Imagery courtesy of Louise Gray.

louise gray's lfw return was a celebration of strong women and creative freedom

LOOK SHARP THINK SMART. This is Louise Gray’s world.

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Sep 16 2018, 12:48pm

Imagery courtesy of Louise Gray.

Designer, artist, tutor, collaborator, costume designer and everything in-between, Louise Gray continually applies her signature burst of bold, bright, imaginative and independently-minded creativity to a shapeshifting spectrum of possibilities. The designer’s energy is infectious, which is why, after she walked away from the fashion system in 2013, the industry missed her so dearly.

Ever since her acclaimed CSM MA collection and the Fashion East shows that followed, we’ve needed the next hit of vibrant colours, loud prints, playful materials, sheer creative freedom and DIY ingenuity -- a handful of sequins here, a splash of fluro there, and a load of positive life lessons scribbled all over. In Louise's five years out of the LFW spotlight she has taught, collaborated and created. For spring/summer 19, she made her welcome off-schedule return with a performance that showcased her art, design and the community of strong women that inspire her.

“People are quick to call this a comeback but I never really went away,” Louise explained post-show, surrounded by smiling models and a queue of friends. It’s true, whether working with Marques’Almedia, hosting exhibitions with fellow designer and frequent collaborator Scott Ramsay Kyle or creating costumes for Linder Sterling, she has never stopped creating. Louise hasn’t changed, the industry has. She stepped away from the conveyor-belt commerciality of the fashion industry because it stifled her. After visionaries -- young and old, familiar and new -- have dismantled exclusionary structures in art and fashion and questioned archaic ways of working -- the landscape in the industry has changed. Now, Louise can thrive.

"It's a new world now,” she explained, “there's flexibility in how we create and sell.” The business of fashion has finally caught up with the art of fashion. “In this collection there are made-to-order pieces -- a collaboration with Savile Row’s Norton & Sons -- and maybe the most expensive thing I've ever done, wholesale pieces, collaborative items and there are pieces that will be sold only on my site.” She no longer has to struggle to thrive in an outdated, one-size-doesn’t-fit-all model. She’s making her own way.

From “Rich in things that matter” to “question everything”, “unveiling the surprise that is you” to “you can't bore of the truth”, this was a life-affirming message strewn collection.

So what does Louise want people to take away from the show? "It's a celebration of strong, amazing creative women," she explained succinctly, surrounded a the diverse cast of friends, students, collaborators and women that she’s obsessed with.

“Ultimately, the message is the same as it's ever been. We need truth and beauty, now more than ever in our world in all levels. Design is useful as well as optimistic, all of these things are needed in abundance. You need a bit of fantasy, you need a bit of colour, you need a bit of fun. It's a mixture of how I feel about dressing now.”