JENNY PACKHAM

Occupation: Fashion designer

Inspirations: Sometimes I find myself somewhere potentially dull - at an airport waiting lounge, for instance. I [challenge] myself to find something inspirational. If you have imagination, nowhere is dull.

Tips for young designers: I think the key is to excel at what you do. In addition to that, self-belief and refusal to fail [are important].

 

The Jenny Packham woman dresses to impress, yet looks effortlessly chic.

The London-based fashion designer, best known for her expert manipulation of sequins, satin and splendour, is on the speed dial of many style icons of our time.

"I create fashion that is memorable," says Packham, who started the brand almost three decades ago. Her designs have definitely left unforgettable imprints in fashion's hall of fame.

The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton - one of Packham's biggest patrons - wore a blue polka -dot tunic to meet the press after giving birth to prince George and then again a floral piece after she checked out Lindo Wing with princess Charlotte.

Packham's legion of celebrity fans also includes Adele, Kate Winslet and Angelina Jolie.

When asked about her biggest breakthrough, Packham says it was opening her first store in London 10 years ago.

"A lot has changed since we first started in 1988," she explains. "It's been an incredibly exciting journey."

Now the brand has opened flagship stores in Paris' Rue Faubourg St Honore and, more recently, in Hong Kong's Lyndhurst Terrace - its first freestanding boutique outside Europe.

"Asia is a hugely important market for us across all categories and the past five years have seen significant developments," she says. "Awareness in China is strong and there's an increasing desire for the brand."

Even before opening a flagship store in Asia, Packham's ultra-feminine creations had already gained a global following.

Korean superstar Gianna Jun Ji-hyun of My Sassy Girl fame, tied the knot in 2012 wearing a signature Packham gown embellished with elaborate beading. This further fuelled Packham's popularity in Asia. Opening a flagship store in Hong Kong and its first in-store boutique in Seoul, Korea has given Packham a new perspective of the burgeoning market.

"Last year, we did an exclusive edit of petite bridal gowns catering to the Asian market - a selection of our best-selling bridal styles from current and classic collections. The Hong Kong flagship boutique also carries a selection of styles in red, exclusive to the Chinese market," she says.

Looking back, Packham admits that her passion for fashion began when she was in her teens.

"I realised as a teenager that I was destined for a creative life and found that fashion design was something I enjoyed and was a potentially successful career path," the designer says.

"I love the process involved and the constant challenge to create something new."

Packham, who studied fashion and textile design at London's prestigious Central Saint Martins, says the experience set the foundation for her creative career.

"It's always the idea that was paramount, which influenced me to adopt that level of creativity to make something that's wearable as well as beautiful," she says. "I have always aspired to create beautiful designs that make women feel elegant and confident - for me that is my greatest challenge and inspiration."

Starting off with bridal and evening wear, Packham has expanded into ready-to-wear as well as lingerie and accessories. Translating the aesthetics of glamorous wear to daily wear was no easy fête. "Sometimes the design innovations collide, but recently I've found styles with a slightly different design aesthetic," Packham says. "I'm happier not to make a dress too versatile."

Being backed by a team of skilful and experienced artisans is the key to her success, Packham says.

"I work with a very experienced and innovative team in London and have a close relationship with many artisans that help me create my designs," she says. "Ultimately, a single style is the passion and work of many talented people."

While Packham has created dream dresses for many, she was challenged to make the perfect frock for her own big day when she married long-time partner and CEO of her company Matthew Anderson last December. "It was a difficult dress to design as I don't design for myself very often. I wanted a simple, structured shape and fell in love with a beautiful grey blue lace which was formed without seams and speckled with Swarovski crystals," she says.

Instead of a traditional white gown, Packham opted for a guipure lace calf-length dress rendered in elegant dove grey.

"The perfect dress? It's a strange question [to which the answer] is chosen by each bride," Packham says.

"My job is to make sure there's something about each dress that ignites the bride's imagination."