Known for her romantic designs, Anna’s very first job in fashion was working for Karl Lagerfeld in Paris at the age of 23. “It was really exciting”, she recalls of her year training with the Chanel designer. “I met all the supermodels and some of the most important people in fashion – people like Liz Tilberis and Andre Leon Talley. Karl was amazing to be around. He was such a force of energy. He seemed to just exist on Diet Coke and cheese”.
In 2012, Anna launched her own label, Anna Mason London, which is now available on Net-a-Porter. We sat down with her to chat about her style lessons and her role as an ambassador for innovative new car brand DS Automobiles, which also has its origins in luxury French design.
Embrace The Fun Of Dressing Up
“My love of dressing up comes from my mum. When I was very small, I was obsessed with what she looked like, particularly when she was going out. It was the ‘70s, so she really did dress up. She would turn from this Swedish woman wearing a jumpsuit and clogs into a princess (in my six-year-old eyes). That transformative power of clothes still inspires me today”.
Surround Yourself With Things You Love
“Great design is the difference between me wanting to own something or not. I love the Williams Morris quote – “Have nothing in your home that is not both beautiful and useful” – and I apply it to everything, from my wardrobe, to my home, to the car I drive. That’s why I’m excited to be working with DS Automobiles. They’re a new brand, like we are, that’s focused on really beautiful craftsmanship.
“I like the quirky of design in the cars – there’s a part of the dashboard that looks like a quilted Chanel bag and I love that. The power of attention to detail is something I definitely learnt from Karl. If you notice it, you really, really notice it. It’s why I appreciate the detail DS is putting into its designs”.
Borrow From Icons Of The Past
“My style icons are Catherine Deneuve in the ’70s, Brigitte Bardot in the ‘60s, Grace Kelly in the ‘50s. I use them as a reference point. My designs are very feminine and romantic and are often inspired by vitage silhouettes. But, then I’ll give it a modern twist. I try and use fabrics that are washable, so you can really wear my clothes. You can put them in the machine, wash them, and wear them again and again. The dress is precious, but the fabrics aren’t”.
Get The Fit Right
“We offer a made-to-measure service and that’s really important to me, because great style is all about the fit/ it’s what makes someone feel great in a dress. You can make very fine, tiny adjustment and the whole dress becomes a completely different thing. I get really irritated if something doesn’t fit me properly.
“I learnt a great tip when I was designing at MaxMara, which we called “the bus test”. You should be able to wear a garment on the bus and reach up and hold the handle without your clothes pulling or feeling uncomfortable”.
Find That Perfect Dress
“A great dress can take you anywhere. Put it on at the beginning of the day with a pair of trainers and then wear it out in the evening with lots of jewellery and a pair outlandish shoes.
“It’s so important to me that my dress have longevity. I want people to love the clothes that we make and see them as an investment. So, when I’m designing, I put a lot of time and effort into making something as classic as possible, but with some interesting and quirky details. That’s what DS is doing too, bringing together beautiful design with new technology and ideas”.
Don’t Be A Shrinking Violet
“Why be a shrinking violet, when you really could be a glided lily? More is always more for me. If you’re going somewhere special, pile it on. I think my attitude to dressing up comes from a feeling that life’s too short. We don’t get enough opportunities to really dress up. So, if you’re fiven a chance, just go for it.
“I’m often inspired by my time in Paris. It was so different from London. Women there do really dress up and I love that. I think the idea that somebody van be that obsessed with their look that they wouldn’t mess it up with a pair of trainers is kind of fabulous “.