One of the most exciting London designers does not, in fact, live in London.
For the last nine months, Matty Bovan
has been living and working in a converted shed behind his parents' home in York -- two hours outside the city -- creating sculptural, colorful, borderline bizarre knitwear fit for the Björks and Grace Joneses of the world.
Fashion designer Matty Bovan Credit: courtesy hadar pitchon
"It's actually quite nice because I have way more space, way less stress," says Bovan. "I go down (to London) all the time, but I'm based in the middle of the country, quite far away from it.
A close-up from Matty Bovan's Central Saint Martins MA graduate show Credit: Courtesy Matty Bovan
Since graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2015, Bovan has become a favorite with some of the industry's most influential figures. At only 26, he's assisted in Louis Vuitton's Paris atelier, developed prints for Marc Jacobs, made mannequins for Miuccia Prada at Miu Miu, and styled shoots for Love, the magazine run by his close friend and champion Katie Grand.
And now, for the first time, he's striking out on his own: On September 17, he's returning to capital for his highly anticipated London Fashion Week debut.
To understand Matty Bovan the brand is to understand Matty Bovan the designer. Bovan, who is his own fit model, designs first and foremost for himself.
"My brand is me," he says simply. "It's lots of different textures and colors, this cacophony of textures. Even if I start trying to be quite simple, I always end up having a lot going on in the fabrics and the silhouettes."
His 12-piece graduate collection earned him an LVMH Graduate Prize, and landed him a five-month post assisting in Louis Vuitton's womenswear atelier in Paris. It was around this time that, after being connected through stylist Katie Grand, Bovan designed a print for Marc Jacobs Spring-Summer 2016 collection with Jacobs' protégée, Amie Robertson.
But in spite of these achievements, Bovan was wary of starting his own brand.
"I knew I wanted it, but always thought it might not happen. I was quite realistic, especially as there are labels that struggle," he says. "But as time has gone on, I've realized how important it is to be able to share your vision with the world."
The allure of London
Bovan first moved to London in 2009 to start his bachelor's degree at Central Saint Martins, drawn to the school's reputation, and the city's cultural diversity and palpable creative energy. However, he says he's noticed a change in recent years as gentrification -- and the rising rent prices that come with it -- have made London less and less hospitable for those in creative fields.
Matty Bovan's Miu Miu Resort 2017 mannequins Credit: Courtesy Miu Miu
"To have a studio, yet alone find shared housing, is so expensive," he says. "I left Paris (after Louis Vuitton) and then moved back to my family home to start up from the bottom, which is quite nice. (Starting a brand) is quite an interesting thing to do with no money..."
Bovan's debut show is being produced with the help of Fashion East, a talent scheme that supported Gareth Pugh and Roksanda Ilincic in their early years. A mix of British folklore and downtown New York in the '80s, he hints it will be heavy on glitter, rhinestones and unconventional shapes, a "greatest hits of what I've wanted to do in the last couple of years."
He suggests that maybe the expensive nature of the capital is what drives young designers like him to be more innovative.
"No one really has any money, a lot of the small brands. You're used to having no budget, so you do everything as cheap as you can. You get really super creative with it."