It’s catwalk season again. Former Vogue staffer Kate O’Donnell meets international Clerkenwell fashion designer Andrew Majtenyi.
Tucked away on the pretty, Regency-terraces part of St John Street is Andrew Majtenyi’s grey- painted boutique. Yes, though he’s based in Toronto, he has had a shop here in Clerkenwell since 2009. The traditional exterior could hardly be in greater contrast to the clothes within because Majtenyi is nothing if not directional.
His prints are graphic and informed by technology. His fabrics have innovative textures. And his sculptural silhouettes have a hint of sci-fi. You can tell that he once worked as a costume designer. His customers include Nicki Minaj and Daisy Lowe. If you fancy being among them, a dress will set you back about £450 and a pair of open-toed heels with steel (yes, steel) about £250.
We quiz the designer as he prepares his spring/ summer 2018 collection for the shows.
Why did you choose Clerkenwell for your London store?
The price was right! I had a feeling the area would develop over the years – and it is booming.
Do you have a muse in mind when you design?
Not really; I don’t like to play favourites. I have a full range of customers from women in their late teens to those in their seventies.
How does your design process work?
Usually I see or hear something and the imagination gets going. When I have an idea the process begins of silhouettes, looks, fabrics, and the overall feel of the collection.
Your work shows many futuristic references. Are you a fan of science-fiction?
No – but the sets, costumes and backgrounds are out of this world (literally). Why aren’t these designers creating our clothes and interiors?
Your digital prints are striking. Do you see yourself as an artist as much as a fashion designer?
I wear different hats. Once the designing is done, it’s time to become the artist, assembling textile artwork, fabric textures, colours, and then combining everything for a consistent collection.
You use a mostly urban colour palette. Is this deliberate?
I see it more as “neutral”. Colour is fun but who wears bright colours all the time? I do like colour, I just inject it subtly.
Your a/w 2017 collection was inspired by state surveillance. What do you think about the way people willingly give up personal information via social media?
We do not consider the consequences of exposing our personal lives in such a manner and yet we see television commercials warning us about the dangers of doing so. Just the fact that you can be filmed, followed and zoomed-in by cameras anywhere in the UK is astounding.
The a/w 2017 collection also references 19th century design. Why?
Nineteenth-century silhouettes were stunning the way they really defined the body. There’s never been anything quite like them since. Those modest times left more to the imagination, prompting creative craftsmanship and detailing, which I really admire.
What’s the inspiration for your s/s 2018 collection?
Fête champêtre, or garden party. My chosen era is the 1700s. The colours are soft.
365 St John Street. Open Wed-Fri 10am to 6pm; Saturday and Monday by appointment.