When I met Jana Simone she came into Rokit Camden Town beaming and unassuming. As she chose some unique vintage pieces while shopping with her Mum, she had an air of excitement about her. “It’s my first London Fashion Week show tomorrow, i’m really nervous,” she said, probably not realising quite how awesome that sentence sounded out loud.
What I instantly felt was her warmth and determination but underneath this was her need to stand for something greater than just nice clothes. “My first collection was sustainable and I use recycles fabrics to create my piece, I can show you if you want?”
Having worked in retail for many years I have often met designers who were over enthusiastic about very basic lines, in a bid to get some glory. Jana was very different, her talent was clear, like the first time you see something really special and I suddenly understood her raison d’ être.
Her opening Fashion Week collection had the resonance of the Catholicism of her native northern Irish roots, the structure of Dolce and Gabbana, the bright layering and romanticism of Meadham Kirchhoff with detail and intricacies of a well trained fantasy fashionista. Each piece used soft pieces of tulle, lace, embroidery and corsages, with cinched waists reminiscent of a detail often seen at Dior and other well known couture houses.
What I loved about the collection was it’s positivity, it’s look to the future and it’s “fuck you” to minimalism. On a personal level Jana’s style is very classic and paired down but she delivered a foundation collection that was as maximalist and full of fringing as any modern woman needs. Who ever said a sustainable designer had to be boring? I for one think that Jana Simone will pave the way for a new generation of relevant fashion designer, who know a thing or two about preserving the planet, one fine stitch at a time.
I was lucky enough to be able to interview her and get to know the woman behind one of the most exciting new collections of the year.
When did you first know you wanted to be a fashion designer?
I knew when I was in the last year of primary school. I remember winning an art competition and just wanted to be an artist. I was always drawing and sketching and then did a level art and my first piece was a butterfly dress and I then went on to study my bachelors in fashion and then went on to do my masters in fashion. After that I went to fashion week and that’s when it started to take off.
Where did you cultivate your craft?
So a lot of my craft believe it or not I learnt at university. A lot of the embroidery I learnt myself. I watched online videos and practised and practised until I got it right. It’s something that I do and it doesn’t seem like work I just love it. A lot of my embroidery techniques I learnt at uni cause that’s what I specialised in. When I was at university some of my class mates probably would have said that my styles was a bit weird but my Mum was always saying I should be true to my style and not change it. She’s always been my biggest supporter.
How did you get on the Fashion Week circuit?
It was Fashions finest and it was an event in London about up and coming designers. They had seen my work on instagram and that’s how I got in the show.
What advise would you give to your younger self?
Oh my God…I would definitely say don’t worry what other people are doing around you and just focus on what your doing and never give up on your dreams. Just follow your heart and do what you want.
If there was one designer you could work with who would it be and why?
There are so many. Jeremy Scott for Moschino. Every collection he does is just so different; And Alexander McQueen he was one of my favourite designers. I just loved him. He was so talented and everything he did was amazing.
What made you look closer at sustainable fashion?
It was a previous collection that I did and during lock-down I wasn’t working and didn’t have a lot of money. I had a lot of fabric at home and I had a lot of clothes that I didn’t wear and I just took them all apart and made a collection completely out of scratch and I thought I’d do something different and try and have a sustainable approach and not throw anything away. I keep all my scrap fabrics and never throw anything away.
If you could change one thing about peoples perception of sustainability what would it be?
I think particularly with some people they would buy from some of the fast fashion companies that copy from young designers and I think it’s important to not wear a garment once and throw it away but to re-use and keep your clothes. I think keeping clothes is really important and you can wear them again and put a different twist on it.
If you were queen for a day what would you do?
I would try my best to try and help people around the world who are in poverty. I would try and help those in need of food and water and help people who are dying in the world. I think that’s something that would definitely make a difference.
If you could have tea and cake with one person alive or dead who would that be and why?
Miley Cyrus. From a young age I have loved her she’s so true to herself and she always wears very out there stuff and she has great style and she’d just a huge personalty. I saw her in concert a few years ago on her Bangers tour and she was just amazing.
If you could dress one person who would it be?
If I could dress Miley Cyrus one day that would be amazing.
I could definitely see someone like Lana Del Ray wearing your collection. It kind if reminds me of something she would wear in one of her music videos don’t you think?
Oh my God…I totally forgot about Lana Del Ray I love her, yeah and her as well, i’d love to see her wearing my clothes.
Where all my family and friends is, It’s somewhere where I feel comfortable and somewhere where this all started and somewhere where I can go away and come back to and feel safe and supported.
Who would play you in a film?
I really like Blake Lively I think she’s really down to earth and I think that she would be able to play me.
Where’s the best place you’ve ever been?
I’ve been to so many places. I would say Budapest. I like Switzerland as well. They were my two favourite places that I’ve been to. Switzerland for the scenery. It was just gorgeous.
Name a dessert you could not live without?
Chocolate fudge cake without a double.
If you had one wish what would it be?
To see people wear my brand and it’s not about money, it’s more about just being successful and people seeing the work, oh….with a slice of chocolate on the side.
And with that, we bid each other goodnight and planned to hopefully catch up again one day. Follow Jana on instagram at @janasimone_fashion
(All images for this article were authorised for use by Jana Simone. All copy right belongs to her. Chic and shady intends no copy right for the use of these images.)