Designer Q&A: Gavin Douglas

If Britain's style scene were a classroom, then Birmingham-born designer Gavin Douglas might be the teacher's pet. After graduating from Northampton University, he secured help from the Prince's Trust to start his own fashion label. In quick succession he won the London Fashion Forum's Young Avant-Garde Designer of the Year award, a spot at the V&A's Black British Style Exhibition, and a prestigious Fashion Fringe sponsorship.

That last nod entitled the glamour-loving designer to show his collection at London Fashion Week in February 2007. Did we mention his collaborations with Superdrug and the Royal Opera House? We assume he also eats his five-a-day, every day.

We caught up with the very busy Mr Douglas as he prepares for his next London catwalk show. He filled us in on everything from his fascination with Dior to his favourite treat from M&S.

Copyright Trovata.Any hints on what your Spring/Summer 2009 collection might be like?
I've looked towards the renowned Maasai tribe who are based in Eastern Africa. I've also explored the social and cultural forces of this tribe and looked into their lifestyle, distinctive customs and dress. I'm creating a collection that is both new and fresh without the obvious connotations.

Did you always know you'd be a designer?
When I was at high school I realized that my career definitely had to be in an area of design. I excelled in my graphic design and art qualifications and they were also my favourite subjects.

You spent time in the Middle East working for Beirut-based couturier Elie Saab. What was that like?
Working with Mr Saab and his team was an amazing experience. I had the opportunity to see first-hand exactly how the entire atelier works together to create their couture garments. I was also able to watch the collection grow from concept, to design, to toiling and then onto the complete sample. Seeing the beading work in process and the lengthy time and intricate detail that goes into each piece was incredible. I also enjoyed taking in the beauty, culture, history and also the food of Lebanon.

What's the best garment you've ever made?
It's difficult to single just one garment as being 'the best'. I have a favourite piece from my Fashion Fringe collection. It's a peacock feather all in one bodice with hand-sewn sequins. It was inspired by a Victorian trapeze artist called Miss La La, and it received a huge amount of press. It was also worn by Kelly Rowland at one of her concerts.

Name another designer whose work you love.
I have always been a fan of [Dior designer] John Galliano's work. He is such a creative genius, and his work is truly inspirational.

What trend should die now?
Each to their own, I say.

On a more personal note, where do you go for a good bite to eat in London?
The Lane (Osborn Street, E8)

What's your favourite vacation spot?
Strawberry Hill, Kingston, Jamaica

Name your favourite album on your iPod.
Estelle, Shine

And your favourite movie?
Set It Off

What's your biggest vice?
A chocolate profiterole dessert from Marks & Spencer or a packet of Haribo Strawbs!

- Jill Hilbrenner

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