I’m Leanne Brooke and have been working as a lingerie designer and product developer for nearly 4 years. I started freelancing for Something Wicked in June 2012, and am now a partner in the business. My introduction to SW followed a successful venture at establishing my first brand, Obey My Demand.
What inspired you to become a lingerie designer?
Initially I wanted to be bridalwear designer when starting a contour degree at De Montfort University, but I soon found a love for working with leather and pushing statement pieces. Seeing my work feature in a music video whilst at university really inspired me to push my designs and abilities as a lingerie designer.
What makes your designs different from others?
My design style can be very versatile, as the garment variety across the SW debut range and AW13 range shows. I often work on a more inspirational piece, and work to make other outfits more commercial. This makes the garments quite intricate and stylised.
Are there any celebrities wearing your designs and who are they?
I’ve had several celebrities wearing my designs from both the music and television industry. These include Lady Gaga, Holly Willoughby, Alesha Dixon and The Sugababes. My designs have also featured in music videos including Duran Duran’s ‘Girls on Film’ and ‘Tiny Dancer’ by DJ Ironik ft. Chipmunk.
Do you wear your own products?
Yes I do… I have my own personal favourites though which include the Ava leather and suede balconette bra which works really well under my black chiffon camisole or shirt. I also love my black Sophia set as I feel very confident in it!
What’s your favourite lingerie brand (not your own!) and why?
I have always loved Lascivious and Bordelle for their directional style. Atsuko Kudo also inspires me with their innovative use of latex and Ilya Fleet for their statement leather accessories.
Do you think there’s enough choice for D+ sizes?
I believe there’s not enough choice in relation to creative and directional designs. Due to the nature of the support and comfort required from the bra, I understand the difficulties for brands to extend their size ranges beyond a DD cup. A complete new range would need to be created specifically to cater for larger cup sizes; this of which is something which I plan to work with Something Wicked on in the future as there is such a demand for it.
Are you happy with the way lingerie is sized? If not what changes would you like to see?
Overall I am relatively happy with the sizing system. Although I am quite a standard size, so I don’t encounter the difficulties of fit that a larger cup size would. Bra sizing will never be standardised… a size 34B with one brand can differ completely to another brand. (Similarly breasts in general differ drastically, even if they need the same size bra.) Size and fit relates to many aspects… from the type of wire used, to the cut of the cup, even materials used and a brand’s target market will affect the sizing of a bra. Some companies know their products are a smaller fit, and some are renowned for being more generous. It’s about finding a brand you love and knowing which size works best for you.
What advice would to give to an aspiring lingerie/swimwear designer?
If starting out as a lingerie/swimwear designer on your own then be prepared for hard work! An understanding of how a product needs to be developed for it to reach end customers is required. I started a business as soon as I left university with little experience; therefore determination to succeed is a definite must. Don’t be afraid of trying new ideas and experimenting. Work experience can give you a fantastic insight into the lingerie industry and an opportunity shouldn’t be missed.
How do you get your inspirations for new collections?
I can be inspired by so many different sources… from architecture to trends, magazine features to museum exhibitions… I find experimenting with the fabric itself by creating samples a great way to find inspiration.
Do you use paper and pencil to design your first draft or is it all done on computer?
I tend not to design on computers much at the moment. I love drawing so find it easier to sketch my ideas on paper. Initial ideas tend to come to me at the most unsuitable times… just as I’m about to sleep or when I’m away for the weekend… so pencil and paper is the easiest way for me to translate these ideas.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a designer?
Alongside the design aspect of my job I also pattern cut, grade, create technical packs and machine sample… so I have a well rounded job which gives me versatility in different fields. Therefore outside of the lingerie industry, I would no doubt be working as a buyer.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently working on a new colour way for the Something Wicked Ava range; due to sales being so strong for our leather and suede pieces, we want to offer new options straight away. We don’t want customers to have to wait until SS14 to order them. We are also working on releasing a bridal range for SS14.
What makes a great lingerie model?
Confidence! A great lingerie model needs to be at ease with her body and know how to get an amazing shot… there’s no point hiring someone with an amazing figure and beautiful face if she is self conscious when it comes to the photo shoot.
Visit the Something Wicked website to find out more and see Leanne’s latest creations.