Written by Ross Pollard (Fashion Worked)
Back in February on the eve of London Fashion Week I descended into the basement space of a Soho hotel for PR companies showcase. As someone who writes about fashion I really like these events as they are great for finding new talents and small labels, the people I love to write about. That night there was a women showing her outerwear collection, sumptuously gorgeous fabrics in a perfect pallete of colours, well it may of taken 6 months but I finally caught up with Charlotte Zimbehl.
I met up with Charlotte at a pub in Spitalfields on a warm summers evening to find out all about how she went from her Frankfurt roots to a couture label based in East London. The answer is via school in Dublin after a holiday and choosing there to study English as she loved it, however fashion it seems was a thing she was destined for “I loved it when I was young, I designed outfits for paper dolls and even had pretend stores”. From there it was on to Adidas as an intern and “I was later offered a job, I worked on athleisure . . . I did study but doing it helped more”.
It’s clear though that the experience she had with a huge label really did help, working as a product manager developed her business skills and instincts, and Charlotte is another designer that agrees running labels and businesses should play a role in the education of designers. It’s testimony to her that in one of the worst climates for fashion we’ve seen in forty years she has been able to build and grow the business over the last couple of years “I had to do everything myself”, and has now released three collections with the fourth due imminently.
Zimbehl isn’t immune to the pressures of the industry and “had to work 22 months without a break”, the price for the independent labels is that you can’t take your foot off the gas in that early phase and Charlotte admits “it takes it’s toll, I feel like it’s cost some things but it’ll be worth it. I think I’ve made up the balance more . . . it can be lonely at times”.
It’s not strange that as Charlotte’s collections have all been based around ranges of chic historically aware coats because that’s where she imagined herself going “I kind of always knew I wanted to do coats as I LOVE Coats . . . I did want my own label”. That label is a thing of beauty, ethically made and yet stunning “I would feel terrible if my products were made in a poor factory”.
“I have fave pieces and items and that’s the idea with the label . . . with my fourth collection I’ve found my handwriting”
It’s important that a designer imbues part of themselves into their collection and hand writing perfectly describes where she is where she is as a designer making something so personal and definitively individual, you can imagine her in any of the pieces, and the female icons that Charlotte loves inspire the names of the garments.
However one name is missing from the collection, there is no “Charlotte” coat. I put this to her and after giggling at the idea she leaned back and said “I SHOULD have a Charlotte coat”. I think we’ll have to keep an eye out on the 5th collection.
You can find Charlotte at www.charlottezimbehl.com
Photo Credit: FRANCISCO GOMEZ DE VILLABOA