What’s it like having a big-name celebrity wear your work on stage at a gig? We speak with the designer/maker Amy Thompson to find out…
If you’ve seen the latest issue of Mollie Makes, you’ll know we’ve got a full-length article on crafters to the stars. It includes interviews with designer/makers that have celebrity clients such as Laura Marling, Gabby Young & Other Animals, plus more. So when we heard Amy Thompson had designed an outfit worn by the Black-Eyed Peas’ very own Fergie, we couldn’t resist popping in for a chat to ask her all about it too.
Please tell us about your crafting background and how you started your business
My background is in textile fine art where I specialised in printed textiles and embroidery at Cumbria Institute of the Arts. When I finished that I was eager to find out more about fashion design and so went on to do a Masters in Fashion Bodywear at De Montford University.
After graduating, I emailed images of my work to a fashion blog called Fashion 156 who did a fantastic feature on my designs. Then it all kicked off from there!
How did you find out about your celebrity connection? Did they come through to you directly or buy through a stockist or online store?
I was contacted directly by Fergie’s stylist and it was a complete surprise! I was actually travelling on a train by myself when I got the email, so I was obviously extremely excited. All I wanted to do was jump up and down and do a little celebration dance. Although of course I had to keep my cool until I got off the train and was back home!
The outfit I designed was for Fergie to wear on stage during the Black-Eyed Peas’ ‘END World Tour’, so the stylist asked for a colourful, eye-catching design. I sent several sketches of outfit ideas based upon my MA collection ‘Plastic Analogue’ and we agreed upon a final design for Fergie from there.
Did you see a boost in sales following the celebrity sighting?
I have been very fortunate in that I have had a continual interest in my work since graduating from De Montford Uni. No so much sales-wise, as most pieces in my high-fashion collection are not suited to everyday wear. But I have had a huge amount of interest from magazines, blogs and stylists. I’m also always sending pieces off for various photoshoots and magazine articles, which has built up a good awareness of my designs and a great portfolio of fabulous editorials.
Where does it rate on the highs of your career?
Right there at the top! It was an incredible feeling going to see the ‘END World tour’ live and seeing Fergie on stage strutting her stuff in my designs! I could have burst with excitement.
Collaborating with fashion house Talbot Runhof was also a huge career highlight. It was an amazing opportunity that I will never forget. They had seen my work featured in an editorial for Italian Vogue and got in touch to ask if I would like to collaborate with them on their upcoming A/W collection. I designed and made futuristic plastic accessories to complement each of the 23 outfits and helped backstage at the debut of the collection at Paris fashion week. It was a very proud moment in my career.
Is there anyone else in the public eye that you’d love to see wearing your designs?
Lady Gaga! I think my designs would be right up her street. I would also love to see Jessie J or Katy Perry. They all seem to have so much fun performing and have a real taste for quirky and unique designs.
What would be your best piece of advice for designer/makers just starting out?
Take the time and effort to photograph your work to the highest standard. Good images make a big difference and, more often, do all the talking!
Also, think where your products or designs are most suited towards and don’t be afraid to contact relevant magazines or blogs with your work. It certainly doesn’t harm to try and, as I have found, you never know what will spark off from doing so.
What’s next for you and your business?
Exciting things, I hope! I am currently designing textile print designs for a new collection of work, which I am thoroughly enjoying doing.
I have also recently set up an onlinestore via Folksy called i am Ami, where I am selling my lovely hand-screenprinted t-shirts and cards featuring some of my illustrations. Designs are limited, so grab them while you can!
Images © Amy Thompson