British fashion designer Vanessa Adeeko talks to BelleBeirut about her passion, her career, and her designs.
It is not every day that you get to meet and talk to a fashion designer who is so dedicated to the values and essence of her creations that she truly brings them to life. “It’s been a passion of mine from a really young age”, says Vanessa Adeeko in an exclusive interview with BelleBeirut during her visit to Lebanon.
Vanessa Adeeko is the young talent behind the British brand Vanessa Adeeko London. Wearing a tailored dress and matching sandals, long loose curls and big brown eyes, she is softly spoken and a graceful young lady. Something of the perfect embodiment of that intelligent, no-make-up ideal that’s trending right now. She wears her designs well, she has the kind of effortless look where nothing seems try-hard.
As it happens we are seated by a window overlooking Beirut’s Pigeon Rock (Raouche), the morning sunlight is streaming through the window casting a beautiful filter, bouncing from those small details on her dress and shoes that look as if they have been handmade. It’s all perfectly framed by her elegant long jet-black hair. She is the perfect ambassador for her brand.
This young creative director -with the quiet confidence of someone much older- has become the go-to artisan for young and older women who want to wear a dress that is made especially for them. A dress that she says gives confidence, fits well and can move easily.
The well established British designer has made a name for herself in London thanks to her unique style and outstanding designs. By merging feminine and masculine lines and using sustainable materials to protect the environment, Vanessa Adeeko built her own fashion label, which she launched in 2012, truly stand out.
“I’m a conceptual fashion designer, I love to work with architecture and nature and merge them together”, she says while gently holding the leaves of a small plant sitting on a table between us. “I’ve always loved shapes, I’ve always wanted to learn about them, understand them and put them on a body,” she adds.
Vanessa Adeeko’s own grand-mother was the one who ignited the spark of talent she had within her at a very young age. “She used to make dresses and also used to give me the old Vogue magazines that came with paper patterns, and she later taught me how to sow”. She cites her mother and grandmother as her biggest style influences.
At age 11, Vanessa taught herself how to use space, color and nature and translate them into her own drawings. “So that led me to the London College of Fashion, because I wanted to learn more about fashion design. I was also really interested in traditional tailoring and masculine aesthetics so I worked with Saville Row tailor Maurice Sedwell, then when I graduated from college I worked for Julian Macdonald.”
With such an impressive journey, it is no surprise that Vanessa Adeeko was quickly noticed on the fashion scene. “I learned so much working for others and I encourage all the young designers who want to get in to fashion to do the same. Try to really study the craft, don’t just look at a finished dress and send it off to a factory (no offense to factories). Don’t take the shortcut, you have to study and understand form. Fashion is not only about sketching a design on the body; you have to really understand its technical side, how the garment moves on the body and why.”
“When you’re really passionate about something, it’s not really work. It doesn’t matter if you put in a lot of hours as long as you enjoy what you do”, says the dedicated British designer with a big smile on her face. Her designs begin with a drawing and then she develops them in 3D, playing with volume, texture and proportion.
Vanessa has a small team in London “I love the people in my team they have a great work ethic. I have recently welcomed two new additions from America who are awesome creatives. In my studio we use traditional British tailoring techniques when making each piece. Each one takes a lot of time. Tradition is important but I am also interested in innovation as much as the craft. I offer unique made to measure garments and accessories. But I feel I do that with a point of difference”.
All this dedication and perseverance in her work eventually paid off. Collaborations with companies like Arabian Oud gained a new following of ladies.
On one of her trips to Paris, she managed to show her dresses to the Editor of Vogue magazine. And when she came back from her trip, she had a surprise visitor to her office.
“I was previously invited to a polo match in Windsor and then Buckingham palace by her majesty the Queen to attend her garden party. I never imagined a few months later Prince Charles would visit. It was not expected. We spoke about my work and the fashion industry. HRH was really kind! And gave me the best advice I could ever have at this stage like “you are your own PR, the best marketing for your designs is through word of mouth”.
On each occasion where I have been fortunate to meet the British royal family I have had a lovely time. They are very kind and humble.”
With such a strong boost, Vanessa Adeeko started growing and her brand is starting to shine all around Europe and the Mediterranean. Clients from all over the world have already began wearing her designs and visited her shop in London, including some from Lebanon, which is what brought her to Beirut.
“It is exciting that through my work I am able to meet new people that inspire me and help me to learn more things. To create something special, like this Aegle dress and share it is positive vibes. I love your country, I am really grateful to be invited here. I have been made to feel very welcome. Hopefully if I have enough time I can get to visit sacred places like Byblos, I want to learn more about the history of Phoenicia and the Lebanese culture. To discover new inspiration and incorporate them into my designs” she says.
All this success has encouraged Vanessa Adeeko to expand her work and reach out to new markets. “During the first few days of opening the shop in April, my customers attended a small focus group during the late night shopping hours. It was my chance to show them the fabrics and products I am developing. Most of my customers told me they would like to be able to see more online in terms of E-commerce. So I have decided to launch an E-commerce platform which will have some of the styles we discussed. Most importantly in the future I want to continue to share my passion and to build relationships with amazing people.”
It is not every day that you get to meet a fashion designer in touch with everything around her; it is not every day you get to meet a fashion designer whom you know has a very bright future ahead of her.
Portrait Photo credits: Mr. B Burklakov