Cultured Magazine

Spring 2014

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MATERNAL INSTINCT Faye Toogood returns to Milan with a softer aesthetic and two new collections. BY TALI JAFFE PORTRAIT BY PHILIP SINDEN 64 CULTURED Motherhood seems to be suiting Faye Toogood. Since her daughter was born over a year ago, the London-based designer has had one of her most productive periods—designing a furniture collection, Assemblage 4: Roly Poly, to be introduced at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan next month and a new collection of coats created with her sister, Erica, now reaching stores. This follows on the heels of the Petit h commission for Hermès in London and a few other retail installation projects. There's also a noticeable shift in the volume and shape that her latest collec- tions have taken. "They're a lot softer and plump," admits the designer. "It's like my aesthetic changed after my pregnancy—it's amazing how powerful nature is." We caught up with the designer as she was putting the finishing touches on Roly Poly to learn about her latest muse: motherhood. In April, you're showcasing a new six-piece collection in Milan. Is everything ready to go? We're nearly there. In theory, it should all be completed in time! We're working on a tapestry at the moment and finishing up the fiberglass pieces for the furni- ture components of Roly Poly. Tell us about the tapestry. We're working with a tapestry producer in the darkest countryside in England— there are only two like it left in the country. This one produced Tracey Emin's col- lection of tapestries and The Henry Moore Foundation's. They are amazing at picking up really tiny microscopic details and putting them into every stitch of the tapestry. It takes months to produce. How large is it? It's only one square meter, but it takes almost four months to finish. Roly Poly definitely has a different look than your previous furniture collec- tions, which have tended to be more angular. What's going on with these new shapes? I had gone back to work about six months ago after having my daughter, and I wanted to do another furniture collection. When I began to draw, they just came out as these really voluminous and plump forms. They're still geometric in their makeup—not so different from my previous work—but they're much more round. Nothing had thin legs. Everything I did before was thin and strong and hard. Whereas now, it's very round and full. The daybed almost looks like a pregnant woman lying down on her side. Tell me about Toogood, the collection of coats you're developing with your sister, which you'll also show in Milan. We introduced it in Paris in September and the collection is now starting to reach stockists—including Ikram in Chicago. There are nine designs that are each based on a trade—oil rigger, beekeeper, mariner—and they're unisex. Is this the first time you and your sister have collaborated in that way? Yes, though we have worked together on some of my projects that have involved costume. But this is the first collection we've collaborated on that's utilizing her background in tailoring. We wanted to use her traditional craftsmanship and tai- loring techniques, but take them in a completely contemporary direction. The nine looks are much more sculptural in silhouette than traditional out- erwear. They're intended to be wearable and, in fact, get better with age. The idea is that these looks don't define your style—they're just something you can put on and get to work in. You've been commissioned to work on quite a few fashion-related projects over the years, most recently for Hermès. How did you find the experience of working with such a major house? It was absolutely incredible. They are one of the biggest luxury brands, yet their attitude toward newness is so encouraging. There's no fear on their part to pro- duce something that's wholeheartedly new. We took over the Broome Street store in London, where they allowed us to clear out their handbag displays from the entire ground floor—a first, mind you—and take over the whole of that space. A fascinating thing happened when I presented my concept for Petit h— which uses the leftovers of Hermès' main line products. When I initially pre- sented my plan, the whole of my design was in red. A few people questioned why it wasn't in Hermès orange. I responded that I simply wasn't feeling orange; I was feeling red. Pascale [Mussard], who initiated Petit h and is the great-great- great-granddaughter of Thierry Hermès, the house's founder, spoke up and revealed that, in fact, the original color of Hermès was rouge. Orange came about because there was a shortage of red leather and cloth during the war, but there was a factory full of orange. It was so cool to me that through instinct I came to red, and it was actually the true color of Hermès!

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