This week’s feature is on the unique clothing by UK designer Bunny Massacre!
How did your interest in fashion begin? In the womb I believe. It goes back 5 generations in my family. My mother made almost all of my clothes as a child (my dolls always had a matching outfit too!) & my grandmother made me tailored suits that I would design when I was about 12. There was a while when I thought I would study Fine Art, but Fashion called me back. Since I can remember, I have always been thinking about designs & colours & styles & of course I could then get my mum to make it for me. By the time I was 10 she had started teaching me how to do it myself. The first thing I made was a boob tube, which I embroidered with beads to make 3 stars. It was waaay cool. I can’t help it- the ideas just never stop. Thankfully…
What motivated you to start selling your designs and what were your expectations when you started? I developed a chronic muscle condition (similar to, but more severe than fybromyalgia) about 10 years ago that left me in truly agonising & disabling pain. It was so bad I could barely walk after a days work. The pain never stopped. I had no choice but to give up my job & spend my time looking after myself & managing my condition. It wasn’t long before I was going crazy just sitting home all day. My flatmate had asked me to make him a cowboy shirt & it turned out so well, I had to make heaps more for all of his friends. Someone suggested I should sell them on Ebay so I gave it a go. Despite being utterly gorgeous & taking me hours to make, they sold for very little. I decided to research the marketplace on Ebay for handmade clothes & couldn’t believe it when I found the DIY scene. There weren’t many people doing it back then, but I figured I would give it a go. It gives me the freedom to work when I am feeling ok & to rest when I am bad which is priceless.
I had no idea what to expect at all. Thankfully my designs sold so that meant I could carry on. If they hadn’t, I think my friends would all have wardrobes stuffed with cowboy shirts!
Do you have any formal training in fashion, art or design? Yep- I have a BA (Hons) degree in Fashion design. When I left Uni, I was more into music than the fashion scene. I had become really cynical about the whole industry & wanted to get away from it for a while. I managed record stores and sang in a band instead. It was my illness that got me back to designing clothes, which I am so thankful for (although I miss playing gigs terribly). But of course I do now get to listen to music all day, which is great.
Is Bunny Massacre your primary job? It is indeed.
How many people are behind the scenes at Bunny Massacre? Just me. My cats have proven to be very poor seamstresses. I don’t know anyone else who can sew. I hope to train my nieces in the future….
What are some of the best and worst aspects of being an independent designer? It’s all fantastic! I do love it so much- no restrictions, just freedom to do whatever I like whenever I like. I had an email recently from a girl who said she could never get nice clothes in her size, but the top she bought from me made her feel pretty again. That is just the best thing ever. My customers are all fantastic. Seriously. Having your clothes worn by people all around the world is mind-blowing. It allows me to work with my muscle condition instead of against it.
Getting yourself out of a warm bed in the morning is tough when you have no boss to kick your butt. And never knowing what your income is going to be from one week to the next can be real harsh.
Where do you get inspiration for your designs? I have no idea! I always carry a pen & paper as ideas come to me all the time no matter where I am. I am very inspired by great fabrics & colour- they kinda speak to you, as if they know what they must become. Am I sounding deranged yet?
How would you describe your designs? Oh my. They are just the pictures in my head made real. Apparently they are very colourful. I hope they are sexy & cute & make the person wearing them feel special. Anything goes with me as long as I find it interesting or beautiful.
Any advice for aspiring designers? Don’t try to be what you are not- that’s so very important. If you love something, there is every chance that someone else will love it too. Learn about the capabilities of different fabric by trying things out. They don’t all work out, but you learn from every piece of clothing you make whether it is successful or not.
Get a really good basic block pattern with a well-fitting armhole & sleeve to work from. A good fit is ESSENTIAL. You can use a bought pattern (you will probably need to make your own adjustments to it), an item of clothing that fits you well or buy something cheap & cutting it down all the seams if you like. Make sure that your clothes are of an excellent quality- only practice will get you there. If you sell rubbish you will not get repeat customers or good feedback. If a design hasn’t worked out, dump it. And you really have to LOVE it. It’s a hard slog, but so very rewarding.
Do you have any interesting hobbies? I don’t think any of my hobbies are particularly interesting. I am trying to learn the language of cats- does that count as interesting? I was a kitten breeder for a while (tho admittedly it was accidental- my cat kept getting pregnant…), & you learn an awful lot about why cats act as they do from seeing a mother with her babies. I am at the blinking communication stage at the mo, so my studies are proving fruitful. When I am an old cat lady I will take up the profession seriously I think.
I still sing & write songs- performing at acoustic nights in Southend & I go to as many gigs as I can afford. I find that interesting. And I am on a quest to find the worlds yummiest cake.