Life of Alumni: Alice Pons on making corsets for the modern woman and launching her own brand
Italian corsetmaker and BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Technology Womenswear alumna Alice Pons has launched her eponymous fashion brand specialising in corsets for the modern woman. Her label has attracted the attention of the media and a high profile clientele, showing a clear desire in the industry to see Alice’s modern twist on 18th century high fashion in today’s culture. Alice recently spoke to us about her career and the insights into building her own fashion brand.
Hi Alice, we saw one of your corsets in Ed Sheeran’s Antisocial music video. Having just graduated last year this is an incredible accomplishment. Can you tell us more about this and how it happened?
Since graduating from BA Womenswear last year, I've been focused on growing my own brand to bring boldly designed corsets to the modern woman, and I have already seen my collections featured in numerous publications and music videos! After moving to Milan in January, I joined Fashion Crossover's Showroom Programme, which has helped me to give exposure to my creations, lending my pieces to celebrities, singers, bloggers and stylists. I definitely recommend this platform to graduate designers who are looking to increase their audience and kick start their brand.
When my PR agent told me that one of my designs made it to the new Ed Sheeran and Travis Scott music video I felt so proud and honoured. I really can’t believe how quickly it has all happened. I'm incredibly excited, and hopefully this is just the start!
Singer Jorja Smith wearing black corset designed by Alice Pons. Photographer: Trey Karson
Your creations have attracted high profile clients and have been featured in a variety of industry leading publications. What do you think is the key to your success?
My designs have caught the eye of high profile stars such as Sophie Hermann, Jorja Smith, and the members of Little Mix, who have all worn my corsets. As a young designer, I am so happy and grateful that people are positive about the clothes I produce, whoever they are. The fact that artists, who I look up to as leading creative voices, are also interested in my work makes me speechless. I really appreciate celebrities using their influence to help young designers raise awareness of products such as mine.
I think the key to my success was finding a product that has been ‘out of fashion’ for decades now, like corsets, and try to bring it back to life adapting it to the modern woman, with sophisticated new designs. I strongly believe that the uniqueness of the designs is the true key to any fashion designer’s success.
What are the biggest elements of inspiration behind your brand?
Growing up in Italy, art and its underlying history is taught from such a young age it has always been something that fascinates me. Besides fashion, my other big passion is History of the Art. I am always inspired by art when I design clothes. In terms of designing, my favourite thing is to take something ingrained in the past and pull it into the present through design. Corsets are perfect for this! Most of the colours and fabric choices I make are inspired by Gothic rose windows and mosaics, and the shapes take inspiration from 18th century female portraits.
Let’s talk about the practical steps behind creating Alice Pons. How did you get your business up and running?
After my graduation, I was initially lost in the world of fashion. With the frustrating, never-ending search for jobs, I was unsure of the direction I wanted to take. During this time my graduate collection started to become popular and I saw it as an opportunity to start my own brand, which was always my long-term goal.
I find the creative freedom of working for myself extremely liberating. It was a scary choice though it is really exciting to see it starting to really gain traction, which vindicates the decision.
I plan to source a couple of very skilled Italian seamstresses in Milan to keep up with my customers' requests, but at the same time retain the high quality handmade production. I am currently selling the corsets online through my brand's website, but Instagram is actually the platform that helps me to promote my designs and I find new customers.
What's your favourite piece in your current collection?
I just love my corsets! Although in the past they were a form of restriction and conformity, I really hope to change that image. I want to retain the elegance and extravagance of the 18th century whilst adding comfort and bold colours to allow the modern woman to express herself!
What advice do you have for new designers?
With the fashion industry overwhelmed with the influx of luxury labels and high-street brands, it is extremely important for emerging designers to follow their passion and not give up.
I truly recommend everyone to try doing their own thing after university. Setting up a business from nothing is worth more than 100 internships, it really helps you understand every bit of how the fashion industry works.
Why did you choose to study at LCF, and what was the most important thing you learned during your degree?
When I was 16 I attended a UAL summer course where I got the chance to experiment with different types of art: photography, architecture, fine art and fashion. Thanks to that amazing experience, I fell in love with London’s immersive and expressive character, and all I wanted was to move there after school. I knew that London College of Fashion was the right university for me, as it is a very creative and academic environment.
LCF really helped me express my creativity and develop my aesthetic. My tutors pushed me to experiment more and more and to never be afraid of creating exaggerated crazy designs.
What do you hope to bring to the industry with your designs, and how do you see your brand evolving in the future?
I want my designs to become a staple for fierce women everywhere; musicians, models, actresses, or just the everyday woman. I've been recently working on a new collection that showed for the opening of Milan Fashion Week this September, which was a great opportunity for me. I'm very ambitious and I want to be successful, but I personally don’t want to become famous — though I would like my work to be worn and appreciated by many people. Within fashion, I just want to carry on creating interesting and meaningful clothes.