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British lingerie designer’s love affair with old-world romance

When did you launch your eponymous collection? “I launched the range in 2013 and then got married. I moved to Beijing with my husband and one of the first things I did was visit Suzhou to see its famous silks. I was lucky enough to find a good supplier who shares my values of craftsmanship and socially responsible design, and uses eco­logically certified inks. Now I produce all my prints in Suzhou while seamstresses in London make the womenswear.”

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Tell us about your collaboration with carmaker Morgan.“The early 20th-century aesthetic of this classic British carmaker is a natural fit for my brand. I’ve designed Noel Coward-style printed satin pyjamas and a gown for Morgan based on its Plus 4 model.”

You come from a family of creatives. How did that shape you? “My great-grand­father, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, was an architect and pioneer of eco-conservation, best known for building the Italianate village of Portmeirion, in Wales, which was his life’s work. I grew up visiting this magical mixture of fine architecture and wild nature every weekend and fell in love with the meandering forests and coastal walks. His daughter, my grandmother, Susan Williams-Ellis, was the founder of Portmeirion Pottery. Her legacy is innovative design and quality craftsmanship – her shapes are beautiful and elegant yet they are manufactured to last. My mother-in-law jokes about having tried to break old pieces she is tired of, but without success.”

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What made you choose fashion? “My grand­mother loved the solidity of ceramics. In contrast, I prefer working with fabric because it is soft and malleable, and there are infinite creative ways to drape it on the body. At the age of 11, I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer. It must have been just before my mum and I started reading Vogue together. She is also an artist at Portmeirion Pottery and taught me to think critically about design. I studied fashion at the Parsons School of Design, in Paris, and costume design in London, but art is always central to my vision and I paint each textile design by hand.”

Yet your grandmother remains an influence? “My tropical-fish print in the beachwear and loungewear collections features paintings by my colourful grand­mother, who enjoyed a lifelong passion for scuba diving and sketched fish from the great oceans. Inspiration, however, can come from many sources, like the European Renaissance, art nouveau and Bauhaus. I also collect antique lounge­wear pieces. My brand aesthetic is inspired by the Bloomsbury Set’s adage ‘beauty in every­day life’, which, for me, means adding a touch of bohemian indulgence and delight to all my garments.”