Interview: Orschel-Read

Growing up in the countryside myself, the term tailoring used to follow suit with well…suits, quite simply. 2D blazers were the expected way of looking sharp by the farm. Luckily London has had fun with bespoke, and designer Stefan Orschel-Read has fast become the modern tailor with a twist. I visited the well dressed gent to find out more about his smart and eccentric world.

After graduating, some designers settle into the well respected shadow of an established name or label, but Stefan dipped his toes into the deep by setting up Orschel Read immediately. “The catalyst for this was an external examiner at Central St Martins who gave me the highest ever mark for a BA student then. He said, “Please don’t work for another designer, what you’re doing needs to be seen by a wider audience.””

Some designers seek the extreme, some play with the elusive, but Orschel-Read indulges in the ultimate tailoring tale. “Tailoring has always interested me. I came from an equestrian background, so I was used to wearing a tailored tailcoat at a young age, and always liked that dandy aesthetic… “There’s way more freedom in menswear, in that there’s so much that hasn’t been one. But you can update it with traditional methods still, such as tailoring. The ability to form the body into a flattering silhouette is something that’s always attracted me, I like the craft aspect. I’m not just a fashion designer, perhaps more of a craftsman?”

It’s seemed that the high street has fully embraced ‘the blazer’, with more men (and boys) adopting something suave and cheeky. Does this taint the traditions? “Bespoke will never disappear. Going down a retail route only confirms the importance. The Bespoke market will always want to remain bespoke, but by tailoring becoming more price point appropriate, we can all dress a little smart at times if we want! I always joke that I know I’ve succeeded if I can dress a chav that mugs me in my clothes: that would be fantastic!”

So is the future of tailoring about pushing it in unconventional directions then? “I always love seeing how an editorial has interpreted the collection. One of my favourite highlights was seeing my SS12 collection styling the heavy metal Italian band Lacuna Coil. They’re big beardy metal heads, and it was fantastic to see these butch guys dressed head to toe in Orschel-Read, working it, but still looking every inch metal! It could not have been a more different way to wear it, and it was fantastic!”

An element of Stefan’s art is the ability to make a clean silhouette from afar that becomes intricate and eccentric up-close. “I did a lot of self colour panelling and clever cutting that from afar was not so obvious. Loud fashion is the preconceived idea of ‘the show-piece.’ The most recent collection re evaluates what makes a show-piece. I didn’t have big shoulders or dramatic silhouettes, but rather concentrated on clever cutting that was apparent in the whole collection.” “I like the effect that the garment changes as you become closer to it.” So has subtly ever met confusion? “For a past collection, all the journalists had commented on how nice the printed sweat-shirting was down the runway. It wasn’t sweat-shirting, it was leather and digitally printed suede.”

So with the tailoring background ticked, where does the particular collection inspiration derive from? “It has to be organic. For a past collection, I was completely stuck for inspiration, I had designers-block! But I happened to visit Stockholm for a day, looked up at a church ceiling and was wowed! It taught me that you can’t force the inspiration and that it has to come organically, because you have to focus on it for six months and be obsessed by. If you chose it for the sake of it, you’ll be bloody bored! I always know if I don’t hate a collection by the time I show it that I’ve done alright!

“The new SS13 collection is an extension of AW and the story of Lord Paget, an aristocrat from a Welsh background in the 1900’s. He’s the distinction of what an ultimate dandy would be: flamboyant and utterly over the top. We see him being sent to Cuba in the 1970s, confronted with the idea of becoming a man of the world. In Cuba he experiences the Mafia element of the 70s, the corruption, but also the bohemians and the jazz musicians.”

Orschel-Read is without doubt the future of tailoring; showing that smart can be traditional or utterly eccentric and fresh, leaving the art of the look down to personal taste and interpretation. The way fashion should be.

Words: Charles Matthews

Photograhpy: Christopher Hench

Styling: Heather Falconer