Being touted as the next big thing in New Zealand fashion would probably go to most 23-year-oldsâ€™ heads, but Lucilla Gray isnâ€™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: â€śI guess thereâ€™s always a little bit of pressure, but when youâ€™re working you donâ€™t really think about that â€“ you get lost in designing,â€ť she says.
Immersing herself in â€śmaking stuffâ€ť is something Gray has beenÂ doing since she was a child, so itâ€™s with conviction that she says she alwaysÂ knew sheâ€™d end up working in a creative field. â€śIt was really quite naturalÂ for me,â€ť she says. Although designing seems to be second-nature, Gray stillÂ sees fashion as a dynamic process. â€śItâ€™s creative â€“ like self-expression,â€ť she says. â€śItâ€™s quite hands-on and experimental.â€ť Grayâ€™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. Sheâ€™s quick to admit sheâ€™s always been preoccupied with establishing her own aesthetic. â€śIâ€™ve always had a strong opinion when it comes to my work,â€ť she says. â€śEverything started falling into place quite quickly. I had stylists asking to borrow pieces from my graduate collection before Iâ€™d handed it in for marking.â€ť Grayâ€™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 yearâ€™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 itâ€™s probably a given Grayâ€™s signature style will be present in her future collections, she laughs when asked if sheâ€™s got her next collection planned. â€śNot at all! I try not to think about it too much straight after the last one.â€ť