Hetty Crist

Hetty Crist

Deputy Press Secretary

Part of UK in USA

17th September 2012 Washington DC, USA

Dropping a Bombshell: An inside look at being a British fashion designer

To mark London Fashion Week we have a special guest post from London fashion designer Katya Wildman.


It’s an exciting time to be a fashion designer in the UK, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games have put the spotlight on the UK and specifically London. With London Fashion Week kicking off just days after the capital was voted the most stylish city in the world, beating the likes of New York, Paris and Milan, I thought I’d give you a look into my world of London fashion.

Bombshell By Katya Wildman
Bombshell By Katya Wildman (Photo by Sam Webb)

I started designing my own clothes in 2007 after working as a television costume designer for many years.  I wanted to design dresses for real women who had curves so that they could feel confident and sexy. My dresses have been worn by the likes of British Vogue Editor Alexandra Shulman, Jerry Hall, Nigella Lawson, Ruth Jones (who played Nessa in the UK TV hit Gavin and Stacey) and Angelica Houston.

And so  The Bombshell dress was born; flattering on the bust with a wrap over skirt that finishes around the knee, in true 50s siren style. I have a picture of my grandma wearing a practically identical dress as a young woman, this classic style has been around in many guises for a long time. I think my use of innovative fabrics and modern cut brings it right up to date.  I also love prints, so you’ll see a lot of that incorporated into my designs.

Most recently I’ve been working with some gorgeous Liberty Arts materials. Liberty is one of the last great Emporiums of innovative and cutting edge design in London, famous for its psychedelic 60’s prints, as Oscar Wilde said: “Liberty is the chosen resort of the artistic shopper.” This adds a truly British flavour to my work. Twice a year they bring out a new collection which showcases at the Paris fabric fairs which follow on from their fashion week.

Last week saw the final week of my collection, ‘Bombshell by Katya Wildman’ showing for the Spring/ Summer 2013 season at Palladios which represents about twelve mostly British designers.

Bombshell By Katya Wildman
Bombshell By Katya Wildman (Photo by Sam Webb)

Selling for next season kicked off a month early at the prestigious Saatchi gallery in London as the Olympics had brought forward the fashion world’s tight schedule. This hasn’t affected my sales, in fact it’s been helpful for me to find out earlier on how we’re doing even if it’s meant things have been a bit more rushed this year than usual.

With  just one more week to go before the UK fashion industry heads off to Paris to visit the fabric fairs to choose next Autumn / winter collection it’s been a hectic week and yesterday I did a photo shoot for next summer’s dresses.  It was great weather but it’s about to turn cold so time is running out for summer shoots for next year.

At my atelier (workspace) we have a stream of fitting models making sure each garment is perfect.  We are also awaiting our delivery of Autumn /Winter 2013 dresses which will be sent out to shops in the UK, the US including New York, Martha’s Vineyard and Texas as well as to Germany.

Fabrics are being tested in Nord Horn on the Dutch Germany borders for quality control and the print designers are working hard on next seasons prints. I am also designing patterns for embellishments on gowns where pearls and diamonds will be worked with velvets. I’m constantly editing my collection as well as styling for various TV commercials. I’m also moving offices soon and will be taking my baby daughter for a trip to the Victoria and Albert, the world’s greatest fashion museum. Some designers go away for inspiration, I find I have it all here in the UK.

I shall be attending a couple of fashion shows –  time permitting.  Burberry would be nice as would Vivienne Westwood. So the message from me is a positive one, things are going well in the world of London fashion. I am surrounded by some amazing, creative talent and London remains, in my opinion, the most stylish place on earth.

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About Hetty Crist

Hetty Crist served as the Deputy Press Secretary at the British Embassy in Washington. Educated at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle (the same as Jonny Ive!) Hetty has worked in a range of communications roles in both the public and private sector at companies including Microsoft, The Institute of Directors and The National Autistic Society. She joined the British Embassy in July 2010 having previously worked for seven years in government communications roles in London at both The Department of Health and The Foreign Office. In Washington Hetty was responsible for communications work around the UK Economy and the Eurozone, Energy, Trade, and UK domestic, legal and judicial issues as well as Consular and Corporate issues. Her work also included highlighting all that the UK has to offer through the cross-government GREAT Campaign and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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