Wilson Trollope's Sweet Summer

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

One of the best things about fashion weeks is discovering new talent and I always take a keen interest in the New Generation shows as it's fascinating to see the creativity of the latest crop of designers.  At this year's NZFW feminine label Wilson Trollope caught my eye as a parade of pretty florals, ladylike skirts and structured tailoring took to the runway.  I recently chatted to the label's charming young designer, Annabelle Wilson, about her brand, NZFW and her latest summer collection.

How did you initially get involved in the fashion industry?
Starting Wilson Trollope has been my introduction to the industry.  That said, I did work in fashion retail as a student. This taught me a lot about customers and what works on different body shapes.

What made you want to start your own label and where did the name Wilson Trollope come from?
I started sewing as soon as I was old enough and have always dreamed of having my own label. When I left school I pursued a different career path as I wasn’t ready for my hobby to become my profession.  After a couple of years in the real world and some time overseas I realised this was all I wanted to do and I had to give it a go.

Wilson Trollope is named for both of my grandmothers.  They both were hugely influential in teaching me about fashion and how to sew, so it felt fitting to name it for them. 

How would you describe the Wilson Trollope muse and has that changed from your first season to now?
The Wilson Trollope muse is always changing and developing as we grow. There are some specific traits that are always prominent – she’s striking, style conscious and clothes are important to her. She enjoys structured garments that are flattering and feminine.  She loves to wear quality garments and knows how to style them both formally and informally.

It must have been exciting to do your first NZFW show this year, what was the experience like for you and what did you learn from it?
It was very exciting to do NZFW this year, I was so nervous! But it was a great experience and I learnt a lot. It’s such a well-oiled machine, especially backstage. It taught me about how these events are run and about the process - what works and what doesn’t and how to get the most out of the experience. I also learnt about dealing with buyers and media in this forum. It was great to meet the other emerging designers as well and share experiences.

What was the inspiration for your summer collection?
My summer collection is inspired by the Romanov children of the last Tsar of Russia. I love the detail in their clothing and rich embellishment and fabrics. They wore these for both play and formal occasions and I have used this idea to create a collection of garments that cross over in this same way for the wearer.

What are your must-have pieces for summer this year?
My must have pieces have to be the mauve floral Tatiana dress worn with the mauve floral Natalya jacket. This is my favourite outfit at the moment.

How do you relax over summer, do you have any favourite holiday spots?
I love going on holiday to the beach – especially the Coromandel.

If you could have any it-girl, model or celebrity as your label's muse, who would you choose and why?
I love Olivia Palermo and Emma Watson. Taylor Swift is another favourite; she has really come into her own. I love their style and how they present themselves and what they stand for.

What do you love most about being your own boss and deciding the creative direction of your label?
It’s great to be able to follow your instinct and have the freedom to design exactly what you believe in, and follow your own vision. I love being my own boss, it’s challenging and the hours are long, but it’s also very satisfying when things go well. One perk that I do enjoy is being able to structure my day as best suits me.

Which overseas labels do you admire and are there any shows you always look up on the internet/Style.com each season?
I currently love Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, Acne, Sofie D’Hoore and Victoria Beckham. I also have a weakness for checking out the outfits in my mum’s Hello! magazines. 

Have you found the industry supportive so far and do you have any mentors guiding you at the moment?
I’ve had some great industry support so far, especially from my suppliers.  Because I am new to the industry, I’ve found their help has been vital for me and I really appreciate it. 

I don’t currently have an industry mentor, but I do try and talk to as many people as possible about their experiences. My brother mentors me from the business side and provides a helpful external view. He’s in the 12th year of his own hunting and fishing company so we are a match of opposites, although there are many crossovers too. He challenges me and is a huge help. 

What are your plans for your label and where do you see its future?
My dreams for Wilson Trollope are big, and I aspire to be a global brand. At the moment I am continuing my growth within New Zealand but international plans are on the horizon.

I'm really excited to see Annabelle's collections in future and you can see more from her label Wilson Trollope and shop her collections here (Summer 2015 is available to buy soon.)

Images from Wilson Trollope

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