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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

An interview with fashion designer David Longshaw

Siobhan Fagan talks to David Longshaw - fashion designer, pattern cutter, illustrator and writer. He reveals how he worked his way up the fashion ladder, talks about the stellar line-up of industry figures he's worked with, and what the future holds…

Written by Siobhan Fagan

David Longshaw, illustrated by Abigail Wright

David Longshaw is a man of many talents. Aside from designing his own label, he is passionate about writing and illustrating not only for various publications but as part of the creative process behind his collections. 

After his passion for fashion lead him to an open day at the famous Central St Martins, where all his favourite designers had attended, before even completing his GCSE’s, he decided to go ahead with A Levels at his local Grammar school whilst taking Wednesday afternoons off to study  pattern cutting at an Adult education centre as his first step onto that ladder towards success. It worked.  

Now, with an impressive resume boasting a degree, an MA, various awards, work with designers such as Alberta Ferretti and Max Mara and his own label, he is as motivated as ever and yet to satisfy that inner taste for success in the fashion industry. 

AW10, illustrated by Krister Selin

How did you get from such humble beginnings, attending just one pattern cutting class a week, to working with such big designers and creating your own label? 
During the summer that followed my A Levels, I did a work placement with Adam Entwisle, working on his LFW debut collection. I then studied Art Foundation at Manchester Metropolitan and carried on my pattern cutting, studying the advanced course. Then, during that summer I did work experience at Clements Ribeiro and Hussein Chalayan before starting at St Martins, where I studied BA (Hons) Fashion Design Womenswear. 

The fabric for my graduate collection was given to me by Richard James after doing a work placement there on Savile Row during my second year and the collection won the Colin Barnes Drawing Prize and the Esme Fairburne Award. 

After St Martins I went straight on to the Royal College of Art studying  (MA) Fashion Design Womenswear. I was asked to design for Alberta Ferretti before I finished my graduate collection but said I wanted to finish my MA, so the day after graduating I moved to Italy to design for Alberta. It was great being offered the job before graduating as it meant I could concentrate on my collection and I knew I’d get great experience from designing in Italy. 

My MA collection was selected for the Final of ITS#6 (Trieste) and Le Vif Weekend (Belgium) and I then went on to design for Max Mara in Italy before coming back to start my own label. 

David Longshaw at Ones to Watch, AW10, photographed by Matt Bramford

Where do you get inspiration from for your own label?  
I’m inspired by short illustrated stories I create specially for each new season. My last collection was called ‘Escaping Emily’, it was about a puppet who was discovered by a slightly disturbed fashion designer called Emily who had moved to work in Italy.

Some of the illustrations I then turned in to prints for the dresses – and the cogs that were in some prints and sewn on to some garment, came from the section where Emily finds the puppet in a hamper style basket that’s full of camera and watch parts. The colours, shapes and prints all come from the story.  

Illustration from David’s sketchbooks

Are there any designers that you would compare yourself to or that you admire? 
I wouldn’t compare myself to any one really but I really admire a variety of designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Miuccia Prada and Ricardo Tisci at Givenchy. Kirsty Ward is a really exciting designer who’s launching her own label this September, after working for Alberta Ferretti and doing jewellery for my collections. 

Are there any pieces from your collections that you are particularly fond or proud of? 
I have a few favourites. One of them is a cog print cropped jacket from my last collection that wasn’t actually on the catwalk in the end as I felt there was enough going on with the dresses and it would have detracted from the total look. I also like the pleated dresses from the last collection as they were the trickiest to construct but after a severe lack of sleep, wither out how I wanted. 

Illustration by David Longshaw

What else do you get up to in any spare time that you manage to have? Is there anything other than designing that you like to immerse yourself in? 
I also do some writing and illustrating for different magazines which you can find links to on the press section of my website. There’s also a section called ‘Maudezine’ where I’ve interviewed Holly Fulton and JulieVerhoven. I’ve also written about up and coming designers with fictional character Maude for Disorder magazine which is quite amusing. 

Other than that, I really love going to galleries and the theatre with my girlfriend when we both have the time! I also really like watching rugby and football, especially live.  I’ve not had much time to go since starting working for myself but I get the odd match in with my dad or friends.   

AW10, illustrated by Krister Selin

So, what’s next for David Longshaw?  
Well short term I’m working on my new collection for September, which I’m planning on exhibiting in London and then Paris. I’m expanding my collection to include some more, simpler pieces using my illustrations as prints so they are more accessible for shops and customers. That will also mean I can have a few more extreme pieces in the collection to balance it all out which should be fun. I’ll also be continuing writing and illustrating. 

Where do you see yourself in the future? 
Hopefully still being as creative as possible – designing , writing and illustrating, just hopefully on a bigger scale with my own larger creative company.

David Longshaw at Ones to Watch, AW10, photographed by Matt Bramford


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