I fell in love with scarves aged three, on the beach in Jurmala in Latvia where my parents took me for summer holidays from the age of two. I can still picture in my mind quite vividly my beautiful mum standing on the beach, dressed in skinny flares, a jacket that wouldn’t look out of place in the current Cavalli collection and a beautiful scarf wrapped around her slightly wavy hair making her look even prettier in the flesh, waving at me from the top of the sand dune.
My paternal grandmother Galina wore scarves around her neck-she held a high position in the top tourist agency Intourist at the time and they made her austere suits look more feminine. And then, when I was 16 or 17, my parents gifted me that magical and elusive at the time in Russia Hermes scarf, that I still have to this day.
Scarves are timeless, they can save an outfit or make a demure dress look chic and the woman wearing it elegant. You can wear them around your neck in the winter for warmth or tied around your hair, making you look slightly bohemian-I wear mine as belts sometimes too-the possibilities, as they say, are endless!
A lot of women I know don’t accept anything other than an Hermes scarf in their wardrobe but I am always on the look out for something new and interesting. A couple of years ago I saw a scarf that was so pretty, so striking that I instantly knew I had to have it and my mum, my fairy godmother, obliged and I received it in the black box, tied with white ribbon bearing the lettering Jane Carr on my birthday.
Since then I have become curious about Jane, expanding my collection of Jane Carr scarves and literally living in some of them, like her rope khaki modal one that has been making me warm, cosy and pretty through this miserable winter. While so far I failed in my quest to interview Jane in person, as she is busy designing new collections, previewing a men’s line and collaborating on interesting projects, I did manage to get a few answers to my questions which you can read below. But before you continue reading, think of a perfect scarf that you want-and you will definitely find it (Jane makes her scarves in silk, modal, wool or various combinations and they come in different shapes and sizes)-on Jane’s internet site. Her sales staff is sweet but knowledgeable and the scarves always arrive beautifully packaged in the black box tied with ribbon-the ones I already owe always feel like they are enveloping me in a big, secure hug!
Question and Answers with Jane Carr:
GAP:Please tell me a little about your background. Were your parents very creative? When did you realise that you want to be a designer?
JC: Having come from a creative family ( my father is an artist), I have always been interested in design, especially print and colour. After studying at Central St Martin’s and working for Versace and Balenciaga it was a natural progression for me to create my own accessories label.
GAP: Why did you choose to design scarves and not clothes for example?
JC: To me a scarf is the ultimate canvas and is something you can cherish. It’s a very simple accessory that can change your mood and infuse a look with attitude. Each piece in the collection has its own time of day and character, whether it’s a daytime casual wrap or an evening formal chiffon stole. It remains our signature accessory.
GAP: Did you enjoy studying at Central St. Martins? Was it a very creative process, looking back? Did you learn a lot there and did it equip you for becoming a designer and going out into the ‘fashion’ universe?
JC: St Martins gives you nothing on a plate. I loved it. It encouraged you to be pro-active, to learn who you were in the world and how to make a difference.
GAP: After your graduation from Central St. Martin’s, what was your next move? Where did you work? And how did you decide to start your own brand?
JC: Immediately after St Martins I designed prints for Jil Sander and Balenciaga before being approached by Donatella to join the Versace team as the Head of Printed Textiles working on all the major lines.
GAP: Please tell me a little about your experience at Versace. How long were you there? Did you spend time with Donatella in the studio? If so, was she inspiring?
JC: I was fortunate to work for such an international brand. Versace is influential and global, yet the in-house design team was very close and like a family including Donatella. It allowed me to discover who I am and gave me the confidence to start out on my own.
GAP: Who among well known brands/accessories designers, past or present, influences you? Where do you look for inspiration before you start designing a new collection?
JC: Each collection is a process and collation of ideas and imagery that often starts with a phrase or an album title. I look at films, music and photography and initially develop a mood and spirit. From there, I build an image bank of ideas that I feel are relevant to now.
GAP: How do you come up with the names for your collections?
JC: The title of each collection comes naturally from the source material, our A/W 11/12 collection is inspired by the tours of the Ballets Russes across Europe in the 1920s and the grandeur of the Theatre. The collection is titled “Tzarina”.
GAP: Looking into the future, how do you want your brand to grow? Where do you see yourself in let’s say five years time? Do you have any plans to expand into other areas of fashion?
JC: The label is constantly expanding and we are always looking at new product ranges inspired by artisan craftsmen, we are showcasing the new women’s A/W 11-12 collection and our JANE CARR GLOVE range at London Fashion Week and then at Paris Fashion Week. We’re collaborating on several special projects including an exclusive with Harrods for the up-coming season, and the next JANE CARR HOMME collection for Spring/Summer 2012 will be showcased in June.
GAP: If you could choose any celebrity to wear your pieces, who would be your ideal match to your pieces and why?
JC: We are very lucky as many celebrity devotees are spotted in the collection such as Olivia Palermo who was recently photographed wearing our best seller from last season the Bijou at a premiere in New York. With the launch of the new JANE CARR HOMME range, it’s now time for the men to enjoy the collection!!
GAP: So far, which of your collections is more ‘you’ and why? Do you have any plans to open your own shop?
JC: Every collection I design has some element of myself within it. This often depends on my mood. I love designing for myself, but at times it’s equally nice to pull away and design for someone else, the new men’s line taught me the joy of designing for others.
Naturally we are considering opening our own store, however as the e-commerce market continues to grow so quickly our online boutique is selling out quicker each season. (online boutique at www.jane-carr.com)
GAP: How do you choose your stockists?
JC: Since our launch in 2005 we have always had such a great response to the collection from a variety of stockists, which in turn has lead to us being carried exclusively by influential boutiques and major department stores internationally such as Tsum, Colette, and Harrods.
GAP: Is it difficult to be an accessories designer? Has the financial crisis affected your attitude to business?
JC: Designing accessories is very rewarding, be it creating a new range such as our new Nepalese cashmere line for men and women, or receiving a personal note from a fashion editor praising the collection and the work we are doing….. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
We have been very lucky, as during the financial crisis when the consumer decided to cut back and save on perhaps a new winter coat, the scarf became a central accessory to change a look from Autumn to Winter and right through to Spring. If anything I would say the financial crisis has helped us!! Our brand ethos remains the same, to enjoy a new sense of luxury.
GAP: What skills, apart from an obvious one-talent- make a successful accessories designer?
JC: A keen eye for detail, and the ability to understand what the JANE CARR woman or man will be wearing next season. To live life in the moment and feel unlimited…