LONDON, Great Britain - The 2016 WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free was all about elegance and extravagant outfits and although it was obvious that the WTA stars invested a lot of thought and energy into looking special, some players took things up a notch with attention-grabbing designs that are bound to make history when it comes to fashion at tennis red carpet events. Among them was Heather Watson, who left nothing to chance when it comes to British weather, making sure to have on hand an umbrella matching her dress, so that an unexpected rain wouldn't ruin her glamorous look.
For the second year in a row you are designing Heather's WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party dress. How did you two start working together?
I was invited to a party by my brother-in-law Dom Inglot (member of the British Davis Cup team) and I met Heather there. We started chatting and hit it off immediately! She is such a playful and friendly person and we started having fun, talking about style, outfits etc. Inevitably the conversation came around to how we might be able to do something fun and exciting for one of her public appearances and with the 2015 Pre-Wimbledon Party on the horizon, we decided to focus on that.
Can you tell us something about the creative process behind the 2016 WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party dress design?
With the 2015 blue and pink chiffon dress, Heather wanted something playful, light and with a lot of movement to it. That was the starting point for the concept. This year's dress, she wanted something really different. She wanted something a little more risqué and edgy but still very playful.
A lot of my own experience lies in using latex in a high fashion way, trying to bring it to a different audience through light and fun colors, cuts and formats. It seemed a great overlap for us to explore, so I started coming up with some latex concepts and we worked through a few iterations to make sure that it was something Heather could get excited about.
Are there some elements of the outfit that are Heather's input?
Absolutely. As with anything I do for clients, I wanted the dress to reflect her personality and accentuate her best assets. Heather is such a complete package in terms of beauty; it is quite a tricky thing to know where to start from! But last year's dress really let her legs do their thing because they are so lean and long and so we knew that this year, we would do the same. Sophia Webster's shoes are so sensational that we wanted to give them their room to shine as well.
Heather was also keen to make sure that we changed the color palette, but of course it had to work with her striking skin tone. We felt the olive color really did that well. Finally, Heather really wanted something that drew attention to her back and shoulders, so the design features around those areas were there to draw attention.
Whose idea was to include an umbrella in the look?
That was all Heather! It was genius! She knew the color the dress would be, so she found an umbrella that obviously went with the whole get up, but it perfectly captured her playful character. She had been getting fed up with rain delays over the previous week or so, and it was raining on the day, so instead of letting it get her down, she decided to have fun with it.
I think it was the perfect accessory and I think everyone at the Party really got into it. To be honest, I wish it had been my idea!
Did you expect that the outfit would turn out to be one of the biggest fashion hits at the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party?
You never really know to be honest. You always hope, but we knew that this year, going out in latex was always going to be a point of conversation. It was either going to push the envelope, or push the envelope too far. I think we got it just right: unique and cheeky, but playful and elegant. I am glad that it got such huge and positive interest and of course I need to thank Heather for being such a wonderful character and model and also for being bold enough to go for the concept.
You completed postgraduate studies at London College of Fashion. How have you become a Latex Specialist?
My BA in Fashion Womenswear was at Central St. Martins and my final collection there in 2011 included latex. I got into latex before them, around 2008, through some friends who modelled in it. I thought it was such a striking material but one that by and large had a poor reputation with very few designers exploring all its possibilities. I also wanted to really see how latex could be incorporated with non-latex materials to create more exciting outfits and looks.
Since 2008 I have worked with some of the biggest names in latex and took that to my stints at Alexander McQueen and Gareth Pugh, and I am really excited generally to see how else I can bring it to a new audience. It really does makes you feel sexy though, so I recommend everyone have at least one signature latex piece in their closet: that pair of leggings or jacket that sets a look off!
Have you and Heather already discussed some looks for future red carpet appearances?
Of course, but you will have to wait for the next red or purple carpet to see what we've cooked up!
- Photos courtesy of Getty Images