Orschel-Read

...designing couture menswear with an androgynous twist

My name is Stefán Orschel-Read. I design couture menswear under the label Orschel-Read. I was born in India in a tiny town above the cloud line. I spent most of my childhood in rural Scotland. I have always been fascinated with fashion. I used to draw clothes for relaxation. I did a foundation in fashion at London College of Fashion under the fantastic tutor Adrian Parry-Roberts. I went on to study menswear at Central Saint Martins. I did styling work and promoted a club called Kash Point to help me through university.

My first show was a collaboration with Russian designer Pavel Rudanovsky. It was called "unFashion". It was an avant-garde three-dimensional show blending design with live experimental music, ballet and performance art. I did my first solo show in 2006 in aid of the Hope Rwanda charity. It was here that my signature look was presented – an androgynous male wearing sharply tailored lounge suits paired with sculptural hairpieces and heels; an extreme and very British dandy that exists perhaps in an alternate universe who comes into ours for the duration of the show.

My collection "Mourning for Orlando" was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s 1928 book Orlando. The collection explored the concept that there is no "divide" between male and female – there are differences but far more similarities; the passage of our body through time and space and the modernisation of the British Aristocracy.

Nothing inspires me like…
An abstract concept. My way of working is to explore a concept; to collect words and pictures that link in and then find theories that I can interpret as design maxims.

I hope…
That the clothes I produce excite people. If one person only were to find that my clothes were what they have always wanted to wear, that would be a great enough reward for the work that goes into my collections.

Cultural influences…
Are also a great influence on my work. For instance, my upbringing in Scotland has been an influence in each of my collections.

I got where I am...
Not from being lucky or being the most hardworking; I got where I am through all the people who have supported and inspired me.

Fashion can sometimes...
Be the most frustrating art form to be part of. Every piece one makes can never satisfy the image that was in one’s head. And as soon as it is made it is immediately outdated.

I live East…
Far, far East. The new creative area I predict will be Walthamstow and its surroundings. The artists that had moved to Shoreditch because of cheap rent are bit by bit being priced out of that area. And you can get amazing French cakes in Walthamstow for 99p!

I once thought…
That I wanted to be a lawyer. I went to Law School and after two weeks I knew I did not want to be a lawyer, but I was stubborn enough to do the 3 years. As soon as I graduated, I made myself a quick portfolio to get into art school.

Did you know…
I used to ride for Great Britain. The sport I competed in was dressage. I also was a coach. Sadly, I had to give up riding to move to London to do fashion.

My goal…
This year is to show at Fashion Week in September. The collection is being worked on at the moment and should be a rather exciting and theatrical menswear collection.

I like making...
Tailoring with a silly number of pattern pieces. I did a jacket for a collection in 2006 that had 148 pattern pieces. I also like making my own fabrics. In the last collection every piece of material used was manufactured specially.

Studios make me…
Very happy at the moment. I just moved into a great factory that’s gigantic. It has so many studios in it, including a recording studio and a photography studio that’s bigger than any I’ve been in before.

If I could…
I would clone myself. So I could work constantly, while one of me was sleeping the other one could be working on my collections.

My mum...
Loves to sit in the front row of at my shows. She is my biggest fan, in that motherly way of thinking one’s child is the best child in the world. She also leaves me voicemails of cat sounds.

My first crush...
Was an albino girl I went to school with. We were seven at the time. We decided we were married and swapped daisy-chain rings. She was my girlfriend until I was twelve. She was very understanding that I had another girlfriend too. The final straw was when I decided I wanted a third girlfriend.

Cake makes me…
Very, very happy… as long as the cakes in question are Jaffacakes. The great question that famously dumbfounded Einstein was: Are Jaffacakes cakes or biscuits? The answer is they are cakes. There are different VAT laws on cakes and biscuits. The Jaffacakes people had to go to court to prove that they were cakes. To prove it they just made a massive one, and it was a cake! But does anyone know why there is a biscuit tax? And did Gandhi ever protest it? Cakes are viewed by the Government as a necessary staple, whereas biscuits are a luxury... logical naturally. So, Jaffacakes are cakes and anyone who says "biscuits" is only out to ruin your life and remove your Jaffacakes permanently to a massive, exclusive gated property in Hampstead, filled with modern day Marie Antionettes declaring "Let them eat cake… cos jaffa cakes ain't cakes!".