Matty Bovan is a rising star with articles and interviews in The New York Times and all the top glossies, but I’ve known him since he was a student at Central Saint Martins. Here’s an early interview I did with him and a rare chance to see inside his sketchbooks and his fabulous award-winning collection where it all started…
Having now designed for Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs, London designer Matty Bovan, chatted to me just after London Fashion Week where he was announced joint winner of the prestigious L’Oréal Professionnel Creative Award. The award is given to the best Central Saint Martins student in show. He had also just won a graduate prize from LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) to work at Louis Vuitton in Paris. He has since designed for Marc Jacobs and now appears regularly in Vogue, ID and other prestigious magazines.
Hi Matty, first of all a huge congratulations on being announced joint winner of the L’Oreal award! What an incredible achievement that is. Previous winners have included some real luminaries in the world of fashion…
Hi Cand, thanks so much! Yeah the whole show was amazing, so stressful though, the garments weren’t the easiest to get on and off and to walk in, so very nervous and relieved after the show was over! What a tremendous high! It was a bit anticlimactic after so I had some drinks, but just went home ha, and then saw my parents the whole day after which was the best reward really.
The award was so well deserved! I’ve always loved your work since I first saw it back in your undergraduate days at Central Saint Martins when it was an honour to crochet some plastic flowers for your final collection. You’ve now just come to the end of your MA and your work is as fantastical as ever!
Well it’s really an extension of the way I dress! But I’ve pushed the shapes into a more extreme silhouette, juxtaposing different fabrics that I’ve been collecting together. I wanted to enhance these collages of materials to make something more ambitious. The textiles are an amalgamation of colour and texture, each look having its own character. I wanted the shapes to be organic around the body, both following the lines and pushing out from them, creating a new silhouette.
The idea of constructing garments with brooches and jewellery, and questioning the relationship of function/decoration, runs throughout the collection – these gradually become bigger and bigger, pushed to the extreme in the final looks.
What I really love is that you’re not afraid of anything when it comes to your designs. You really challenge the wearer of your garments and the materials you choose to make them from…
Yes, I love experimenting with a wide range of different materials – plastic cords loosely hand knitted with lurex sprouting out in huge tufts, machine knit jacquards with eyelash glitter yarn felted with lambswool, velvet, crochet nets, carved foam shapes painted and covered in gems, hand cast resin brooches and clay brooches hand painted.
Wow, such incredible materials all coming together to make such exciting pieces! How hands on are you in the making of everything?
Very hands on. I had a 1st year helper from MA who was amazing and some really great girls from BA, but I really wanted to ‘touch’ everything. All the resin was cast and made in my flat hallway and the clay all done by hand and painted, all very non-repeatable which was really great. I love making resin – love the way it looks. It’s something I will keep doing, just need some ventilation ha!
Your designs are mindbogglingly complex! I can’t imagine how you begin…
Really start with drawing, and draping, trying things on. Then refining that, and fitting on the model, thinking about styling, really is a journey 🙂
As you say, your designs are an extension of how you dress yourself. How old were you when you first got bitten by fashion and started to experiment with clothes?
Bizarrely I knew from a very young age, always made things. My mum was always dying fabric, hand painting fabric and the walls at home, very naturally creative and she still is which is great. And quite rare I’ve come to realise. I used to make clothes and objects when I was a kid for toys, then started making my own (badly) at 15, and then was lucky enough to study fashion ND up the road in York at the college which really was great to be exposed to that so young.
Of course your mum, Plum, is extremely creative. She must have been a big influence on you too? Plus you’ve had work experience with none less than John Galliano!
Yeah my mum was and is a huge influence, we both just get excited about making stuff, colours, textures, she used to hand paint glasses when I was young and cure them in the oven. She was really great at it amongst other things. Growing up being creative was just very normal in my house and I think we both just really enjoy it on a base level, you can’t help it.
And is there such a thing as a typical day in the life of Matty Bovan?
Well I always drinks lots of tea to start and throughout haha. Usually up around 7.30, look at the news and then get ready and out early, or if working from home get cracking. Every day is a mix, so I usually start by getting going with knitting if I need to, on the machine and then it can be research and drawing afterwards and then run up some jersey pieces after. No day is the same and that is my goal, routine scares me to death ha.
I know the fashion world is full on and very demanding so when you get a chance to unwind are you a party animal or do you prefer to stay in bed?!
I really like just hanging out at friends’ houses drinking and then maybe go out. Dancing is great but haven’t had chance to much recently, and I’m a pretty awful dancer, but it doesn’t matter it’s just fun ha. Occasionally end up at Vogue Fabrics in Dalston, but more often than not, just at someone’s house. But I wouldn’t say I’m a party animal haha.
Above: Matty and his mum having a day out visiting the studio of Andrew Logan
And now you’ve won a LVMH graduate prize to work at Louis Vuitton for twelve months! That’s amazing, Matty, and so very well deserved.
Yes, I am currently getting sorted to move out of London and back up north for a few weeks and then I’m moving to Paris to work at Louis Vuitton. Very scary but exciting.
Matty, thank you so much! I’m reaching for my crochet hook as I type! And I wish you all the very best with your future career which I’m sure is going to be just as sparkly and glittery as you are…
Can you sign us out with with a favourite tune?
I choose Nina Hagen…
WORDS: Cand Juskus and Matty Bovan
IMAGES: Matty Bovan and Gabriela Antunes