Florence Morris Clarke, the name to watch in the lingerie industry
Today we met with the talented Florence Morris Clarke, a final year student at the London College of Fashion, who’s already creating quite a bit of interest within lingerie. Since starting her eponymous label, whilst astonishingly still at university, Florence has already been featured in an array of publications and won the Coco de Mer design competition in 2016. She is definitely one to watch.
Describe a typical Florence Morris Clarke girl (i.e. what type of woman do you imagine wearing your lingerie?)
Women who wear my pieces need to be comfortable in their own skin, but also able to wear the pieces elegantly. Without sounding too cliché, I see a Florence Morris-Clarke customer as an empowered and expressive woman.
Where do you see your brand going in the next 5-10 years?
The goal is to really develop and expand. I am moving further into interdisciplinary products, blurring the line between what is womenswear and what is underwear. I am also experimenting more with how less conventional materials can be incorporated into my designs. I am hoping this will establish my aesthetic further and I would also like to start developing an online purchasable range.
What’s your favourite lingerie piece from your collection and why?
The Aurora Bodice. It took a ridiculous amount of time to make as each element was put together by hand. Though this became quite a tedious process it was the only way to create the intricacy I needed to enable it to seemingly melt against the skin. It involves so many different components and the longer you look the more you notice, to me this is what makes it so special.
How was the experience of working at Agent Provacateur, one of the leading luxury lingerie brands? Did this encourage you to start your own luxury lingerie line?
It was crazy! But also the most valuable year I’ve had. At university, you’re taught technical skills – how to pattern cut, etc. But you can only be taught so much of the crucial business side of things through lectures and seminars. It was at Agent Provocateur that I was fortunate enough to have exposure to things like marketing, branding, logistics, and accounting, that have really helped me to create, develop and maintain the collection.
I was really thrown in at the deep end as every day I was involved in something new, but as I said, it enabled me to experience how an actual company operates. The people were also incredible, being surrounded by so much creative energy is extremely inspiring and that has definitely helped me develop my approach to design, as well as experiencing the benefits of being involved in such a supportive and dynamic team.
If any celebrity could wear your pieces, who would it be?
Candice Swanepoel. As well as being astoundingly beautiful, to me she also embodies the ultimate in an empowered woman - self aware, quietly confident, authentic and dedicated to becoming the best version of herself. I have also always been inspired by her love of the Earth and the ocean, and her appreciation for fashion on a deeper level.
Emily Ratajkowski would, for similar reasons, also be another ideal wearer!
What advice would you give aspiring students regarding the first steps to starting a label.
Network network network! Some of my best opportunities have begun from just chatting to people and its fascinating to see where these conversations lead you, those experiences really shape you as a designer.
Another piece of advice would be: just don’t stop, but don’t rush either. Patience is important but its just as important to keep going no matter what and never lose sight of your vision. It’s important to keep moving forward, avoid standing still, even if it’s for the briefest of moments, because the last thing you want to do is to become stagnant.
Also - listen. Be confident in what you are aiming to achieve and remain true to your goal, but don’t ignore feedback from the right people. Don’t underestimate good advice and constructive opinions.
A great book I’d recommend is ‘How to Setup and Run a Fashion Label’ by Toby Meadows, it is full of essential business information.
Which step do you find most difficult in designing lingerie?
Probably the actual pattern cutting and grading because you need to be so accurate. In lingerie you need to work to millimetres, so being precise is crucial. Sometimes I am so excited to see a piece come to life that it could be easy to rush, but taking the time for accuracy is essential.
When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in fashion?
I realised I wanted to go into fashion really quite late. Before starting at LCF I did an art foundation course which opened me up to the world of 3D design and working with and for the body.
I ended up choosing the ‘Fashion Contour’ course literally six months before starting, which was pretty hectic, but by then I was so determined to make this happen my work just started to develop really rapidly. I had no real previous education in textiles or fashion but, arguably, this has been to my advantage because it has allowed me to remain open-minded and more experimental in my work.
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere! But when it comes to the actual design process, it often starts with a character in my head who I am trying to create or express. This figure remains in my mind throughout the entire process and often inspires the overall concept. However, another significant influence is coming across an exceptionally beautiful of unusual material, which then leads the creative process.
I never fail to find inspiration in the natural world. I believe there is so much undiscovered on our planet and it truly is a never-ending resource for ideas, especially when you start to look really closely at things.