Sophie Cranston Talks Street Style, Royal Wedding Dress Rumors & Working Under McQueen
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To welcome HuffPost UK to the fold, the Style section tracked down designer Sophie Cranston of Libélula -- a Duchess of Cambridge favorite -- to talk about life in London, her sojourn in Spain and what it was like to work under Alexander McQueen. Peruse what she had to say and peep another British fashion force's answers here.
HuffPost Style: What sets London apart as arguably the fashion capital of the world?
Sophie Cranston: London is quirky, individual and cosmopolitan and this mix added to the fact that the British are generally unafraid to be different and try things out can be a pretty potent combination when it comes to style.
HP: How about street style?
SC: Street style is a very important source of inspiration for designers and a very good barometer of where things are at and where they will be going, and something that is important to keep a close eye on. I also adore vintage and I think there is nothing more classy and feminine than a fantastically cut dress in a beautiful silk...and the '30s and '40s are a wonderful era to look to for this.
HP: Why did you decide to spend some time in Spain?
SC: I went for four months to follow my dreams, to live in a campervan, to learn a language and also to learn to dance flamenco. I totally fell in love the way of life and culture and ended up staying for five years. I lived up a mountain in a wooden hut that overlooked the ocean and Africa and it was the most amazing few years of my life out there. I started Libélula, danced a lot, learned Spanish, and only came back to the UK when I met my husband...I'd go back to Spain to live like a shot but right now it makes more sense to be in England.
HP: What was it like to work under Alexander McQueen?
SC: I actually worked more directly with Sarah Burton but McQueen came in and out. I started doing work experience and then was asked to cut patterns and do toiling. It was a great place to work and watching him cut a pattern was like watching a maestro at work. I learned that anything is possible to achieve if you want it and believe in it enough.
HP: Which do you prefer: ready-to-wear or bridal? Or are they two entirely different beasts?
SC: Ready-to-wear as I love color and print -- that's really what makes me tick -- the bridal side of the business has really evolved due to demand. We make some of our ready-to-wear dresses in cream as many clients were asking if it would be possible to do and ordering them as one-offs. They are an amazing price and I think due to that and the fact that we can turn them around very quickly they have been incredibly popular. It seems to be brides who are having a more relaxed informal sort of wedding who go for them -- I have been to several weddings where the bride has been in Libélula and they are always the loose hair and roses spilling out of jam jars sorts of weddings.
HP: What is your relationship with the Duchess of Cambridge? How did she come to champion your label?
SC: I think she discovered the label in one of my UK stockists.
HP: Were you overwhelmed by all of the pre-royal wedding dress designer speculation (thanks to one of our bloggers)? What did you think of Kate in McQueen?
SC: I was totally overwhelmed -- we were moving house (and studio) and one of my little boys was very ill in hospital and if anyone could have seen the reality from behind all the packing boxes and bottles of medicine they would have realized that it wouldn't have been humanly possible for me to make the dress at that point in time! I thought the dress she wore was spot on for the occasion and was totally beautiful -- I love all the secrecy it was shrouded in too -- I love a surprise and the build up was a lot of fun -- they did a great job of keeping everyone guessing.
HP: What's next for Libélula?
SC: Oooh, we have all sorts of plans! We have had an awful lot of interest from the States and Canada as well as other countries in Europe and the Middle East...in fact from all over the world, so it makes sense to start expanding internationally. The website has been a huge success -- far more than in my wildest dreams -- and so working on this and moving it on will definitely be part of the game plan and I am also toying with the idea of our own shops. And on top of that we hope to have a couple more little boys (or maybe even girls!) to add to the growing gang...
Check out Libélula's autumn/winter 2011 lookbook.