My London: Hayley Menzies – Womenswear Designer

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London based Womenswear designer Hayley Menzies has loved fashion since her formative years. As a child she would create clothes on an old Singer sewing machine and would later design and make elaborate costumes to attend raves in the 90s. Menzies furthered her creative pursuits studying fashion design and styling at The London College of Fashion.

With London as her playground Menzies was scouted as a model and began travelling internationally for shoots, the exposure to the garments she wore on set fed her design desires.
At the same time an entrepreneur at heart, Menzies set up a successful event planning company that counted amongst others British Royalty, Van Cleef and Arpels, The Royal Opera House and The Financial Times as clients. Following this she was headhunted to direct and design events for prestigious companies, including Quintessentially.

In 2010 Menzies set up her eponymous label having discovered a fur trim shawl in Bangkok that she imported and sold on a stall in Portobello Market. The business became a huge success but Menzies was dissatisfied with the quality of the pieces and wanted the brand to be representative of her conscientious lifestyle. She decided to design her own product, introduced the use of ethical recycled fur and began working with sustainable artisanal factories in Europe and a family run factory in India.

Hayley Menzies draws her main source of inspiration from her direct surroundings be it Portobello or through international travels. Consciously ethical Menzies continues to work with sustainable manufacturers in the UK and across Europe and focuses her designs to have quality of cut and construction using materials that include Italian blend cashmere, merino and cotton blends, recycled fur, leather and shearling.

Along with her stand alone studio in Portobello and transactional website the Hayley Menzies brand counts amongst others Holt Renfrew, Monnier Freres and Bon Genie as current stockists, her timeless designs have been featured in international publications and on leading celebrities alike.


Favourite Neighbourhood:

I love the spirit and sparkle of Notting Hill where I live and where my brand was born and raised. My studio store is tucked away in the Portobello Green Arcade on the doorstep of the famous vintage market which is a continuous inspiration – it’s the edgier end of Portobello.
I thrive in the community and support the other local businesses on offer, love the eccentric characters and enjoy the independent restaurants, cafes and vintage stores.


Favourite Place For Brunch:

The Electric Members Club is still a firm favourite for brunch. During the week it serves as a great meeting place and the weekends the vibe is fun! The poached eggs and smashed avo is a must. I take my team for meetings at the Portobello Juice Bar next to my studio – another great spot for nourishing brain food and a friendly local atmosphere.


Best Coffee In London:

I couldn’t tell you – I’ve never had a cup of coffee in my life! I’m glad that I escaped the grip of the coffee monster, I don’t need any more temptations, fighting off chocolate and ice-cream cravings are challenging enough!


Favourite Gallery or Museum:

Tough call – I like the exhibitions curated by the Saatchi Gallery on Kings Road – the Hermes and Chanel exhibitions were fabulous offering an insight into the history and creative genius of 2 of the most prestigious brands in modern history – and if you visit on a Saturday there’s the bonus of the Farmers Market for a great variety of international food. The most mesmerising exhibition I’ve seen was Alexander McQueen at the V&A. I must have spent at least 5 hours enchanted by each detail and installation.


Tell Us A Secret:

Ooow, getting personal…haha! I learnt manipulation tactics as a tot… I think in a good, honest and productive sense though! I was desperate for a pair of suede pixi boots when I was 4 or 5. My folks refused, so I went off for an hour, made a pile of 10 pairs of paper ones which I paraded around in until I was bought a pair by my grandparents. The moral of the story peeps, is if you want something bad enough, show how much you want it, think outside of the box and bingo!


Favourite Place To Shop:

Easy! Portobello Vintage Market on a Friday. I have a serious issue with the market – I find it impossible to pass by without spotting a “must have, can’t live without” treasure. I’ve unearthed insane pieces from a Christian Lacroix tweed blazer, a 1920s silk and lace nightdress to a pyjama top style-shirt by Oleg Cassini – designer to Jackie O in the 70s. If you haven’t been, go!


Favourite Place For Inspiration:

I’ve spent years travelling to India, and Chandni Chowk Market in Old Town Delhi is magical and alarmingly real at the same time. Built in the 17th century it’s the oldest wholesale market in Delhi and I’d bet that not much has changed over the years. Monkeys swing from the overhead wires, rats scuttle underfoot, beggars with limbs missing try their luck with tourists (although not many tourists brave Chandi Chowk). Ramshackle stores are piled to the ceilings with embroidered ribbons, glittering beads, vibrant silks, plumes of feathers and exotic trims. I can safely say that there’s no place on earth quite like Chandni Chowk.


Best Place In London For A Date:

Can I go to Chiltern Firehouse please? I love the sense of occasion I feel every time I go there. The hotel lounge is decadent, intimate and relaxed and the smoking area downstairs is fun in the wee hours! Win. Yes, I will go out on a second date, thank you!


Favourite Park:

Holland Park. The beautifully tended Japanese Gardens strike a vast contrast to the wild overgrown gardens.


Favourite Food Market:

The Farmers Market on Kings Road is great – with tasty international dishes and the added bonus of the Saatchi Gallery next door!


Your Sanctuary In The City:

I practice Yoga religiously so for me Sangye Yoga on Kensal Road is my sanctuary. Cat Alip -Douglas and Melody Hekmat are incredible teachers and I always leave feeling rejuvenated, peaceful and present.


What Inspires You:

Portobello Market and the talented vintage traders, visually the market and pieces on offer never fail to inspire me. Truth is I have trouble managing inspiration overload!
Musically I love discovering a new song or artist on Sound Cloud, the feeling the music gives me inspires my mood, what I want to wear and how I want to spend my time. Darn that amazing track on a Sunday night!


This Season I’m Loving:

Gucci, Gucci, Gucci and all things Gucci. Alessandro Michele is genius. SS16 is a knockout collection of vibrant colours, craftsmanship, prints and dramatic shapes. If I could I would own it all.


The Plug:

For AW16 I’m so excited to be launching my debut knitwear collection!

Expect beautifully crafted statement cable knitted ponchos and blankets with over-size fluffy lamb shearling collars and leopard print ponchos with soft shearling collars in hues of soft pink and petrol blues. I’d like to think the collection is elegant with an eccentric undertone, if that’s not too much of a paradox!? Anyway, the collection is reminiscent of the free-spirited stylish and individual Portobello girl and the pieces are trans-seasonal and timeless.

The collection is available from leading department stores Holt Renfrew, Monnier Freres and Bon Genie, as well as in my studio store in Notting Hill, where I will welcome you with open arms! No seriously, do pop in for a styling session and cuppa. XOX

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