Working in London as a designer and illustrator, David Longshaw has developed a clothing line and a character, Maude, who has inspired the vast majority of his work. He designs for women and recently released his Spring 2016 collection. He studied at St. Martin’s, one of the leading arts and design schools, after being inspired by many of his favorite designers who had also studied there. Read on to learn more about David, Maude, and his brand.
Cliché: When and why did you decide to enter the fashion industry?
David Longshaw: At school I always loved art and the idea of design, so I selected my secondary school because it had a good art department and they played rugby, which I was very into at the time. Even at primary school I remember loving the idea of how Ralph Lauren had these stores full of all sorts of products (not just garments) that he had designed. I remember designing logos from my initials and drawing lots of branded teddy bears, polo tops, etc. Then at secondary school I began to become more aware of the creative side of fashion which drew me in even more. I became fascinated by the creative possibilities of womenswear and the broader possibilities it offered. Women in general are more daring with what they wear–even to the basic extent of fabrics, shapes, and print. Most of my favorite designers had studied at St Martins, so I decided I was going to study there. I went to the St. Martin’s open day whilst I was studying for my GCSE’s so I could find out exactly what I needed to do to get in. They recommended I stay on at school to do A-levels and then do an Art Foundation. So I did. While doing my A-levels the head of 6th form at my school, [Mr. Siggins] let me have Wednesday afternoons off so I could study pattern cutting at a local adult education centre. I also applied for work experience with my favorite designers, including Hussein Chalayan (because I could pattern cut I got to work on his collection the summer before starting St. Martin’s) to help broaden my knowledge and experience.
What is your favorite part about being a designer? An illustrator?
I love the versatility of the projects I do, the different ways they allow me to explore my creativity. I’m fascinated by so many forms of design, art, fashion, and animation that it’s fun to be able to work in different areas. I find they all feed into each other in terms of ideas. When I’m working on an book or a little animation, I start to think about the fashion collection that I could design from it–whether it be from the colors I’m using or the little outfits I’m drawing or just the mood. I find it energizing working in all these different seemingly unrelated areas; it’s when you explore other creative avenues other than fashion that you start to create more original work, rather than just constantly referencing other brands garments designs.
What materials do you like to work with?
It changes depending on the inspiration for the collection. At the moment, I like to turn my illustrations into digital prints (on drill) and into jacquards and combine them with silver pleating and lace.
What is the most unconventional thing you have ever designed?
There’s been a few… But then there should be. One that springs to mind is a human-size version of my fabric fashion mouse, Maude, I made out of Triumph lingerie (they commissioned me to make it for fashion week) using their lingerie bodies/cups. She was sat wearing my latest collection at a vintage sewing machine looking like she was sewing a customized version of a Triumph X David Longshaw bra.
What is your typical day like?
It all depends on the time of fashion season and where in the world I am. Usually, if I’m in London, I’ll spend most of the day in my studio. My wife(Kirsty Ward) is also a designer and we share a studio. I spend the day designing, drawing, playing with fabrics, catching up with stores I sell to. Normally because there’s always lots of deadlines I stay up late working.
What was your inspiration for Maude and how has it influenced your ongoing design work?
Maude (fictional fabric mouse fashion editor at large for numerous publications and Editor-in-Chief of MAUDEZINE) is what might happen if the late Isabella Blow got together with Daphne Guinness, Alan Bennett, Katie Grand, Anna Wintour, Paula Rego, Tilda Swinton, Dame Maggie Smith, the cast of Last of the Summer Wine and The League of Gentlemen produced a fabric child.
I originally created Maude whilst at St Martin’s. Maude and her fabric fashion team have now been made into a book series(The Maude and Doris Series), launched last year. Grazia said of the Maude book, ‘David Longshaw’s mouse is a franchise waiting to explode…The devil no longer wears Prada; the devil eats gouda’.
Most of my characters have names usually associate with a generation you would expect to find in retirement homes, not the front row of a fashion show. Critters, particularly mice, are usually seen as dirty and about as far removed from fashion as you can get. I like the idea of taking these elements and twisting them, stylizing them and repackaging them, which is also something I like to do with my design work–taking something deemed old fashioned, or ‘non-fashion,’ as a starting point to design something new.
How do you develop your illustrations and imagery to go along with your designs?
Each season I start with an idea for a story/narrative that I then might turn into an animation, an illustrative story book (I have 5 books published and available to buy through stores and on amazon) or a series of drawings to display; these then inspire the garments in collection; from prints, to shape, silhouette and mood. The style depends on the setting and ideas behind the story.
When you created your Spring 2016 line, did you create the clothes for a specific type of person or with personal style more in mind?
Both. I’m inspired by the people that were my pieces, but also by the creative process. For Spring 2016, the collection (everything from print, to garment style to the color) is inspired by my latest book A-Z: A Fashionable Alphabet by Fashion Fascist ‘Fashion B’ aka Gertrude
Do you have a favorite article of clothing you have designed?
It changes all the time. From my SS16 collection, I’m liking the ruffle and jacquard pieces most. I had the jacquard made with my illustrations woven into it in silver on grey.
What do you hope to accomplish within a year?
More frocks, more stories, more drawings, animations, and more collaborations.
Who has inspired your most in your artistic and fashion careers?
To read more on Maude, check out David’s published works on Amazon.com.
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David Longshaw’s Inspiration For His Spring Collection: All photos courtesy of davidlongshaw.co.uk