After several years pursuing her options at St Martins, Luella Bartley finally settled on the path of journalism. Leaving college for a job in the fashion dept at the Evening Standard, until a job at British Vogue called. There she happily stayed for two years before her true calling took hold and she left to set up her own label.
Her launch season SS'00 was a very British inspired collection entitled 'Daddy I Want a Pony', shown at her friend's flat; it was hard to tell who were the guests and who were the models. Although small and low key, a spark had been ignited with the press, buyers and London's in crowd who were all keen for more. The following season Luella came back with 'Daddy Who Are The Clash'. A chat with Paul Simonon post-show provided Luella with a quote which would go on be a huge inspiration "Pink is the only true rock and roll colour".
The SS01 collection entitled 'Dial F for Fluro' catapulted brand awareness to an international level. Supers, such as Kate and Kirsten Owen, modelled graffiti dresses that were still being sprayed with cans as the girls lined up backstage. Now being hailed as London’s hot young designer Luella took a risk and started what she now refers to as The Luella Roadshow, taking her team and shows first to Milan for AW01 and then to New York for SS02. It was a risk that paid off and Luella proved herself to be a Young British Designer who could take on the big boys at their own game, on their home turf. Global distribution soon followed for both ready-to-wear and accessories - it was not long before Luella made a triumphant return to London in September 2007, coinciding with the launch of her first flagship store on Brook Street, Mayfair.
2008-2009 have also been an incredible couple years for Luella, seeing the brand win four 'Designer of the Year' awards, including the British Fashion Council’s prestigious "Designer of the Year" in November 2008, having been nominated previously for two consecutive years. With a book and exciting new launches planned for the end of the year, roll on the rest of 2009.
In a shock announcement made on the 11th November, 2009, Luella Bartley has revealed that her Luella fashion label has ceased trading. Club 21, the London-based global licensee has pulled out of the brand, which it has backed since 2003. In a joint statement VSQ Limited, the subsidiary of Club 21, had reluctantly ‘taken the decision not to invest further in its relationship with Luella Bartley Limited.’ Bartley added; “This is a very disappointing situation for everyone involved with the brand…I very much appreciate the support that VSQ has given me, but it is upsetting not to be able to protect jobs in this difficult economic climate. We have a number of options open to us, and are considering these over the coming months.” Bartley won the British Designer of the Year award at the British Fashion Awards last year, and has a large fan base including Alexa Chung and Daisy Lowe, while she is best friends with Katie Grand and Giles Deacon. In a double blow, that signifies how tough the current climate is for designers, Luella's key ready-to-wear producer was also hit by the recession, and the factory closed unexpectedly last month, which has meant that Bartley's Spring 2010 orders will not be fulfilled. Last night we met Luella at Liberty where her and her team have designed the Christmas windows, but ever the professional she gave no inkling that they were making an announcement of this size this morning.