Nottingham born, Milligan Beaumont’s distinct fusion Japanese and street style brand Milbo launched soon after her graduation from Central Saint Martins. Her graduate collection enabled her to be an internationally recognised designer in both the UK and Hong Kong.
As a budding designer, Milligan’s accreditation in the fashion industry has earned her an editorial in Love Magazine and collaborations with renowned shoe brand Melissa and luxury department store Joyce in Hong Kong. We spoke to her about her beginnings and style.
You recently launched your brand Milbo, what inspired you to become a fashion designer? Has this always been the career path you wanted to take?
I did my art foundation at New College Nottingham, where I studied textiles and I thought I always wanted to go into textiles or fashion textiles at the time. I accidentally applied for an open day for the BA Fashion Print course at Central Saint Martins. I knew from that moment, I wanted to go into fashion design. I liked that with fashion design there is an outcome – a garment, which gets produced. If I went into textiles I would make swatches and samples and the designers would be able to do whatever they wanted with it. I only started properly designing and got thrown into the deep end when I attended Central Saint Martins.
“Colour is a very important aspect of my designs – I would not design something plain”
What was it like being at Central Saint Martins? Do you feel like attending Central Saint Martins has given you the opportunities you have today?
Overall, the experience was amazing and it was so much fun. At the start, during my first year there it was hard because obviously it is a demanding school to be at and they don’t make it easy. The opportunities were great because they have got so many links to the fashion industry. My best friends and I met there and they are all doing quite well now, which is great! I was fortunate enough to do a placement year in Paris, where I worked for Dior and Chanel. I feel like if I hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have the opportunities and experience I have today. The tutors were very supportive and caring throughout my time there.
How would you describe your designs to someone that has never seen them before?
My designs are very colourful and colour is a very important aspect of my designs – I would not design something plain. I also like working with big shapes and incorporating street wear with a Japanese Geisha feel; hence the kimono hoodies. I also love using intricate techniques like embroidery and screen-printing. All in all, my designs are about incorporating the old and the new.
Your designs have an Asian twist, why are you so influenced by Asia?
This question always pops up and it’s funny because I’ve never been to Japan before. My designs are obviously Asian as well, but my graduate collection was primarily influenced by Japan. I think my designs are incorporate the Asian twist because I have always loved Japanese art and there is a fantasy element to it. The culture is also so different – the old art and the idea of the Geisha are all so beautiful. It is also so different from Western culture and geographically it is so far away.
What is your favourite thing about being a designer?
At the moment, it is the freedom I have from being able to create anything I would like. I always wanted to start my own brand for this very reason because I don’t like the restrictions of working for someone else and I also would not want someone else to gain credit for my designs. The best thing is that I have an exciting job, where I am creating garments I love.
If you could describe your typical day, what does it consist of?
At the moment I’m doing a bit of freelance work, along with trying to manage my own brand. It has been a bit manic because I’m also in process of making a top for my friend’s wedding. I have also been doing a few drawings for the new collection, as well as emails and administration work. On top of all of that I’m working at a pub half of the time.
I am waiting to move into my new studio, which is going to be in Maker’s Yard in Leicester. It is a really fascinating location; it is in this really old building, which they have transformed into shared studios. I’ve got my own space with different people such as: textile designers, other fashion designers, photographers, milliners and carpenters. It is going to be nice to be around artistic people again. I miss that! It’s been quite a shock moving home and being in a village with no one.
Who is your target market and would you classify yourself as a high-end designer or a commercial designer?
The thing I love most about my collection is that anyone can wear it, regardless of gender or age. I feel as long as you like the collection you can wear it. I would classify myself as a high-end designer because of the techniques I use, in particular the hand embroidery. I also use Swarovski crystals and there are expensive and luxurious, so it has to be high-end. Also, when you attend Central Saint Martins they want you to be a high fashion designer. My experience of working at Dior and Chanel has enabled me to perfect the couture techniques I have learned. I love that my designs are like pieces of art and it takes a long time to make them. Even if people were to look at them I would still love it because they’re mad designs and not everyone is going to want to wear them.
With my designs in particular I like the fact that you could go commercial. I plan on creating simpler embellished t-shirts and hoodies on my website.
What do you think about the fashion industry today? If you could change anything about the fashion industry, what would it be?
There are loads of things wrong with the industry that I don’t like, but the one thing that stands out to me the most is the bitchiness, the hierarchy and the treatment of interns. This obviously doesn’t open happen in the fashion industry, but it is just so wrong. From my experience, I have seen some people that are really lovely and then you have people on the other end of the spectrum. Sometimes you can be treated badly, I don’t get it! There is a side to it, which is very competitive, and it is a big problem. I think the industry should be fair because we are in a modern age and people shouldn’t get away with treating people poorly.
Do you have any fashion design faux pas?
Drainpipe skinny jeans with rips at the knees are big pet peeve of mine. I just feel like it’s not punk because you’ve bought them like that. It’s just too mainstream for me!
Are there any trends you would steer clear of this season?
I find this question really hard because I don’t really follow trends. Don’t get me wrong I love watching some of the shows, but I couldn’t even tell you about trends. I am very anti-trend, for me it’s more about individualism rather than trends.
This is not beginners luck; there is no stopping Milligan and her creative mind from crafting innovative and successful pieces in the future. Her bubbly personality and strong stance on individuality have made her designs the perfect reflection of her vivid persona.
Check Milligian Beaumont out on her truly fabulous Instagram.
Also check out the follow up on her previous and future projects.
Images courtesy of Milligan Beaumont and Niall Underwood and Anna Taylor for styling and shooting