In Conversation with: Head of Reiss Womenswear Design, Louise Palmer


Louise Palmer on her inspiration and ambition as Head of Reiss Womenswear Design.


16th September 2016

Hotel 41

We delve a little deeper into the mind of Louise Palmer, who heads up the Womenswear Design team at Reiss, and find out what inspires her, and what she’s working on now.

What inspired you to follow fashion design as a career path?

I grew up being inspired by fine art, and clothing has always intrigued me. It’s an unspoken form of communication and it has the power to connect with people, as well as to empower them. Womenswear design enabled me to explore my own visual aesthetic and opinion. I have always loved clothes that are designed to be worn as opposed to designs that are suited to hanging in a gallery space. The commercial industry that Reiss sits within allows and challenges me to align my love of design with the reality of function.

How would you describe your personal style?

I believe that my personal style is uncomplicated and understated. I wear clothes that fit my personality and figure rather than clothes that dictate a current look or trend.

I spent the first 10 years of my career working in Milan where I learnt to really appreciate the quality of beautiful craftsmanship, and I worked with ateliers and artisans that had devoted their lives to perfecting their craft. This experience has undoubtedly influenced my own personal style. It is important to me to feel both confident and comfortable. Within my wardrobe, I have invest in what I believe are timeless pieces as throw away fashion doesn’t inspire me. Quality of cloth, cut and proportion are always the key factors to any purchase that I make.

How would you define the Reiss woman and the Reiss design aesthetic?

The Reiss woman aspires to a clean, elegant and smart aesthetic. She appreciates good quality product and investment pieces that will stand the test of time. Our pieces are there to excite her, strengthen her confidence and in turn, strengthen her identity. I think Reiss offers beautifully crafted pieces that comply with a unique and recognisable handwriting and that warrant a permanent place within any wardrobe. Reiss retains a special niche in the market – that of affordable luxury.

Are there elements of your personal style within the AW16 collection and if so, what are they?

My style and tastes filter through the collection from the initial research stage when I select inspirational vintage pieces to work from, right through to the last-minute decisions made just before the collection hits the shop floor. Fit, fabric and colour are all important aspects of the design process, from both an innovative and a commercial point of view. I’m also involved with styling the looks that set the tone for the season and convey how we see each piece being worn.

Womenswear Design

What inspired the AW16 collection?

AW16 was inspired by Truman Capote’s White Ball – the pinnacle of New York’s social scene and the party of the century – along with the theatrical works of the Bloomsbury artists and a focus on craftsmanship. We wanted to create a collection that conveyed a certain contemporary glamour, from tailoring collection through to our original development of lace, fabrics and prints.

What is your favourite piece from the collection?

The Moss tailored jacket. It has been made using premium Italian cloth, has a shrunken fit and is double-breasted which is a key AW16 look. It’s easy to dress up or down and is a hint as to the direction in which our tailoring collection is heading.

What 5 key items should every woman have in their wardrobe?

  • The perfect tailored jacket; it smartens any outfit.
  • A good pair of jeans. Straight, cropped fits are my current favourites.
  • A good quality leather biker jacket.
  • A lightweight cashmere sweater, practical and luxurious.
  • A little black dress – choose a versatile style that can be dressed up or down.

Womenswear Design

What are you working on now?

We are currently working on AW17, discussing the theme and aesthetic of the collection with the Creative Director. I am collecting vintage pieces for silhouette and detail inspiration as well as putting the fabric stories together at the fabric fairs.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to pursue a career in fashion design?

Have an original point of view and follow your instincts as opposed to the trends. The womenswear market is saturated so your designs have to be able to cut through the competition. It is imperative to understand the woman’s body and what cut and proportion empowers her. Find your niche and understand your direct customer market; taste is what sets you apart.

All images © Reiss

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