Two years ago, having quit her MA course at Central Saint Martins, Molly Goddard did what any newly free but slightly disillusioned ex-student would do: she threw a party. “I was really out of touch with everything and I wanted to do something that rekindled my love of making clothes,” says the 27-year-old designer. Acting on her boyfriend’s suggestion, she decided that for her first off-schedule collection in London, she’d hire a church hall in Mayfair, with 20 girlfriends wearing her handmade party dresses, all styled by her sister, Alice.

Goddard’s unconventional start in fashion might seem almost whimsical, but in just three seasons she has proved she is here to stay – as being stocked in Dover Street Market and getting personal orders from Björk would attest. Despite her growing fame, however, she says it’s important for her to keep things personal. “We make all the samples for the show here and do lots of production here as well – and I kind of love that. I’m making something that someone will wear and it’s very important to me that the clothes aren’t just shipped off to a factory.”

In fact, it was the frilly dresses her mother and grandmother made for her as a child, as well as going to markets and vintage fairs, that sparked the designer’s interest in fashion. “My mum wanted to be a fashion designer and made clothes for me and my sister. My granny knitted and my great granny made smock dresses for us. They were all quite creative.”

There’s an undeniable sense of nostalgia and childhood fantasy to Goddard’s clothes, in which the designer often takes children’s clothing patterns and exaggerates the silhouette. Thumbing through the racks of billowing, cloud-like dresses in her west London studio, I feel like a Disney princess, sifting through outfits for a ball. Her dresses and skirts evoke a dreamy, fairytale quality, with smocked or gathered tulle and voluminous ruffles and pleating galore. But they are mixed with more grounded elements, including stripy knitwear (both her BA and MA at CSM were in knitwear), bold check patterns and saturated jewel tones.

This old-world sensibility isn’t limited to Goddard’s design aesthetic. She proudly points out a 1950s smocking machine, which she frequently uses for her collections. “You feed the fabric through here, then onto the needles, which have threads on. It gathers it all up, so it’s quite time consuming,” she says. “I like fabric manipulation – working with fabric that isn’t considered luxurious but making it luxury. I also keep going back to volume and getting as much fabric in a dress as I possibly can!”

For her upcoming, Autumn/Winter 2016 collection, showing in Tate Britain during London Fashion Week, Goddard says her focus was finding new ways to use tulle, taking inspiration from old couture and salon shows. “It’s a bit of a more, kind of grown up girl,” she laughs. Goddard may have come of age in fashion, but that wide-eyed fashion dreamer is still alive and well.

Interview by Jainnie Cho

 

 

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