Theatre de la Mode

... UK born and bred designer, Christopher Kelly, is the man behind label Theatre de la Mode and a lover of polar bears.

Christopher Kelly did what most budding young designers in the UK do. When he graduated he packed his bags and headed for London! This University of Derby graduate began working for the independent label Joie in the early 2000s designing womenswear – and finalizing his graduate collection for the label. After working at Michiko Koshino, Kelly then moved into menswear. And in 2007 he launched his label Theatre de la Mode during London fashion week – showcasing the range on nanoscaled mannequins to highlight the intricacy and design. Continuing to grow the brand, Kelly draws from his experience as a stylist, prop designer and production manager to create a cohesive fashion forward brand that is continuing to grow.

Nothing inspires me like…
Birds in some way inspire almost all of my collections. Since being a child I have been utterly fascinated with wildlife, I would spend countless hours trawling through David Attenborough’s book, Planet Earth - I even had intentions of becoming a vet and spend my life surrounded by animals. Quite often my initial inspiration for a new collection will be for the print. For SS10 the African Finch inspired the hyper colour smudge print design that emblazoned the oversized t-shirts and coral coloured trimmings that ran through the range. I imagined being trapped in a Victorian aviary swarmed with these amazing birds flying all around me creating a vision of immense colour.

I hope…
my life continues to be as full of love, optimism and diversity as it is now. I feel very charmed to be fulfilling a lot of my life dreams right now and doing it with fantastic man by my side.

Cultural influences…
begin and end with the museums and galleries of London. Some of the best collections of art and historical artefacts from all over the world are in this city! One of my favourites is the Barbican. I go there for theatre, film, art and solace. The architecture of the Barbican is a big part of the joy of going there. It is another world.

I got where I am...
Through grit and determination, and a bit of luck. I don’t want to talk about how tough this industry is, but now in my 11th year, I have worked for many brands and many realms of the industry loving every moment. There are high’s and lows on the road to your fashion house and whether it’s luck that tips the balance in the end, you can guarantee that being a plucky character and picking yourself up after every season to crack on with the next range with ever more vigor is essential.

Fashion can sometimes...
appear in the most amazing places. In my 11 years living in East London, I have loved the diversity of it's streets. One of my favourite places to buy my fruit and veg is Dalston’s Ridley road market. When I first experienced this market back in 2000 it was like going into a different country. The sights, sounds and smells overload your senses. The Ghanaian fabrics that are worn and sold on the market have been a constant love for me, but seeing them fashioned into the amazing outfits that the Ghanaian women create is astounding.

I get bored easily...
I was one of those annoying children that would complain of boredom regularly unless I was entertained on a permanent basis. I have always had a huge wealth of energy and passion that need to be expelled or I get totally bored. As an adult the problem is learning how to slow down. My current passion is indoor climbing.

I like making...
Polar bears. Alongside running T d l M I am in the midst of setting up a prop design company. I have always diversified in making random props for friends and utilised this passion in making unique shows for T d l M. I am currently making a batch of realistic polar bear heads for Greenpeace.

I love getting older...
as I become calmer, wiser and discover inner depths and strengths I didn’t know I had. Due to being slightly hyper active in my twenties I suffered from an anxious mind that could analysis even the simplest of situations and twist them out of context. As I get older I am able to tune in to myself and focus.

There's a new...
restaurant in Newington Green in North London called Trangallan that serves the best tapas. I organised a dinner there a couple of weeks ago and had the best dinning experience I have had in a long time. The restaurant was set up by a group of friends and is decorated with an eclectic mix of furniture that they have collected over time. It is a beautiful space and the team that work there are so incredibly welcoming it’s the kind of place you can easily dine alone with a good book.

I live east…
and I wouldn’t live anywhere else in London. I have tried living in various parts of London over the years, but East London always comes out on top. There is a depth to this part of London that is unmatched by any other. The real east Londoners (not the trendy types) make this area the kind of London I always imagined. The kind that I saw in Mary Poppins all those years ago.

My first crush...
like many others was Rob Lowe. I remember my Dad letting me watch the film Young Blood in which Lowe stars as a frustrated young ice hockey player. There was a scene where Rob Lowe walks through the changing room with his bum to camera. I was so shocked and amazed that I had just witnessed this beautiful mans bum. That stuck with me for a long time.

Faith in…
myself is what keeps me a sane man. I of course have faith in my loved ones but ultimately faith in myself is what pushes me to break boundaries and explore where life can take me.

Creativity comes from…
inside your heart. We all have a talent or skill that drives us and allows us to communicate with the world. For me it has been art and design from the very beginning.

I don't think...
I DO! Is a statement I wish I could emulate. I have always admired those that can just be. Those that accept themselves for exactly what they are. On the other hand, if my mind didn’t work the way it does, then I wouldn’t be here today with my own label. Still, I will always have admiration for those that just jump in feet first with no thought to the outcome.

Studios make me…
feel at home. I have a live/work studio in Hackney and one of the realities of this lifestyle is the line between home and work is blurred. It took me a long time to adapt to this kind of life, but I eventually succumbed to the fact that I am a total workaholic and working makes me happy. So in fact I am in the best environment for me.