For the first time ever we have the luxury label, Vanessa Knox onsite and we couldn’t be happier. As Head Designer for Victoria Secrets in New York, Vanessa knows a thing or two about making women feel special.
Moving to London with her husband and becoming pregnant , Vanessa saw a real lack of maternity wear that was stylish and fitting for the pregnant figure so found her niche and launched her eponymous label, Vanessa Knox.
We took the opportunity to sit down and talk with the designer asking her some of our burning questions.
Here’s what she said:
1. You started your career working with huge lingerie brands, Natori and Victoria’s Secret. What made you decide to move into clothing?
The move into clothing was purely born out of necessity. I wanted and needed clothes that suited and reflected my life style. I want to look stylish yet understated, with a little touch of sexy and not like I have spent hours in front of the mirror getting ready (even if I have!). I felt frustrated that I couldn’t find simple, well cut, good quality core pieces that were also stylish and could take me through the day into the night and not cost the Earth. I also discovered there were many women out there like me with the same wardrobe dilemma.
2. Would you say your background with lingerie has made it easier for you to design womenswear?
Absolutely. When designing lingerie you always ask the question “what is going to make her (the wearer) feel good and be comfortable” and even if it isn’t going to be seen, a little touch of luxury is very important as it makes a woman feel special. It is also key to flatter, and enhance the best bits of a woman’s figure – so fit is key. The same principles apply to designing womenswear too.
3. Many designers steer clear of designing maternity-wear – why do you think that is?
Actually I think that more designers are offering it now as opposed to about 11 years ago when I first started out. High profile celebrity pregnancies have really helped to change things. Before the much publicised and glamourised pregnancies of Demi Moore (who can forget that Vanity Fair cover??) and the All Saints girls, famous women seemed to hide away during pregnancy and wore oversized baggy shirts and dungarees to hide their bumps. Now women want to look and feel sexy and feminine and flaunt their growing curves during their pregnancies.
Having said that, and considering how many births occur every year, it does amaze me that there isn’t more out there. It’s my theory that people find it hard to justify buying clothes they feel will be worn for only a short time and that they can get by with buying bigger or wearing looser styles during their pregnancy.
In reality, buying bigger will only make you look and feel bigger and will only see you through the early trimesters. The length of pregnancy is a relatively short time but you actually wear maternity clothes a lot and will wear them after the baby is born too. So you need good quality, well designed clothes to see you through in style – there is no reason to compromise on style just because you are pregnant!
This is why we do what we do (and love doing it) and our maternity wear is designed to look great even once you have your pre-pregnancy figure back.
4. What advice would you give someone starting their career who wants to design their own range?
What is your USP (Unique Selling Point)? It is so important to identify your USP and do your research – is this a product already out there? If so, can you offer a better designed or better priced product?
Focus- Don’t try to do everything from day 1. Decide what it is you are going to offer and try not to veer off that path – anything that does not add to that offer will only confuse your customer and dilute your key message.
Get help- don’t think you can do it all yourself and do it all well. For example most designers don’t make the greatest financial or logistics people. Out-source the experts and practitioners in the areas you are not experienced in and don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice. It is amazing how many high-flying successful entrepreneurs and business people are willing to help and give expert advice and share their experiences with you – don’t forget that they were once in your shoes too and their feedback can be invaluable.
Be completely committed- Be ready to work really really hard and be prepared to make sacrifices. It’s not easy starting up or running a business in this climate but if you are doing what you love and believe in, that passion will keep you going.
5. Where do you get your inspiration from?
I am a huge people watcher so my inspiration really comes from everyday life living in a busy city and the people all around me. In busy cities like NY and London there is a strong desire and pressure to look stylish all the time so clothes have to not only be fashionable, they also have to be functional and be able to take you through all the aspects of your day (and modes of transportation!). I am probably the only person I know who loves taking the trains and buses so I can see what people are wearing!
Another fabulous part about living in these amazing cities is the mix of characters and cultures and the different styles of dress and self expression that comes along with that, which is also very inspiring.
So as you can see, I am a die-hard city girl.
6. Living in two of the most stylish cities in the world, which would you say has the strongest fashion sense, New York or London?
The 2 cities are very distinctly stylish in their own rights. The designers in the US and UK also design in very different ways- American designers focus on wearability and sale-ability and the British designers are super-creative, dramatic and avant-garde.
Until relatively recently the people in NY and London had very distinct and separate looks. In London, you could always spot the slick New Yorker in her black body-con everything and big shades with perfectly manicured nails. In NY you could always spot the ultra-cool Brit in colour (dead give-away- New Yorkers never wore colour), eccentric prints and bohemian/rock chick edge. Now, thanks to the Internet, social media, travel and global expansion of brands, the world is getting smaller and I feel the lines are really blurring and what’s coming out is something really fresh and eclectic.
7. Do you have a favourite outfit/item from the sale we have onsite at the minute?
I love our reversible jersey pieces, like the Lauren Dress. It is such a classic minimal dress that can be worn in a multitude of ways and accessorised to create a different look every time you wear it. This dress is an example of the versatility and multi-functionality I love in my clothing.
8. What trend do you predict will be the focus of A/W12 collections?
Some our favourite trends this season will be:
- Tonal colour – colours in the same family vs the strong clashing of last season.
- Red – is hot and and black is back!
- Sheer – transparency will be strong in everything from clothing to make up
- Elevated sportswear – the lines between casual and formal wear will continue to blur making the silhouette clean and minimal
9. Could you see yourself collaborating with any other designers the way Puma has with Alexander McQueen?
I love collaborating with other designers and creative influencers. We have a few things in the pipeline – so stay tuned.
10. In three words, how would you describe the Vanessa Knox style?
Stylish, Effortless, Chic
11. What are the brands plans for the future? Any exciting news from behind the scenes?
We plan to slowly grow and offer our customer more of what she wants and needs and have some very exciting plans for the future of VK so do watch this space!