Tuesday, 29 March 2011

That Dannii Minogue dress, his design other half and how to pull off a show stopping collection... ...When Matt met Philip Armstrong.

It had been a long day, but baring in mind the Makeup artist failed to show for the 9am start and several of the dresses were still being finished by the time our replacement had turned up, the shoot, of over forty new dresses for Philip Armstrongs first Harrods destined lookbook went unbelievable, unstoppably well.

This isn't the first time I've worked with a Philip Armstrong dress, however It's the first time I've worked with him and for a creative who knows exactly what they want, someone who won't take no for an answer or change his mind, the guy somehow remains a breeze to work for.

The creative decision has already been made, but with Phil, chances are, it's a good one....

So with the gloating pre warning text from the P.A. H.Q. That they are never late, living up to their word the shoot didn't finish late either. So to get to my point, I managed to squeeze in a informal interview before the 42 lace, sequin and leather embellished dresses along with the team vacated the studio.

Matt Ford. The first thing I need to clear up is about you and your design parter Toni Burke, what roles do you each take charge of? 

Philip Armstong. More or less both the same really, we each have our own clients, I predomantly cut everything but we equally design absolutely everything together.

Toni Burke. Yes we're both all rounders. As we've grown though we have got out sources. For example, a team that finish our embroidery and beaders from London.

M.F. How did you both start working in fashion? 

P.A. We met on the same fashion corse, then I went to London to work with Vivienne Westwood.

T.B. I went to Ibiza and started working for a designer, but realising I was too young I headed back to Liverpool and set up on my own.

P.A. Then we bumped into each other in a fabric shop, started dating and then started working with each other. Twenty one years ago. The rest is history.

M.F. How do you start a collection? Where do you get the inspiration from and do you have a way of bringing a collection together?

P.A. With out a doubt travel is one of our biggest inspirations, if we travel the world, we meet people, go to markets, you can see anything from a stone or a flower or even a conversation your having and it goes from there.

T.B. We are both really interested in fashion history, so different periods can inspire us. But then sometimes when we go to see the fabric designers we think of ideas that come from what we see.

M.F. So is each collection it's own or a progression from the last?

P.A. Sometimes collections can move on from each other, and evolve in to another, it's not always about a dramatic change, but about progressing from the last.

T.B. Sometimes we can design something in mind within twenty minutes, but sometimes a design as well as the collection becomes almost organic, you start it, change it and then perfect it.

M.F.What are these collections about? (we shot the SS11, below and the AW11 which will be made public in October)

T. We started the SS11 collection with people who we would love to dress in mind. The likes of Thandie Newton, or Blake Lively, the AW11 collection we took nude fabrics and used that as a canvas then played on and added to variations of that.
M.F. Every designer has their trademark style and design strengths. Calvin Kline is all about the cut, Vivienne Westwood is famous for her draping and deconstruction. What is your stamp on fashion?

P.A. Fit, cut and shape. We do phenomenal beading. Our look is glamourous but understated...

T.B. But we strive for an edgy glamour. It's not commercial glamour, more cutting edge. So let's say edgy, cool glamour.

M.F. Is it important that celebrities wear your dresses? 

P. Absolutely, we live in such a celebritified world, not just fashion but any industry.
We always know are most improtant clients aren't always the celebrities, but they set the trends, so it inspires our core clients.

T.B. One of our most publicised dresses last year was the dress worn by Danni on one of the X Factor finals. We didn't even see it coming, we were just sat watching the program, then we realised that's our dress! So to see your work credited by someone so high profile makes you realise your work is up there.

M.F.Who would you most like to see in one of your dresses?

T.B. Emma Watson.

P.A. Blake Lively.

M.F. What does the future hold for the brand?

T.B. Hopefully a store and we want to develop our online presence.
P.A. Yes a bouteque might be instore, It's gonna go sky rocket for us. We're the next big thing. 
SS11. To preview the AW11 collection click here. In my eyes the best collection so far!