Images by Evie Williams from SeeTwo
What is your background in fashion – how did you get into the fashion industry?
I am largely sell-taught, but have taken some design courses at the Fashion and Textile Museum. My background is in anthropology and I have always been interested in why people wear what they wear in different socio-cultural situations. Fashion history is a passion of mine and being a vintage dealer offers a great opportunity to spend a lot of time exploring vintage garments and labels. I have spent many hours researching and finding references for my new collection, the Liberty Collection which was brought out in conjunction with the ‘Liberty in Fashion’ exhibition currently on show at the Fashion and Textile Museum (FTM).
Your debut collection was launched as part of the ‘Liberty in Fashion’ exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum; can you explain how the opportunity came about?
The opportunity to work with FTM was born out of serendipity. As mentioned, I was taking courses at the museum and had a meeting with my mentor about my new collection. It was still at the inception stage at that point, however, I knew I wanted to base it on Liberty prints. My mentor, Alison McCann, mentioned the at-that-time forthcoming Liberty exhibition celebrating the company’s 140th anniversary and we both got very excited. Later, I met with the museum’s buyer who also loved my samples, and the rest as they say is history. I have been really lucky to get this opportunity, and I am very grateful to FTM for being so supportive.
Many items in the range feature Liberty prints, why did you decide to feature these in your design?
Liberty is quintessentially British and is renowned for its gorgeous and unique prints worldwide, so with me being based here, it seemed natural to seek inspiration from Liberty’s back catalogue. Each print is situated within a very specific design era – I love uncovering the layers, and finding out everything there is to know about each print.
Which vintage eras would you say has influenced your range?
I love feminine shapes from the 1930s, 40’s and 50’s and I have drawn direct inspiration from those decades.
The kimono – which is part of the Liberty collection and comes in a variety of prints – is actually a copy of my friend’s original 1930s kimono. Really, it’s a Europeanised version of a kimono; the sleeves are triangular (or bat-winged), rather than rectangular like those on a traditional Japanese kimono. This makes it a tad easier to wear when compared with the traditional Japanese version.
My blouses, hoods and ties draw inspiration from the 40s and 50s pieces I have come across as a dealer. I love blouses and accessories that ‘frame the face’ so to speak, and that’s what many of the pieces in my collection endeavour to do. The pieces are quite theatrical and playful and all share the objective of adding a sense of drama to an outfit.
Explain how one of your garments is made, from the initial design through to its construction?
Obviously, each garment is part of a conceptual whole and every garment shape and fabric choice, are based on that concept. For each garment I will have found an existing reference, either as a physical garment, an original pattern or an image – or a combination of all three.
The shape of the garment will not necessarily be historically ‘correct’ and is very likely to be adapted to a contemporary body through the pattern cutting process. This means that if I’ve found an original blouse pattern I like, I might add a bit more room for the neck and waist. On the whole, we are now a little bigger than over petite 1950s counterparts and this needs to be taken into account when designing vintage-inspired clothing.
To get each garment exactly as I want it, the sampling stage always takes a while. This means that some of the blouses in the collection have been toiled (drafted) up 4 times before getting to the final sampling stage, which happens at the factory. The factory will create a sample so that they can work out how to sew my design prior to starting production, and to ensure that we agree on the process.
Once approved, I have to ensure that the factory has all the paperwork required for production, as well as fabrics and trimmings (some factories, mainly abroad, will provide this, but my factories do not). During the production stage I will visit the factory on a regular basis to carry out quality checks. Finally at the end of all this work emerges a beautiful collection, perfectly wrapped and boxed, ready to go out to my customers.
From where can Frida Larsen garments be purchased? When does the range go on sale?
The collection is on sale now, and can be purchased via our website www.fridalarsen.com While the Liberty exhibition is running at the Fashion and Textile Museum (until February 28th) the collection will also be available for sale there in the museum shop.
In addition to that, my collection is for sale via the new and exciting online boutique, http://www.saxonandwolf.co.uk/ . Plus, I am in the process of striking a deal with a milliners’ collective, which is interested in selling my hoods. All I can say for now is, I will be working with some very talented women who are making hats for people you’ve all heard of. It’s going to be very exciting, and I cannot wait to reveal more.
Where can readers find out more about you and your clothing collection?
I would suggest heading down to the Fashion and Textile Museum to check out the ‘Liberty in Fashion’ exhibition and learn about the history of some of the prints I’ve used and for a great day out in general. The garments on display are gorgeous and you’ll easily spot where some of my inspiration has come from (hint: check out the sections about the early ‘Japanese Look’ and the Art Nouveau prints!) After this, pop into the museum shop to view part of my collection there. You’ll also find some of my kimonos beautifully displayed in glass cabinets right by the entrance to the museum.
To keep up with everything Frida Larsen, do take a look at @fridalarsenoriginals on Instagram, and @fridalarsenorig on Twitter.
We can be found online via www.fridalarsen.comand the collection will also soon be available on our ETSY
In addition, I have a stall at East London Vintage Fair on a monthly basis. ELVF is a relatively new fair, but definitely worth a visit. I will be bringing pieces from the Liberty collection for people to try on, combined with original vintage pieces from 1930s-1950s.
What are your upcoming projects?
I am now working on a Resort Collection featuring high-waisted trousers with braces, more silk blouses and matching shorts and tops sets. Think ‘nautical chic’ with stripes, button features and the odd rhinestone. All to be revealed when it gets a bit warmer and the flowers start to bloom.