An Interview with Sadie Clayton for Rollacoaster Magazine Issue 17
With her Mark Lebon-shot AW15 line, Kingston design talent Sadie Clayton is feeling more uncompromising than ever.
Straight out of Kingston University, Sadie Clayton tore onto the London fashion scene back in 2013 with her sharply brutalist, copper-plated graduate collection. Since then, the likes of Rollacoaster cover star Ellie Goulding and London singer Yadi have worn her unconventionally alluring, yet fetishwear-esque lines. This year, having premiered her AW15 lookbook so by fashion maverick, Mark Lebon, and showing at London Fashion Week amongst the industry greats this September, Clayton's continuing to dom.
Sitting accros the table from me in a more-than-busy London breakfast bar, I strain to get my queries across. Clayton isn't fazed though, talking me through her avant works in a confident steady timbre. "I've always been a bit left-field", she comments. As one of only four mixed-race pupils in a West Yorkshire school, Clayton struggled in her conservatively dressed, down-at-heel neighbourhood. Creatively squeezed, she did what any self-respecting teen fashion rebel wood, and ripped apart the rule book. Hitting up the Salvation Army charity shop beneath her Sunday school, Clayton started on her DIY empire, stitching together dresses and mix 'n' matching bargain bucket fabrics.
When we meet, the Sadie Clayton womenwear label has been running for a solid year. Already though, she's collaborated with the likes of shoe designer Charlotte Ong and metalworker Steve Barrow and has been making noise in a number of the UK's biggest fashion magazines. Yet despite her rapidly growing success, the work - which this season splices elegant dress cuts straight out of an 80s Kate Bush video with rose-y, golden coppers and amour-like headpieces - remain directional rather than compromised. Perhaps it's because she knows exactly who she is designing for; the nightclubbing art-pop marvel, Grace Jones. "She is my ultimate idol. Anything I design, I feel she'd look good in," she beams. "She's just the one and she's been the one from day one."
Despite her rebel mindset and warlike determination - informed by the likes of Gareth Pugh, Viktor and Rolf and, of course, McQueen - Clayton's aware of the commercial limitations of her archive. "I can't just keep making crazy copper sculptures, I've got to start making things that people can wear day-to-day."
"People have said, 'that's quite fetish-y', but I never actually considered that," she continues. "I just think that's the way I style it; I love shapes, I don't just love things that are crazy and you don't quite know what it is. The idea with the headpieces is you don't know where you're going and you feel lost." The skirted girls without masks on in the look-book, she explains, feel "found" and grounded.
One day in the earlier part of the year, Clayton was approached by the Tate, who were in the process of putting together an Alexander McQueen archive photo exhibition called Working Progress. Featuring three other emerging designers (Phoebe Kowalska, Harry Mundy and Olubiyi Thomas), Clayton was asked to explain her clothes-making methodologies to camera. The resulting film short, "Exposing Process", was premiered back in April. "They asked if I could demonstrate my working process... I was really happy about the exhibition. There were big images of McQueen working on his dresses and there I was working on my copper... it was quite surreal."
These days, her schedule is packed tight with exciting new partnerships and projects. "I find it so interesting working with people who can do what I can't and have a different vision - but still work with the same material." Positive to attract even more well-deserved attention at LFW, she assures me she'll always confound expectations. "I'd love to do a shoe collaboration with United Nude or someone like Jeffrey Campbell - doing something really cool, but wearable. Also, I want people to start wearing Sadie Clayton and be part of that mindset. You can achieve your goals, and you can open doors, you've just got to knock on them."