The Great Indoors: How Fashion Designers Are Working From Home

From the likes of Han Chong of Self Portrait, Gherardo Felloni of Roger Vivier and Ian Griffiths of Max Mara

The Great Indoors

Photo: Courtesy

From what they’ve learned about themselves whilst on WFH, to how they envision the brave new world that lies ahead for luxury, BAZAAR asks global designers for their post-pandemic predictions.

1. Lynn Ban

The Great Indoors

Lynn Ban at home in New York, on a Zoom call with shoe designer Bryan Atwood. Photo: Courtesy

“The fashion industry was in hyperdrive before this—full speed ahead on a dangerous crash course, in my opinion. There were too many shows, collections; too much product was being put out too quickly, and very little was meaningful, thoughtful, artistic or creative. These extraordinary circumstances have made for an opportune moment to pause and reset. The lockdown has allowed me to slow down, step back and really assess everything. I am fortunate to be able to work on a new project at this time. I am designing a new resort line with COMO resorts. The samples are almost finished and we are scheduled to launch at the end of the year.

In quarantine, I have found joy in my routine—not only being able to design and manage production from home, but also finding the balance in being a good mother, teacher, wife and daughter. Post-pandemic, I hope to see more thoughtful fashion. Through these trying times, true creativity will thrive. Witness the Roaring ’20s, the period after the Spanish Flu, where fashion, music, beauty, joy, excess and fantasy flourished. Before the pandemic, stores dictated deliveries and drove incessant demand for newness. After, it will surely be about direct-to-consumer and staying true to your brand image; it will be about engaging and welcoming the customer into your world. Products will have to be emotional. Who needs another white shirt or basic black dress?”

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2. Han Chong

The Great Indoors

Founder and Creative Director at Self Portrait in his minimalist home in Shoreditch, London. Photo: Courtesy

“To be honest, before the crisis, I was running at a pace that was very fast and hard to maintain. The amount of collections, productions, events and all, can be overwhelming but what choice do you have when it’s part of the business? It definitely made it challenging to be creative— before you even have a moment to reflect on what you’ve done, it’s on to the next [thing]. Once you’re inside that ecosystem, it’s not easy to press pause. I am currently working on spring/summer 2021. Production was slightly delayed but because our factories in China reopened while I was in lockdown in London, we were still able to work. There were obvious challenges working with my team while we shelter at home, but we came up with new solutions.

 It definitely made us examine how we were working and made us realise that sometimes there are better ways to get things done. I am a creative person so during this time it was important for me to have that outlet. I think this period has allowed me to actually be more creative because I had the time to just be, instead of running around doing a million other things. Self-reflection is something you can’t help when something like this happens to the world. It makes you evaluate everything that’s been going on. My priority has always been our woman, what her needs and moods are—that will never change. What will definitely shift because of what’s happening now is how she feels or what she wants—it will be our job to bring that joy and spark back; especially after this. I hope as an industry we take a minute to reset and figure out the best way forward—something better for our creativity, our world and one other.”

3. Alice Temperley

The Great Indoors

Alice Temperley’s colourful magpie’s nest in her Somerset home workspace brims with pattern and texture. Photo: Courtesy

“This situation we are all in, for me, has confirmed what we knew before; that we all do too much. We currently try to please some unrealistic retail models to support wholesale which now needs to change. We need to do less collections and enjoy the process more. Appreciate it, spend more time designing it and more time wearing it. We need to slow our lives down and live in the moment. 

As for the brand, going forward, it will be much more authentic, focusing on our core DNA and telling our story in a much more realistic way. You have to have a relationship with a brand, know why you wear it and know what it stands for. We all know to focus on the sustainability of fashion, who made it, what the fabrics are, and whether it will last.”

Related article: The Best Fall 2020 Fashion Campaigns

4. Elie Saab

The Great Indoors

Surrounded by trees and shaded by vines, the sitting area in the garden of Elie Saab’s Beirut home offers a quiet place to contemplate. Photo: Courtesy

“During this time, I’ve been living with optimism. It was the right timing for me, since I never had the luxury to pause before, or to put my thoughts in order and redefine my aspirations, needs and expectations.

This period has given me a certain feeling of gratitude. It’s a fulfilling experience to cherish the details that surround us, to enjoy the quality of life and take more pleasure in our relationships. My intuition has never deceived me, and today I’m even more convinced that you have to be well surrounded to give more to the world.

Always on the hunt for self-innovation and challenges, I will continue moving ahead with hope and determination to nurture my inspiration and creativity. I really hope that many people have had the chance to assess their deeds as some have lost the notion of authenticity and simplicity. I believe now is the time to consider building a healthier, simpler and well-balanced future.

As for fashion, that will no longer be the same. We will refer to before and after Covid-19. I was convinced that a change would happen sooner or later because the cycle was no longer human. The pace in our industry had become insane: We were working on several collections at the same time; we missed the chance of appreciating each one. We were under continuous pressure and lost the joy of living. The calendar we were following was crazy and barely gave us time to catch our breath; it was rather, an endless race.

We have to start again on the basis of favouring quality over quantity, creating brand-specific experiences, and giving back the product its real value. I really believe that today we are entering a new phase that is giving us the opportunity to set the record straight. We cannot ignore what we have gone through and we cannot go back as if nothing has happened.

Luxury will now have a new flavour as the customer has developed different aspirations during confinement and this will lead to the innovation in luxurious items to respond to this new trend.”

5. Mary Katrantzou

The Great Indoors

Mary Katrantzou’s postcard-inspired Mary Mare collection on the desktop screen in her sun drenched London home office. Photo: Courtesy

“Every day that passes affects the way I think about our value system. By staying at home, protecting a whole community, it gives me so much hope for a more empathetic future. It’s made me appreciate how invaluable teamwork is, now more than ever, and how we can use our brand as a platform for practical good.

We’d already shifted the brand’s direction since our last show in October at the Temple of Poseidon. That collection saw us join forces with the ELPIDA Association of Friends of Children with cancer and we raised funds for them, using our show to send a message of hope and humanity. We also decided not to show during LFW this past February because it didn’t feel necessary to put a new collection out there straight after having shown in Greece. We focused our atelier on our made-to-measure orders and that has proven to be a more responsible way to work; designing less, but better.

Fashion has always been reflective of the times and reactionary. I’m optimistic that the future of fashion will evolve through the innovation of thought that will be the result of empathetic and visionary minds coming together as a collective.”

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6. Wes Gordon

The Great Indoors

Creative Director of Carolina Herrera Wes Gordon working on his new collection on his farm in Connecticut. Photo: Courtesy

“I’ve found that it’s very important to have a routine when you wake up every day, whether it be simple things like making your bed. I tried my best to recreate my Herrera office at home with in boards and all my sketches—but of course, nothing beats being in the office and working with my team in person. I miss the face-to-face collaboration, but we’re making the best out of Zoom and phone calls! I hope this will make the industry as a whole pay attention to creating only pieces that have meaning, purpose and reason for being. That, and a slower and more considered industry calendar that allows brands to create collections and pieces with integrity, and for customers to focus on buying the special pieces that truly bring them joy. Quality over quantity.”

7. Ian Griffith

The Great Indoors

Creative Director at Max Mara, Ian Griffiths enjoying the green spaces around his Suffolk home on the east coast of England. Photo: Courtesy

I have been working from my cottage in the delightful Suffolk countryside. Before I start work each morning, I take my dogs for a walk on the heathland and then I tend to my flower garden. It has been a pleasure to watch the season unfold from day to day. Nature is teaching me a lesson; to take my time, to think things through—and to be more creative with colour. I have various desks and tables around the house and I move around to follow the light. I don’t need much in the way of materials, but I couldn’t manage without my coloured pencils. When this is over, we will all face the task of rebuilding the world. How do you dress to do that? I believe that Max Mara’s creative philosophy— well-designed classics that allow you to show your best self—will be more relevant than ever. Max Mara is about clothes for a woman on a motorcycle mission. She’s a force of nature.”

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8. Andrew Gn

The Great Indoors

Andrew Gn’s workspace in this Paris apartment looks out onto a lush garden. Photo: Courtesy

“Strangely enough, the pandemic broke at a moment when many in the fashion industry were starting to question a system spinning out of control—too fast, too many collections, seasons out of sync with calendar reality, buyers running around the world without even having time to get back home before the next collection came up. Clients were seeing fall/winter items in stores in summer. It all became a kind of mad race that everybody was lamenting but endured because there seemed to be no other way. All its devastating effects notwithstanding, this crisis has had one merit—to make us pause and reflect.

When the lockdown was declared, there was a brief period which felt to me like an unexpected but most welcome break. No obligations, no meetings, no travel, no mad schedules. Then I realised that for the first time in my professional life, I had time ahead of me. I could organise my days in a more leisurely way, and work more serenely on future collections while pursuing what I’ve always endeavoured to do—design beautiful clothes that will stand the test of time. I call them “heritage pieces”. This is my own answer to greater sustainability: Produce less, but always the best.”

9. Gherardo Felloni

The Great Indoors

Gherardo Felloni, Creative Director at Roger Vivier, sketches in between tending to his garden in his Tuscan island home. Photo: Courtesy

“During this time, I’ve learned to enjoy the simple, everyday things like gardening. I spend most of my time taking care of the plants in my vegetable garden. I’m here at my second home in Italy, on the island of Giglio, and I’m very lucky to be able to stay out in the open space. I am also getting the chance to really immerse myself in my hobbies; sometimes I cook and sometimes I sketch portraits and landscapes.

As far as designers are concerned, I think it’s important that we continue to create, even in these difficult situations. I really believe our task right now is to share our dreams with the world. For the industry as a whole, there are definitely lessons that will be learned and I think that after this, people will consume more mindfully. We will take care of what we consume, how we do it and why. Maybe, in the end, we will need less and pay attention to what we buy and for what.”

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10. Tamara Ralph

The Great Indoors

Tamara Ralph, Creative Director at Ralph&Russo working on her next collection at her London home. Photo: Courtesy

“The biggest learning that I will take away from all of this is that we need to think differently—this includes myself, our brand, and our industry generally. We need to rethink how we create, produce and consume, taking into account what’s necessary, how is it sustainable, how is it e cient, and how are we, as a company, are evolving with the world and acting responsibly. You can never be too comfortable; it’s important to be agile and be able to quickly pivot. Equally, on a personal level, I have also fully realised the power of positive thinking. It’s easy in a time like this to feel defeated, and despite it being a devastating global crisis, we have to see the silver lining and know that eventually it will pass,  find comfort [in the fact] that we’re all in it together, and learn from it.

Everything is changing on a daily basis, and will likely continue to do so, but I feel strongly that many of these changes are for the better. While quite a few plans are up in the air, as we follow updates and act accordingly, what I do know is that we will absolutely be changing many of our existing business practices to be more efficient, sustainable and mindful—as I touched on before. I think we will also see these changes across the industry, particularly the luxury goods sphere. Not only because this time is an opportunity to reflect upon what works and what doesn’t, but also because consumer demand is changing. As a company and as an industry, we must continuously evolve with it and be open to change if we want to have a promising future.”

11. Giuseppe Zanotti

The Great Indoors

Guiseppe Zanotti is self isolating and sketching in his Longiano country estate in. Photo: Courtesy
northern Italy

“I’ve been thinking about silence for these past 30 days: No traffic and noise. No shouting; just whispering. I have learned to listen to silence and to myself, and I hope that this will lead to a new balance in life and in relationships with others once this nightmare is over. I’ve also had the chance to reconnect with people I haven’t seen for the last 30 years. Our life used to be so hectic that it was not easy to cultivate relationships or even look at our inner self… now, for instance, I sleep more and I dream more, something I rarely did before.

This pandemic is playing an important role in redefining fashion and consumer habits. The fashion business model was already showing issues; it runs too fast, with many inefficiencies that we can’t ignore anymore. We create far too many collections per year, and produce too many goods. It’s not sustainable! Now we have the opportunity to  x the problem. We need to slow down and keep quality and real creativity as the main aim. Let’s focus again on creating beautiful objects, because beauty is an emotion that we will always need.”

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