Margate Meets: Laura Stevens

I'm starting a new series of posts that include interviews with interesting and creative people from Margate. I'm beginning the series by talking to 24-year-old fashion designer, Laura Stevens.
Laura studied at Ravensbourne and while there, worked for Jonathan Saunders and Margaret Howell. She has also worked at Erdem since graduating and is now designing womenswear at 
Stella McCartney. 

How would you describe your creative style?

Continuous. You must be progressive in fashion. I find it so confused; there is so much information and choice nowadays that it's hard to define how people want to dress, which is interesting in itself. 
I've always had a minimalist approach to design and this is one thing that hasn't changed since I first started designing. I like design to have a purpose and for it to be functional. I'm not so much into frivolity, though humour is important!

How do you channel your own ideas so that they fit the designer's brand?

I wanted to work for Stella since I was first studying fashion. Her clothes have an ease to them, they are forward thinking but are still wearable. Stella McCartney is a vegetarian brand, in fact, the only big fashion house that is completely animal free.
I have been a vegetarian since I was twelve, it's very important to me to work for a house that is ethically aware and doesn't use fur. I think it's very important when you are producing goods; you should have strong morals and really know the impact your work is having on the environment. 

Who or what inspires your designs? 
Does Margate/Thanet influence your work and if so, how?

I certainly believe growing up in Margate has shaped my design identity. As a teenager in Margate, what you wore was very important in distinguishing which group you belonged to. I would never have worn any sportswear then or anything associated with chavs. It is much more blurred now, subcultures have become entangled with one another. 

My memories influence my work; I remember how excited I was to visit the vintage shop that used to be on Northdown Road above an antiques shop. I have great memories of summers in Broadstairs, hanging out behind the casino watching the skaters in Ramsgate, beach parties and some fashion mistakes purchased at Folk Week! 

Design is very personal, whatever is happening when I am researching influences my work. It's also about what Stella and the team have in mind, something that's inspired them, something you then go to research yourself.

Do you enjoy designing anything in particular? 

I work quite broadly across the womenswear collection at Stella, from dresses to outerwear, etc. I enjoy all of it. It's a very varied job, which I appreciate. I might be researching in the library, sewing, in a fitting, or I could be sat drawing all day.


What are your proudest achievements so far?

I am proud of getting my job at Stella. I am the only designer in the team without a Masters, so I'm very pleased they gave me a chance, as I was always told I wouldn't succeed without an MA. It's a tough industry to get into, with long hours and high expectations.  

What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently working on the Resort 2016, so for next year's Spring season. We work a year ahead.

What are your favourite things about Margate? Do you have any particular hopes for the town?

The Old Town is one of my favourite places, the vintage shops there are as good as in London. I love the Turner Contemporary. I also like the run down parts, the tacky shops and arcades - this is what I remember of Margate. Every time I come home, I notice something has improved in the town. I really hope Margate keeps on developing, especially as Dreamland is reopening, it's a very peculiar place and deserves more attention.

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