Her name means grace and light, befitting of her namesake label and her aesthetic, which she refers to as feminine, yet powerful.
Lucilla Gray at twenty-three, has already caught the attention of the international fashion industry with her designs having featured in Vogue Italia. The high-end designer won various awards throughout her course of study at Massey University where she graduated in 2014. Followed by success at ID in Dunedin last year, she was given the opportunity to head to Amsterdam, where she was promptly snapped up by a European fashion agency, the latter, opening doors to London Fashion Week.
Meeting her at her small Wellington studio she talks me graciously through her plans for her upcoming collection at New Zealand Fashion Week, 2015.
Having already presented Autumn/Winter 16 in London, she has given herself the task of creating a whole new range of garments and instead, will be showing her Spring/Summer 16 range. “I’m feeling full length at the moment,” she says as she shows me sketches that illustrate careful layering for a more appropriate wintery feel.
Her ‘presentation’ will be different from the regular catwalk shows. “I want to create a bit of drama and do something a bit magical,” she tells me.
She will be producing the entire collection on her own, which includes everything from cutting fabric and patterns to sewing every garment. She did the same for London, which she says provides a personal touch. However, it does mean a big push to completion: “If you’re worried about not getting everything ready, you just have to stay up later,” she laughs. “I don’t know why, but everything with fashion is always at the last minute.”
Lucilla is clear about her creative vision. She is softly spoken, yet behind her quiet demeanor and wide hazel-green eyes, I can see an underlying, steely determination. This is a girl who will insist on doing what is best for her brand, rather than conform to what people expect, or want to see. Whether it was a strategy passed on from her parents, whom she says, have always run their own businesses, or perhaps it is an instinctive part of her personality.
In New Zealand Lucilla is represented by Murray Bevan at Showroom 22, and says that it’s important to be signed to an agency. “They know the right people to introduce your label to. They have stylists coming in all the time, so they might spot something on your rack and go ‘that’s perfect for my shoot’, so they’ll nab it and fingers crossed it’ll end up in a publication.”
After showing in London, with an offer on the table for Paris Fashion Week, and London again next year—an accomplishment that many local designers will never experience—she could easily have bypassed New Zealand Fashion Week, but insists that New Zealand is still her home.
“I think you always need to have support from your own country. I think it’s important to support your location industry as well, because that’s where I’m based, so I need to have a presence here as well as try and make a dent overseas.”
Lucilla is excited about the upcoming fashion week event held in Auckland, and not only does she want to show people what she can do, but she also hopes to inspire people of the potential for high-end fashion in New Zealand.
Checkout my radio interview with Lucilla, produced for Radio New Zealand National
Photography (main image) © Sonia Sly
All look book images, courtesy of Lucilla Gray FW 15/16 collection