Interview with Fashion Designer Sasha Starlight
This week we caught up with Fashion Designer Sasha Starlight, to talk about sustainability and her latest collection.
When did you realise you wanted to be a fashion designer?
I’ve loved clothes for as long as I can remember but I took a slightly unconventional route into designing them. After school, I studied Fine Art Painting at the Glasgow School of Art and later went on to run my own gallery and artist studio space. I was starting to feel a bit limited by painting as a medium and in need of a new challenge – if I’m honest it was on a bit of a whim that I decided to move to London to take on a Savile Row tailoring apprenticeship but I’m so glad I did and I haven’t looked back! This led me into working not only in tailoring but later in women’s couture and pattern cutting where I really honed my skills before setting up a label of my own. My design is always rooted in the craft of making, in the hang of the cloth and the beauty of a simple but precise cut.
Can you tell our readers who have never heard of Sasha Starlight, a bit more about your brand?
Sasha Starlight is all about the uplifting power of self-expression. I make bold but wearable statement pieces that empower women to banish the beige & embrace their most spectacular selves in their everyday lives. Beige for me is more of a state of mind than a colour. Beige thinking – ageism, sexism, stereotypes…. things that put us in a box and limit our potential. It’s really important to me the shapes flatter women of all ages and body types. We have this really narrow view of women presented to us most of the time, especially as we get older and I really want to turn that on its head.
My aim is to make clothes that are colourful and playful but still feel ‘grown-up’ – glamorous, elegant shapes that make you feel sexy and confident without flashing a load of skin. I often think of the Maya Angelou quote “be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud” and I think it’s so true. When we let ourselves shine brightly we give others permission to shine too and that’s really what it’s all about for me. A ripple effect of fabulous women throwing out the rule book and inspiring others to do the same! Clothes have such a huge impact on our mindset and these are clothes designed for living boldly and being the inspiration you want to see.
We are in love with your new collection, where did the inspiration come from?
I went back to basics a bit with this collection, I wanted to create just a few core shapes that had a timeless feel to them – simple, versatile and elegant. I’ve been experimenting with digital painting recently and the idea of clothing as canvas really excites me – there are so many possibilities! I created a new method of working where I scan the garment patterns to create digital canvases I can paint into directly. I let myself really flow with the new process and where it would take me and so many of my longtime inspirations wove themselves in along the way – a real mix from Bowie to Bauhaus!
We love the personalised messages found in the jackets and trousers you make, can you tell us where this idea came from?
Before designing the collection I looked at the pieces in my own wardrobe that have stood the test of time – the ones that have survived any clearout or style change. I’d been thinking a lot about sustainability and the importance of any new garment having true longevity – a piece that is loved, cherished and stays with you forever. For me the pieces that stand the test of time aren’t the ‘jeans that go with everything’ or ‘simple classics’, it’s the pieces that have meaning to me, that feel special in some way or are full of beautiful memories.
That’s the feeling I want to create with the personalised messages – a special relationship between the garment and the wearer that’s unique just to them. My dream is that these will be pieces that are treasured for a lifetime and maybe even one day passed down to a loved one. The jacket with your own quote the grandkids fight over and the stories they love to hear you tell about it, eager to add their own to the legacy. That idea of self-expression, memory and meaning is perfect fashion to me.
Is there anything you are currently working on which you can spill the beans on?
I love the concept of fashion as a dialogue we each add to and creating new spaces for self-expression. Behind the scenes I’m always working on ways to push the personalisation of my pieces even further and I’m like a kid in a candy shop with new tech! I’m fascinated with digital fashion at the moment and have been looking into options to offer virtual versions of my designs which is really exciting.
Best piece of advice you would give to someone starting out as a fashion designer?
Learn how to make clothes! It sounds simple but when I was working as a freelance pattern cutter it amazed me the number of designers that didn’t have a basic grasp on how a garment fits together, how different cloths drape and move, how to create shapes that flatter the body rather than fight it. Often the technical side seems to be neglected for hindering the ‘creative’ side which just seems crazy to me – the two go hand in hand. In my experience the more technical knowledge you have the better your designs will be, even if it’s to subvert that knowledge into something different. I always have my best ideas when I’m learning something new.
If you had a free day in London to do what you want, where would you go?
It’s always got to be the V&A for me. Their fashion exhibits are so well thought out and I love that they switch up what’s on show from their permanent collections so there’s always something new to inspire you. To get there I’d make a real day of it by taking the river bus along the Thames from Canary Wharf to Battersea then walking up through Chelsea, it’s so much fun seeing London from the river! After if I’m treating myself I’d head to the nearby Polish restaurant Ognisko for dinner – the food there is incredible! Last time I had a cold cherry soup with hand-pulled noodles and their vodka cocktails are to die for.
View Sasha Starlight’s new collection here: https://sashastarlight.com
Photography by Nyla Sammons