Since her graduate collection in 2013, Clio Peppiatt has been the new designer to watch.
A year on from receiving much critical acclaim for her final university showcase ‘Sweet Demon of Youth’, the twenty something has followed in the footsteps of other London based design marvels such as Ashley Williams and Claire Barrow by launching her own womenswear label to a wave of admiration.
With a penchant for exploring feminine stereotypes and youth culture, Clio specialises in hand crafting garments that make women feel sexy and strong. Clio’s AW14 collection ‘The Cat that got the Queen’ took inspiration from beauty pageants in order to construct a critical debate within the series on what it means to be girly, to be empowered or to be sexual. Exploring and contrasting complex themes within a collection is obviously something Clio feels passionate about. “Although there are really girly, youthful elements to this collection I wanted it to centre around celebrating women. I combined all of these different interpretations of what femininity is in order to create a more multifaceted result than what is often presented to us in fashion or by the media.”
Clio’s graduate collection, was an intellectual reflection on the demonization of youth culture, with comparative highlights on innocence and frivolity. Using hand drawn illustrations- a recurring detail throughout Clio’s work to date- she playfully layered images of burgers, bling and marijuana leaves to create her own army of rebellious street kids. Clio is keen to highlight another undercurrent within the collection, “Fashion in itself is very youth obsessed which is quite sad. There are some exceptionally dressed slightly older women, for example Princess Julia and Daphne Guinness both always look so beautiful.”
A rebellious attitude underlines all of her work, and in many ways she’ s encouraging a new generation of women to question the social order and break the mould. Being more or less a one-woman show, Clio has faced multiple hurdles in order to become successful. “The ultimate challenge has been finding enough hours in a day to get everything done. When you’re first starting out you really are doing about eight people’s different jobs, it’s a steep learning curve and at times a little overwhelming. My collections always end up including very laborious, intensive techniques, whether it is embellishment, hand embroidery or crochet. I love all of those sorts of crafts but they’re very time consuming.” Clio adds, “I’m also currently taking fashion business courses, I want to learn how to be the best business woman I can be as well as developing creatively.”
While her work ethic and lovely character all allude to her being anything short of an inspiration, Clio marks out other designers she admires, continuing the sense of female community seen at the heart of her projects. “I love clothes that explore textile innovation. Claire Barrow, Cassandra Verity Green and Barbra Kolansinski all do this to perfection in my mind, albeit in very different styles. The graduate collection that really stuck in my mind this year was that of an Antwerp MA student called Virginia Burlina… if you haven’t seen it yet you need to look it up! It’s the most beautiful combination of delicate colours and fabrics with really bold embellishment, it’s completely gorgeous.”
From the latex heart bra, to the saccharine faux fur coats good enough to be buried in, the entire AW14 collection is so desirable that not even Clio could foresee the demand. She reassures us that expanding her online shop will be her next big move. “As my AW14 collection was my very first proper full collection after graduating, I was really unsure about how it was going to be received or whether there would be a demand for online sales – so it has been a really pleasant surprise. All my AW14 handbags are going to be stocked online from mid October alongside some exclusive unseen AW14 faux fur accessories, just in time for Christmas.”
With London Fashion Week fast approaching, Clio once again is taking a more strategic move in choosing not to show on the runway, and instead investing in a look book, “so it can reach a wider audience and have more longevity.” Collaborating with a stylist and photographer, both of whom shall remain nameless for the time being, Clio is keeping everything hush hush like the bona fide businesswoman she is. Managing to squeeze a little out of her, this is what we can expect from SS15, “Without giving too much away it’s a lot of rainbow, sass and sparkle. I love the 70’s and there are big references to that.” It already sounds perfect to us.
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