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I remember looking at pictures of Luella Bartley's line ‘Luella’ in Elle Collections back in my teenage years and loving her designs with literally all I had. Which is why I was so surprised when her fashion brand went bust and had to close down. She had gone from a fledgling designer showing her collection at LFW on numerous occasions, and winning Britain's Young Designer of the Year award after her very first collection, to having her line fail. I remember thinking how unfair it made the fashion industry seem: you have someone super talented, hard-working and creative, and yet they cannot sustain their role in the industry. Which sounds about right. This industry CAN be bloody tough- but more on that later.
After her beautiful, punk-inspired, edgy and fun line went bust in 2009 (during the untimely recession of the period) Luella Bartley took some time out from fashion. In 2013, her long-awaited return to the industry came in the form of Marc by Marc Jacobs. Hired alongside Katie Hillier, Bartley was hired to take on the role of women’s ready-to-wear design director. After several successful seasons at the popular diffusion line, the designer once again found herself out of a job: Marc by Marc was folding, it was announced. As before, this defeat was by no means through her own fault; her talent and creative eye had overseen the design and conception of some beautiful clothes and accessories which captured fashion editors and celebrity’s eyes alike. It was, devastatingly, the cruel hand of the fashion industry that had dealt this latest blow once again. Funding, as before, was presumably the overriding reason for the closure, alongside Jacobs’ claims that he wanted to diffuse the line into his mainline, Marc Jacobs, in order to focus more on its message as his priority.
Despite the closure only being announced last month (March 2015), Bartley once more picked herself up and decided to take a third shot at the industry with the announcement that alongside Hillier, she would launch Hillier Bartley, a new luxury fashion brand. They will showcase their first collection later this year with a range of bags, accessories and ready-to-wear.
What struck me most about this recent turn of events was the utter bravery and boldness that Luella Bartley had once again shown. After having her back turned on by the industry not once, but twice, Bartley was courageous enough to try one more time and make her inclusion in the fashion world a hattrick. Imagine how deep she had to dig in order to be able to come back once more and throw her hat in the ring for a third time. Money and backings aside, it takes a pretty daring woman to have the nerve to do that. She really has proven how determined she is to have her voice heard.
So I guess the real message we can learn from Luella Bartley is to never give up in this tough old son-of-a-bitch we call the fashion industry. As much as we adore it, we can all admit it is not the easiest industry to break into. As an aspiring fashion and beauty journalist, I can’t count the amount of times I have felt like giving up, largely due to a lack of funds or opportunity. I’ve been turned away at interviews and had a couple of tough intern experiences (along with some really really great and valuable ones), and trust me when I tell you that it can make even the strongest young woman want to run to the toilets and burst into tears. But like Luella has bravely shown, persistence is the only thing that will separate you from the rest of the herd. Give it that, along with everything else you’ve got, and you will hopefully reap the rewards. At least, that’s what you have to believe in order to continue, and what I am telling myself. At the end of the day, I still don't know where I will find myself in 10 years time or what I will be doing, but I know I will have given the fashion industry my very best shot.
If all else fails, I always try to remember this: ‘“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.” Thanks J.K. Rowling, you are one seriously deep babe-ette.