I’m Catherine Clavering, founder & designer at Kiss Me Deadly. The brand was started six years ago.
What inspired you to become a lingerie designer?
It was very prosaic. I had been pursuing a career as a counselling psychologist but also was involved with a stockings retailer. I developed a line of lingerie for them, they decided they didn’t want it. I was looking for something to mean that I could work part time or flexibly for a variety of reasons including disability due to chronic illness, so since I’d got the hard part sorted (sampling and manufacturing) I just streamed on with it!
What makes your designs different from others?
We’re vintage-inspired so I’m not going to insist that we’re radical innovators, but we have a combination of elegance, wearability (yes, I know, I made that word up) and noir influences that nobody else does.
Are there any celebrities wearing your designs and who are they?
Kelly Brook. That’s about it so far!
Do you wear your own products?
Yes, though due to the nature of my disabilities I don’t wear anything for very long!
What’s your favourite lingerie brand (not your own!) and why?
I have to choose only one?! We work with other brands quite often so I fall in love with all sorts! I’d say I probably wear Fraulein Annie bras the most and Ayten Gasson nightwear.
Do you think there’s enough choice for D+ sizes?
I’m really biased on this one. If your biggest problem with your body is you can’t find the right bra, I would love to change bodies with you!
In the UK there are D+ bras in everything from supermarkets through high street, independent and high end stores, but I get the impression that’s not the case in the USA.
Are you happy with the way lingerie is sized? If not what changes would you like to see?
I really don’t think it’s any worse than women’s clothing in general, and I’d rather the faff of trying things on and sending them back, than have to spend the amount of time sewing that my mother and grandmother’s generation did. It would be helpful if we acknowledge that cup volume is far from the only variable involved in a fit – underwire shape, cup shape, fabrics, all sorts of things change it.
What advice would to give to an aspiring lingerie/swimwear designer?
You can have the best product in the world but if you don’t also have a way to market it, it will just get lost.
How do you get your inspirations for new collections?
I go back to garments and pictures from the 20’s through to the 50’s – I love old Fredericks of Hollywood catalogues!
Do you use paper and pencil to design your first draft or is it all done on computer?
I never learnt technical design, so it’s badly drawn on the back of an envelope for me.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a designer?
Counselling psychology. Or I’d be on benefits because I’d be too sick to work.
What are you working on right now?
I am literally writing this in the middle of a photoshoot. More visually talented and photogenic women are doing the work on that right now.
What makes a great lingerie model?
That really depends on the brand. We look for a certain sense of danger, but I’m not sure anyone else does!
Check out some pics below and see more of Catherine’s designs on the Kiss Me Deadly website.