London-based designer and ‘Made in Chelsea’ star Oliver Proudlock talks to STYLEFAN.NET about painting his way to fashion by launching his contemporary urban label, Serge DeNimes.
‘Music, art and fashion are the three things that are most important to me. I am not afraid to integrate these different art forms because they are so closely knitted.’
Oliver Proudlock has become a household name for most, but there is far more than meets the eye compared to what you see on ‘Made in Chelsea.’ Since the debut of his first collection for his brand Serge DeNimes, Proudlock has gained attention from fashion editors and bloggers as well as fashionistas browsing his most recent ‘Head to Toe’ pop up shop on Carnaby Street.
Balancing his work on Serge DeNimes and starring in ‘Made in Chelsea,’ Proudlock also experiences some uncomfortable moments that come with fame…namely stalkers who expect him at their parties! While he remains humble and sincere, fans of the show sometimes fail to see the difference between his fashion brand and the world of ‘Made in Chelsea’ which involves revelations of London socialites and their lives in SW3. Proudlock admits that he receives more attention from girls since joining the show, but he also claims that ‘Made in Chelsea’ has not changed him. ‘There is a danger when you do a show that becomes so successful, but the one thing that has helped me is the fact that I have my brand. I keep my focus on my brand and I make sure that I spend time with my friends outside the show, who tend to take the piss out of me.’
Proudlock credits his independence and confidence in starting Serge DeNimes to his years at boarding school. ‘I grew up a lot and it made me very independent which is so important when you are trying to create your own brand in today’s climate.’ Yet his passion for creating things from found materials and inspiration from abstract expressionists and pop artists, such as Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, enable him to successfully create and market his brand with his own vision.
Proudlock completed a BA in Fine Art at Newcastle University but soon turned his attention to fashion. He attributes his obsession with fashion to his mother, Lena Proudlock, and recalls that he used to change outfits up to four or fives times a day when he was younger. ‘I love denim and I think that definitely came from her. She’s been obsessed with denim for years and she takes it to the next level. I’ve seen her in quadruple denim.’ Lena Proudlock owned her own denim company, Denim in Style, and so the transition from studying fine art to setting up a fashion label was fairly organic for Proudlock. In fact, Serge DeNimes takes its name from the origin of Denim in France - the fabric, serge, and the area in which it was made, Nîmes. Launching his brand in 2011, Proudlock describes Serge DeNimes as a blend of urban street wear with various artistic influences. ‘Music, art and fashion are the three things that are most important to me. I am not afraid to integrate these different art forms because they are so closely knitted.’
For his first collection, many of Proudlock’s designs were inspired by his trips to Rio de Janeiro. Collaborating with his mother, Proudlock used his mother’s photography from Carnival in the 1970s as prints for his t-shirts. He revels in the vibrant communal energy of the city. ‘I love Carnival when everyone drops everything they’re doing in life and they are just there for one reason and that is to have a good time. It’s about drinking on the street and dancing the Samba. That’s the real Rio.’ Proudlock’s love and enthusiasm for Rio is infectious and he shares stories of how he fell in love for the first time at age seventeen with a Brazilian girl. Yet he claims that his heart will always lie in London.
With admirers of his brand and style, Proudlock leaves us with bold advice alongside his discussion of family, fame and artistic inspiration in launching Serge DeNimes. ‘Be confident in yourself and try not to listen to everything around you. The key is to feel good. Try to be confident in your own skin and when it comes to fashion, make sure you are always true your self but don’t be afraid to mix things up. Be confident and own it.’
Photography: Eva Huang