Manley | Interview With a Fashion Designer

Emma Manley at the studio

Hi guys, today I’d like to share with you my exclusive interview with Emma Manley – creative director and designer at Manley. Manley is an Irish fashion brand that reflects edgy and contemporary femininity.  Delicate structures are juxtaposed with strong contemporary silhouettes, giving way to an aesthetic that is hard and soft, powerful and preciously delicate at once. Quality of fabric and production is at the absolute core of all Manley products. Materials are sourced from the world’s finest luxury houses and innovative manufacturing methods of laser cutting are fused with time-honoured, hand-sewn and embellished detailing. I met Emma Manley at Unfold launch party at Institute of Contemporary Arts during London Fashion Week. Bright colours and perfect finishing of Emma Manley Spring Summer 2016 collection caught my eyes, so I decided to introduce myself to Emma and interview her for Yukova fashion blog.

Manley labelYukova: Could you tell me a bit more about your fashion background and education?

Emma Manley: My Mum was a fashion designer, I grew up watching her turn beautiful fabrics into a bride’s dream wedding dress. That’s pretty magical for a kid you’ve got to admit, all very fairy tale-ish! As a special treat I was allowed to sit in on fittings, I would hold the pin box and carefully hand the pins to Mum, I really felt part of the process and thought I was practically making the dress!

When C.A.O time came round, there was nothing else I really felt passionate about doing. Mum wasn’t so keen on me getting into fashion. Now, I can understand where she was coming from, but as a headstrong 16 year old, there was no stopping me! The deal was that I had to do a year portfolio course in fashion, if I survived and still had the fire in my belly, I could do what I wanted. I won the ‘Achiever of the Year Award’ for the art department in Colaiste Ide that year … and from there it all began!

There was a year break when I worked full time as a style advisor in Topshop but then I went on to study fashion design at the Grafton Academy of design.

Unfold launch party at ICAYukova: Have you worked with any designers before? What is the experience you’ve gained during the days in their studios?

Emma Manley: After graduating I headed for New York to intern with luxury sportswear label VPL which was a small scale start up label working within very limited boundaries.  With only 4 full time employed staff, everybody in VPL did a bit of everything so it was a great and very well rounded experience for me. I got great hands on experience in the areas of design, production and studio management.

From New York I went to London to intern with Alexander McQueen. McQueen was a totally insane experience for me. I had come from working in New York with VPL which I arrived to the very swanky McQueen offices where in reception not only are there 2 receptionists but there are larger than life stuffed polar bears from their most recent catwalk show, 5 levels full to the brim of employees and an army of interns!

I had applied to work on the design team but got wrongly placed on the embellishment team. My heart sank and I just thought, “it was too good to be true”. Embellishment was something I didn’t experiment greatly with through college so my interest in it was virtually non existent! In my first week I got sent to the McQueen archives where I was sorting through and arranging old collections. Working that closely with the samples really made me open my eyes and start to appreciate embellishment.

I didn’t realise the effect it had on me until someone commented on the sheer quantity of embellishment in the Manley line, and I thought, “when did all this happen?”. My time at McQueen had a huge influence on my work and it was an experience that money could never buy.

Emma Manley Stand UnfoldYukova: I know that you had collaborated with Sally Hansen for SS14. Could you tell me a bit more about this collaboration?

Emma Manley: Sally Hansen approached Manley and asked us to collaborate with them in creating their SS14 collection. This was something I had never dabbled in before, so while it was daunting it was a great experience and really interesting to see how nail colour collections come about. We based our colour palette on the Manley SS14 colour palette and it really worked. We had a collection of five beautiful colours that I am still wearing a year and a half later!


Yukova: Could you tell my readers about the concept and story of your Spring Summer 2016 collection? What are the materials and techniques used?

Emma Manley: Manley SS16 draws inspiration from the rich colour, bold geometric shapes and sharp lines of the De Stijl art movement. Founded in the early 20th century, it embraced an abstract, pared-down aesthetic, centered on basic visual elements such as colour and geometric shapes.

“For SS16 I’ve reduced design to its purest form and experimented with colour. The beauty is all in the detail with tantalising tonal combinations, sharp design and luxurious fabrics, made to be worn with stylish irreverence,” says Emma Manley, Creative Director. “It’s a new confident mood, centered on simplicity.”- says Emma Manley.

Emma Manley Spring Summer 2016

This season’s colour comes in an intoxicating mix of Kelly Green, bubblegum pink and periwinkle, juxtaposed with white cornflower blue, midnight navy and daisy white. While ravishing metallics in iridescent blue and old silver add a futuristic feel and ensure instant wow factor. Seen on loosely cut silk dresses and tops with metallic paneling, and popping insets on leather tees and skirts, these colour combinations draw the eye in all the right places and add an element of playful power.

Creating a beautiful tension between fabrics of opposing weights and textures has always been at the core of Manley, and for SS16 that continues. Pairings include seductive semi-sheer silk panels with metallic leather on shirts, and soft silk structured dresses with feminine frills that cascade from the hip. Fit and flare shirts, with billowing arms and floating back panels in sporty textured silk, add a playful edge. While double full circle silk skirts are overtly feminine, yet instantly toned down by an attention-grabbing metallic drop-shoulder shirt or peplum-sleeve tee.

For SS16 the label’s trademark embellishment appears in Manley Jewellery, with multi-tonal and textured collars in the season’s vibrant palette. Handcrafted with leather and suede strips, they appear in delicately moulded bows held in place with antique-toned silver and gold studs. Designed in a flattering V shape the collars instantly elevate clothing from day to night, including an apple green perforated leather tee and a hot pink fit and flare dress. In addition, further design details within the collection include delicate hand-cut scalloped hems and secret pockets that automatically ensure a relaxed edge for the wearer.

“This SS16 I’ve pushed the brand forward in colour and design, while still remaining true to the Manley woman”. Sexy, sporty, playful and powerful, she is forever ahead of the sartorial curve and constantly on the move, requiring outfits that take her from day to night. Each season she curates her wardrobe with impeccable focus, yet the result appears as an effortless riff of directional style.”- says Emma Manley.

Emma Manley Collection Close UpYukova: How does your muse look like, what is her lifestyle, state of mind, spirit?

Emma Manley: She is fabulous! She is a positive polly who lets nothing pass her by. She loves to dress up and put her best foot forward but days with not a scratch of makeup on and hair dragged back in a top knot are equally as important. She likes to be heard and always leaves an impression. She embraces life to the fullest, living every day like it’s her last. She is Manley.

Manley SS16 UnfoldYukova: What are the plans of Manley fashion brand for the next couple of years?

Emma Manley: Lots of exciting things are in the pipeline for Manley. SS15 saw the launch of Manley Jewellery, AW15 saw the launch of Manley Knit and we are hoping that AW16 will see the launch of Manley Accessories! We’re really focusing on creating beautiful products to run alongside our gorgeous womenswear line. Exporting is big on the agenda too. Up to now, we have focused very much on the Irish market and now it’s time to look further afield.

I hope you enjoyed my exclusive interview with Emma Manley. Don’t forget to follow Manley on Instagram!

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Yuliya at Yukova Blog x | Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook @yukovadesign

Thank you so much Emma Manley for this interview!

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    • 1st November 2015 / 7:31 pm

      It was a pleasure meeting her. Not only Emma is very talented and creative, but she is a very nice person!
      Yuliya x

  1. 2nd November 2015 / 11:27 pm

    Love the clothes
    Haven’t heard of this designer before but I love the interview and the fashion!! 🙂

    • 3rd November 2015 / 1:48 pm

      I’m glad you find it interesting, Stephanie! 🙂

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