10 things you need to know about phoebe english
A quick fire round of questions with one of London’s brightest young designers.
Growing up in a very small house in Stratford-upon-Avon, near Shakespeare's birth place, surrounded by a family of artists, it was only fitting that Phoebe English would become one herself. Nurtured under the watchful eye of the late, great Louise Wilson, Phoebe graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2011, with an MA in fashion design. Fast-forward to today and, with numerous artistic collaborations with Dover Street Market already under her belt (including one with the legendary Ai Wei Wei), Phoebe is one of the hottest young designers around. So hot in fact, that Forbes named her in their iconic '30 Under 30' list.
Like something out of a Grimm's fairy tale, Phoebe's creations are dark, woodsy, and full of gothic charm. Think layers of diaphanous drapery, beaded crowns, intricate pleats, latex, paint, and lots and lots of black. Currently working on her ninth collection and fresh from opening her brand new online store we catch up with the ethereal beauty.
She's a big fan of William Shakespeare
"I grew up in a very small house 100 meters away from Shakespeare's birth place in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire - I have seen A LOT of Shakespeare. My favorite play is The Tempest."
She had dreams of being an actress when she was younger
"I wanted to be an actress; I'm probably only doing this because I didn't make the cut for drama school! I think I applied to at least 10 so I probably wasn't very good at it. I was a failed actress before I had even started!"
She fell in love with corsetry when she was younger
"Seeing the corsetiere of Mr Pearl was a very important moment. Being shown some costumes he made for my aunt was really a seminal moment, I think I didn't sleep for days afterwards. They were just so beautiful, I had never ever seen something that beautiful, I was quite literally blown over."
She was named in Forbes' 30 Under 30
"I didn't quite understand it at first, I had no idea what it meant, but now I realise it's a really special thing and how lucky I am to have been listed!"
She has just launched her very own online store
"I have wanted to work on one since the very beginning so it feels so great to have finally got here, since running the label I have realised more and more how creative the 'business' side of the business can be, it has been so liberating to be able to see this and play with it."
She's just designed some amazing chairs with Sam Edkins, exclusively for the new online store
"He's actually my boyfriend. I've known him since he was 11, we went to the same high school and grew up in the same town. He has been extremely important in the development of my practice and it seemed very natural to make some work together. I love his amazing upholstery studio, he has an incredible knowledge of traditional craftsmanship which I think is so precious.''
She creates exquisite creations for Dover Street Market
"Well the installations just naturally started to happen really. We made one for the DSM window, which I was really pleased with, and then we made another and another and, actually, now it really is a key part of what I do and what we have done. I think we have ended up doing so many because I feel really at home with the process of making them, my parents are both artists so I grew up within the midst of installing something of some sort, almost all of the time. It feels like home to do them."
Spring/summer 15 was one her favorite bodies of work yet
"It was a very special collection to me, actually, I am very proud of it and I don't always like my own work. The staging of it was very serene and static and we had an amazingly intense soundscape and film footage playing by Susu Laroche and Stanley Schinter. I wanted the collection to seem quite magical to watch, like exploring a jewellery box when you are little."
She has a lot of exciting projects in the pipeline
"My next collection will hopefully be something quite precious and meticulously considered. I'm working on a few projects all at the same time which is fantastic - I'm very lucky to be busy!"
She dreams of creating an opera
"I would, in my wildest dreams, like to one day create an opera or a dance, as I would love to be able to play more directly with communicating a narrative through design. I would also love to work with ceramics and also with glass. I don't make very many plans for the future; I prefer to see how the journey goes along."
Text Tish Weinstock
Portrait Josh Shinner