parental guidance from christopher shannon's mum, diane and his stepmum julia
The parents of fashion designers are often the greatest collaborators of all... Mums and dads of fashion, we salute you!
Julia and Christopher Shannon
Collaboration is second nature to many of London's new wave of designers: whether interacting with a stylist to bring a fresh perspective to a new collection and show, or hooking up with a high street store, resulting in more affordable ranges for a wider public. But behind the scenes comes a much less publicised, though no less meaningful collaboration - from the parents of the designers. Far removed from the sentiments portrayed in Philip Larkin's 1971 poem, This Be The Verse - 'They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do' - the mums and dads you meet below are the ever-supportive long-term champions of their talented offspring. From day one, the parents of Christopher Shannon have witnessed, nurtured and encouraged their son's commitment to design, from tentative school projects, to accomplished graduation collections, prior to professional success and its accompanying media acclaim. Such enduring loyalty has ensured that 21st century fashion is a better-dressed place! Mums and Dads of fashion, we salute you!
When did Christopher first show an interest in fashion?
He won a prize in infant school for designing a costume based on a punk. He was probably six at the time.
Did he choose his own clothes when he was a kid?
No, not particularly. But he did take a strong interest in what people around him were wearing. He'd notice and talk about how people were styling themselves.
Did he wear anything as a teenager that you didn't agree with?
He used to wear huge bulky Caterpillar shoes, which I thought were not good for a hot summer's day.
When Christopher expressed an interest in pursuing fashion as a career, did you have any doubts?
No, I have never doubted the choices he made because I trusted that he understood himself.
Do you always go to Christopher's shows?
Yes, I have been to all of his shows. We were tremendously excited and proud to see his work on display. We know how much hard work he puts in to the shows.
What are your favourite pieces from his collections?
From a practical point of view, we love the Kidda range and I wear the T-shirts, if I can nab one!
Do you ever wear any of his designs yourself?
We're not young men! But we love his accessories, the bags and scarves in particular.
Have you ever seen anyone in the street, or on TV, wearing one of Christopher's designs?
We loved seeing his designs at the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics that was a great family occasion.
Which other designers, or brands, are your own personal favourites?
We like outdoor clothing like Rohan, Berghaus, Liz Claiborne - anything we can go boating in.
How would you describe your own style?
Casual... but not shell suits or pyjamas!
What advice would you give to a young person thinking of becoming a fashion designer?
Stick at it, don't give up. If you're talented and you're prepared to do lots of hard work you'll make it.
Text James Anderson