Designer Interview - Heidi Mottram
UK designer Heidi Mottram is a specialist in eel skin as a textile and is considered the UK guru of its use in design and fashion. She began her eponymous label in 2007, which has garnered a dedicated following of people who love her sleek, sophisticated designs and the innovative use of eel skin. We sat down with Heidi, a graduate from London College of Fashion and Central St Martin's, to learn more about when she first became interested in design and how she came to create such beautiful, innovative bags.
What is your unique story?
I grew up in the countryside in Cheshire.
I loved painting and drawing. If it stood still long enough then I would try and draw on it. My mum had a huge collection of pebbles and stones I had painted on! I loved fashion and making things too. I used to make clothes for the tooth fairy out of scraps of fabric and make tin foil handbags too!
I have always loved fashion. When I was young, I was always trying on my mum's shoes and playing with her large collection of handbags. I loved the different skins and textures. I discovered my mum had got an eel skin purse so I was aware of the material from a very young age.
My love of fashion and textiles lead me to study at the London College of Fashion and then specialise in textiles at Central St Martins.
After university, I worked as a fashion PR. It was a few months into this job that I realised I missed the design process. I left my job and went on to set up my own label.
When I first started my business, I was designing and making corsets. I loved design in any shape or form but the fashion side took priority. I was travelling to various countries to look for materials and happened upon some eel skin accessories. I started to make a few enquiries as the feel is amazing. It is so soft but strong! Unfortunately, I had to catch a flight back home but once home the idea of eel skin accessories stayed with me. I realised that there was very little of it at that time in this country.
I decided to do some intensive courses to learn about the construction of bags and purses. I soon jumped back on a plane and went hunting for eel skin suppliers, and the Heidi Mottram Eel Skin range developed from then.
What are your inspirations?
Everything I mentioned above, as I have always loved art and fashion from year dot. My idol is Vivienne Westwood.
Who do you envision wearing your pieces?
30+ socialite business woman. A fashion follower who still requires practicality.
What have been your greatest challenges as a designer?
Making your brand stand out amongst the big companies is always a challenge.
Each season, the brand is gaining recognition and following. It is exciting but hard work. We are getting some great press and celebrity following!
Could you describe your process a little bit?
I always start with sketches though my head is constantly whirling with ideas.
Usually ideas come to me at random times but usually just before I go to sleep.
Once I have chosen my sketches I then form a working drawing from which the sampling can be formed.
Once the samples are checked then the design can go into production.
What are your favorite pieces you've created and why?
I love and own the sea lilly small tote bag
and the sea lilly long purse
The bag is a great size and can even fit an A4 folder in which is great for my work.
The long purse is easy to find in my bag and has lots of sections to keep my receipts, tickets and notes in order.
For a night out, I use the oversize clutches (I own a few!). They are great for adding a splash of colour and are a great size to carry all that I need. I hate seeing bags that are too small to carry the owners' possessions. Too often have I seen ladies struggling to close the clasp on their bags! The oversize clutches have plenty of room in them and so don’t lose their shape.
Which other designer on Boticca do you admire most?
I love Linnie Mclarty’s
jewellery. Fantastic elegant organic shapes. Would look great with my bags!
So what’s next?
I have just released my AW11 collection. A sneak preview will be added to Boticca very very soon! The photoshoot for the new collection is very different from my last shoot. I have also formed a limited edition collection under the label thirty/50 by Heidi Mottram.
The sketches for SS12 have also begun.