This is the second Studio Visit of the year and another South London label, Moxham (I’m not biased, honest!) Madeleine Moxham designs what she calls ‘wearable construction’, bold but simple statement accessories. I went to her Camberwell home to find out a bit more about her…
Does the creative gene run in the family?
My mum went to art school when she was younger and dropped out for various reasons and is a Social Worker but she does lino cutting and that kind of stuff, my dad is a doctor. There’s three of us, daughters, my older sister is an architect and my little sister has graduated in set design. None of us got the doctor gene!
You’re from London but you chose to study in Leeds and Nottingham
I’ve lived in London my whole life but now I do feel like Leeds and Nottingham are both a bit like home. My friends are here in London, so I thought if I stay here I’ll just hang out with the same friends. I’m really glad I went away, I don’t regret it in any way. They’re lovely to visit and it’s just nice making connections, in February and March going back to Nottingham to do some workshops and lectures with the MA group and I’m going back to Leeds to do talks with the students.
I soon realised you’re only going to get as much out of it as you put in. A lot of people on my course were there to have a really great time, which was fine because I was there to have a really great time as well, but I realised quite quickly I was serious about it and wanted to do as well as I possibly could. Some of the things that they were showing us to do, the way to draw or whatever wasn’t quite the way I worked, for some people that was stressful, whereas if you just worked really hard and came to it in a different way then it didn’t matter. My teachers were no longer saying ‘you haven’t done it, you haven’t ticked these boxes’.
It was a really nice learning curve when I realised I could do things in a roundabout way so when I did my MA I had quite a lot of confidence.
Tell me more about your MA
I actually did MA Decorative Arts, which is a rubbish title but I said I’d like to make constructed jewellery and accessories, what course should I do? You can use the sculpture and fashion studios so it didn’t have the limitations. Before that I came back to London and I worked 6 months for Aquascutum, which was really interesting. I was pretty much always at a desk, there was a lot of practical know-how, range planning, going up to their factory in Corby, doing fits there which was amazing.
Then I went to work for Felder Felder, in their house in West London. I was probably there for 5 months, by the end I was kind of in charge of the team, it’s a small team but it meant I’d be making a press piece, another day I might be going to an exhibition to look at some spring summer inspiration, when I was leaving I helped interview for interns, 100 people turned up! They were snaking out of this West London flat.
Again, I look back at that time, the amount that I learnt from being at a small company, you learn a bit of everything. I then moved to Nottingham and worked for a branding agency, and thought ‘this is totally unrelated’, but in terms of what I learnt, fantastic. We worked with really big clients like Carlsberg, it taught you to meet with people who are kind of terrifying but it’s a lot about presentation as well. Managing to put down information and digest it and help with rebranding their logo or whatever. Which is why when I did the MA it was really important for me to look at branding and the whole.
How did you come up with the brand and the logo?
I started using my name on the blog and it was working quite well, visually the M and the X are really strong. I love Aesop’s work, it’s so unisex and international and I don’t want to have that feminine boutique feel, I wanted it to look more international. So I worked with a branding agency on the logo. I wanted it to be geometric shapes, monochrome, Rodarte and APC typography, all those things together you can see. I love the repetition of my shapes to make something quite simple and wearable, you build it up to make a statement piece.
How did you get started and selling?
Bengt saw me at new Designers and got in touch just as I was finishing my MA which was a great learning curve as well because I had to think about pricing delivery times etc. They were brilliant, I started working with them quite small but now I’m selling really well through them and they’re lovely. For LFW we’ve got some exclusives that will be interesting. For London Fashion Week there’s gonna be some accessories I’m gonna do, some specific colourways, target some bloggers who want to push it further. I’m going to be doing some oversized bags and accessories for Spring Summer.
I’m not a particularly conceptual designer, I’ll sit and work things out I really like it and go back and compile things contextual research, but generally it’s sitting down and working it through. I think it’s something to do with the people I want to design for, who aren’t necessarily a certain age. You’re not just going to put it on and forget about it. I hope to introduce a selection of clothing down the line anyway, when I’m designing it a see it as a finished product, how I would style it.
Which designers inspire you?
I love the aesthetics of Acne and the Scandinavian look. I love the branding of APC and things like that because they’re pared down and international and not too boutiquey. In terms of designs I love Rodarte, they’re incredible, the Ricardo Tisci stuff for Givenchy is also incredible you can’t even comprehend the craft that goes into it. The kind of woman they’re working for is very stylish but not too feminine, really contemporary even if they’re using old-school techniques.
Who is the woman you are designing for?
It wouldn’t necessarily have to be age-related, I did a quick shoot with my mum on the blog to show it doesn’t really have to be a specific age. When I studied design they said ‘don’t design for yourself’, but I do now design for myself and my friends because why not? And the way my friends wear the pieces is really interesting, what they do with it, how they style it going out.
Age doesn’t even apply anymore really, the kind of person who will wear my stuff is going to wear it whether they’re 20 or 50 because they’re the kind of pieces that have longevity. Kind of like Celine, who make beautiful clothes that are simple but not at all faddy.
You’ve got a blog on your site, what is it about the medium you like?
I get lots of emails from lots of different people, and it’s lovely to get feedback and hear other people’s point of view. Certainly because we’re all on the internet and have blogging in common, you always communicate with people and are thinking of interesting projects to do.