With a penchant for all things kitsch and Lolita-tinged, Rosey Thomas is the Auckland provocateur behind upcoming label Nymphets, who has set her sights firmly on captivating London and getting us wet. Since breaking out in 2013, the self-proclaimed vinyl, faux fur and beading obsessive garnered the support of her stomping ground – and only two years later is taking to the global stage. “I needed to get out of New Zealand, its very small,” Rosey explained. “It wasn’t really a career move, more for getting inspiration and meeting new people; but its been so great meeting the Lazy Ones, they are really supportive and have the coolest shop.”
To showcase her latest sugar-coated collection, Welcome to Paradise – rife with reflective materials and bubblegum pink – the designer has paired up with older sis and lauded photographer, Rebecca Zephyr Thomas, to bring us a series of seductive shots. We caught up with the girls to find out why Nymphets gets them going, where the creative process begins and what they’re both plotting next.
Tell me a bit about how the name came about.
Rosey: Lolita was my favourite novel for a long time, I was obsessed with youth. I used to call my ex Humbert Humbert. I’m thinking about changing the name soon, I’m more obsessed with ageing now. I want as many years as I can get.
Describe where your creative process starts – what do you draw inspiration from?
Rosey: Fabric stores, freaks and old ladies and walking around crowded cities. Most of my ideas I get when I’m trying to fall asleep.
Rebecca: I grew up obsessed with magazines from a really young age, (I have loads old copies of The Face stashed in my parents attic), I also read and re read Kenneth Anger’s book Hollywood Babylon and that had a massive impact on me. I really love working with other interesting creative people – whether it’s a stylist, writer, musician or designer.
In these photographs lensed by Rebecca, Rosey you’re wearing a series of outfits from your most recent collection Welcome To Paradise – tell me how it compares to previous seasons?
Welcome To Paradise was probably the most personal, I had full creative control and a fresh head. Each collection I learn new methods of textile design or clothing design. I’m excited to release my next one at the moment.
Would you say Nymphets creates a sense of community?
Rosey: Yes, I think there’s a community around Nymphets. Whenever I have a show the people around me help me make it work. I try to return the favour and collaborate with my supporters as much as I can. Its fun and means meeting lots of people that are into expressing their femininity and supporting young designers.
Your models have a fierce spirit. Who are they and how do you cast them?
Rosey: I’m always looking for cool models, lots of them are my friends or people I admire. I want my models to bring something of themselves to the images/shows, be more than just a blank canvas and to have different body types.
Rebecca, can you tell me a bit about your book What Would Julia Do, and what it was like working with Princess Julia?
Princess Julia is a total dream to work with in any capacity really. She always looks amazing – to me she’s the perfect mix of Hollywood golden age glamour, combined with all the best parts of London subcultures and the coolest UK designers – she’s usually wearing a mix of Sibling, Ryan Lo and Meadham Kirchhoff. But I wouldn’t have made What Would Julia Do if it was just about how great she looks – Julia is an amazing friend, she’s funny, loyal and always good for a glass of red wine and a fag.
What have you been working on recently/ who else have you been collaborating with?
Rebecca: I’ve just gone to Los Angeles to film and photograph another inspiring woman – Georgina Spelvin who starred in the 1973 porn movie The Devil In Miss Jones. I read her book, (called The Devil Made Me Do It,) a couple of years ago and thought she was so funny and cool I really wanted to meet and interview her. She starred in the film kind of by accident, she was meant to be doing the catering for $25 a day, and ended up with the lead role as well as the feeding everyone on set.
I’m also working with an art director on a book project based on my 35mm portraits shot in locations around Shoreditch between 2005 and 2010, bands such as The Horrors and SCUM, designers including Pam Hogg and Henry Holland. I started this because I was sad about my favourite local pubs closing. The Joiners, The Griffin and The Nelsons have all gone or changed hands in the last six months and it made me dig out all the photographs I’ve taken there over the years.
I’m also constantly annoying my friend Harriet Verney by taking her photo and eventually want to do a book like the Julia one, What Has Harriet Done maybe.
What the plans for the future?
Rosey: Live in a pink mansion and have an ostrich farm while making costumes for Lil Kim’s come back tour. But less far off I’m planning the release of my next collection, Perfume River coming soon…
Rebecca: Just to keep working with inspiration people, publications and brands and to shoot and direct more films, as well as still photography.
And why does Nymphets get you wet?
Rosey: You can’t explain attraction baby.
Words by Josephine Platt.
Photography by Rebecca Zephyr Thomas, make up by Molly Aitken.
(Nymphets is stocked at The Lazy Ones off Brick Lane, and What Would Julia Do is stocked at Machine A in Brewer street Soho).