We talk to the Founder and Creative Director of MYA ROSE about contrasts, soft and sophisticated feminine styling, business, family and Devon.
What does MYA ROSE do for the woman that wears it?
Mya Rose is aimed at women who are interested in art, design and culture, who value beauty, style and intelligent design and want to express this in the way they dress and present themselves. They don’t want to wear the same as everyone else, instead taking pride in finding something unique and crafted. But that uniqueness cannot come at the cost of elegance. The garments must always be flattering and luxurious. Mya Rose enhances the woman, rather than overpowering her. Attracting attention, not by shouting, but with a sophisticated originality. The woman is at the core of the brand and it is important to me that the clothes are comfortable and flattering to wear.
Contrasts are a key theme in your work – what are your design inspirations?
I have always been interested in two very different areas of design. A directional, contemporary look from designers like Chalayan and Philip Lim. But also designers like Valentino and Nina Ricci who bring a femininity I find irresistible. The Mya Rose perspective came from bringing these very different points of view together within the context of the season. Modern architecture is something I am very drawn to, from the uid, curved lines of Zaha Hadid to the neo-futuristic style of Santiago Calatrava. I like to combine graphic lines and structure with texture and fluidity, exploring the contrasts in form and fabrication. I also like to look at vintage fashion for inspiration, particularly the way garments are cut and constructed. There is an intelligence and craft to creative pattern cutting, which is more prevalent in vintage pieces.
You named your debut collection Abstract Equilibrium – what’s the meaning behind the name?
It describes the process of bringing together abstract and contrasting elements to a conclusion that is harmonious, while maintaining the character of the opposing themes. The debut collection needed to be an introduction to the brand and to express the identity of Mya Rose, so the challenge was to represent the contrast between the architectural, contemporary styling and a wearable femininity. I took inspiration from abstract architectural photography, which frames only a cropped shape or detail from a piece of contemporary architectural design. Being out of context of the building, the image becomes like a piece of contemporary art. The pieces have personality and a unique style, which I feel is both flattering and directional, which is what I wanted to achieve.
Your creations are handmade with a fastidious level of attention to detail?
I do the pattern cutting and toiling of garments myself, because I enjoy it, and because for me it’s an extension of the design process. When your drawing comes to life on a mannequin you see it from a new perspective and it gives you the opportunity to move around the body and explore the design in a more sculptural way. I can spend days working on the design of each piece in this way. Then the sampling process begins, cutting and sewing multiple samples, adjusting the fit and detailing until I’m happy with the result. Even then there is still a lot of work getting the luxury finish inside the garment. Whether it’s lining, binding or hand finishing
the internal construction, these details that are generally unseen are just as important to the woman wearing it, and in complex styles it can take a surprising amount of problem solving. Once all of the sampling is complete and patterns graded, the process of hand making the piece for a customer is done by a skilled seamstress in England. Instead of sending it to a factory, where each machinist makes a section of the garment, before sending it down the production line to the next, Mya Rose pieces are carefully cut and sewn, from start to finish by one skilled seamstress who can give that piece the love and attention a luxury product deserves.
You have worked at exciting brands such as Bora Aksu, Chris Liu and Temperley London – when/how did you realize that you were ready to launch your own brand?
It was something I had always wanted to do, but there was a time last year when it suddenly felt that all of my experiences so far, and even things that were beyond my control, were leading me to this point. I temporarily moved from London, back to my countryside home of Devon with my young family, and loved bringing the girls up here. I had also been working freelance as the sole designer for a new womenswear brand, and working in a very small team gave me an insight into much more of the business. I gained so much more experience and belief in myself, it showed me that I already had a very good grounding, and that the business areas that were newer to me were things I could take on and learn. I felt empowered and realised that instead of this just being a fanciful dream, it was a chance for me to combine my professional and personal life in a way that allowed me to take control of the career I love while also allowing me to be there as a mother to my girls.
What makes a product luxurious - how do your customers discover luxury in your creations?
In simple terms, as a product category, luxury is mainly de ned by the price, which in turn gives it a sense of exclusivity. But the high price of luxury is a result of what has gone into the product, from materials to manufacturing. This positioning then has to be justified on an emotive level, it has to look and feel special and of exceptional quality. For Mya Rose, it’s luxurious because of the whole design and manufacturing process, as well as the fabrication, which is important to making the garments look and feel special to wear. It’s the attention to detail that goes into the design, construction and the way each piece is handmade and nished internally.
You come across as having huge passion for both design and business - what are your aspirations for MYA ROSE?
I do genuinely enjoy both the design and business elements of the brand. This was another realisation that helped me to take the plunge and start the company. So many designers are nervous of the business aspect and I felt that having that entrepreneurial desire as well the love of designing had to be a good sign! Naturally, I want to see Mya Rose grow to be a recognised luxury brand with a selection of well-matched stockists, and to grow the collection to include a wider offering, four times a year. However I think there are great benefits to growing steadily and organically, so rather than rushing I want to focus on developing a core collection that I believe in, and can deliver beautifully made pieces in partnership with quality suppliers and manufacturers. My main focus right now is to make the business sustainable and secure the privilege of being able to do what I love every day.
What is required to make a designer a good businessperson?
I think they are two very different things and take very different mindsets. The biggest problem is separating your creative vision from the commercial considerations, or how to make the two work together. It can be easy for a designer to get wrapped up in what they want to create, and believe that if they just make something good enough, people will buy it. But you have to think a lot harder than that. You have to be true to your creative vision, or there is no point adding another brand to the already over-saturated market, but you need to consider how to make it different to everyone else, how it fits into the market and who your customer is. What does she want, and how can you get it to her? It’s a difficult balancing act between the freedom to be creative and analysing the collection for commercial balance. Are there enough tops / day dresses / fitted dresses / pieces with sleeves? Do you cater to a range of body shapes? Can it be made to a range of price-points? You have to be free to explore your vision but then think commercially and make dif cult editing decisions. This can be hard for a designer because it’s so personal, but if you get it right it’s rewarding, and personally I enjoy the challenge of working like this.
You have mentioned that your mum (who took the risk to make feature films) inspired you to go for your dreams?
My family are the biggest inspiration, they have never followed the traditional path. As you mentioned they are now making feature films, which my Mum writes. But before that they made success of ventures including writing, organising entertainment events and running a family attraction, going back to my grandparents who ran a circus in Australia! When one business ran its course, instead of looking for a traditional job, they would come up with a completely new business idea and plan how to make it work. This independent, open-minded approach to business and life showed me that there is no set path, and that we really are in control of the life we lead. My husband also has his own business and is hugely supportive of what I’m doing. We are both very driven, and I love that at the end of the day we sit down together with a glass of wine and enjoy talking about our businesses and bouncing ideas off each other. Having your own business is all consuming and being able to share that experience is fantastic.
You recently moved back to Devon with your husband and daughters Mya and Rose. Why is it a good place for creativity?
I find the openness of the countryside gives me room to breath and the clarity to focus on my work. It suits me better than the city. We also live just a few minutes from the sea, and when
I need to work something out I just walk down the road and along the beach. The sound of the sea on the sand is so calming and always allows me to think things through clearly and return to work with a renewed focus. Devon is a beautiful part of the country made up of many contrasts. Lush, green rolling hills, the dramatic scenery of the moors, beautiful rivers and woodlands and both northern, and southern facing coastlines. There are charming historic villages, buildings and castles, rural market towns and coastal resorts. The pace of life here is relaxed and the people are friendly. The varied landscape inspires artists and encourages people to enjoy the outdoors with activities like sailing, surfing, hiking and horse riding. It’s a place known for fresh shing and farming produce, cream teas and seaside holidays. It is not particularly known for fashion, but who knows, perhaps that will change!
Visit the Website: www.mya-rose.com