By Chere Di Boscio
Amy Powney, the designer behind Britain’s hottest fashion label Mother of Pearl, would be the first to admit this isn’t a sexy brand. It’s cool and it’s beautiful, but it’s really all about women dressing for women.
Amy joined Maia Norman’s budding fashion house in 2006 as an assistant. Today, over a decade later, she’s now firmly in control of the label – and is making it more popular than ever. Classifying her brand’s aesthetic as ‘something sporty, something girlie and something granny,’ her styles won over bigwigs in the fashion industry in 2017, when they awarded her with the British Fashion Council/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund award, which came with £100,000 in funding plus mentorship.
Here, Amy tells us about personally going greener, getting married, and growing up off the grid.
Tell us about the inspiration for your latest collection at LFW?
Both Hockney’s paintings and his personal style were my starting point. His use of perspective in such a stylised manner struck me when I saw his retrospective at the Tate Modern last year, and I loved the idea of layering similar prints, plaids and stripes to create a depth within an outfit, not so dissimilar to the layering he chose in his own styling. With the bold colours at the forefront from his paintings and the plaids, stripes and floral prints symbolising high summer, I fell into the romantic ideals of a hazy summer day with picnics and floral meadows and characters like Lucy Honeychurch, Bathsheba Everdene and Pearl from Simon Armitage’s poem Pearl.
At your LFW show, there were outfits where models held newspapers – what statement were you aiming to make with that?
The mood of the collection was: summer Sundays, picnic blanket, fresh picked flowers and newspapers under the arm with a stroll down to some greenery for a relaxed Sunday! The newspapers were in collaboration with Martin Parr, one of my all time favourite photographers, with ironic slogans to match his socialist photography.
You had a rather unusual, off the grid childhood. Tell us a bit about that, and how it affected what you do today
I think being brought up off the grid for some of my childhood gave me my passion and respect for nature, but I think primarily the juxtaposition of my London life today and my families parallel life is a constant reminder not to get lost in consumerism and to put the bigger picture before my passion for creativity, or at least try to balance the two and importantly celebrate the two together.
Vogue awarded you the British Fashion Council/Vogue Designer Fund Award. How did this impact your label?
Vogue is the most prolific fashion institution of our time and to be honoured with their award elevates the brand by sheer association, it has had an incredible impact on our profile and an award I dreamt of winning as a design student.
You recently got married and created your own dress – kind of a girl’s dream come true! Tell us a bit about how you fashioned the ultimate ‘dream gown’?
I was incredibly lucky to be able to design my own dress as in all honesty, I would have been very uncomfortable in a traditional meringue! Getting married was inspired by the idea of marrying my best friend and celebrating with all my loved ones, and I wanted to be able to feel myself on the day.
My dress was made in 100% cotton guipure lace, every inch stitched by my amazing team which gave it more love than simply buying one, I know I was incredibly lucky to have my dress made, so I recently launched a small bridal capsule called ‘Pearly Whites’ for others to enjoy, made in our studio from 100% organic silk.
Why do you think women are so attracted to your label?
I like to think that our 15 female-strong team help think at every stage of our brand when figuring out ‘what do women want’. I feel that in turn helps us to create great product that women feel great in. My philosophy for this brand is to offer a product that makes women look and feel fab, with price points targeted to open up the sale to more women. Being a woman myself, I like to dress from masculine, to feminine depending on my day or mood. With our aesthetic being the combination of the two, I have had feedback that the brand offers product for the layers of personalities we all have, which was music to my ears!
What are the small things you do in your personal life to live a bit more sustainably?
Before I make any decision, I challenge myself, which in turn, I feel, chips away at all times to make better decisions and have better practices. For example, I challenge myself before I purchase anything: I don’t buy coffee from a shop in a takeaway cup, I try and take my water bottle with me. It’s the small things from all of us can make a huge difference.
Other small things I have learnt along the way that we can all do are: switch your energy supplier to Ecotricity or one similar; eat no or less meat and if you choose to eat meat try and eat low impact meats like chicken (but ensure it is free range); try to eat less palm oil (that’s a little tricky as it is in everything) and mostly buy less but buy quality!
I am an avid believer in following positive inspirational people on social media to inspire you rather than the ones that don’t make you feel good about yourself, as it is hard to be 100% sustainable in today’s world. So, it’s about the small things, and being conscious and not giving yourself a hard time all the time!
Our Mother Of Pearl Lust List
Tia faux pearl-embellished broderie anglaise cotton shirt, around $450. See more here.
Corinne striped ribbed-knit sweater, around $475. See more here.
Jewell faux pearl-embellished broderie anglaise cotton straight-leg pants, around $450. See more here.
Aspen faux pearl-embellished striped silk-satin shirt, around $545. See more info here.
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