Clio Peppiatt’s garments will take you to a parallel world, one where you are the protagonist of the reality she designs. “It’s always centered on storytelling and it’s the most natural way for me to visually communicate,” Peppiatt explains. The London-based fashion designer founded her eponymous label in 2015 – just a year after graduating from her textiles and womenswear degree – and since, her fanbase hasn’t since stopped growing. She dresses celebrities and artists of the likes of Jorja Smith, Lady Gaga or Kendall Jenner. Her garments are now stocked at Annie’s Ibiza and are waiting to dress anyone ready to party and feel empowered through fashion.
After graduating from London College of Fashion, her talent was soon spotted by Alexander McQueen, for whom she worked as an intern print designer alongside her own projects: “I think that was the main challenge, just being one person. I was making everything from my bedroom as well as balancing a full-time job”. Now, having a small team, factories and workshops, Peppiatt can focus on continuing to reinvent the traditional craftsmanship while transmitting a subversive femininity where “sexy is whatever you want it to be”.
Clio Peppiatt Metalmagazine 15.jpg
Who is Clio Peppiatt? And when did you discover fashion design was your path?
I started Clio Peppiatt about six years ago, mostly out of a complete obsession with embroidery and embellishment. The heart of the brand is preserving these handcrafts in a world where mass production threatens them and the communities that rely on these skills.
I grew up in a very creative household, both of my parents work in fine art and our home was always filled with artist friends. I love to draw and paint but was far more interested in clothes than becoming a fine artist. Around age five I was making full looks for my trolls, Barbies and Kens – so I think I had an idea that I’d like to go into fashion quite early on.
You grew up in London and were deeply influenced by art and fashion – you were taught to embroider by your grandmother and practiced painting since your childhood. Where would you say art and fashion bridge? How is this transmitted through your brand?
I’d say through craft and skill. The majority of artists that I really resonate with focus on storytelling with quite an intense physicality in terms of how their work is made. More than any machine, hands are absolutely crucial to making my clothes. I’m happiest when I’m working with my hands and I think that probably transmits in some way – there’s a therapy and satisfaction for me that I just don’t experience with any other part of my job.
After working as a print designer intern for Alexander McQueen you launched your eponymous label Clio Peppiatt in 2015. When did you know it was time to start a brand on your own? What has been the most difficult part of the process?
I didn’t know at all, I just really wanted to. I think to start a business you can’t really have both feet too firmly on the ground otherwise you’d terrify yourself out of it before you even got it going - you need to be a bit of a dreamer.
There might have been better times to have started, I’d barely graduated and didn’t have any personal experience of running a business. I had a lot of energy which I really needed! For the first few years, most nights were spent working into the early hours.
I think that was the main challenge, just being one person. I was making everything from my bedroom as well as balancing a full time job. Making full collections and production, hence the many sleepless nights! Now obviously we have a small team and amazing factories and workshops, so it’s got a lot more manageable as the business has grown.
Clio Peppiatt Metalmagazine 1.jpg
I understand that you’ve participated in London Fashion Week, but eventually decided not to follow their production schedule and adopted a different approach, choosing to create one collection a year. What are your thoughts on the future of slow fashion? And what’s Clio Peppiatt’s role in it?
Over lockdown I really had time to pause and re-evaluate how I was working. For me, working to the traditional schedule doesn't really make sense. I love spending time on designing and developing and I had to find a way that suited my needs, creativity and overall happiness better. Going forward we’re actually doing small capsules throughout the year. I like the idea of being able to really get into a world but also being able to explore various ideas over the year. The capsules will be released in small batches of production which to me makes a lot more sense given the market today.
It gives me more time to research and source sustainably and continue to make pieces people will hopefully treasure for a lifetime. I think the future of slow fashion intrinsically relies on our society understanding how clothes are made and the time that goes into them. As well as obviously designers and fashion houses being responsible for what they out into the world. I think both of these things are happening, it’s exciting to see the major shifts that have been made even in the last year.
Apart from the yearly collections, you also create bespoke pieces, producing garments that can be treasured for life. Is it a challenge to design individual and personalized pieces considering how fast your label is growing and that each piece takes up to 10 weeks to be produced? How do you keep this balance?
It can be challenging but I love making the bespoke pieces so much. It’s a nice contrast to collections – designing for a real individual person and has taught me so much. I’m quite disorganised by nature but I’ve had to train myself! Lots of schedule, lists and plans of action – for the day, for the week and for the next three months. The bespoke service isn’t something a lot of brands our size do and I think it’s been really integral to the growth of the business.
Femininity and feminism are two sides of the same coin in your designs. What is the importance of inclusivity in your work? How do you want wearers of Clio Peppiatt to feel?
Confident and empowered. Sexiness is really important to what I make – our sexualities are such a large part of our nature. I like to see clothes that embrace that and encourage us to celebrate that aspect of ourselves, especially in such a sanitised society.
I think we still have a long way to go with inclusivity – I think most brands do to be honest. It’s something that’s always present to me and something I’ll always be trying to do better at.
Clio Peppiatt Metalmagazine 8.jpg
Sexiness, self-expression, and empowerment are key elements that characterise your designs. Your party dresses or beaded corsets allow people who wear them to feel fun, sexy, and confident. Now that our lives have significantly changed after several lockdowns and travel restrictions, would you say the concept of sexiness has changed as well? Especially now that we are experiencing an online shift in the way we consume fashion, in the way we party, dress and celebrate?
Looking at what people are wearing and buying at the moment I think we’re just so ready to go for it! I love that we’re entering a period where there’s so much enjoyment to getting dressed up and feeling sexy regardless of body shape or size. We’re raring to have fun and make up for the months of isolation, I think the endless months of loungewear have made us long for some glamour.
During the lockdown, when our party dresses, corsets and miniskirts were confined in our closets, social media platforms worked as the virtual scenarios to showcase, enjoy and live fashion from the four walls of our homes. What are your thoughts on the way Instagram or TikTok impacted our way of perceiving and consuming fashion? To what extent is this online shift allowing emerging designers to grow and reach a wider audience?
I like that an audience is able to see the clothes in a slightly more straight forward, honest way that’s not always the objective of a campaign, for example. I also love that it allows the audience to connect, to comment or DM or show to a friend. For emerging brands it gives them the chance to really form a communication with their audience.
I am aware that you hand-draw your prints and that part of your personality is imprinted on them. What inspires you to create them? What's the process a concept or idea follows to become the final garments?
It’s always centered on storytelling and it’s the most natural way for me to visually communicate. I normally start with rough sketches so I can play with placement and colour. I hand draw to scale for our beaders, normally straight to the pattern. This gives me a lot of control in how we develop them. Sometimes I’ll work directly on a toile either on a body or on the mannequin to get a sense of the print in 3D or in movement. I really enioy bringing these drawings to life through texture, technique and finish. I try and really think about what type of bead makes sense for the image we’re embellishing for example – so if it’s butterfly wings they’ll be iridescent for example. Each aspect has to be extremely carefully considered, there are so many clothes being made in the world it’s the only way that I feel happy to do so.
Your brand is currently stocked at Annie’s Ibiza and with the travel restrictions finally easing more Clio Peppiatt fans will get to enjoy your garments. What are your plans for the brand for next season? Any future project you can tell us about?
We will be trying out our new system of small, exclusive capsules, with the first being released towards the end of this year!
Clio Peppiatt Metalmagazine 4.jpg
Clio Peppiatt Metalmagazine 5.jpg
Clio Peppiatt Metalmagazine 6.jpg
Clio Peppiatt Metalmagazine 7.jpg
Clio Peppiatt Metalmagazine 9.jpg
Clio Peppiatt Metalmagazine 11.jpg
Clio Peppiatt Metalmagazine 12.jpg
Clio Peppiatt Metalmagazine 13.jpg
Clio Peppiatt Metalmagazine 14.jpg
Clio Peppiatt Metalmagazine 16.jpg
Clio Peppiatt Metalmagazine 17.jpg
Clio Peppiatt Metalmagazine 18.jpg
Clio Peppiatt Metalmagazine 20.jpg
Clio Peppiatt Metalmagazine 19.jpg