For a long time, fashion has found comfort in consistency. The system is formulaic: You should produce collections twice a year, and they should be titled according to two season couplings (autumn/winter and spring/summer). To present these offerings, there should be accompanying fashion week-scheduled shows — preferably runway. And then, of course, there should be campaigns — preferably starring young, thin, and recognizable models. Enter: Poster Girl.
The British brand, comprising of two Central Saint Martins graduates, do things a little differently. Instead of two collections every year, they offer four “series.” Instead of seasons, they create a full array of pieces from just one or two fabrics (weather be damned). Instead of a runway show or new campaign, women are photographed donning their designs to take out the trash, or shop at the grocery store. And instead of dressing barely-there, pre-pubescent models, Poster Girl recruits from all walks of life via Instagram casting calls — even grandmothers.
Then there’s the clothes themselves. With outputs reminiscent of Gianni’s early days at Versace, it should come as little surprise that despite only two years on the job, Francesca Capper and Natasha Somerville have generated the kind of buzz industry newcomers could only dream of. They can now count Dua Lipa, Halsey, Sita Abellan, and Nat Kelley as #PosterGirls: the cool-girl collective of supporters. Their latest presentation, for which they recreated a 1960s beauty salon as backdrop, will go down as one of their most-memorable to date. Race, age and body diversity was privileged, showcasing the wearability of the collection on a range of women all dolled-up with face masks, curlers, and cucumber compresses to compliment the colorful collection. While Capper and Somerville branched out into knits and satins this fashion month, their trademark micro-mesh chainmail still stole the show. Below, the brains behind the looks we’d like to be buried in talk silhouettes, seasonless-ness and flipping off fashion.
I know you have a highly specific approach to your seasonal outputs — can you break that down for me?
We work in a ‘Series’ format that stretches one concept throughout four collections, growing and shifting each time. Our first series started with micro metal-mesh chainmail, which took us through custom printed designs on the material, to hand-embroidered show looks. The second series that has just launched at London Fashion Week introduces our next exploration of fabrics: diamanté encrusted cupro, thick luxurious silks and unique slim fitting knits. We love having a specific approach, it also means we are not trying to jump and change to the next big thing each collection which is something we are anti, especially fast fashion and throw away clothing.
How did you conceptualize this particular collection? What was your process?
We really started with the chainmail micro-mesh, as it’s been our core since inception. As Fall 2019 is our first collection that introduced new fabrics (Series 2.0) we wanted to keep the feeling and aesthetic of the chainmail, both in the slinkyness of the drape as well as the gridded diamanté pattern. We were naturally drawn to heavy silk cut on the bias as well as cupro – it has the sheen of silk and derived from cotton. We created a custom design encrusted with our crystals to almost mimic the chainmail itself. Craftsmanship is extremely important to us, we want the customer to appreciate the workmanship of our clothing; the diamantés have to be removed from the seams and then re-attached on by hand so it’s an extremely laborious process. Draping on the stand is essential for us even before sketching to come up with fresh silhouettes.
Will we see a full chainmail renaissance in upcoming collections? Which direction do you see Poster Girl headed?
The micro-metal mesh chainmail has naturally become ingrained into our brands DNA at this point. Having perfected our own way of using it and making this stand out from the rest, we will always have a soft spot for it. It’s perfect for flattering and draping over the female form, something we want to continue creating with other fabrications and keeping in with our feminine aesthetic.
Walk me through the pseudo-60s spa — what appealed about an off-beat presentation instead of a conventional runway show?
We have always envisioned grand plans for showcasing our collections, so when the British Fashion Council approached us about using their showspace in London, we knew immediately this would be the perfect way to show our brand personality. Our label runs off a tongue-in-cheek humor, which can be seen in the designs and campaign imagery. The fall collection that just launched has some very 60s retro accents – the raised modular knit-downs and zip up pointed collars, the rich hues and metallic colorways – so it felt like a natural and ideal starting point for the concept. Working alongside Margiela’s set designer, Stefania Lucchesi, we developed the perfect environment with girls laying out in face masks, a 72-year-old actress sitting under suspended hood dryers with her pink rinse hair in curlers and even a sassy receptionist chatting on a lip phone while flicking through a vintage issue of Vogue.
Those casting choices really made it pop, how did you recruit such a diverse range of models?
Thank you! We ‘street cast’ all the models in the presentation as we wanted to show off the versatility of the pieces. Our Instagram ‘casting call’ was so successful and introduced us to girls that we wouldn’t of had the chance to meet otherwise. It’s really nice for us to work with women who love the brand and are the real Poster Girls. We are aiming to continue casting calls when we travel as it’s a great way to find real girls all over the world, and real girls are the ones who wear our clothes best.
Poster Girl has grown at such a rapid rate, how do you think it’s evolved since its inception?
We have creatively evolved with the brand and have enjoyed working on each collection more and more! The reception has been incredible and although the growth of our label has been fast, we really want to make sure every drop shows our capabilities in pushing our ideas further every time. Since launching, we have now developed handbags and accessories, collaborated on footwear projects and introduced a broader mix of ready-to-wear garments. We are always looking curiously into the future with exciting possibilities and developments.
On that note, what do you find most exciting about the London fashion landscape right now?
We are based in a city that has an international eye watching over it and remains renowned for emerging talent. Having met at Central Saint Martins in London, we have always wanted to work towards creating our own brand here. Our main customer base is very international, so we feel this wide coverage is down to having the world watching London’s young fashion scene — which we couldn’t be more grateful for.