Phoebe English swept into view two seasons ago with a collection of hair- and rubber-fringed gowns fit for Amazon warriors. The Central Saint Martins MA show won English the sort of attention veteran fashion weekers dream of, along with a degree of fame as that girl with the weave.
It wasnt something I had ever expected or planned. It came as a bit of a surprise, really, English says of the attention surrounding her debut. Hair was another filament to use. It has a really interesting surface and I love the way it moves.
In fact, the hair-curtain dresses encapsulated Englishs interest in texture as well as her knitwear expertise. The gowns entailed hand-crocheting individual strands of artificial hair into rubber sub-structuresquite complex engineering stuff, as she says.
Her sophomore outing saw English focus on static, blocky calico forms, and won her the VFS Merit Award for ingenuity. For autumn-winter 2012, English is experimenting with a more fluid and feminine direction than in seasons past. Shes continuing her devotion to unorthodox fashion materials by working to achieve fluidity not with silks, but with latex. The connotation of it is that its very stretched to the body, so its nice to have something different, she says.
Englishs third season has also seen her move operations to an East London studio and ally with a business partner. Rose Easton, formerly a buyer for The Shop at Bluebird, recently secured Dover Street Market as Englishs first stockist.
On a recent visit, English, Easton, a pattern cutter, two interns, a dress form, bolts of latex and a portable heater jostled for space in the postage stamp-sized work space.
It is a big thing, to take on your label. Its a big commitment, English says, smiling as she surveys the scene. I think its good to do these things when youre young and naive.More