Pearl Lowe: 'I was told to dress less glamorously, because girls wouldn't like me'

The designer discusses performing as a singer in sequin dresses and high heels in the 90s, why skinny jeans don’t suit her, and her search for the perfect vintage dress

I borrowed this Vivienne Westwood dress to wear to the opening of the V&A’s retrospective of the designer in 2004. I wore it with gold Miu Miu shoes and a Versace chain bag. Afterwards, I was asked if I wanted to buy the dress and I remember thinking: “I really, really want to but I can’t afford it!” I think it was about £800 – and that was probably with a discount. I wasn’t earning much at the time and I thought: “There’s no way, I just can’t.” But I know that if I had bought it, I would have kept it for ever – so it was one that got away, basically.

My daughters think I haven’t changed my style since the 90s [when Lowe was the vocalist of the indie bands Powder and Lodger and part of the “Primrose Hill set”, alongside Kate Moss, Jude Law and Sadie Frost]. If I was going on stage, I always felt I should make an effort. I wore a lot of sequin dresses and high heels. My peers were into short hair, jeans, bomber jackets and I remember one saying to me: “I think you’d get more fans if you didn’t dress as glamorously – girls won’t like you.” But that was what I loved, that old-school glamour. Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor, Vivien Leigh, Lauren Hutton – they all dressed up and looked fantastic.

I’ve always been very much my own person. Everyone I knew in the 90s was so thin and I’m not. Skinny jeans don’t suit me because I’ve got hips and a bum. Attitudes to body image weren’t so accepting when I was younger but I love voluptuous girls. When I’m casting models for my range I’m like: “Hang on, I don’t want a size four – have you got any … 12s?” My daughter Daisy models a lot of my clothes. When I’m designing interiors, I love things that have a story to tell. I adore anything steeped in history. The same with fashion: I’m forever going to flea markets and antiques shops looking for the perfect vintage dress.

There are six of us in my family and we are very strong characters, so I was worried about arguments during the lockdown, but we have not had one yet! We have just embraced this time: cooked meals, done dance classes, made candles, loads of quizzes on Zoom. I’ve also been making Liberty-print facemasks, which everyone went nuts for on Instagram, so that has kept me busy.

Pearl Lowe’s latest collection is available at pearllowe.co.uk

Contributor

As told to Leah Harper

The GuardianTramp

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