Sophie O’Horan’s graduate collection and debut line for her own brand, Donte Carlo, is a stunning representation of not only her enthusiastic, bubbly personality, but also the amazing women that populate her home town.
Donte Carlo, if you haven’t already guessed, is a play on words for Doncaster.
“I love plays on words – like Doncopolitan! You’ll see references on the clothes too. It’s always been bounced around by my dad and his mates. They call it Doncatraz, as well.”
Made up of bubblegum colours in an eclectic range of faux fur, tulle, lycra and ribbed cotton polyester, Sophie’s pieces are accentuated with digitally embroidered patches, as well as false nails and eyelashes; a collection that is soft, fluffy and glamorous. You can’t escape the light-hearted, not-to-be-taken-too-seriously approach these wearable statements emanate.
Sophie designed her collection with the intention of bridging the North/South divide.
“The stimulus two years ago was being faced with having to move back home after my degree and look for jobs. There was nothing for creatives. I also wanted my friends to visit, but they’d googled Doncaster and thought “no”. They’re all from London, why would they leave? They saw The North as this alien place they were unsure about. It seemed otherworldly to them.”
Inspirational photos of The Dome, reminiscent of a spaceship with saturated colours, further fuelled Sophie’s idea of following the mystical, magical, fantasy route. By interviewing women around Doncaster, Sophie added to her intrigue, discovering a range of rich and diverse personalities.
“I became infatuated by them. They look so powerful and goddess-like because they are so bold and loud and eye-catching.”
The shoot for the collection was in Sophie’s Nana’s house.
“I went to visit her over Easter and saw that it had my colour palette, the rococo references, and it’s quite kitsch as well.” Following the idea that parts of Doncaster are trapped in time, Sophie deemed this the perfect place to reflect that, whilst simultaneously showing the stark contrast between hyper-glam and the grit of real life.
“Get a girl who can do both”.
The idea is that a woman can be glamorous on a night out, but she can also be glamorous in her pyjamas hungover the following day. Even with her dog licking remnants of fake tan off her legs.
The girl in the pictures clearly doesn’t own the house, you can tell by the decor. This adds to the disjointed, alien, out-of-context feel that prompted the collection’s origin.
“There’s a real honesty to Northern women and I hope that comes through. It’s the line between responsibility and irresponsibility. The fact that it doesn’t feel right just emphasises the fantasy aspect.”
With beginnings in a traditional art background, Sophie was told by an ex-tutor that she couldn’t study textiles and that she couldn’t sew. Being stuck with oil paintings and technical drawings was the last straw.
“It was dry to me. Lots of people love that, I have friends who are amazing and they do very well, but my heart was not in it.”
So, she turned to puppetry and began a degree in set and costume design in London. This lasted a year before a series of fateful events changed things. Talking to a girl at a Halloween party about Textile Design at Chelsea College of Arts, she realised where her heart lay. Reapplying, Sophie got accepted onto the course where she met a girl she describes as the epitome of glamour.
“My best friend from Long Island, New York, Cat Ingram.”
Cat brought Sophie out of her shell with an ongoing design collaboration, Flamingals. Here began the love of more-is-more and suburban glamour, with screen-printed t-shirts featuring hand drawn illustrations of cocktails, BBQ’s and women reminiscent of Paris Hilton.
After literally sliding into the DM’s of her idol, womenswear designer Clio Peppiatt, Sophie bagged herself an amazing internship that started this June. Prior to the start of her own business, Sophie modestly explains how she still has a lot to learn.
“I’ve just skimmed the surface of lots of techniques. There is much more digital embroidery I want to do, and hopefully through internships I’ll be inspired by things I’m shown.”
Future-wise, Sophie wants to explore a myriad – from Americana to mythology.
“It could go from Dolly Parton-esque, fringing and rhinestones to some sort of magical tarot card reading with medusa. I will always love glamour and more-is-more, but it would be interesting to collaborate with someone more minimal too.”
Sophie aims to split her time between the North and South, she wants to one day open a studio in both areas, allowing young creatives more opportunities than she had.
“I think to be able to fuse both, I need to be in both”.
Proud of her Doncaster roots, Sophie wants people to know about the North’s sense of constant optimism through challenging times.
“We come from pit communities where we’ve had to be really strong. That’s where the sense of humour comes through. At the end of the day, I don’t want to trivialise political issues. My clothes are a celebration, a way of dreaming and being something you didn’t think you could. The main thing I want to put across is: Try not to give too much of a f**k.”
This post is sponsored by Doncopolitan.