London has earned its crown as the most creatively fashion-forward capital in the world, not thanks to the people-packed pavements of Oxford Street or the gargantuan glass shopping centres situated at the east and west poles of town, but due to our unique, home-grown designer labels.
No one will blame you for assuming that the only things made in Britain today are crustless cucumber sandwiches and cups of tea. In fact Britain is full of highly skilled craftsmen and women and still has the capacity to produce the highest quality clothing, of which brand Beautiful Soul is a perfect example.
This quintessentially British label really is as gorgeous on the inside as it is on the outside, with designer Nicola Woods taking every care to ensure that her exquisite, high quality collections respect the balance between sustainability and style.
Treat your wardrobe to one (or three, who needs to pay rent?) floor-skimming dress and your conscience will be as light as the weightless silky chiffon from which they’re conjured.
The London Word caught up with designer Nicola Woods to hear more about this gorgeous logic.
The prints featured in your new AW13/14 collection evoke the beauty of a British country garden. What do you find to be your most inspiring outdoor spaces in London?
‘I love picnics and often find myself in local parks, including Holland Park. The infusion of colours, the smells, the locals, the visitors, the diversity, the culture, the architecture, the fashion… the energy.’
Were there any other major inspirations behind the collection?
‘The brand’s signature is influenced by memories. Moments that have sparked excitement and inspired me.
‘As a child, I collected ladybirds with my sister Amanda. I love ladybirds and my sister and I are at our happiest reminiscing about our childhood.
‘To showcase the collection we also developed the “I ♥ Ladybirds” film, which was launched at London Fashion Week in February 2013. It captures the quintessentially English appeal of the brand and explores the creative aesthetic of the brand – and my love of ladybirds!’
Why do you feel it’s important to be a sustainable and ethically aware fashion brand?
‘I passionately believe that taking a responsible approach to the planet is not a trend, it is the only way forward and as a designer it is my responsibility to design a product that has considered the environment and that offers transparency throughout the supply chain. For me, this is common sense.’
Many of the other exquisite fabrics in your collections are made in Britain. How important is it to you to keep British textile manufacture alive?
‘My objective is to positively promote the brand’s use of British and sustainable fabrics, UK production, British Craftsmanship and intelligent, innovative design. As a British designer, I am passionate about supporting the regeneration of UK manufacturing and textile production.
‘For me, it is important to embrace the remaining skills that we hold in the UK and carve solutions to sustain them.’
Your collections also feature luxury vintage fabrics; where do you source these from and how do they inspire the collection?
‘The Beautiful Soul studio boasts one of the largest archives of vintage Japanese kimonos dating back to the 1940s – sourced from Japan – and it is from this archive that Beautiful Soul’s Kimono Collection is brought to life.
‘Customers are invited to choose their own vintage kimono in the Beautiful Soul studio and then be part of the journey of transforming and upcycling it into an expertly tailored, one-of-a-kind garment. Each piece carries a strong emphasis on longevity, multi-function and adjustability.
‘We continue to offer the Kimono Collection to private clients but to meet international demand we launched the R-T-W Collection Beautiful Soul London in 2011.’
You have many famously stylish Londoners already wearing your designs such as Lily Cole and Laura Bailey, which other London based fashionistas would you love to see in your designs?
‘A Beautiful Soul woman has a desire to be different, but is not shouting for attention. She appreciates intelligent design and has a strong sense of direction. Her quirkiness is intriguing.
‘I would love the opportunity to dress Kate Middleton, Florence Welch, Alexa Chung, Sienna Miller, Anna Friel, Sophie Ellis Bextor to name but a few.’