If you are interested in bold, unique and vibrant garments, perfect for heading into the Algarvian summer, then I urge you to take a look at this fantastic new designer.
Sarah-Louise grew up in France, with an English mother and French Father, and in June 2020 she graduated from Brighton University in Fashion Design and Business. She went on to tell me that she has always been a creative person and has always loved art, taking extra art classes and a having deep interest in art projects at school, where she first started by creating a dress with cut out flowers using bin bags for her first school brief. She told me that her foundation year in art and design really solidified her choice to pursue fashion.
Sarah-Louise felt lost due to the lockdown and found that after graduating there were no jobs. But she did not let this deter her as she had always dreamt of starting her own brand which is how SLK was born in August of 2020, after moving with her family to the Algarve. She hopes to grow her brand here in the Algarve and diversify her business and, so far, she has been fortunate that her dresses have already been sent to many countries including Germany, UK, Poland and the US. She has fallen victim to the charm of the Algarve and fallen in love with the quality of life here. She told me “as a creative it is so nice to have the beach and beautiful landscape surrounding me which offers me inspiration and is incredible for photoshoots and there are also a lot of creatives to meet.” She also emailed Palacio d’Estoi and managed to get her graduate collection “This Madame is Versaille” photoshoot done there as she had these dreams of shooting in Versailles and this Portuguese palace has similar architecture and fulfilled her Versailles dream.
SLK Designs aims to create show pieces that make the wearer feel empowered, confident and special. In terms of inspiration, for her unique pieces, she told me that “especially with the graduate collection I was looking at pop art and sculpture artists like Jeff Koons, who makes giant polished stainless-steel sculptures which is where the shiny fabric came from”. Sarah-Louise likes to design bespoke evening wear and show pieces that are wearable individual art pieces.
In her runway collections she lets her creativity run wild and does whatever she thinks of, no matter how crazy it is. She hopes that her evening wear will be worn by people from the entertainment industry so they can afford to wear more over the top outfits as Lady Gaga is her muse. Aside from this, she also has a shop which is available online at slksarah-louisedesigns.com and her designs are more ready to wear and more affordable. These designs are fusion lines from the runway collections and are made from fabric remnants from previous collections, in order to reduce waste. In terms of sourcing her materials, the graduate collection was done back in May 2020 in Brighton as her last University project but the corsets and bags are made here to order from her shop. She told me that the corsets and everything you see on the site are made by herself and the bags are made by a seamstress in Lagos. Uniquely, the sleeves on the corsets are removable, making them long-lasting and they can be styled in many different ways.
Most recently, Sarah-Louise was commissioned by Swarovski to create a futuristic candy pink wrapper custom dress for their Wonderlab advert which was for the launch of their new collection and installation in Milan. She told me that “this was such a great opportunity and seeing my first ever commissioned dress in their advert at the airport was a dream come true”. I asked her how she felt when she was approached for this commission and she told me that she was “really excited but nervous and it was the stylist and owner of the residency showroom, B.Akerlund, who reached out to me through Instagram.”
“I had a total of three days to make the dress and, due to teaching, I made it work by working early in the morning and late at night to finish this dress but I was very happy with the final outcome.”
Sarah-Louise is working on a new collection in time for Fashion Week and she is also working on a reversable corset that will be released soon. If you are interested in keeping up to date with her incredible designs, please check out her Instagram @sarah_louise_designs and her website slksarah-louisedesigns.com.