Designer profile: Olivia Rubin Brick by Brick

After running among Bond Street’s tourists and workers mixed shop retailers having cigarettes amidst the indefinable temperature of London on a late autumnal afternoon, the soft voice of Olivia Rubin resembles an oasis of tranquillity. Even after I tell her there’s a photographer on its way and she gets worried –with no reason whatsoever- about being not prepared to appear in front of the lens; her delicate manners put me at ease and my little nerves of meeting her disappear in a second.

Olivia Rubin is unstoppable. I’ve been following her career since the first time I glanced at her iconic brick print, a simple idea that yet became undoubtedly one of the foundation stones of her brand.  I wanted every single piece hanging in that studio. There’s something about her designs… you can see yourself wearing them, in your every day life, in a party, hanging out with friends, on a date, in your office. You can see the splashes of colour and shapes, the statement prints and the reliable fabrics playing a role in your life.

I took a sneaky look at Olivia’s new collection at her studio and got the chance to talk to her and her plans. If you don’t know her, you better catch up: Olivia is going for it, and she will certainly get it.

Tell me about your new SS11 collection…

The new SS11 collection is based again around modern art, where I get most of my inspiration. This one in particular was inspired by sculptor Alexander Calder who made these fabulous mobiles. I like to use very graphic shapes for my prints, and that’s the nature of his sculptures. I also wanted to bring back the zebra print that Cheryl Cole wore, so that is also present.

In terms of colours, I used neon fluos, pastels and khaki based colours. I was a bit worried because when LFW started, I thought there weren’t many colours in the trends from NFW and seemed like it was all gonna be very neutral, but there’s quite a lot of animals prints that I’ve seen and later on I found that more colours were used and there was a bit of everything. I’m not really into trends but it always helps to fit into them in terms of acceptance… although I just like to do what feels right for the label.

How did working for John Galliano and Alexander Mc Queen influenced your creativity?

John Galliano I’d say was quite a big influence because I worked with him in Paris for about 6-9 months, so I was really immerse into his work and into his creativity…. I could say he really taught me to listen to your own creative self and be true to that.

From Mc Queen I’ve learnt more to be more attentive to details and not to rush things… but I’d probably say from the two I’ve learnt more from John Galliano. It was a wonderful experience because I was there for s long time so I was actually able to work with different fabrics, textures and to spend 24/7 in the studio and see a whole collection being created thoroughly. That was a wonderful experience.

Did Paris influence your view on fashion?

I love the city and is very different to London but I wouldn’t say it changed my view on fashion… I think my label is very London cause is where I feel at home. The brand is quite eclectic and mixes textures and colours. I don’t think the label would be the same in any other city.

How you feel about the London street style?

I was recently thinking how well people dress in London… I think Paris and Milan is more about the glamour and dressing very chic 24/7 while I think that here is more about mixing everything up and finding your own style. I would definitely say that a London woman knows how to put an outfit together.

What kind of woman you have in mind when you design?

Myself! (laughs) is probably where it starts I would say…. I consider what I or maybe one of my friends would wear but then I start thinking about the Olivia Rubin customer, and how they have progressed from only an edgy kind of woman to a more broaden audience like I got chance to see at London Fashion Weekend, women of all ages and sizes choosing a piece and style it to fit them.

Many celebrities have worn your designs… who else you would like to represent your brand?

I love Cheryl Cole and she was one of the firsts to wear an Olivia Rubin so I achieved that quite early on… I love Fearne Cotton I know I’ve dressed her quite a lot but she actually loves the collection and is such a lovely person… basically I like when the person I’m dressing LIKES the collection. When you dress a celebrity what rewards me the most is their reaction to the piece and to the brand.

You launched a diffusion line since early stages of your career. Do you think this is the way forward for all designers?

I started doing diffusion lines when I was in my 2nd season with ASOS and I liked the reaction to that, how much it can help you to reach a different audience and reach people that your label maybe didn’t reach before. I don’t think it has to do with price but mostly with doing a line with a more commercial edge, I genuinely wanted to create something that will reflect the label but has a wider appeal and also it has given me the chance to create contacts and open my label to a bigger audience. I’m not always a fun of diffusion lines because many times I see designers giving up quality or giving up their main traits for a cheaper price, while in my case I think the soul of the label remains throughout all my collections.

What do you think of high street fashion?

I love it. I think is great! I’m not into going to ONE shop only cause that doesn’t give much identity, but I like mixing contemporary houses like Sandro for example with elements of high street… is important in this times to consider that people can’t pay and arm and a leg for clothing and I keep that in mind when pricing my pieces, I meant at the end of the day labels like myself are in a way competing with high street.

You are very well media connected, Twitter, Facebook, blogging, your own e-shop….

Oh I absolutely love it…and I want to do so much more! I love blogging and fashion blogs and I would really love to put more time into it. I want to do competitions and giveaways, and I want to blog more… no time for all the things I want! haha

Pick one of both: Style or Fashion?

Fashion!

Why?

Because I love it. There are lots of things in the catwalk that I like and I can appreciate but don’t necessarily want to wear them.

Is there something you would never include in a collection?

No… never say never, I think. I don’t like to rule anything out. I’ve changed my mind about many things throughout my seasons. What I do think is that my brand is all about statement prints and that must remain in every collection.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

When I started I found selling my collections really daunting, embarrassing, I thought “how can I call a buyer from Selfridges and ask for an appointment?” I was more shy and reserved, but I got to learn to get out of there because no one is going to sell my clothes for me and now I enjoy it, even if I have sales agents if I can do it I like to be there and talk to them and see what their opinions and reactions are. I love the whole process, to be honest, there’s no part of it I don’t enjoy.

What’s coming next for Olivia Rubin?

I want to carry on building up the brand and I have a couple of projects in mind, like a collaboration with an accessories company, I want to continue with the diffusion line, and looking into other e-tailers like Asos, and also looking into making a more high street line to reach everybody. I want to go on with Oli Rubi, a line that is mainly t-shirts and casual wear and always maintaining my main label. I would love to move internationally… we are starting with America and connecting with a few boutiques in New York and a few celebrities there… but that’s just starting.

What will be your top achievement?

I would like to have a small chain of shops…. Think big! I would love to have a chain that would be above high street but below designer… I know is a hard level to get in because High Street is so strong, so I don’t want to compete with them but nor I want to compete with designers that make £1000 dresses. I want something in the middle making a viable collection shop. There is a market for that, a place where you can buy something that is special, no everyone has it but you can’t pay a high premium price for it… now a days even people that can spend £500 in a dress maybe thinks about it twice… will I wear it again? Is the occasion really worth it? I think we are in times of more sensible consumption

To find out more about Olvia Rubin visit www.oliviarubinlondon.com/

Text & Interview: Mariana Moyano

Photos: Sarah Morton www.sarahmortonphotography.com

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