Lascelles Symons, the head of Womenswear at Splash, has been on the fashion scene since his early teens. He’s been a professional model; an entrepreneur in the world of high-end, couture clothes; and now he oversees all of Splash’s women’s clothing. He shares his unusual perspective from a life spent in fashion. In his own words…
1. How did you get into fashion?
I was a full-time model for 15 years, from the age of 16 so that generated a lot of interest in fashion itself. After 15 years, I took a 2-year sabbatical from modelling and focused on the garment industry; I wanted to get into something that was difficult to do so I chose to create couture corsets as outerwear.
2. Who or what influences you as a designer?
The female form is my biggest inspiration. All my garments aim to make women look more feminine. To me, that’s what it’s all about.
3. What’s hot at the moment?
Prints are very in, digitalized prints are very in and so are fusions of different kinds of prints. There are folds and pleats where you can’t see the cuts, which is a Japanese influence. The 20s, 40s, 60s and 70s are popular, too. Fashion always reflects the state of the world economy so a big bang in fashion is that people have to think happy. Embellishments are coming, but not in an expensive way; we’re putting in a lot of sequins and colours, but many people are not willing to upgrade their wardrobes at a high price. It’s a matter of producing intelligent fashion.
4. How do you stay ahead of the game, so your designs look fresh?
We see what’s on the catwalks, what the magazines are showing, what the fashion forecasts and trends are and we go from there. Designers are constantly researching, it forms about 70 percent of a their work. We have to see what’s out there, make the looks our own and make them fit our target audience.
5. Has your work as a model and as someone who created a couture-fashion company helped you in your current role?
It’s helped a lot because my modelling days helped me get established in the fashion business, so I was able to let everyone know that I was going to create clothing and people were interested. That was huge because for a lot of people, it’s very hard to break into the field because it’s so competitive. Having done couture, which is a very small, niche market, I experienced the part of fashion where price is the last thing you consider. With Splash, I have to work within a budget so it’s an interesting change for me.
6. Are there any constraints or limits on your choice of designs?
When the designers make their presentations, we have to question things. Maybe things are too expensive or they don’t work, but we try to find ways to do things. As an overseer, sometimes you have to take out elements.
7. Compare your own personal style with that of Splash’s designs.
I think both approaches are varied so they incorporate diverse influences. Some elements of both styles are more serious and some are more fun. One difference is that my look is very personal to me and with Splash we have a lot of choices, so anyone can make their own very personal style from what we create.
8. What’s the best part of your job?
The entire fashion thing is very satisfying. It’s fun for me; it’s a very fulfilling job. With couture, the clients let me decide what to make, but with Splash it’s a collective decision and the more people that pick up the garments we choose, the more successful we are.
9. What part of your job is your least favourite?
It’s seldom that people get placed in jobs they actually love, but I love every part of this. I can’t imagine myself not being part of the fashion industry. For me, I’m lucky. The stars were right.