The woman behind Hayley Menzies London

With access to a press pass to London Fashion Week for the first time I dived straight into the designer showrooms at Brewer Street car park, Soho. At the new LFW venue I interviewed accessories designer, Hayley Menzies.

Hayley Menzies

Hattie Bottom

Hayley launched her label in 2011, using her own name and has become famous for her fur collars, using cashmere and reclaimed fur in her designs. Now she is launching a new SS16 collection with even more heavenly fabrics.

In 2013, alongside Hayley Menzies, Hayley started another brand, Ottoline, named after Lady Ottoline Morrell, an early 20th Century patron of the arts. The brand specialised in printed scarves and capes but Hayley has now combined elements of Ottoline within her new, revamped SS16 Hayley Menzies collection.

How have your two brands merged together? I started Ottoline to be more creative and to experiment with print, I’ve since realised that I’m not superwoman and I cannot manage two brands! So I’ve merged Ottoline with Hayley Menzies and I’ve taken elements from both and given Hayley Menzies a new lease of life by injecting elements of Ottoline which worked well. Things such as print and experimenting more with colour- and this is the result.

hayley menzies

Hayley Menzies

What is your training in the fashion industry? I was at London College of Fashion when I was 18, but after three months I quitted because I ended up partying too much! Then I modelled for 10 years, I was in a campaign for French Connection and on the cover of a few awful magazines like ‘Chat’. I also modelled for Crew clothing. I’ve always been creative though. As a child I had a Singer sewing machine and used to make loads of clothes.


Hayley Menzies

Were you taught pattern cutting? Or did you use a mannequin? No [I made them] from scratch, just from draping fabric on myself! I remember it was around the time Maggie Thatcher came to power, I must have been around 8 years old and I made a candy striped pencil skirt, it had a zipper down it and everything!

Wow, that’s so young! I’m a doer, if I have an idea I’ll do it, and I often do too much and that’s my problem.

When you’re thinking up your new season designs, what process do you go through? I’m not short of ideas but the difficult thing is trying to edit down to the right idea. I draw and compile a mood board.

Online mood boards like pinterest? Both actually, but I use a lot of private inspiration. I’ve got a pin board and magnet board in my studio.

I’m a doer, if I have an idea I’ll do it, and I often do too much and thats my problem.

hayley menzies

Hayley Menzies

With your modelling experience, do you feel it helped with getting contacts in the fashion industry? Yes, it did because I use the photographers I worked with back then. But also in terms of the travel that comes with modelling, the job really does promote creativity. So does working with creative teams on shoots. Travelling is probably the most inspirational thing you can do. My first fur trimmed scarf was inspired by something I’d seen in Thailand. The shopping malls there are absolutely insane. I go to India quite a bit where there are amazing trimming shops. You need to have a hands on approach, it’s much easier to create with something tangible.

How does the manufacturing process work with Hayley Menzies? Everything is so simple. Patterns are made but I can just send measurements to my guys in Spain who make my bags. “This is the size of the pouch, this is the kind of stitching I want” and that’s that, you get a prototype.

Do you draw the designs for your printed scarves yourself? I don’t draw the illustration as I haven’t got the time but I work with an illustrator who works for me full time. She is a print designer so she’ll do layout and the illustration. I’ll put the mood board together and then I will stick with her and I’ll say “move that flower there” or “make that bigger, I want it supersize!”. I’m very involved with it but I don’t sit and physically do the drawings.

Final question, what is the ideal outfit to go with your designs? What I’m wearing!

Hayley has a studio shop on 281 Portobello Road and an e-shop on her website. As a massive fan of fluff and new textures, I cannot wait till her new SS16 shearling collection drops!

This post was originally published for my student newspaper, Epigram.



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