Interview: Vicki Murdoch, designer
FLYING CATS Stuffed birds. Kittens on unicorns, horses running amok and docile dogs peering out from beneath hooded eyelids.
A fantasy world of animals, print and colour brought the windows of Liberty of London to life recently. And all the inspiration came from the lively mind of Aberdonian Vicki Murdoch.
Is she, I wonder aloud, escaping the grey of the granite city in the otherworldly scarves and cushions that make up her colourful body of work? “I'm not sure," she laughs. “I love playing with colour palettes, but it's quite hard to know where you get your colour inspiration from. I’ve travelled a lot and perhaps there's something in that – but I like the idea of rebelling against Aberdeen.”
A one-time student at Harlaw Academy, she was always a keen artist, gaining straight As in all her exams. “But then I won a modelling competition when I was about 16,” she says. “I was the face of 1998, run by Storm Model Management, so it was a really big, exciting thing to be involved in when you're 16. As soon as I won that, I finished my Highers and went down to London.”
No sooner had she arrived in the capital than she was whisked off to Tokyo for two and a half months. “It was crazy,” she recalls. “I'd never really been anywhere before, but I got to travel a lot. I went to New York, South Africa and Australia, so that was an amazing opportunity.”
But her heart was never really in it and, acutely aware of a model’s short shelf life, and envying her art student friends’ lives, she applied to study textiles at Chelsea Art School. “Modelling is quite a shallow industry. I had a great time doing it and felt very lucky, but I wasn't very good. I never went to the gym, I didn't work on my book, I just wasn't that excited by the idea of it. I preferred thinking about designing rather than thinking about how you look, which is very boring – and doesn't make you feel very good about yourself either.
“As soon as I started designing I just got so excited and was constantly coming up with ideas; it was such a nice change. I made some really good friends there too, so it was definitely the right choice.”
Now aged 30, the designer’s exquisite silk scarves and cushions – with magical, alliterative names such as Butterflies and Beasticles, Psychedelic Swine and Kaleidoscopic Crustacean – took over a window at the iconic London store. However, they were inspired, not by her travels to exotic climes, but from her garden back home in Aberdeen.
“When I graduated I wasn't sure what I wanted to do and started off designing bespoke scarves. I made one for my parents who are avid bird-watchers – they have a piece of paper that they've laminated with all the birds that have come into their garden. I thought that was very sweet so I worked out which birds they were and designed the pattern and took it up for Christmas as a surprise. There were 36 birds in all – it took such a long time to draw it. But once I'd done it I was really happy with the design, so that's how my first collection came about.”
And to have her work displayed in Liberty – creator of arguably the most iconic of scarves – was like a dream come true. “That was amazing,” she says. “Liberty is the ultimate place for scarves so to be able to get them in there was the best thing ever. It was an amazing platform, and it was so much fun putting the window together. I made some stuffed animals that were meant to be for the display but a lot of people liked them – they look a little like cute taxidermy, I suppose – and they had loads of orders for those so I'm going to start making them too.
“I now want to do as much as I can. At the start I hadn't really thought about fashion but I'm starting to now, doing a few simple pieces. And I'm putting some designs on sails for sailboats.”
Might we see her career turn full circle, as she models her own creations? “For my first campaign all the people in it were my friends, either models or former models. I did think about doing it myself but I don't know if I would want to. Then, for my most recent campaign, I didn't have time to get any models so I just drew a cat and put the photographs of scarves on the cat.”
So, her future features a catwalk, perhaps, but not the most obvious kind.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
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Temperature: 11 C to 18 C
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