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Getting to know Louise Markey: The creative behind the East London brand

To celebrate our collaboration with utility and modern basics brand L.F. Markey, we caught up with the creative behind the East London label, Louise herself. Talking us through her design process, motherhood and what’s on her bookshelf, we took the chance to dive into the mind of the eponymous creative.

What inspired you to launch your own collection?

When I graduated from university I worked at a few different fashion brands but from the beginning, I knew I was entrepreneurial – it was always the goal. I had something I wanted to say through my own work.

Talk us through the design process, how do your collections take shape?

I start with colour, working in tandem with the fabrics – which there are often a huge amount of. I look at fine art and paintings, sourcing colour ideas to build up the palettes and from there, I work in the styles. My collections often focus on updates of previous pieces – I like to perfect patterns over several seasons, whilst adding new shapes.

Where do you source your inspiration from? Does this vary from season to season?

Yes definitely. The collections are often inspired by workwear or street style, and then other elements are motivated by something completely unexpected that I’m into at that point in time, such as bespoke art.

How does music inspire your collections? Does L.F. Markey have a particular sound?

My husband works in the music industry so he is constantly playing new things – I am always energised by what he’s listening to around the house. I think our sound is eclectic and ever-changing.

Who do you design for? How do you want women to feel in your collections?

I design for creative people. It doesn’t matter if they’re in a creative industry as a main vocation or if they’re just a creative person naturally, off-duty – I always have a creative person or a ‘maker’ in mind. The clothes have to make them feel good, as well as being practical and comfortable. This is essential with every design. Even if we’re creating occasionwear or eveningwear – which we are doing more of nowadays – pieces will always be non-restrictive.

“It doesn’t matter if they’re in a creative industry as a main vocation or if they’re just a creative person naturally, off-duty - I always have a creative person or a maker in mind when designing.”

How has your own style evolved with time? What is most important to you now?

Definitely. When I first started my label I was 27 and I’m now 39 – I’ve also had three children so my body has changed. I look for comfort more than ever and less at fashion and of-the-moment trends. I lean towards oversized silhouettes and I love boilersuits.

Has motherhood changed your approach to work?

When I first launched L.F. Markey I was already pregnant with my first child, so motherhood has always been part of the journey and has shaped my approach to the business. The benefit of owning your own business is you can make your hours flexible and that’s something I’ve always been conscious of (and grateful for) over the years.

What do you love most about being a parent?

So much, but mostly, the children themselves. I’ve got three boys and the most recent is only three months old, so it’s quite a handful. They all have their own individual personalities already which I love.

Are there any books you’ve been enjoying lately?

At the moment – unexpectedly – I’ve been reading loads of sci-fi, which isn’t something I’ve dipped into before. My husband has an extensive collection and it’s been a great route of escapism. Most recently I’ve enjoyed Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

Can you tell us about some of your favourite artists and designers?

I am drawn to artists who command colour, so Helen Frankenthaler is a favourite and I love the photography of Charles Fréger. My bookshelf is full of art books – I’m always exploring something new.

“I am drawn to artists who command colour, so Helen Frankenthaler is a favourite and I love the photography of Charles Fréger.”

Your store is situated in Dalston, and East London is a big part of L.F. Markey’s DNA. What do you love most about East London?

I absolutely love the sense of community, which was something that was hard to find when I first moved here. Especially coming from Sydney, that is what I missed most. We now live in Stoke Newington, which has a similar feel and I love it.

Why did you choose to collaborate with Whistles? What did you feel was the synergy between the two brands?

Whistles are a brand I really admire and they don’t shy away from colour, which is what captivated me most. I’d also seen other collaborations which I thought worked well and spoke to me, such as Whistles x Cold Picnic. We fused easily and when kicking off the design process we started looking at L.F. Markey classics and reworking them for the Whistles woman, whilst keeping the same sensibility. We made a concise capsule colour palette, which mainly consists of spring-summer pastels.

What are your favourite pieces from the collection?

The Orlando dress is my favourite – it’s so easy to wear and comes in two colours.

What would be your advice on staying inspired, creative and motivated, whilst working from home?

Get dressed in the morning – this may seem obvious but it’s so important. And get out for air as often as you can. Again, this is something simple but I think we should make the most of the summer months and take the necessary time to refresh ourselves outdoors.

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