Interview with Gemma Metheringham, Chief Creative Officer at Karen Millen

Director Mary Nighy and Karen Millen teamed up to produce No More Tiaras for the launch of the company’s two global flagships. The 3 minute short celebrates individual style and looks at the brand’s recent evolution, and it is due to be screened in the Fashion film strand at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2014. Chief Creative Officer of Karen Millen, Gemma Metheringham, speaks to us about their new film, The Journey, and the rise of the fashion film genre over the years.

ASFF: How would you define the Karen Millen woman?
GM:
The Karen Millen woman has both style and substance: she’s memorable with a strong character. We create beautifully crafted fashion for confident women who know their own style.

ASFF: Can you tell us a little about your new Autumn/Winter collection?
GM: KM is about a perfectly curated wardrobe for Autumn Winter 14. We wanted to showcase that we are a destination for coats; the fun fur coat and floral coat are some of the really stand-out pieces in our collection this winter. The campaign styling reflects our pared-back modern aesthetic where pieces like the shirt-dress, the leather legging and the side-stripe masculine tailored trouser are hero-ed. Our accessories collection has developed into a stand-alone range of investment and trend-led shoes and bags that are beautifully crafted, versatile and luxurious and the film concept really gave us an opportunity to highlight this.

ASFF: The Karen Millen fashion film No More Tiaras appears in the BAFTA qualifying Aesthetica Short Film Festival this November. Why do you want to produce fashion films?
GM: This campaign and film gives us a great opportunity to encourage conversation around the brand, resonating with our existing and attracting new customers, particularly those who think they know Karen Millen and what they think we do. The aim of all of our campaigns over the past three seasons has been to create a fresh visual identity that defines us as an international fashion house and highlight how our collections have evolved over the past few years. Film is such a powerful medium today for the fashion industry and with the rise of social media, it gives brands a highly engaging way to tell their brand and editorial stories and reach an audience beyond that of traditional print media.

ASFF: You have a new film out this autumn, The Journey; what was the inspiration behind this film?
GM: The idea behind our Autumn Winter 14 campaign film is to bring our brand world and our woman to life. It is designed to give an evocative snapshot into the energy and creativity of Shoreditch in the East End of London, where our inspiration is drawn from and the KM Atelier is based.

ASFF: Do you have any plans for more films?
GM: Yes definitely, they have become an integral part of our visual brand identity and strategy and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future both as part of our advertising campaigns and for special seasonal projects.

ASFF: At Karen Millen you often support emerging talent, how do you do this and why do you think it is important?
GM: As an international fashion house with a wide global reach we have an incredible opportunity to both collaborate with and to support emerging talent. We have worked with a huge range of people throughout our business, shooting our brand campaigns with David Bailey and Katy England, commissioning Mary Nighy for No More Tiaras and working with Graduate Fashion Week to sponsor new talent through our protégé scheme. Collaborating with leading creative talent and rising stars is something we’re passionate about.

ASFF: You teamed up with Sophie Turner on The Journey and Mary Nighy on No More Tiaras, how do you select who you work with?
GM: Sophie Turner is not only very talented, she also has a great personality and a powerful energy, as well as being incredibly beautiful and was therefore the perfect choice for our Autumn Winter film shot by Glen Luchford. Mary Nighy is highly creative and her interpretation of our store launch film brief was both humorous and intelligent, we loved it immediately! Generally these decisions just feel right once we start the creative process, it is really quite instinctive!

ASFF: Your atelier is in Shoreditch, which is quite unique in the production of clothing. How does this work?
GM: Our Atelier is intrinsic to the way we at KM design and create our collections. Every piece starts with a sketch in our design studio and the entire creative process takes place in-house. This direct personal connection between our designers and pattern cutters creating a first toile together enables us to perfect our signature tailored fit and ensures we deliver incredible quality.

To find out more about Karen Millen and to shop the new collection, visit www.karenmillen.com.

See No More Tiaras at ASFF 2014 and visit the ASFF website for the full Fashion programme at www.asff.co.uk.

Credits
1. The Journey, film courtesy of Karen Millen.