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An Interview With a Fashion Designer: Rosemary Goodenough

Posted: 14/08/2013 12:30

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First and foremost, Rosemary Goodenough is a talented artist, using charcoals and oils to produce intensely fluid works exploring passion and form. She's also an incredibly talented sculptor, delicately building up her works with clay before having it cast rather than working with more solid form. But when a patron once remarked they would wear one of her oil paintings if it was a scarf, an idea was born, and Rosemary's venture into fashion design began.



Tell us your story, where did it all start for you?

I think I would have to say that it started when my mother braced herself to tell me the facts of life when I was about 6 or 7 and she - having survived this terrible ordeal - was more than somewhat disconcerted when I looked up and said, "I'm looking for my blue pencil, please would you help me find it?".

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All of my memories involve shape and colour and styling and customising, so I would have to say that it started at the very beginning of my life, nowhere and everywhere.


When did you decide you wanted to be a fashion designer?

In all truthfulness, I cannot say that I have ever made that decision. I have always designed clothes for myself and had them made, as my own tailoring and sewing skills are too basic. When I overheard someone at an exhibition of my oil paintings and sculptures exclaim "if that painting was a scarf I would wear it!" it was the most natural thing in the world as an artist to see that as working in a different medium as opposed to becoming a fashion designer.

For an artist, to see one's work on different surfaces is absolutely fascinating; from the rigidity of an oil painting on a board (I don't use brushes to paint so canvas is too springy to accommodate my technique) to the fluidity of silk twill, or the elusiveness of gossamer like cashmere is extraordinary and very emotional for me.

What do you look forward to in a working day?

Everything! I am ambidextrous so I believe I use both sides of my brain equally. I am also utterly obsessive, so whatever I am doing has my total concentration and focus as I can't bear carelessness or a casual mistake. I am always aware that the only person responsible for my mistakes is me, so I fret and worry until I have got things right and even then of course something inevitably slips by me that needs amending.

I am hugely excited about the new products - Long Cashmere Scarves, Long Cotton Scarves and Woven Silk Ties - we are launching at Scoop International Fashion Show at Saatchi Gallery on 21st-23rd July this year, and the products I am currently designing are absolutely fascinating me as they are technically very challenging and very beautiful!

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Where do you get your inspiration from?

I don't really use the word inspiration as it implies external forces. My hands know what shapes to make and what textures to use, my eyes know what colours and tones will work. Historically, I have always had wordless music in my studio to avoid distraction, but recently I am finding silence increasingly beguiling. Of course, there is no such thing as silence - as John Cage would testify.

What tips would you give to a budding fashion designer?

Be careful who you ask for advice and don't just ask questions, listen to the answers; I have found the fashion world to be wonderfully collaborative and full of kind and helpful people.

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The design process, although utterly absorbing, is the beginning of the product not the end of it - particularly at the luxury end of the market. You don't just hand the design to the manufacturer, it is a case of getting the weight and quality of the fabric exactly right and, in my case, designing all of the packaging to an obsessive degree of detail. A perfect example of this was that my husband and I spent a whole weekend testing the sound and feel of acid free tissue paper. Part of the pleasure in opening a box from a luxury brand is the sound and feel of the tissue paper!

What is your ultimate aspiration?

I would like my brand to be celebrated gloriously and globally as always being of the most immaculate quality, completely beautiful and really great fun. I also hope that people will get excited and wonder about what new products are in development.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

Botox, facelifts, implants, scowls. If it needs to break the skin to do it, don't do it - and there is nothing as lovely as a smile.

I wouldn't dream of finishing this interview without saying thank you for inviting me to participate, so I suppose my other pet peeve would have to be people who don't say thank you!

 

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