In BAHM Magazine’s exclusive interview with fashion designer Belinda Chorley, we discover how she has achieved success by defining her own terms and rules.
When did you know you were interested in design?
I knew I was interested in design when I was about 14 years old. I was a punk and hated to dress the same as my twin sister, so we rebelled and started experimenting with looks, making clothes from 1950’s curtains, and my mother’s sheets!
How did you get started in fashion design?
I started learning about fashion design when I went to college at Bristol Poly, where I studied fashion and textiles (BA Hons). I stayed in Bristol and started making clothes for local shops and bands like Massive Attack and Nellee Hooper (Soul 2 soul) co- writer for Prince AKA the ‘symbol’.
I then re- established myself in London where I started making for big band names like: Dire Straits, Bros, and Pete Burns. All the while becoming Vivienne Westwood corsetiere in production and then becoming her gold label couturiere corsetiere, making for Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Jessica Parker, Nigella Lawson, Kirsten Dunst, and Dita Von Teese.
What drives your inspiration?
- The desire to create the ultimate contemporary corset.
- The desire to be creatively evolved as a person and a designer (the next design has to be better than the last.) A designer never stops being creative, never stops learning. Whenever I teach or have an intern, I instinctively teach them to continue to learn and to grow through learning and even to embrace their failure in design.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
In today’s perfect world it appears that success and achievement is instant. It is not. And to understand this basic element of growth in design is fundamental.
Do world events inspire your designs?
If I wasn’t specialising in bridal wear, I would make more political statements to the world and industry. I would love to educate the youth about the horrendous waste in the fashion industry and the impact it has on the world’s climate. However, a bridal wear designer has her limitations and has to be commercial and appeal to the client.
My favourite elements in design are: shape, colour, texture, and space. The same elements can be applied to other art forms such as photography, painting and sculpture. In architecture: the simplicity of Art Deco style which considers all of the above. In Pattern; the repeat of patterns in nature.
Who are the women that wears your designs?
The women who wear my designs tend to be artists, women in media, and doctors. Intelligent women with a strong sense of self and design who are unafraid of being themselves.
Your fabrics are very sumptuous. How do you choose fabrics?
Bridal wear can be so generic, and I get easily bored, so
I experiment with texture and pattern to achieve a new look. Mixing classic with contemporary and costume to achieve a unique style.
All my embroidery is hand worked in India and designed by myself. The last piece was inspired by the Japanese Cherry Blossom. The twisted branches of the tree in juxtaposition to the delicate falling blossom, represented the Ying and Yang of love and hate in relationships.
What brings you joy in life?
- In work: when I am designing (in particular, draping on the stand), when I get the opportunity to zone out in my studio to my favourite music and create.
- To see my designs on the catwalk is quite overwhelming. But the joy my designs bring to my clients is the best emotion. To see a happy bride on her wedding day, is what keeps me going. And that I’ve helped a woman fulfil her full potential on her ‘Day’.
- To work on films such as: Tomb Raider (Angelina Jolie), Wonder Woman (her inspiration corset), Assassin’s Creed, Anna Karenina (Keira Knightly), Catherine the Great (Helen Mirren, Gina Mc Gee).