Joanna Pybus

January 7, 2015
Joanna Pybus

I love cats. Cut me and I bleed whiskers. So when Joanna Pybus latest lookbook dropped into my inbox there was no question I was going to be an instant fan. Firstly, because I follow and love Joanna’s work anyhow, but secondly, and crucially, because this latest collection features none other than internet sensation Lil BUB.

I asked Joanna to tell me a little more about the collection, and how it came to feature a famous feline…

“The concept for the collection came about rather haphazardly! I had designed a started producing a collection with a completely different concept, but the more I worked on it, the more I felt like it was dragging the energy out of me!  I loved the concept but I wasn’t going anywhere, so I put it on the shelf for future reference. I decided that I needed to do something completely different and a bit more organic to get my brain going, so I bought a roll of white cotton, acrylic paints and textile medium, and just started painting! I painted whatever I felt like and whatever came to mind, a lot of it was mark making, quotes from one of my favourite TV shows, ‘Rich Kids of Beverly Hills’, and a lot of lil BUB the cat!

“In terms of the collection itself, it’s made from the painted fabric anchored with a stark contrast of solid black. I wanted to introduce some new silhouettes, included more full length and volume, and played around with evening wear made in sports fabrics, which is quite a change from my previous boxy 60s silhouettes!”.

As Joanna says, the silhouettes here are a step away from the boxier shapes of previous seasons, however with all designs rooted in fun and never shying away from being bold or offbeat, a sense of humour runs throughout each collection, threading them all together and making for a cohesive body of work that sticks to a theme without being repetitive.

The best example of this is Joanna’s ‘Monster’ bags. The striking eye motif first came about in her AW12 graduate collection and found its way onto faux fur clutches not long after. These have since become a Joanna Pybus staple; ever evolving, with new incarnations being released alongside, and independently of, each collection. With seasonal limited editions, mini versions, the addition of chain straps, and new colours and textures available periodically, they’ve become a must have (such a must have, in fact, I’ve seen some rather poor imitations floating around) and you can’t scroll past many blogs without seeing one. If this isn’t testament to the fact that people like a little fun injected into their wardrobe, then the addition of seriously high profile stockist, Liberty, last November certainly is.

When I first met Joanna to collect garments from her AW13 collection for a shoot, it was cold and dark, and I’d just lost two of the four wheels from the bottom of my very full suitcase (and was on my way to losing the third thanks to the stairs at Cambridge Heath), so perhaps not quite the time to discuss influences and life goals… BUT I have been sure to follow her work since (and have recently heard whispers of a new project that sounds very.good.indeed). 

I love to see the transition from ‘graduate collection’ to ‘label’. So often, graduates work with the intention of starting on their next collection straight away, but day jobs and the stark reality of life after university can inevitably get in the way. Of course, this is understandable and, of course, not all graduates do come out of university chomping at the bit to get going on another collection, but Joanna managed to maintain the momentum and has released a collection for each subsequent season. Rather than getting hung up on shows and sponsors, she has self published, proving that running a successful label isn’t reliant on being part of the fashion week schedule.

Whether it’s painting Lil BUB on her fabric because she feels like it, or releasing collections on her own terms, Joanna Pybus is a designer on her own path. Now, I just need to try and decide which Monster bag I want. So far I’ve narrowed it down to all of them…

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