Why I wear black is one of the questions I get asked most. Up until I launched my own brand 10 years ago, I would wear colour; I wasn’t all about wearing black. It happened subconsciously and after a while I didn’t think about it any more – it became my uniform.
It has a lot to do with anonymity; my work allows women to be themselves and stand out, it’s not meant for someone who wants to disappear in the background. In my daily life, I don’t want to be making any statements with what I wear. Taking a bow at the end of a show is nerve-racking and I don’t like the attention. You have so much adrenaline backstage, trying to get the collection out, that the last thing you want to do is go on the runway. Feeling comfortable in my uniform of black means I have one less thing to worry about.
Most of my job involves being in the studio, making a lot of creative decisions about colour and pattern, so black acts as a palate cleanser for me. I try to keep every other element of my life simple: what to wear is a decision-making process I’ve taken out of my daily routine. (At this point, if I go to a restaurant, I want other people to order for me!) That’s also why my home is very minimal; I like clear space, white walls and exposed wooden floors. A lot of people call me a maximalist, but I’m also a purist. I like finding harmony in elements that don’t inherently fit together; that means creating clarity around me in order to focus on my work.
I think there are two types of designers: those who wear their own clothes and become an advocate for their brand, and those who dress in monochrome to shift the focus away from themselves and on to their work. I’m definitely the latter.
When I’m working, you’ll usually find me in a black A-line knitted dress by Alaïa – I own quite a few of them. I love that I can go straight out after work without needing to change; I’ll just add earrings and lipstick, so there is minimal fuss. If not Alaïa, it could be any black dress I find from places like Vestiaire Collective, Net-a-Porter or Matches Fashion. My search term has become very specific: “dress, black, knit” and then my size. After that I’d happily shop from any designer.
I actually find it very inspiring to see people wearing pattern and colour to dress up and show their personality and aesthetic – it’s great to see how they mix things together. I love someone who has eclectic taste. On holiday, I’m that person, too, and have a completely different wardrobe. Wearing black means work to me, so when I’m away I like to have a mood-shifter. I wear colour and print, and a lot more lightweight materials. The A-line stays, though. I know what my body shape needs: I usually want to show a waist and I’m not tall, so I dress for my height.
I remember someone once told me, “Women who wear black live very colourful lives” and for me that perfectly describes my working life. It’s a wonderful disparate reality.