Yesterday before the fashion show at As you Like It, and after dragging my mum along to be 3d Body scanned I went to the Scott Henshall talk at Northumbria Uni.
(Images credited to Newcastle Fashion Week delivered by NE1 Ltd.)
The title was Fashion, Fame and Misfortune – How to do and not do Fashion.
Scott was introduced by Sandra Tang, the NE1 organiser of Newcastle Fashion Week. His credits include being the youngest designer (at 22) to grace the catwalk at London Fashion Week and dressing celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Paris Hilton and Kimberely Stewart.
Scott graduated from Northumbria University 14 years ago after a 4 year fashions course. This chat was a wander through his career the highs and lows and giving us an insight into the pitfalls as well as the successes.
For fashion students at the University I think this would have been an ideal opportunity to hear some great advice. Starting off telling students to use their university time and “create the biggest black book ever!” He explained students can ask for anything and for much more than others can get away with. Asking a question you can feel like a fool for two minutes but you could be a fool for a lot longer if you don’t ask stated Scott, advising students to “make every second count” and that “university is the window to the rest of your career”
Scott feels it important that universities develop their own talent rather than relying on the fat cheques from foreign students.
Starting at 1997 Scott took the audience through his career and backing up his previous statements it is clear the fashion industry can be as much about who you know as much as what you know. Burberry allowed Henshall to use their check, Barbour helped him out with wax jackets, John Smedley with knits and Gossard with bra’s.
His first job was with Laura Ashley as a competition prize. A good lesson learnt here was that how ever many people there are that like you there are as many that don’t!
Scott credits Judy Bennett as helping start his career being the first ever fashion PR, Scott did everything to raise the £10,000 for his first collection and had his own sample machinist and in 1998 was able to produce his own off schedule show.
In July 99 a vogue article entitled “Subversive Sloane” totally changed his career. He collaborated with a brand and had his own label creating four collections a year with over 500 pieces a season and visiting Japan 6 times a year. Most important things Scott gleaned from this successful venture was the importance of having your own team and design people, thinking ahead and having people to have your back.
Scott was the inaugral winner of New Generation Support in 2000 and got £50,000 for his first show.
Following this Scott worked as Creative Director at great British brand Mulberry, it was at a time when Mulberry was being bought out and in the end Scott’s own brand was bought by the same people. This obviously left bad taste and people felt it was a scheme causing bad feeling and reminding Scott that to most people fashion is a bottom line business. Scott quickly learned alot but after a year or so didn’t like the direction. It took alot and Scott’s parent helped but that ended that stage in Scott’s career.
By this time things in Scott’s career were different, it was a pivotal point around the time of 9/11 people weren’t buying fashion. Retailers like Harrods and Harvey Nichols were saying they would stock the lines if Scott paid them self. Henshall found himself in a position where he could make more money without having a brand.
At this point he did many collaborations with the likes of Freemans and New Look then he got asked to design a dress so he designed a cobweb dress as a bit of a joke for friend Jodie Kidd – the next day that dress was on eight front pages!!!
Scott told everyone his thoughts of Oh No I wanted to be a creative director and now it’s become about tits and bum! Scott was getting nice pay for these dresses but felt like he was selling out. He recalls Hilary Alexander in the Telegraph describing his dresses as “message dresses” and felt like him designing for all these people was killing his chances for working at the fashion houses he had always dreamed of like Moschino or Missoni. Good advice for the fashion students be careful of all of your decisions as you need to handle the consequences!
The audience heard about Scotts work with Petra Nemcova and Happy Hearts, and all about his KAW jeans brand reiterating the importance of aligning yourself with the right people. He covered the biggest mistake of his career, his stint on I’m a Celeb, the media things now being all about his private life and sexuality. Scott admits the show did not do his career any good and could have closed down his brand, now as a rule when its bout his self he stays clear.
At the present day Scott has now come full circle being Creative Director in a British Brand working with Zandra Rhodes on brand Z by Zandra Rhodes.
Overall Scott was really easy to relate to, very down to earth and honest which is refreshing. I really enjoyed the chat will definitely be keeping an eye out for Scott and his brands in the future!