We interview Kim Melville-Smith of Innu London – designer, style icon and a name to watch…
It is a rare sunny afternoon as I arrive in Richmond to meet the designer of up and coming clothing and accessories brand Innu London – Kim Melville-Smith.
We have decided to meet in a coffee shop just round the corner from a boutique which stocks their designs, and I cannot wait to see what she has to show me. Kim and her assistant Charlie walk in- both looking equally stunning. Kim is sporting a gorgeous leopard-print maxi which she has dressed down with a knit cardigan and matching pump shoes- (I was later to learn this cardigan is her staple piece of clothing, and it truly does go with everything!)
She wears very natural makeup, simple gold jewellery and her blond hair is down. She wears the effortless-chic look well. We order some mint-tea and get down to business. Innu London stocks accessories and dresses all handmade by Kim herself, and she describes it as a mix of Ralph Lauren and AllSaints with a roughly elegant look.
The business stemmed from Kim’s love of creativity as a child, she used to love customizing the hand-me-down clothes from her older sisters and experimenting on her Mother’s sewing machine. She describes her childhood style as a bit tom-boyish- something you would find hard to believe considering the elegance and femininity of the dress she has draped over her slender figure, and the nature of her brand.
As well as her love for creativity and clothing, Kim also adored horse-riding, and when it came to crunch time for picking a University, she was torn between a Chiropractic degree which would end in her learning chiropractic’s for horses, or a course at the Westminster College of Fashion. She ended up dabbling in a whole lot of industries, including a stint as a chef, before a trip travelling abroad led her to Bali where inspiration from the different culture set cogs whirring.
She loved the individuality of designs and the beautiful different colours, and ever since this has been the place she sources her material.
The next few weeks were crazy, with a whirlwind of designs and products, and it was around this time she landed a place at Portabello Market- a true gold dust moment in the fashion world. The next big step was to be gaining a spot on fashion TV- a very proud and pivotal moment to her career, and a debut at London Fashion Week.
Kim describes this as the proudest moment of her career to date- seeing the models wearing her designs and having everyone coming and complimenting her. She shows me a few of the dresses which she has brought with her, the great thing about them is they are all completely different, and certainly all something you could see her wearing.
I am fast realizing just how easy it is to talk to Kim, she is is no way stuck up or pretentious, instead very humble, chatty and down to earth, this warm and loving personality something which is evident in her designs. I reach for my pen and start to find out a little more about the designer behind the dresses…
Where do you get the inspiration for your designs?
Myself. I make all dresses with me in mind- people have always complimented me on what I wear, so I like to trust my own instinct when it comes to fashion. That’s one thing I need to make sure I always do, and I am very conscious of; staying true to myself. I never want to lose sight of that.
What is your staple item of clothing?
This cardigan Im wearing! [it’s cream and very gorgeous!] it works for all seasons and all outfits- it’s like my security blanket!
Who is your style icon?
Oh gosh I have so many! I love Alexander McQueen, Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney- the lines she uses are amazing, and I just adore the fit and fall of her clothes! Victoria Beckham has a fantastic dress sense and I love the way she’s made it up from the bottom.
What is your proudest moment:
Being on fashion tv. It was just out of this world, seeing all the models wearing my designs, and having everyone coming up and congratulating me- it was like a dream!
One piece of style advice?
It’s all about the accessories! You can dress up or dress down an entire outfit just by accessories.
Switch a belt, flats to heels and swap your jewellery around for a totally different look
If you couldn’t be a designer, what would you be?
Who would you most like to see wear your designs?
Kate Moss. I have this beautiful blue dress which would be perfect for her!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully having global success!
And this global success may not be so far away, with a fashion show lined up in Dubai, and a London Fashion Week designing event in September.
Once all the mint tea is drained, and Kim had been thoroughly questioned, we headed to the Old Crown Pub in Holborn where we had booked one of their function rooms to use as a backdrop for our photoshoot. It was here we met the models, and got to work!
The dresses looked incredible and showed how they can suit a variety of shapes, skin tone and hair colours,and are an instant feel-good outfit.
It was a fantastic rest of the day, and I was falling hard and fast in love with the gorgeous, luxury garments, silently wondering when my next big event was that I could wear one to.
One thing is for sure, Innu London is truly a name to watch…
Special thanks to Kim Melville-Smith and Charlie Evans from Innu London, Ellie Pike for helping behind the scenes,
and the fabulous Vanessa Tait, Charlotte Stuart and Jess Bass for being our models.
Photos by Natasha Colyer.
See our behind the scenes video here!