myself in a good movie.

 

Would you recommend 3 designers we should all know about?

I really like Molly Goddard, Christopher Kane and Jacquemus, but you’ve probably already heard of them!