making magic with lucilla gray
Peek backstage at the enchanting young designer's NZFW show and learn about the family and friends that made it special.
Zen Crop Top worn as skirt, Shibui Dress, Kensho Bell Sleeve shirt.
Lucilla Gray is a young, enchanting Antipodean designer. Her latest collection debuted last week at NZFW, in an Auckland studio she'd transformed into a woodland glade. It was magic. Good Witch type magic, to be precise. The collection was all charm: awash with soft pastels, floating fabrics and floral motifs. It was coquettish, breezy and sophisticated.
Observing the quality of her work, it's no surprise things have moved quickly for Lucilla. Though she graduated from Wellington's Massey University just last year, her latest collection will soon show during London Fashion Week - and it won't be for the first time. After taking her graduate collection to an emerging designer showcase in Amsterdam, Lucilla took up an invitation to show in London this past February. Arvida Bystrom and Mel B have picked up her garments along the way, which Lucilla confesses she enjoys, "It's so bizarre and funny, I love the Spice Girls."
Photographer Russell Kleyn captured all the action backstage, while we caught up with Lucilla to talk family, friends and flowers.
i-D: First of all, congratulations, the show was gorgeous. It's quite a departure from your previous work, which was quite sculptural.
Lucilla: I'm so happy it all came together, I wouldn't have done anything differently. I wanted it to be a little bit romantic because the collection's going over to London for Spring/Summer next week. I had the vision from the start, I wanted to do something really magical that people would't expect to see in the Autumn/Winter season. I always try and do a print design with my collections and I wanted this collection's floral print to be quite graphic. I have all my prints done in Australia and I've been working really closely with the company every season - they've nurtured me since uni. I'm really happy how it turned out.
Tell me about the beautiful woodland set you created.
The set design was perfect. My mum's a floral designer so she really orchestrated all that. We really collaborated a lot, she would suggest different flowers that would pair well with the colours and the shapes in the collection. We put it all together the night before.
What else made the show really special for you?
Well, from the beginning I wondered if I should include Beau [the model in the blue coat] in the show. I love him, he and my sister work in a cafe together - she was in the show as well. I've grown up with Beau, we used to go to the bus stop together on the way to school. Then he started doing local shoots, I thought, "Oh my god, when did Beau become a supermodel?" Even though I only do womenswear, I knew he had to wear that coat. I pretty much designed it for him because I just knew he could pull it off. In the end I said, "Beau, you're in my show, wear this coat. You don't have an option." I want to be able to nurture him, because I'm completely obsessed with his look. He has that tough pretty look and I don't thing there's many people around with that at the moment.
He worked so beautifully in the show.
He's just got something special. He was helping out the day before, rolling out the grass too! It was so cute. I love all those little bits about it, the family stuff. My dad even made the white plinths the models stood on. My family are really involved and supportive. They're always shocked by how much work I do, but really, they amaze me.
Who else is part of your team?
My best friend Cody, who I've known since primary school. She's a make-up artist - she's so talented - and she helps at every show. At any shoot, she's there, even if she's not doing the make-up. MAC did the beauty for this show, but she did my family's make-up and helped set up. She's always a part of everything I do. And Russell, who was shooting backstage, is also from Wellington. We met when he was taking my portrait for a magazine. It's always nice to bring up people from Wellington. When you have the best team around you nothing can go wrong.
So the show went off without a hitch?
Yeah, it was so calm backstage, I almost thought something had to be wrong, like we've forgotten something. But it went of without a hitch.
Photography Russell Kleyn