INTERVIEW: Donna Air and Markus Lupfer

Posted by Dean Piper On November 24th, 2012

Actress Donna Air and London Fashion Week designer Markus Lupfer have joined forces to launch a children’s range for girls at high street store Debenhams.

It’s Lupfer’s trademark fun designs teamed together with cute ideas, beautiful fabrics and, of course, trendy slogans.

I caught up with the pair this week at London’s Sketch for the launch of the collection for girls aged four to 14 and they told me just how the partnership came about.

Hello Donna and Markus – tell me how this kid’s range for Debenhams came about…
Donna - Friendship was how it started. I love Markus and I was buying lots of Christmas presents and children last year. Markus is such a fun brand and designer and I always knew it would transcend so well to children. He’s bright and fun and it works for the children. Markus is also a wonderful person.

Credit to you Markus – you’ve got a great reputation in the industry.
Markus – Oh don’t. I’m shy.
D – He’s got great business sense and he’s very talented at what he does.

What was the design process like?
M – What we wanted to do was have the Markus Lupfer signature. We started together, sat down, worked for a couple of days and learnt what we wanted to do together. In the country with a bottle of red. Then we talked colours, images and what we wanted to do. It’s been an easy thing to do to take the main elements and designs and put a Markus and Donna spin on it.

There’s a great mix of celebrities and designers releasing clothing through a high street brand these days. It must have been exciting to work with Debenham’s then.
D – It’s a perfect union.
K – We both got really excited. There’s a celebrity, a designer and Debenham’s and it’s not been done before like this. It’s very new and designing for young girls is a great idea. I also think when we chatted about it we saw the ideas come alive immediately.
D – It’s really fun working together with somebody – you get bored on your own.

And how was it for you Donna, working as a fashion designer for the first time?

Well I’d never ever want to cut out the designer aspect and just put my name to something and pretend to be a fashion designer. The truth is I’ve always been very forward thinking when it comes to fashion.
My sister has just graduated in fashion and I know how much blood, sweat and tears goes into this. Working with Markus was an important thing to do. I wanted to work with a designer and acknowledge how hard it is. I’ve learnt something over the years through wearing the outfits I have. I’ve been learning about fashion for ages and I’m putting my experience into play now.
There’s also the practical element that I’m a mother now and I know what young girls want to be wearing.

Did your daughter Freya help with the process?
She is very outspoken and vocal about what she likes and doesn’t like. So all the little things she came up with were helpful. For example Freya doesn’t like things to be tight around her neck and she doesn’t like the fabrics to be too itchy. Freya’s more excited about this project than anything I’ve ever done. I’m already not cool and I don’t know anything. But apparently Markus is cool. So hopefully through collaboration I’m now slightly cool.

Markus, how did you adapt to designing for kids? Was it tricky for you?
It was actually fine. It was really natural. It’s more fun than anything I’ve been able to design. I was quite aware of finding the balance between not being too fun but still appealing to children. I wanted it to have a high end look. We didn’t want garish. Simplifying things was important.
This has been a mass learning curve for me too. I had no idea what little girls wanted. I had to find out what a completely new market wanted from our designs.

Donna, how important is it for you to be taken seriously in the fashion world?
I don’t care or even focus on that. I’m not doing that as an equal project. I’m just doing a project that makes me tick and I don’t want to focus on what people think of you. I also want to, at this point in my life, start thinking about the future and keep things stable and provide. The showbiz industry is hard and very dependant on other people’s pace. So it’s great to put my energy into this and have things that are consistent.

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