In a land where the women are creatures, and friends are made with the ghosts of pets past, lives Lucy Hope …
Lucy Hope (right) with models wearing her collection.
In her own words, Lucy Hope takes wearable fashion to a whimsical place for anyone after a little magic in the everyday. With a keen eye for colour, pattern and texture, Lucy’s clothing range draws on her love and appreciation for all things art and design, and results in a proudly Australian one-of-a-kind collection you can’t take your eyes off! We chat to the Alice Springs-based designer to discover more about her fashion label and quirky style.
How did you get involved with fashion?
I never knew what I wanted to do at school. I enjoyed art and drama but had no interest for any other subjects. At 16 I left school to work in local fashion boutique, Mixed Lollies, where my eyes were opened to a world of fun and inspiring, art, fashion and design!
From that moment on I knew that my heart belonged to fashion: selling it, creating it, and buying it. I use to spend all my pay on designer clothes, shoes and bags and had to hide my mini addiction from my mum! I worked at Mixed Lollies for seven years, gathering ideas and skills that have helped me in my journey to becoming
Where does your design inspiration come from?
All sorts of things inspire me: movies, music, books, people, other designers and more. I love fantasy movies such as Labryinth, Gremlins and The Dark Crystal, stories such as The Virgin Suicides, Lolita, The Lord of the Rings, and designers including Alice McCall, Lady Petrova and Alannah Hill. Often inspiration comes from something around you, and sometimes, it’s something from inside of you.
Describe your style.
I design very close to my own style. I like anything girly and sweet with a bit of a provocative twist such as wearing a full skirt of tulle with the tiniest of bra tops, or a summer dress that’s see through in the sun. I also like wearing things that make you feel like you’re from a different era or items you can pretend you’re a character from a movie or book in. I definitely theme dress, I like being a Unicorn Princess
Tell us about your latest collection ‘CASH’. What’s the story behind its development and inspiration?
CASH is loosely inspired by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. I hand painted its three prints myself which represent some of the best things about our country: fruit, flowers, and a 1950s silhouette. I designed the collection for the girl who goes to the fair in the day and the bar at night – a small country town girl with big aspirations. The shapes are girly and quietly sexy.
Where do you start when developing a collection? Describe the
I’m always playing around with ideas and different stories, creating the collection in my head and the girl who’ll embrace it. I start doing some drawings a year in advance and develop them, change them, leave them for a couple of weeks and go back and do more tweaking.
I look at different fabrics for colour inspiration and look around my world for different print ideas. I always design very close to a theme and then worry about how someone is going to actually get themselves into the piece when I’m creating the samples – imagination is first, practicality comes second!
Once the samples are made, I fit them to a model, tweak them, and continue this process until they’re perfect. Then comes the fun part, the photo shoot. This is when the overall idea, look and feel of the collection comes to life.
Which other creative people/fashion designers do you admire
I love Alannah Hill’s ladylike day pieces and vamp evening cocktail dresses, Lady Petrova’s innocent, girly and lush designs, as well as Alice McCall’s free spirit and amazing prints. I also love Jane Birkin’s effortless French glamour and beauty, and the pin-up intrigue that is Bridgette Bardot, Farrah Fawcett, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and the Kadashians. I also love Blythe, a 70s fashion doll.
You’ve recently turned your business into a bricks and mortar store? What are the benefits of this and online shopping?
I have just opened up my boutique called Unicorns in Love. I was going to call the shop, Lucy Hope, but there are too many amazing labels out there to just stock my own pieces. Unicorns in Love is a celebration of the most beautiful things including like-minded designers and my own label, Lucy Hope.
As well as my own Lucy Hope label, I stock Lady Petrova, Fairground, Lime Crime, Keepsake, House of Wilde, Sretsis and other whimsical creations from small independent designers I love. There are a lot of great things about selling online and shopping online, but for me, nothing beats the magic of going into your local boutique, seeing all the pretty shop girls and trying on and experiencing beautiful fashion, fabrics and appreciating the store. You miss out on all that shopping online, it lacks that little bit of soul and charm you get
You’ve showcased your fashion pieces in Australian and the US. Is there a difference between the two industries?
I don’t see much of a difference because my customer is the same no matter where she’s from. She is girly, a little fickle, fashion forward, whimsical, romantic and doesn’t take life (or fashion) too seriously; she could be from anywhere or look like anyone. You just have to find your niche in a new place or country.
What’s one thing people don’t know about the fashion industry in Australia?
There are lots of things people don’t know about the fashion industry! I still find things out as I go along, but I think the main point is that people don’t realise how important it is to support local boutiques and stores.
The amount of great independent and local boutiques that I have known shut down around the country in the last 12 months is really scary and sad. Online shopping and mass market products really hurt the smaller labels. Even if you supported a small boutique online as opposed to buying into the cheap mass production, your money would be so much more appreciated.
What are you currently working on? What can we expect from you in the near future?
I’m working on my winter collection, ‘The Last Unicorn’. It’s full of magic, glitter, bold prints and sheer organza. It’s inspired by a 80s fantasy movie dream such as the scene where Sarah dances with the Goblin King in Labryinth. I’m also starting work on a small shoe collection and would one day love to design furniture, too.
What is it you love about fashion in general?
I love those moments you have in store, when there’s a dress that you’ve designed and you’ve put all your heart and soul into it, and then a girl comes in and makes a bee line for it and her face lights up. She tries it on and you can tell that you’ve made that dress for her and for that moment, when she falls in love and looks amazing in it!