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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Vita Gottlieb: London Fashion Week Fashion Fringe S/S 2013 Catwalk Preview Interview

Multi talented film maker, fine artist and textile designer Vita Gottlieb turns her hand to fashion design... with stunning results that have landed her a place with the prestigious Fashion Fringe.

Written by Amelia Gregory

vita gottlieb by Alexa Coe
Vita Gottlieb A/W 2012 by Alexa Coe.

I’ve known of Vita Gottlieb through mutual friends for many years so when I bumped into her recently it was something of a surprise to hear of plans to launch herself as a fashion designer, having worked previously in fine art, film and textile design. I was then really happy to discover (via facebook, where else?) that she had been shortlisted as a finalist for this season’s Fashion Fringe. Here she describes the incredible journey she has made: inspiring stuff for all would be fashion designers!

Vita Gottlieb by Angela Lamb
Vita Gottlieb by Angela Lamb.

You are a textile designer by training – how difficult was it to become a fashion designer? Where did you learn to think in terms of putting your textiles on the body?
I actually trained in the more theoretical area of art history – then did an MA in Fine Art – it was here I started to experiment with my illustrative and graphical sketches, putting them into prints and wall hangings. It seemed natural to move into textiles from there and then translate these 2-D forms into 3-D with fashion. I’ve always needed to work with my hands and love the direct process of designing textile prints, then using these to design on the body. The prints inform the process and I absolutely love it. Finally I feel I can use and be inspired by all my passions – film, art, stories, travel and wilderness.

Vita Gottlieb AW 2012
Vita Gottlieb AW 2012
Vita Gottlieb A/W 2012.

Prior to that you also worked in film and gained a degree in fine art. What do you think led you to fashion after so many years in other design disciplines?
I suppose I like to slow-cook things! Sometimes you need a bit of time to work through all the peripheral ambitions and come slowly into settling on something that feels right and at the right time. I don’t think I would have been good in the fashion industry in my early 20s – I was quite sensitive and volatile, and probably would have been swallowed up or waylaid by it all! I love film and always will but ultimately wanted to be in control of a more contained aesthetic, and with fashion, you really can make things happen in an exciting, organic way. It’s akin to being an artist – it’s your vision, your story, but you need to communicate this message clearly in order to make it happen. Art and film will always feed into my work though, through the creation of story and mood, the use of print and fabric manipulation. I’ve also always loved texture, the feel and emotion of strong colour, of materials themselves. Fashion seems to encapsulate all of these things in such a magical way.

Vita Gottlieb AW 2012
Vita Gottlieb AW 2012
Vita Gottlieb A/W 2012.

What did you learn from your years working in interiors that you have been able to apply to your fashion designs?
For around 3 years I free-lanced as a textile designer in both the interiors market and also, I designed and made my own accessories for the body which sold at trade and public fairs. The biggest learning curve from that for me has been understanding how to translate ideas from the graphic ‘doodles’ I was making in textile print – which had a flat, albeit malleable substrate – into a conversation with construction, silhouette, movement. The amazing thing for me now is witnessing how much the 3-dimensional form in the movement of fabric can really alter my thinking on a design. It’s wonderful to watch it develop through sketches, into a pattern, all the protos and finally, to see a garment on a real body is just so exciting.

Vita Gottlieb AW 2012 scarf
What makes your scarf collection so unique?
I’d say my use of colour, graphic repeat prints and intricate detail. They’re trans-seasonal, so can be worn with anything and by anyone all year round.

Vita Gottlieb, Illustration by Rosa and Carlotta Crepax, Illustrated Moodboard
Vita Gottlieb S/S 2013 preview by Rosa and Carlotta Crepax, Illustrated Moodboard.

What was the inspiration behind your A/W 2012 collection?
AW12 was inspired by elements of the forest floor and the tactile quality of bark, moss, the underside of mushrooms. I had this image of a disenchanted forest filled with creeping lianas and the raw-edged, tactile textures of fallen leaves. Also, the colours of dusk. Dusk and moonlight, magic hour – I think these qualities of light will form a puncture through many collections to come.

Vita Gottlieb SS 2012 Nightbird (illustrated preview by Vita)
Vita Gottlieb S/S 2012 Nightbird (illustrated preview by Vita).

What was the process of being picked for Fashion Fringe? Where did it all start?!
It’s been an amazing journey so far! It started with a question – should I really apply? Do I have a chance? I thought it was a no until I woke up one day and just said to myself ‘there’s nothing to lose’ – classic, really. Something in the way the criteria for entry was written gave me hope as it seemed to me to encapsulate everything I wanted my label to be. It’s incredible to have got this far! I remember the day Christopher Bailey called, personally, to say I was a Semi-Finalist; I was in New York at the time and literally jumped around the room I was in. Being announced as a Finalist was one of those moments I won’t forget – the elation, nerves, and fear! I think I’m more afraid of success than I am of failure, much as I want and am working for it – but there’s no looking back now. The team at Fashion Fringe have been amazing and so supportive throughout, which amongst many other things has made the whole process such a joy and privilege.

 Vita Gottlieb SS 2012 Tamsin (illustrated preview by Vita)q
Vita Gottlieb S/S 2012 Tamsin (illustrated preview by Vita)

I can’t wait to see your new collection: the description sounds incredibly romantic and dreamy – are you a dreamer? What’s the best dream you’ve ever had?
Oh, man, I am a consummate dreamer! Both day and night. Reverie is a favourite hobby of mine. Often I dream of flying through the universe, diving in and out of colours and natural patterns of movement – sometimes I go back in time and poke about cobbled alleys and strange places. Always there’s a lot of movement, colour and music. I wake up shaking from the images sometimes. But it’s so much a part of me.

Vita Gottlieb S/S 2013 preview by Catherine Moody
Vita Gottlieb S/S 2013 preview by Catherine Moody.

The collection will layer eastern and western references – what motifs have you taken from each place, and how have you mixed them up?
SS13 is inspired in part by Paul Poiret‘s 1911 party ‘Thousand and Second Night‘, where guests were asked to wear Persian dress and indulge in dancing in the moonlight… I love the idea of layering Eastern influences into Western ideas; some of the prints are inspired by and use motifs from Georges Barbier‘s early twentieth century illustrations. I also thought about moonlight as a mood and infused some of the colours of that hour, just after dusk, in an imaginary city full of minarets and flickering lights. In terms of Western influences, I’ve tried to create a bit of a puncture through accessories and silhouettes.

vita gottlieb pinterest
You are an avid fan of Pinterest – how do you use it to collate and filter your ideas?
Yes, I love it as it’s such an easy way of keeping all your ideas and inspirations in once place. I’m a real sketchbook hoarder and keep everything I sketch or write in books at home or in the studio – but Pinterest I use more for general interest inspiration. And for food porn, it’s great for that!

Vita Gottlieb A/W 2012 by Lea Rimoux
Vita Gottlieb A/W 2012 by Lea Rimoux.

In fact you are quite internet savvy all around, why do you think (as an up and coming designer) it’s important to be so visible on social media networks? Do you plan to sell all your collections online?
Being social-media savvy doesn’t necessarily come naturally and I was definitely a Facebook/Twitter abstainer for a LONG time. But once I’d set up my business I recognised just how useful it can be and have become a lot more interactive now. It’s mainly for business but I try to pepper what I post with some personal and quirky content too. I think it’s important not to forget that there is a person behind the label and to inject some personality into it all. As an emerging designer I think it’s imperative to use social media to maximise your profile – and to keep in touch with what your potential customers want, that’s key too. Currently I sell my scarves online but yes, eventually I do plan on selling the collections too. It’s exciting to see what the internet can realise for my label – you can’t ignore it anymore!

Vita Gottlieb A/W 2012 by Lea Rimoux
Vita Gottlieb A/W 2012 by Lea Rimoux.

I believe you are a foodie – what is your must have edible delight whilst working on your new collection?
Ah, I am definitely a foodie! I’ve always loved food – eating, cooking, everything really. I read recipe books as pleasure. Hmm, must-have edible delight? Hard to say as I love so many things – Asian flavours, home-cooked, big, flavoursome dishes, vegetables from the garden (one radish, this year..no time to garden!), things like shepherd’s pie and fresh peas or glazed salmon in honey, mirin and lime. Don’t get me started! But it has to be savoury, I’m not really inclined toward sweet things.

Can you give us any hints as to what to expect in your Fashion Fringe catwalk show? (music… casting.. atmosphere etc)
I believe you’ll be there, so, you will have to wait and see, Amelia!

Vita Gottlieb A/W 2012 by Lea Rimoux
Vita Gottlieb A/W 2012 by Lea Rimoux.

What are your hopes for the future?
I’d like to build a successful, well-regarded and creative womenswear label, branching out with a diffusion line, travel lifestyle and perhaps lingerie. One day I’d love to open a kind of eco-lodge in a hot tropical country by the sea. You see, I am a dreamer! More locally, I’m interested in collaboration with other artists and creative professionals, making fashion films, happenings and shows, and see the future as a very exciting thing.

Vita Gottleib A/W 2012 by Gemma Sheldrake
Vita Gottleib A/W 2012 by Gemma Sheldrake.

See more from Vita Gottlieb here… I can’t wait to see the entire collection on the catwalk! Vita Gottlieb shows alongside Haizhen Wang and Teija Eilola in the BFC Courtyard Show Space on Tuesday 18th September 2012.

vita-gottlieb by Melissa Angelik
Vita Gottlieb by Melissa Angelik.

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