louise gray doesn't want you to put anything other than your elbow in your ear

The Scottish designer shares what it means to be a woman.

by Zoé Dreadon
01 February 2018, 6:09pm

Am I doing this woman thing right? Do you do this woman thing the same as me? Does it matter? Existential lady crisis -- we all have it. Notes on Being a Woman is an ongoing series that examines the many myths and meanings of what being a woman is all about.

Bold, bright and imaginative beyond belief, Louise Gray designs are all about vibrant colours, loud prints and playful materials -- a handful of sequins here, a splash of fluro there.

Born and raised in Scotland, Louise’s first foray into the world of fashion was when she attended Glasgow School of Art, where she began designing hand-embroidered knitwear. After graduation she moved to London to pursue her education at CSM, which brought her to the attention of Fashion East who nurtured her while she set up her eponymous label.

In 2013 Louise took a hiatus from designing and has since taught at the London College of Fashion and the Royal College of Art. In 2016 she transitioned into the art world, hosting her first exhibition with fellow designer Scott Ramsay Kyle. The exhibition was a conscious step away from the fashion industry, which they believed was becoming too commercial. Here she offers her notes on being a woman:

The most unexpected thing I’ve found about being a woman is you can get anyone to listen to you if you know how to walk into a room.

The best advice someone ever gave me about human bodies was from my Grandma: “Don't put anything except your elbow in your ear.”

Love comes in so many forms. The big devastating, encompassing love is the only one I really want. What I find are small bumps of it that last only a short while, and I adore those lusty reminders and I'm thankful for that. I remember thinking over and over in my mind the circling of her facial profile, obsessing over curves and softness of face. The smell of a person you love is what home is.

When I was young I had the wrong idea about ambition. I thought for a long time that everyone had the same ambition as me or that the idea was to strive to be better, to go forward in that way. It took me ages to realise that not everyone feels like that, and people want other things. I see when I teach, too, that lots of students think everyone else thinks just like them, I don't know how to overcome that other than fucking up and learning it by doing it wrong.

The most surprising pleasure I’ve discovered is outdoor swimming, I went recently to Woolwich Lido, which is a dream. Hampstead ponds, the sea! I'm fishy.

I admire women who know how to just do it. They do it in their own way. Munroe, a young Madonna, Diane Arbus, Nina Hagen, Dolly Parton, Linder Sterling, Amanda Lepore. Also women who dedicate their work to the success of other women, who make the conversation: Gloria Steinem, Sarah Sophie, Alice Walker, Jenny Holzer, Jill Bryson of Strawberry Switchblade, Caitlin Moran, Beth Ditto. I like the stories of women that change careers or have a break and come back, because we live in a world where being a parent and/or a careerist is so difficult to navigate. I just engage so much with women who do it, and continue or change paths, realign and see and know how to do that. Those are the important experience stories for me.

The biggest lie about life is that it sucks.

Amika George asks: How can women and girls stay hopeful about the future of feminism in a Trump era? Why wouldn't you remain hopeful? Women have shown such strength, bravery and humanity this year!

My question for the next woman doing this column is: How many times have you had to start again?

Fashion Designer
louise gray
notes on being a woman