Fashion News

Emilia Wickstead opens up about her tough start in fashion

The New Zealand designer famous for dressing Kate Middleton pretended to be someone else to get her start in the fashion industry.

Emilia Wickstead and her mother, Angela.

Emilia Wickstead – the New Zealander designer who has dressed everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow to Kate Middleton – admits she once had to assume a fake identity to get fashion big-wigs to pay attention to her work.

The London-based talent revealed the secret during a public talk as part of iD Fashion Week in Dunedin, before joining the judging panel for the iD International Emerging Designer Award, which was won by Jordan Anderson.

The 32-year-old brought her husband Daniel, three-year-old daughter Mercedes Amalie, and 11-month-old son Gilberto, for the trip home.

Sporting a red lip and a sleek ponytail, the designer behind red carpet looks for celebrity fans Alexa Chung, Diane Kruger, Oscar-winner Brie Larson and Paltrow – who stepped out in one of Emilia’s looks just hours earlier – wore a colourful high neck dress from one of her own, older collections for her public appearance in Dunedin.

Gwyneth Paltrow wore one of Emilia’s designs at a Jimmy Choo event.

She is perhaps best known, however, as the woman who has dressed the Duchess of Cambridge – Kate Middleton wore the brand before its debut at London Fashion Week, around six years ago.

During her informal one-hour public talk, Emilia gave personal insights into everything from her childhood in New Zealand and schooling in Italy, when her mother Angela moved the family to Milan to herself work in the fashion industry.

The talented Kiwi also spoke about her growing brand and obsession with Instagram – she runs the Emilia Wickstead brand profile herself.

She also revealed how tough it was to start out in the fashion business, sharing a story about how she once called up British Vogue pretending to be Layla, ‘her assistant’, to get the editor to see her website – a bold move which led to a half page in the magazine showcasing her work.

Emilia left the crowd, which included many young local designers, with some advice about how to follow in her footsteps: listen and take advice from people and be the biggest believer in your brand.

“Fake your confidence if you don’t naturally have it,” says Wickstead. “Wear your clothes. If people don’t complement or talk about them, you’re doing something wrong.”

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