thomas tait was born to stand out
Since graduating from the Central Saint Martin’s MA course in 2010 (the youngest student to do so ever!), Thomas Tait’s star has been in the ascendant.
Benjamin Alexander Huseby
First winning the coveted Dorchester Collection Prize, and then scooping the life-changing LVMH Young Fashion Designer Prize. We meet the designer whose warehouse rave-shows are fast becoming the hot ticket of London fashion week!
In May 2014, Thomas Tait was awarded the first ever LVMH Young Fashion Designer prize, an award providing a year long mentorship and financial support to push his brand forward. And forward it is going! But this is down to Thomas' own talent and ambition. The youngest ever fashion graduate of the Central Saint Martins MA programme, Thomas enraptured the industry and fashion fans alike with his stellar debut collection for spring/summer 11.
Born in Montreal, Canada, Thomas gained his exceptional pattern cutting skills at LaSalle Collège, Montreal. "Studying so much technical garment-making in LaSalle was definitely what defined me," he says when we meet up in his studio in east London. "But it was the adventure of coming to London that really pushed me. I came to London for its energy and risk-taking, and I still love it!"
On moving to London, Thomas was the youngest designer ever to graduate from Central Saint Martin's prestigious MA course, and his maturity was evident from the get go in his designs. "I really care about how a woman feels in my clothes," Thomas explains. "If you can't feel comfortable in clothing, then you're never going to feel sexy or good about yourself, and that's the opposite of what I'm trying to do." Schooled under the legendary late Professor Louise Wilson, Saint Martin's added an extra string to this young designer's bow. "When I came to Central Saint Martins I had never made a mood board before because I was always playing with tangible shapes and materials," Thomas recalls. "I was told to remember that my garments will be seen on the outside and on photographs too, because before I was so obsessed with how the inside of a garment looks and feels, so now I I have both: the technical and the more insane parts of me!"
For autumn/winter 14, Thomas delighted in this duality. Building on the clinical precision of his cut, Thomas took us on a rainbow joyride as minimalism flirted with maximalism and control gave into the advances of freedom. So does Thomas Tait's art imitate his life? "I like being removed and not designing too much for my own reality," he confirms. "Having so many amazing women around me, I can be influenced by reality but still be that little bit removed. I look to my girlfriends and how they live and what they enjoy, and I am inspired. There is space to dream, to imagine, to be creative within that middle ground."
Despite this daydreaming, Thomas' head isn't in the clouds. He has evolved his promise into a business that is growing with each passing season. "I think young designers are more savvy these days, because you have to be," he explains. "The consumer is ever changing, as are the times, and it's important to keep up with these changes. I like the commerce of fashion, the buying of fashion - and the wearing of it. Contemporary fashion is fun and it should be seen as such. I don't want to be one of those designers who don't enjoy fashion," he adds.
The balance of focus and fun that is so apparent in Thomas' designs extends to his approach to his business. Before emerging design talents can even fantasise of sponsorships and commercial success, they have to struggle to survive and Thomas has faced it all with a smile. "I really don't want a sob story, it's more of a tragicomedy," he jokes, with a wry grin. "It's never been like, 'fuck it, I give up', but there have been moments when I have hit a brick wall and wondered how I'm going to afford the next show and collection. Sometimes, it's been really difficult to get financially optimistic, though that's never been the case for the creative spectrum. I always have something to say, it's just been difficult having the full freedom to say it."
For spring/summer 15, his first season since winning the LVMH prize, Thomas frolicked in a new sense of freedom and created a sensual collection that celebrated his woman. However, on the prize itself, the designer is as grounded as ever. "It affords more quality control. It won't change my daily diet of pasta and pesto, well... maybe a little but it's a huge opportunity. I am going to go slow and invest in things I can build on. LVMH and the BFC have both been supportive in that sense, giving us young designers platforms to be ourselves, rather than just looking to be designers in big houses, and it's inspiring," he adds.
With such a captivating savviness, it's easy to see that Thomas Tait is going to blow up, but on the designer's own terms. "I still have a lot to learn," he says, "but I do want to try and carve out my own thing if I can right now. I care about the pieces and the ideas I have, and they are always there as something I toy with - it just depends when I make a complete collection from these things I've been feeling and imagining."
Ever measured, he's a designer that won't be rushed. Thomas works within his own timescale. "As a designer, there are definitely things you want to have achieved by a certain point, especially creatively. It's important to keep going back and asking questions and working on that, but not everything is going to be well received every time. I've had some moments when I've thought, 'Did I really do that?" So has his design confidence grown as he has gained more experience in the industry? "I do want there to be an intimate relationship with my audience," he confesses. "I want someone to come to my show and see my collections as something personal to them. I don't want to be too dictating, and that's exactly how I feel about my clothes and about my women."
From form hugging tailoring that empowers his women to sheer cut outs that act as window to their bodies, he is a designer that clearly loves women. "I love the way a woman can just stop a room short when she walks into it. I've had those moments where my conversation has stopped because a woman has walked in and just fucking owned it," he confesses. "That's what I love, that for me is the most intriguing and sexy thing about a woman. I definitely think it goes beyond sexuality."
For Thomas Tait, love comes in a variety of different forms, from his designs, to his girl friends, to his approach to life and work. "I love to laugh," he says, "and I definitely think that you have to, otherwise life can definitely seem a lot more tragic! If I had to make a film, I would make a comedy. I think that's the most appropriate for me, though it would definitely have its dark, melodramatic bits!" Would he ever like to work in film? "Well, maybe..." he muses. "I love the marriage between fashion and other creative mediums. And you know, maybe in ten years time I might go and lead the luxury life in Cape Town! But for now..." he concludes, "my love is London, my friends and my work".
Text Bojana Kozarevic
Photography Benjamin Alexander Huseby
Styling Beth Fenton
Hair Federico Ghezzi at CLM.
Make-up Thomas De Kluyver at D+V Management using M.A.C.
Photography assistance Alex Craddock.
Digital technician Florian Renner.
Production Chantelle-Shakila Tiagi at Rep Ltd.
Model Thomas Tait.
Thomas wears all clothing Thomas Tait