Originally from Poland, Yorkshire fashion designer Bo Carter heads for Ilkley Moor to showcase her new collection as she prepares to for her charity catwalk show in Leeds. She talks to Stephanie Smith. All pictures by Steve Gabbett.
The British landscape has always inspired what we wear, not least through the fabrics we create and choose as we seek to capture the beauty of our natural surroundings.
Ilkley Moor, with its soft heathers and mosses, bracken and breezy grasses, rocky outcrops and darkening autumnal skies, has proved to be the perfect backdrop for Bo Carter’s new autumn/winter collection, which launches this week.
Based in Leeds, Bozena Carter first caught attention several years ago as an independent ethical fashion designer who played with vibrant prints, creating a chaotic harmony of colour, pattern and texture.
Now 39, she moved to the UK from her native Poland when she was 21 and trained to become an accountant, then worked in the NHS for a number of years. Her design career began in 2010 when Leeds Fashion Week ran a competition to find new designers for its annual catwalk show. Bo entered some drawings, almost on a whim, and got through. Later that same year, she had a complete womenswear collection which she took to Virginia Fashion Week in the US, followed by showcases in Malta, Iceland, Baltimore, Bangalore and around the UK. Now her clothes sell across the world, via her own website and also through Wolf & Badger, Showroom, Bon Petit and other retailers.
Bo lives in Batley with her photographer partner Steve Gabbett (and three cats). She has a studio there where she designs and makes all her clothes, with the help of an assistant. As a starting point, she creates pieces she herself wants to wear. “I like comfy clothes so there’s lots of elastic. And I also design for someone like myself who cares about ethics. ”
Bo specialises in vegan fashion and has recently been nominated for the Blue Patch Sustainable Business Awards.
For her new 28-piece collection, which is called Avian, she has used roll-ends of fabrics, including vintage checks in earthy tones, to create easy, co-ordinating, wear-anywhere pieces. All fabrics are certified organic and come from a small co-operative in India, via a company in Wales.
“Ethics come before fashion, definitely in my life,” she says. “Now we produce our labels in-house as well so we don’t need to rely on anyone else.”
The Ilkley Moor shoot took place last month but was a year in the planning. “We were just waiting for the right collection to work with the location,” Bo says. “It just fits perfectly colour-wise and with the aesthetics of the clothes. It’s all very connected with nature.”
The official launch of the Avian collection will take place at a fashion show Bo is hosting at Leeds City College Printworks Campus on October 12, which will also showcase collections from seven other Yorkshire designers. Entrance is free and the event will raise money and awareness for the Fia Not Campaign, founded in memory of Sophia (Fia) Theobald, who took her own life last July. Fia, 27, modelled at Bo’s shows and the campaign has been set up by her family and friends to provide mental health support.
All clothes by Bo Carter, online at www.bocarter.co.uk. Photography by Steve Gabbett / Model: Jemima Robinson / Assistant: Paul Lewis.
*The launch of ‘Avian’, the new AW/1819 womenswear collection from Bo Carter, takes place from 7pm on October 12 at Leeds City College Printworks Campus. It also features collections from few more local fashion brands including:
Entrance is free, but you can register at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fashion-show-avian-collection-launch-tickets-47618653675