Kula Shaker and Reef have been the perfect clothes horses for Glasgow designer LESLEY HEPBURN. Next stop Oasis.
Words: Fiona Shepherd
Photograph: Graham Machaffie
KULA SHAKER ARE a band who know where to put the crease in their trousers, so designing stage outfits for the psychedelically- inclined quartet is an opportunity to be grabbed.
So it was that Glaswegian designer Lesley Hepburn saw her clothes on the backs of Crispian Mills and chums on the main stage at T In The Park and on television programmes like The Big Breakfast.
Hepburn’s previous and current clients include Reef, Honeycrack. up-and-coming retro rockers The Smiles and Hardbody’s Louise Quinn. Given this CV you’d be forgiven for thinking Hepburn had long since found and settled into her niche. but when the 24-year-old graduated from Cardonald College’s design course last year, styling for musicians wasn’t top of her agenda.
Lesley Hepburn: The Glaswegian designer putting clothes on Kula Shaker's backs models one of her own creations
‘I just fell into it; it wasn’t the path I chose for myself,’ she says. ‘I got to a point where I wanted to prove to people that I could make things well, so what better opportunity than a band like Kula Shaker who are very style-con- scious and would provide a good platform for my clothes? It wasn’t a money-making thing. I
'I wanted to prove to people I could make things well, so what better opportunity than a band like Kula Shaker who are very style-conscious?’ Lesley Hepburn
just said to them, “Please will you wear my clothes?” and they said, “Yeah, no bother". It was so easy to do. I was given a free rein.’
A stint on voluntary placement with Red Or Dead in London gave Hepburn a chance to work at London Fashion Week and to measure herself up against her contemporaries in the capital with growing confidence. The retro inﬂuence on Red Or Dead’s stylish streetwear suited Hepburn’s own design tastes. Working on costumes with the junior wing of Scottish Ballet and all manner of behind the scenes work with a drama company have also helped hone her style which she classes widely as a glamorous, dressed-up look.
‘l don’t want to tie myself down to a particular era,’ she says, ‘but a lot of stuff I’ve done is 60s-inspired with a bit of a twist and a sense of humour. I love old movies and showgirl glitz and glamour. I don’t think you’d find me designing tracksuits, but I’d be happy to see anyone with my gear on.’
Asked to pipe dream about who she’d particularly like to design for, Hepburn tellingly cites two rock musicians — David Bowie and Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler — and her roll call of the stylish past and present includes Mick Jagger and Brian Jones, Kylie, Beck and Finnish keyboard player and Joe 90 lookalike Jimi Tenor. Does she see a correlation between the allegedly superficial world of pop and fashion?
‘Music and fashion have always been on the same level,’ she says. ‘Yes. it is superﬁcial, but a lot of industries are. People argue that clothes shouldn’t matter and it’s what’s inside that counts, but clothes speak volumes about people and make them feel more confident.‘
As to the future. Hepburn has realised the folly of her impatience for instant recognition while she was at college.
‘When you start at first you all think: “We’re going to be John Galliano [one of her favourite designers] tomorrow,” then you end up sewing 100 straight lines. I’m not making much money yet, but there are rewards in other areas. Eventually I’d love to have the funds to set up my own label. Ultimately I’d like to combine styling and designing. I enjoy working with bands.’ .v 1
So that’ll be Crispian in fancy ‘Is pants for a while then.
10—23 Oct 1997 THE LIST?