Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Wales Online - Apr 27 2009

London calling helped Emma Griffiths to success

FIVE years ago, an aspiring fashion designer left Wales to seek her fortune in London.

Armed with an array of sewing skills gleaned from her home economics classes and a healthy fear of the unknown, Emma Griffiths started at the bottom of the ladder.

But just half a decade later she has her own label, has worked with prestigious designers Alexander McQueen and Boudicca, and is on the cusp of cracking the American A-list scene. US chart-topper Ciara has recently been snapped in one of her creations and, with the top-end items in her just-released new collection retailing at a celeb-friendly £540, more appearances on the red carpet for her clothes are likely to follow.

Not bad for a 30-year-old who grew up watching her mother and grandmother making outfits. The dedicated designer from Llandaff, Cardiff, has her own studio in the trendy Spitalfields area of east London, and designs on some of the world’s most fashionable names.

But the designer was not always convinced of a future in fashion.

Ms Griffiths said: “I’ve always had an interest in clothes and from a young age I was able to learn about where they came from, but I didn’t know where that would take me. I remember when I was at Whitchurch High School and was asked to make a car tidy in my home economics class. I hated doing it and my teacher must’ve thought I was useless, but here I am now years later still sewing.”

The Welsh designer admitted that she got stuck in a rut in Cardiff, and the thought of moving to London and trying to make it in the fashion world was initially a daunting prospect.

“After school I did a course in hairdressing and make-up, worked in a bar, and just tried as many professions as I could”, she said.

“I think I was scared of moving to London with no money and no job security and just tried to put it to the back of my mind and do something else. But I realised something was missing and that I wasn’t doing what I should’ve been. I reached the age of 25 and thought ‘this is it, I’m going to London to follow my dream’ and I’ve never looked back since.”

She went on to study for a BA in fashion design at Westminster University and used work experience placements to get her where she is today.

The Emma Griffiths collection contains items ranging from £125 to £540 which are inspired by 80s style icons such as Grace Jones and Joan Collins. The pieces boast big shoulders, structured silhouettes and luxurious fabrics, and offer a range of distinctive looks for strong, independently minded women who like to stand out in a crowd.

Ms Griffiths, who tries to return home and visit her family in Llandaff as often as possible, said: “My clothes will always be strong. I like to challenge the norm and how we’re perceived as women. That’s what’s so great about London – you can wear what you want and no-one bats an eyelid. You could walk down the street naked in some parts and go unnoticed.”

Although Ms Griffiths is thrilled that pop star Ciara has requested pieces from her collection to wear around America, she said she would most like to see singer and cutting-edge fashion icon Roisin Murphy in her clothes.

“I’d also happily lend them to actress Tilda Swinton and Duffy is beautiful, so she’d look good in some of my pieces too,” she added.

The collection has clothes in sizes six to 12 but Ms Griffiths hopes to extend it to accommodate larger women.

She said: “I’m not into size zero and I don’t agree with the constant pressure on women to be stick thin. I see someone like Beth Ditto and I think she looks amazing. She knows she has lumps and bumps but carries it off – I’d happily let her wear my pieces.”

The designer, who hates going shopping because she can never find anything different enough, said she doesn’t like to think of herself as having “made it” in the fashion world as she is always aiming to strive for more.

“My advice to budding fashion designers is just to go for it”, she added.

“Try and do lots of work experience and always experiment and open your mind to new ideas.

“You will have tantrums and sleepless nights, but that’s just the way fashion goes, and I love it.”

The Emma Griffiths collection can be found at www.egfashion.co.uk


For the original post please visit Wales Online

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