Accidental Icon Loves Wearable Luxe: The Playful Yet Subtle Opulence of Victoria Irving

There are certain days when I have to be out in the world doing rather ordinary things when I want to feel dressed up, elegant and a little glamorous. Those are the days where I will be especially attuned to the drape and movement of a garment; the texture and feel of the textile and unique details and trims. Those are also the rare days you will find me in heels. I first saw the work of the designer Victoria Irving on Instagram and was particularly drawn to the photographs showcasing the details of her clothes. As I saw more I was drawn to the easy, wearable cuts combined with luxe fabric choices, perfect for the days I mention above. We became mutual admirers and I am so pleased to introduce you to her beautiful designs. Victoria also graciously agreed to answer a few questions. 

Your blog, Initial Mode, “follows the first steps, challenges and influences of a young British designer living and working in London.” Can you tell us something about how and why you became a designer?

It’s quite the cliché to say that it all started when I was younger but I guess that’s probably where my love for fashion truly began; some of my earliest memories are connected to clothing. Recalling on the infernal moment my Mother pulled out the floral stirrup leggings that I thought I’d taken care of or more favorably the first outfit I self-styled - as questionable as a black corduroy waistcoat and Puma T-shirt sounds I’ve always felt connected to my own sense of style, my likes and dislikes.

Moving through school I was never really academic and I often struggled so naturally I focused my efforts elsewhere. Studying at university certainly seemed unrealistic to me and truthfully I applied on a whim not expecting to be accepted. However it was during my penultimate year studying Fashion Design at Northumbria University where I really discovered my own way of working and with a lot of hard work I was chosen to showcase my collection on the prestigious Graduate Fashion Week catwalk at London’s Earls Court. 

Moments after the show I was called for an interview with two female representatives from Ralph Lauren, who much to my surprise loved the collection, complementing the wear-ability, cut and design direction. From that first interview, I began to consciously take a step back to better evaluate the route I wanted to take within industry. I eventually followed my gut, subsequently declining a place on the MA Menswear programme at the London College of Fashion so that I could thoroughly focus my energy on creating beautiful garments that successful women would want to wear.

The beautiful looks above are from your debut collection, could you share with us your process of developing this collection? Influences? Inspirations? Textile Choices?

 Each collection starts life in pretty much the same way - on my mannequin. I’m continuously draping and developing ideas so AW15 was slowly born through my own mistakes, flat patterns and toiles coupled with some newer notions - it thankfully came together quite organically. As much as I feel visual research and reference points are important, previously I have found set themes have left me restricted and unable to realize my own design handwriting, which is very 3-Dimensional.  

Marrying the cloths for the collection was somewhat instinctual; I’m incredibly lucky to work part-time for one of London’s most valued European fabric merchants so being in such close contact with the cloth allowed me to appropriate just the right fabric, weight, composition and luster to really bring the collection together. 

 Do you have a muse or a certain woman you want to design for?

Yes and no, admittedly I often find this difficult to pinpoint. My muse does exist, but in spirit. When designing, I’ll often recall of the self-assured, dynamic and fashion conscious women I grew up around, namely my Grandmother and Mother. Complete opposites but their contrasting playful yet subtle opulence have undoubtedly influenced my brands persona.

You mentioned the word “challenges” on your blog, what are some of the challenges facing emerging designers in today’s market? Are any of them specific to living in London?

I’m very fortunate to live in a country where there are so many platforms to nurture and guide young designers, especially within London. However many graduates, myself included have made the move to London with or without secured jobs in hope of breaking into the industry and that its self is a huge challenge and commitment. From my current standpoint sometimes the competition feels overwhelming; believing you can establish yourself alongside London’s talented fashion alumni certainly feels like the first mental hurdle, self-belief is vital.

What is your future vision for yourself as a designer and for your brand?

As an individual and a designer, I’m curious about the people I’ve never met and the disciplines I don’t yet understand. Moving forward it would be a dream to expand the Victoria Irving product range by perhaps introducing a collaborative accessory line. There is nothing set in stone but the future and the journey as told by Initial Mode continues to excite me!

What clothing choices do you make when you want a feeling of wearable opulence?