Caramel Design Process
My design is an extension of what is going on around me. I feel things and express things through the design process. When I launched Caramel 23 years ago, my intention was to create childrenwear that was not anachronistic, very different to a lot of what was on offer at the time.
So the starting point is what is happening around us? What is relevant? And really listening to what is happening. A sporty element in my collections is a recent addition, something I’ve injected because life has changed, we walk to work, we wear trainers more but I never used to do either. The way we live influences the way we dress.
In the 70s, my mother wore matching shoes, a bag and a dress. Now you wear trainers with an evening dress.
With regards to what inspires me, everything does. I don’t think you can design a collection or be a creative person and only be moved by one film or one work of art.
Take prints. It’s fascinating to explore how different a print becomes with a little bit of tweaking, how a different colour palette - ours at Caramel is sophisticated in its use of ‘off’ shades which are also paired in a mismatched fashion -can radically alter the style of it. A lot of the time, it is about removing the tweeness. I want to give it my own understanding and approach, something which sits between a romantic style coupled with a minimal Greek aesthetic.
A recent revelation is the decision to work with more talent on a smaller scale. I take huge pleasure from those personal relationships; there’s also the freedom from ordering in large quantities and you don’t need to feed into a system, a welcome change is that the quality of everything has become better. My suppliers can’t be rushed, they want to work in their own specific way. “I work differently, I want to do it how I do it” … it’s something that I hear a lot.
I’m often asked what my concept is and there is no concept. I just design what I like and often those pieces are the ones I want to have in my wardrobe - something artisan, another item more Christmassy - and I make a big salad of what I like and that’s my collection. Forget a concept.