Designer Katie Battersby. Image supplied.
Katie Battersby launched her eponymous womenswear label in 2010, utilising her degree from Elam School of Fine Arts in sculpture to create concept-based clothing that catches the eye. Her intelligent take on fashion is clearly seen in her cohesive collections that feature clever details and witty references. The designer emphasises the importance of making pieces that last and are able to be handed down, with this is mind her garments are carefully handmade here in New Zealand.
We caught up with Katie to find out more about her brand, what inspires her and what she can’t live without.
Tell us about your latest collection?
American Beauty is a collection of easy to wear merino. I took inspiration from the American Beauty Rose and the 90s movie of the same name starring Kevin Spacey. The rose is used throughout the film and not only symbolises love and romance but more poignantly references decay in the facades of suburban life. In my collection there is a reference to bygone eras; a nod to American high school culture with oversized sweaters and cardigans, pencil skirts and preppy shirts. Rose chokers and buttonholes teemed with plunging necklines and cinched in waists. Like the rose itself the collection explores both concepts of ephemeral surface beauty as well as texture, depth and timelessness.
What made you become a designer?
I’m a maker. I never consciously became a designer, it evolved from circumstance, home with three kids and a yearning to create again. Originally I went to art school and majored in sculpture. Making art is the same as making anything, it’s a continuum of thinking, reflection and action. Its an ongoing dialogue consciously and subconsciously. I do a lot of prototyping; drawing and creating stencils and patterns, cutting, collaging and sewing until I have resolved a design, and a collection finally takes shape.
Looks from Katie Battersby’s American Beauty collection.
What inspires you?
It might be just a glimpse of something that triggers it. A colour, a pattern, a scene, a song, a conversation….
Describe your personal style and how it influences your designs?
Someone once described my clothing as comfy couture, I think my pieces sit somewhere between luxury and utilitarian. I produce collections that feature quite graphic and textural embellishment. They are labour intensive to make and are designed to last. In a world dominated by mass production and brand logos I like to mix it up juxtaposing applique with wearable pieces you can somersault through life in.
What is your all-time favourite purchase?
Dries Van Noten amber brogues purchased at Selfridges a few years back. They are solid wood and leather, beautifully crafted and will last beyond my years. Like all good things they would have taken time to construct. There are no shortcuts with the handmade process. I like to think my American Beauty Cardigans will be treasured and passed on to future generations like a pair of artisan shoes.
American Beauty Cardigan from Katie Battersby’s American Beauty collection.
What wardrobe item should every woman invest in?
A special piece that you love and can withstand the test of time.
Do you have a style rule you always obey?
Understated with textural integrity.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Its pretty cool to see people you don’t know wearing your clothes, especially in fashion capitals of the world!
What can’t you live without?
Stimulation; I’m a culture hog. Give me art, books, music and movies.
Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing…
Itchy lace underwear.