Styling & Profiling
Craig Hough speaks to Tony B Armstrong about the opening of the new Philip Armstrong showroom in Knutsford
Congratulations on the opening, what made you choose Knutsford for your flagship store?
We had been looking for a base in Cheshire for some time as we have done quite a lot of business in the area over the years. When we came across the shop in the area, it just felt right. Knutsford is a shopping hub with a community spirit, central enough for customers from the Midlands and all over the North West to visit. There are excellent parking facilities, so clients can either make a quick visit or spend a leisurely afternoon in the shop and lunch in the local area etc.
Can you talk me through the type of customer your brand attracts?
Our brand attracts a very diverse range of customers; young fashionistas looking for a piece to party in, professional ladies who need “go to” pieces that can be multi-functional, wedding guests looking for that perfect dress and ladies looking for an outfit for the races.
We also have clients looking for bespoke pieces, which is a service we have offered for many years. What we love most is being able to dress mums and daughters shopping together, helping them both find pieces, and seeing them leave our store with a smile on their faces.
You have had some high-profile clients throughout your career, who have been your favourite to work with?
It was a thrill to see Lady Gaga in a dress of ours- as a true fashion maverick, it was exciting to see how the overall look was put together. We’ve both always been major J-Lo fans, so to see her in one of our signature skater dresses was such a buzz.
Could you talk me through the process of how a collection is put together? Do you design with a clear narrative or woman in mind or is it purely about the clothes?
A collection usually starts days after the previous one has been released. Sketches and inspiration will be pinned to our mood boards, followed by colour stories and fabric sourcing. This spring we were inspired by female fashion icons of the late ’60s and ’70s (such as Marianne Faithfull, Jean Shrimpton, Catherine Deneuve and Faye Dunaway). We used their spirit and sense of style to create looks that women need today. It would be impossible not to have certain clients in mind when working on a new collection, so it can also simply be about beautiful clothes and creating looks that we know will work for our customer base.
Following this stage, the samples are produced, and over the next few months, the collection comes together. The pressure builds before the collection is shot and it’s at this time when the creative juice goes into overdrive, and last-minute items can be added. A case in point being the “Tilda” dress from last winter, this was a little black dress with a sequin bib front and tiny crystal buttons. It was a late addition to the collection and by far the best seller.
How do you continuously come up with new and original ideas and keep yourselves motivated to design new collections?
Philip and I carry little sketchbooks around with us, filled with notes and tiny drawings. We are always thinking of ideas and new techniques, trying to push ourselves further each season. Ideas can come from travel, vintage textiles, art, fashion books and galleries; in particular, New York’s MOMA, where we have spent hours admiring a particular Picasso that resides there. When you have a creative spirit, an idea can spring from anywhere.
What is your favourite, stand out piece from the SS19 collection?
It would be impossible to pick one favourite piece from the spring collection; it’s like picking a favourite child! The Solange zebra print playsuit is a really great piece. It could be worn with smart sneakers on holiday or with killer heels and statement earrings for a party. At the other end of the scale, the Safine dress in sunray pleated yellow georgette is another favourite, perfect for summer weddings or a ball.
What feedback have you had so far from customers regarding the SS19 collection?
The collection is proving very popular which is always a great feeling after working on it for so long. What’s particularly exciting is that we have never used prints before and they are doing very well for us. Our separates (blouses, shirts and trousers) are a great hit too. Now it’s time to complete the new Bridal collection (the cycle never ends!) which will be available
Philip Armstrong 12 Minshull Street, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 6HG
t: 01565 652 568