Emerging designer Emma Charles: Performance art and fashion collide

Emma Charles

LFW: 90’s tailoring contrasted with Art Deco elegance to set the powerful tone at Emma Charles’ AW18 presentation party at Shoreditch’s Ace Hotel.

Her collection reinforces the importance of power-dressing- and was brought to life by contemporary dancers presenting her collection to the sound of a guttural, minimalist beat.

Oversized shoulders, opulent silks, embroidery and tailored wools convey her androgynous, yet elegant aesthetic. This is her 5th season since graduating and a more independent presentation than her previous shows at Fashion Week’s designer showrooms.

I caught up with Emma Charles before her presentation to talk tailoring, commerciality and why London is the best place for an emerging designer.


What was your collection inspired by?

I really love men’s tailoring and using masculine silhouettes but maintaining a feminine quality. This season I looked at 90’s tailoring and 20’s flappers. A lot of loose materials as well as 20’s jackets that had extended lining- and a lot of colour blocking, too.

I decided to have a key, focal event instead of a party this year. I worked with Andrew Race Dance Company who choreographed a beautiful contemporary piece inspired by the 20’s modern dance revolution.


You worked at Tom Ford, Stella McCartney and Preen previously. How has this influenced you?

When I was interning at Tom Ford, in Paris, I was working on their embroideries. I learnt a lot about placements and what I can experiment with.

At Stella McCartney, I interned in their press office, which opened my eyes to the process of a collection, what happens after shoots and marketing it. When I left university, I went to Preen’s in-house press and designed their exclusives, I got a 360-degree understanding of their entire process.


What made you decide to show in London?

I am a British designer and it is a great place for new designers as it fosters and welcomes creativity. It’s a great place for newer brands to succeed alongside more established brands.


Emma Charles


How do you keep a balance between commerciality and staying true to your authentic voice?

I just go by the mentality of ‘if I would wear it, then others would too’. [The collection] is not too avant-garde that it’ll be considered out-dated in two year’s time and it’s the finer details that make it last longer. I want to be on-trend, but I want longevity and to create investment pieces.


That leads us into our next question about sustainability. We’re noticing that consumers are looking to invest in brands that are transparent and sustainable– how are you thinking about this?

I know where all my factories are and my embroideries are sent out to India. I’ve been to them and know the path it takes. I think the first step a brand can take is to embrace transparency.


At WGSN we are always focusing on the future, so what is next for you?

I am hoping to apply for NewGen and try and get a show somewhere along the line, increase my stockists and build my collections!



Like this author? Follow her here.

Know what’s next. Become a WGSN member today to benefit from our daily trend intelligence, retail analytics, consumer insights and bespoke consultancy services.