Founded in 1989, when it’s then 29 year old creative director and founder created a forward-thinking briefcase for women, Lulu Guinness has always intended to push the boundaries and “Dared to be Different”. Still abiding by this motto today, Lulu’s designs can be hanging off the arms of women with a fierce sense of humour. And an even fiercer sense of their own femininity.
Among her achievements and accolades, including an OBE from the Queen in 2006 and an ICONOCLAST Lifetime Achievement in Handbag Design Award in 2009, Lulu is known best for her iconic Lips clutch bag. Just as involved in her brand as the day she founded it, Lulu is the living, breathing personification of her brand. And you’ll never catch her without her trademark red lipstick.
The inimitable designer, who has no time for “It” bags, speaks to us about her own interior style, advice for aspiring designers and how she’d spend the perfect day off…
Since you founded your eponymous label in 1989, you’ve always intended to push the boundaries and “dared to be different”. What first inspired this way of thinking?
It was mainly to do with how I dressed, I had lived in Paris for a little while and had a love for the femininity and glamour of how French women dressed. I have always worn statement dresses and gone for quite a stand-out look, whether that’s been my hair style or wearing a head piece in the shape of a bird. I just like to make a statement with my clothes and accessories, so much so that my friends and family would almost expect it from me! When I first started designing I initially designed a briefcase for women, which had multiple pockets and compartments for everything the working woman may need. It was very successful but everyone wanted me to design bags that were similar to the way I dressed, so I started designing more novelty and elaborate pieces such as my Flower Basket, which is now in the V&A Museum in London and since then I haven’t stopped!
As a designer of everything from bags and shoes to clothes and homeware; do you have a particular product you like to design most?
I have to say I change my mind quite a lot, I am usually most passionate about what I am currently designing. Depending on whether that’s the most recent collection or a collaboration I am working on! I am lucky that my brand is easily adaptable to so many products, I have the iconic lip design to thank for that. I have recently teamed up with ghd to design a Lulu Guinness hair straightener which I absolutely love but I am also very proud of my current collection and all the little gifting pieces for Christmas, such as the hot water bottle and the coffee cup. It’s impossible to pin it down to one product!
Throughout your career you’ve received many accolades for your work. What has been your biggest career highlight to date and do you have any ambitions left you wish to achieve?
I think it has to be dancing around with Pixie Lott during my LFW Presentation last February. It was such as fun day and exactly the kind of energy I wanted to create for my presentation – basically a day time disco! Which is perfect for me! I will also never forget receiving my OBE, it was the biggest honour of my life.
How does your home reflect your own personal style?
Interiors are one of the things I get the most joy out of in life and my home is a mix match of everything I love – so I think my home reflects my personal style in that way. Each room is different and I am constantly on the lookout for something to add to my collection. I have recently worked with Patch NYC for SS19 and they have the most beautiful pieces – I felt privileged visiting their studio in NYC. They have the most unique, one off pieces and you really feel like you are buying something that no one else has.
They say no one will ever catch you without your trademark red lipstick. Is there anything else you couldn’t be without?
It’s true! Other than lipstick – my phone probably! I have two daughters and want to be contactable at all times, my youngest is at college in New York and we message/speak to each other on the phone as much as possible. I am also addicted to Instagram and have found it has opened a whole new level of inspiration for me, I love how easy it is to connect with people with similar interests. As well discovering new talent such as artists, photographers, stylists – I use it a lot for research!
Do you have any advice for aspiring designers?
Trust your gut and stick to it. A lot of people will try and influence and advise you along the way and it can cause you to move away from your original ideas. So, try to stay focused and true to what you know and feel is right.
How would you spend your perfect day off?
In the bath probably! I also love to escape to the countryside, I love getting out of London and travelling to visit my partner John in Stroud. I find it so peaceful catching the train and having some time to myself to think and sketch out ideas on the way.