Playful Promises Blog

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Interview with Competition Winner Charlotte Holkham

Last year, we set a brief for a SS'16 mini-collection, calling for students and recent graduates to send in their designs based on the SS'16 trend forecast: Sartorial. We felt this trend encapsulated the Playful Promises brand with it mixture of femininity and dark detailing, and we wanted designs that could be considered contemporary classics.

We selected the winners back in April last year, and now the winning designs are available to purchase on our website. We wanted to chat to our winners about how they came up with their design, lingerie, and what's next for them! This week, we talked to Charlotte who created a dark, floral design with a classic silhouette.

Charlotte's Winning Design, Now Available to Pre-Order!

Charlotte's Winning Design, Now Available to Pre-Order!

Firstly, tell us about your winning design! Which direction did you decide to take the initial brief?

It was important for me to follow the designer handwriting of the Playful Promises brand, to create something I knew the customer would enjoy and would compliment their other products. I admire how Playful Promises create commercial lingerie which pushes boundaries with print, contemporary shapes with retro influences to create something unique and bold. The competition brief stressed the importance of print design to the company, and this is a factor of design I am very interested in exploring myself. I wanted to explore colour and graphic shapes through photographic print, distorting some floral photographs I took myself, the purple colour I chose is very complimentary to a range of skin tones. My set was very much influenced by retro shapes, with high rise briefs and a suspender belt. I wanted to push this design into a contemporary direction with mesh layering on the cups and insert panels. 

Charlotte's Design for Our Competition

Charlotte's Design for Our Competition


When it comes to your work, where do your usually look to for inspiration? And how would you define your style?

I am inspired by a variety of influences, particularly high fashion designers, films and decades of style. I have always been interested in vintage clothing as I enjoy the novelty quirks and design details, I have always found wearing vintage to be more fun! I particularly admire the work of Heidi Slimane at Saint Laurent, and Miuccia Prada. They find exciting ways to bring retro influences into a modern perspective, creating strong personas in their collections. I also draw influence through painting and photography, which are fields I have studied. I like to collaborate my interests in my collections, for my final university project I have been making abstract paintings of Gaudi's architecture in Barcelona, as the lively atmosphere of the city is something that cannot be captured through photography alone. I have also done a project before based on some pinhole time lapse photography I had taken, called 'solargraphs'. The colours and movement in the photographs came out beautifully and I had to translate them into garments.  

Charlotte's Corset Sketchbook

Charlotte's Corset Sketchbook

What drew you to lingerie?

In the past few years there has been a massive rise of popularity in the lingerie market, with exciting independent brands pushing the boundaries of design, and how we see the female body. Around this time I found the Contour Fashion degree at De Montfort University, and my determination to make it onto this very competitive degree program led me to discovering the diversity of lingerie design. I am a massive lingerie hoarder, I don't like to think about how much I own but it is definitely above average, I love the way that lingerie can be worn as a statement, mixed and layered with sheer outerwear, or as a very personal garment. 

Charlotte's Corset Sketchbook

Charlotte's Corset Sketchbook

How did you begin designing lingerie initially and what made you decide to study contour/lingerie design?

I could not decide on a university course at all, I was very fine art based up until applying to university and was considering this at degree level. When I came across the Contour Fashion degree at De Montfort University It felt like the only course I had seen that made sense for me, and from that point I concentrated my efforts into building a portfolio for the course. I had always loved lingerie and fashion, working on commercially viable and luxurious garments with more of a technical approach was more exciting to me than studying fashion. I am now in my third year of study and I have learnt so much in my time at university, the teaching has been excellent and has exposed me to many aspects of design, production, business and the industry. 


Photo from Underlines Magazine  Photographed by Sean Goldthorpe and Lingerie by Charlotte Holkham

Photo from Underlines Magazine

Photographed by Sean Goldthorpe and Lingerie by Charlotte Holkham

What’s next for you in terms of your future as a designer?

At the moment I am focusing on trying to survive my Final Major Project, which is proving to be very challenging! I have just had my catalogue photo shoot with my first garments and I am extremely excited to start on the rest, although this does involve 12 hour days, it will be worth it in the end! I will be graduating this summer and will be looking for jobs/placements after a much needed break.

You can purchase Charlotte's design here, available in sizes 32B - 36D / XS - XL