Interview
The Modern Master

Richard Quinn

We talk to the radical print designer as the Liberty London X Richard Quinn accessories collaboration launches online and in-store

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Last year, Richard Quinn - 2016 Central Saint Martins graduate and winner of the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II award for British design – held his debut catwalk show, off schedule at London Fashion Week, in the heart of our store. Working closely with the Liberty London design team, Quinn hacked our signature Iphis tote and created metallic art-piece bags to complete his Liberty print-packed SS18 fashion looks. These creations inspired the brand-new Liberty London x Richard Quinn accessories collaboration – a collection of totes, purses, card holders and scarves, patterned with bold blooms in vivid, acidic tones. Here’s the lowdown from the man himself...

Richard Quinn
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So, how did this all come about?Liberty’s design team had seen my graduate show where I’d blown up iconic Liberty ditsy florals and subverted them. They thought it would be a nice idea to collaborate on a project. After showing them my work we thought of doing a bag collaboration and showing the collection within the store – bringing the two worlds together. Then the textiles in the show, like the metallic foils, would be translated into commercial bags in the coming months.

How did you land on the final prints for the clothing and accessories?I had a day with the in-house archive team. We searched through the amazing historical prints that I felt worked well clashing with each other and prints that I could rework whilst still keeping the essence of the Liberty original.

Richard Quinn
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The idea for the accessories collaboration followed from the hacked Iphis bags you showcased at your SS18 show. How did the designs evolve from there?We worked on art bags for the show shown within the store and from here we have developed the essence of the bags. We have patchworked and reworked archive prints. Working with the team at Liberty we have developed a range of bags and scarfs. It was a lovely experience.

Do you have a favourite piece?I personally am drawn to the card holders, really easy statement piece. I think the patchwork bags are my favourite, teamed with a scarf on the handle. There is also a silk chiffon patchwork scarf I think will be a hit.

"I like taking things that shouldn’t usually be put together and then really upping the saturation."

Richard Quinn
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Contrast plays a big part in your work. Is that something you’ve always been interested in?I don’t like anything bland or making something that already exists. There’s just no point. I like taking things that shouldn’t usually be put together and then really upping the saturation.

You make everything in your studio. How long have you been there for?Since November 2016. We’ve got the print studio downstairs and then on the second floor we’ve got the design bit and pattern cutting and sewing.

How many people do you work with?We have three full time staff in the studio; two print technicians and one designer. We also work with some people from Saint Martins and, because the studio is open access, we get loads of other designers coming in too. The work that we do isn’t just for our own line but for other designers.

Richard Quinn
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That’s pretty impressive considering you only graduated in 2016…It’s been really good because I had a break where I was freelancing and consulting for people. It’s nice to take a breather after being in education for so long and to be able to assess what I want to do. The print room is like a functioning profitable business downstairs that helps run the fashion line as it gets established.

When did you decide you wanted to have a print room?It was during my BA that I decided to have a print room because the ones in London are quite hard to access and really expensive. As there’s not that many of them, they hold you to ransom a little bit. Because I’m a young designer, ours is about offering that to other designers as well. We’ve done things for JW Anderson for their coming season so it’s a good gauge of what we can do. The fact that we’re printing for other brands as well as our own reaffirms us as a print company.

Do you think it’s challenging for emerging designers today?I think it’s challenging at any time for everyone. It’s just about making a nice product and having something that’s desirable. It’s always going to be hard work. If anything, I think it’s easier now than it was as we have Instagram and social media platforms – anyone can put their work out there.

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Richard Quinn
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