Being touted as the next big thing in New Zealand fashion would probably go to most 23-year-olds’ heads, but Lucilla Gray isn’t most 23-year-olds. The Wellington-based British-born designer has already achieved what many young designers only dream of: Gray debuted her label at London Fashion Week 2015 and has been called the Kiwi designer to watch. Ever- modest, Gray seems unperturbed: “I guess there’s always a little bit of pressure, but when you’re working you don’t really think about that – you get lost in designing,” she says.
Immersing herself in “making stuff” is something Gray has been doing since she was a child, so it’s with conviction that she says she always knew she’d end up working in a creative field. “It was really quite natural for me,” she says. Although designing seems to be second-nature, Gray still sees fashion as a dynamic process. “It’s creative – like self-expression,” she says. “It’s quite hands-on and experimental.” Gray’s clear creative vision and focus might explain why she was determined to launch her namesake label so early in her career. Most designers spend years honing their art under the watchful tutelage of established designers. Gray spent just eight weeks as a design intern at Kate Sylvester. She’s quick to admit she’s always been preoccupied with establishing her own aesthetic. “I’ve always had a strong opinion when it comes to my work,” she says. “Everything started falling into place quite quickly. I had stylists asking to borrow pieces from my graduate collection before I’d handed it in for marking.” Gray’s success only gathered momentum from there. In 2014, she was invited to show as part of an emerging designers exhibition at Amsterdam Fashion Week. While there, a London-based agency invited her to be part of their showroom at London Fashion Week.
Despite her international success, Gray says showing her Japanese-inspired collection at this year’s New Zealand Fashion Week was a career highlight. The collection featured all the elements Gray is known for: structured silhouettes, clean lines and a distinct print. While it’s probably a given Gray’s signature style will be present in her future collections, she laughs when asked if she’s got her next collection planned. “Not at all! I try not to think about it too much straight after the last one.”