Like a flower springing up from a crack in the sidewalk, up-and-coming designer Hermione de Paula’s unique brand of floral romanticism seems like an anomaly amid London’s cutting-edge fashion scene. Channeling the dreamy early work of John Galliano, de Paula’s sensibility is perfectly suited to a current ladylike message that contrasts delicacy and softness with a strong dynamic edge.
After studying at Central St. Martins, she gained experience with Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Giles Deacon before striking out on her own. Although de Paula splits her time between Los Angeles and London, she’s a Brit to the core. “I love the retro-ness dreaminess of LA, the muted, faded color palette—everything always seems in soft focus,” she remarks. “But I also love the fast pace and innovation that London offers. The strong English heritage, historical presence and the celebration and support of arts and crafts steeped in tradition.”
De Paula’s innovative tailoring is certainly worth noting—it certainly has attracted the attention of Daphne Guinness and a slew of other unconventionally stylish in-the-know girls—but she’s all about original prints: melodramatic hand-painted florals that riff off the English rose, epitomizing the sultry romantic element indicative of the label. “These are florals with a twist,” explains de Paula. “Rose petals are in fact made of fish tails, flowers are made of metal and ice, encouraging the wearer to take a closer look, as all is not what it seems.”
After launching her label through Browns Focus London, de Paula has worked as a print consultant to Nicholas Kirkwood and with Another Magazine fashion editor Agata Belcen, who styled the current collection. Next up is her launch at Liberty, where de Paula hopes to create a unique interpretation of the classic Liberty print. She was inspired by a recent trip to Asia for the coming season, and pays homage to Eastern sculpture and carving as well as the gardens and shrines of Hakone near Mount Fuji. “From the lace covered taxis in Tokyo to the smog covered green glass skyscrapers and trees in Seoul…I loved all the colorful trees intertwined with neon advertising.”
Though she’s steeped in florals, frou-frou is not in de Paula’s nature. “My take on the romanticism challenges other brands out there,” says de Paula. “The key to my brand’s success is that it is beautiful and feminine but not saccharine.”
Photo: Kristin Vicari
Styling: Agata Belcen