Olivia Rubin

Olivia Rubin, we want your job! // The British fashion designer

Olivia Rubin, 29 // Fashion designer extraordinaire

When I was little I had a hissy fit until my parents caved in and bought me one of those Fashion Wheel thingies (you know, with the really smug ’90s girl on the box?). I had visions of becoming a fashion designer, see, and thought my shitty, smeary crayon creations were the start of my career in couture. It was short lived, and to this day I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up.

Fashion Wheel toy

Anyway, I’ve always secretly envied admired fashion designers: their unique blend of endless creativity and innate commerciality plus the motivation and drive to reinvent their brand season after season. It must be like giving birth over and over and over and over again. Sort of.

Working in The Industry meself I know how relentless it can be, and I’m always pleasantly suprised when I meet successful fashion types who despite ‘hitting the big time’ are still ridiculously grounded, caring and, well, nice.

Olivia Rubin is one such person. Brit fashion designer extraordinaire, she’s mostly been riding the wave of success ever since graduating from Central saint Martins in 2006. She’s worked with Alexander McQueen and John Galliano in Paris, and collaborated with ASOS (where we first met), Oli.co.uk, Very.co.uk, Dune, ChloBo and Dorothy Perkins later this year. She’s shown her collections at London Fashion Week and boasts a sleb client list including the likes of Cheryl Cole, Fearne Cotton, Tess Daly, Denise Van Outen, Emma Bunton and Little Mix. Oh, and that Tulisa.

She’s Princess of the Prints. A Prints-cess, if you will – and with graphics, patterns and digi florals all over the S/S’12 catwalks, I reckon 2012 may well be her best year EVER (it’s already started well – she’s just got married!). WWYJ headed to Olivia’s studio in Mayfair and yelled through the intercom, Ant-and-Dec-I’m-A-Celebrity-Get-Me-Out-Of-Here style: “Olivia Rubin? We want your joooooooooooooooobbbbbbb!”

Olivia Rubin

When people ask you what you do for a living, what do you say?
Fashion designer.

And did you always want to be a fashion designer?
Yes. I was always artistic but once I started getting involved in print and textiles at school I knew I wanted to bring this skill into fashion.

Tell us about your career path to date?
Well, I started off at CSM studying Fashion Print and managed to bag some great internships at McQueen and Galliano in Paris while I was there.

I left college with some key names on my CV and then started working for PPQ and doing freelance print work. I entered Fashion Fringe and was short listed for two consecutive seasons which gave me the contacts and drive to show at LFW. I took the opportunity and went full steam ahead with my own label and have not looked back since – and that was five years ago!

Olivia Rubin in her studio

Wowser. So you’ve worked for both John Galliano and Alexander Mc Queen. That’s pretty epic. Tell us more?
Both very different – but inspiring – work places! At McQueen I honed in on print design and worked meticulously on hand drawing and print placement. Galliano was more of a free spirited environment where I contributed designs to his five different collections so I got to experiment a lot.

You pretty much experienced immediate success with your first show after graduating – did that heap on the pressure for following collections?
Yes and no… I was so eager to get going onto the next collection that I never really saw it as pressure, more of another chance to get more of my ideas out there.

You are only as good as your last collection-so there’s never any guarantee that the same press or buyers are going to like what you do every season. I see it as a challenge – and I do like a challenge!

How did your signature brick print come about? What’s the story behind it?
The brick print came from my first collection inspired by construction and literally building a brand. I thought the brick was a literal but quirky print that summed up the essence of my label as well as being a strong graphic print. The brick represents the strength, independence and originality of the ‘Olivia Rubin’ woman.


Do you have to be good at drawing to be a fashion designer?
I know a few designers who work solely from a mannequin but I personally believe you have to be able to illustrate your ideas in some way. I love drawing and am constantly sketching-it’s the quickest way of getting my ideas down on paper.

What do you know now that you wish you knew in the formative years of your career?
Wow – there are so many pitfalls when running your own business but I think you have to experience some in order to learn from them and move forward. Now I know fashion is such a fickle business that a thick skin is imperative!

Who was the first celeb to wear one of your designs and how did you feel?
Cheryl Cole – my friend called me and said she’d seen it in the Metro and then Grazia was calling and before I knew it the photo was everywhere and copies all over the high street. I felt so chuffed and amazed that she chose to wear my dress out of all the choice she had!

Cheryl Cole in Olivia Rubin

What can we expect to see from your S/S’12 collection?
Bright colour, print and real investment pieces that will last and stay fresh from season to season.

Career highlight so far?
My up and coming range with Dorothy Perkins. [available in store and online April 2012]


Olivia Rubin for Vogue UK March 2009

How do you spend your time when you’re not working?
Hanging out with my family, friends and new hubby; cooking, reading, running.

Song that best describes your life?
Foo Fighters – ‘Best of You’.

What would you like to do before you die?
Go global, have a family, stay happy!

For more on Olivia, head over to her lovely website oliviarubinlondon.com – check out the online shop – all A/W’11 stuffs are currently £50 a piece! I’m IN LOVE with the Speech Bubble jumper. Want X ten trillion.

You can also follow Olivia on Twitter: @OliviaRubin 

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