I first met Leanne at the AW15 London Fashion Weekend in February 2015. Her stand was tucked away in one of the many side rooms of Somerset House which may have made it difficult to find, but not with the vibrant scarves she was showcasing. Our attraction was instant, she to my electric blue blazer and I to her beautiful scarves and within seconds, I was modelling a Claxton oversized blue scarf. Little did I know that this was her first time at London Fashion Weekend! Our friendship was born through the love of colour, art and fashion and has grown steadily over the year. As a result, I have decided to write this blog, the first one of my Every Woman Column because Leanne is not only a talented designer, but she is a role model to all women who are working hard to build their dreams and at the centre of all her efforts is a genuinely kind, helpful and caring heart.
After successfully completing her degree in textile design at Central St. Martins in 2006, Leanne wanted to make her artwork more accessible. She worked as a freelance art designer for a while. In 2011, she started printing her abstract art floral designs from her series of oil painted canvases onto silk scarves.
Always working with fresh flowers, first, she creates a graphite sketch with the most intricate details of the flower included: anthers, styles and all! Every part of the structure is delicately transcribed into an oil painting. Each painting is then digitally translated and printed onto the most luxurious silk.
Her Claxton Bespoke scarves are “a labour of love.” They are entirely handmade by Leanne in her studio in Lancashire. Using a screen printer handmade by her father, she individually paints, treats, washes and hand-finishes each scarf by hand-rolling.
Three weeks ago, Leanne invited me to spend a day with her at her stand at London Fashion Week. This was her first time to exhibit at LFW and my first time in attendance too! She came to meet me outside Brewer Street Car Park and the paparazzi went crazy. She looked beautiful in her black vintage dress that cinched her waist perfectly. She seemed to effortlessly glide towards me through the crowds, clutching a Christian Lacroix laser cut handbag with a dainty Claxton Bespoke scarf wrapped around it. Her smile, warm and wide as always.
Within a few minutes, we were inside and at her meticulously arranged stand. Over the past year, I have begun to expect Leanne to style me in one of her scarves at any event I see her so I wasn’t surprised when she draped the fleur oversized scarf around my neck. After going around and seeing the other exhibitors, I got back to Leanne’s stand and watched her talk to potential clients. In between clients, we were talking about everything fashion, design and life in general. Later on, I had the privilege to interview her.
Thanks again for inviting me to come see you here at London Fashion Week
Oh no problem, you are welcome!
So how did you start your brand?
I started last year. After working in the fashion industry for 8 years I decided that it’s now or never so I relocated back from living abroad to my home town which is in Lancashire. I started a print studio there so I’d have the facilities to do all the printing and production in England. I really wanted to focus on my painting cause I have the screen painting side of the collection and the art work which is digitally printed.
Yes, it keeps me busy (she smiles)
So you do all of that yourself?
Yes, at the moment I do everything myself.
That’s great! So we met for the first time last year around this time?
Yes, at London Fashion weekend!
Your first London Fashion Weekend?
Yes, it was! I was there with three scarves in different sizes (she laughs)
Yes, that was amazing though, I loved your stand! So what have you been up to since then, what’s been your highlight?
I think London Fashion Week actually, because I am showing the bespoke collection for the first time and my digital collection has grown. I am now printing on cashmere and I have modal scarves.
That’s definitely exciting. It’s my first time here too, thanks for having me.
No, its so good to see you! (she smiles)
Say if you were to do it again, what would you do differently?
To start from the last collection, I would probably get a bit more of an idea about the business first. Maybe I would have gone on a business course for like a month before. I just went “Oh I am going to start!” and let it evolve but yes to go back, I would probably try and study a bit more on the business side, maybe try and get a mentor or learn a bit more about business instead of fully launching and selling without fully understanding the business side of things.
Is that sort of the same message or advice you would give to someone who is starting up?
Yes definitely, because as a designer, and I have not got any experience at all in business, that experience would be very helpful to me.
Sound advice! You have been quite busy in the past year. What do you have in store for us this year?
I have three main events coming up. The first one is the London Charity pop up with the Be Kind Movement. This is my attempt at giving something back whilst supporting a great cause at the same time. The pop up will be at the beautiful Mandeville Hotel just off Oxford Street on Wednesday the 16th of March.
After that is the Dalston DSArts exhibition. After a year in discussion, I finally secured a solo exhibition with DSArts!
Thanks. (she smiles)
Their uber trendy and edgy underground gallery space is perfect! I love the contrast of industrial / feminine art and soft luxurious fashion accessories. We plan to install scaffolding to have the scarves draping in and around to create a kind of installation! Just to have the scarves and art displayed together is a big dream of mine so I’m very excited….
Congratulations, that is very exciting! I am looking forward to seeing your exhibition. March is looking even busier for you…and you have another project after that too!
Busy exciting times…
Wow! I probably would have taken some time off after the year you had. It’s great inspiration seeing you get right back into the hard work and making time for Charity too! Well done!
Thanks, it’s my pleasure and the Charity pop up is something I really wanted to do so I don’t see it as work at all. (She smiles)
And Hong Kong! Congratulations on a successful first year in Hong Kong and I wish you even more success this season.
Thank you so much! (She smiles)
Moving away a little bit from your brand and coming to you, what would you say is your style?
I love shopping in Charity shops so my style is mostly 1950’s cinched in at the waist…
You’ve got a lovely figure!
It’s all the screen printing, no need to go the gym! (She laughs) But obviously print, I love wearing print!
Of course, print print print!
But today I am in all black so I can show off my print scarf (she smiles)
That’s great. Thank you so much
I hope you have enjoyed getting to know a bit about Leanne. You can browse and shop her collection here.
Would you or do you know anyone who would like to be featured on this column? Please get in touch.