by Brooke Bobb – Vogue
Last night, the VMAs red carpet lit up with its usual parade of wild, wacky fashion. There was Lizzo’s red boa and sequined “siren” dress designed by Jeremy Scott for Moschino, Marc Jacobs’s ruby red Prada heels, and the artist H.E.R. wearing Valentino and a live snake around her neck. Outdoing them all was Bella Hadid, exposing the length of her hourglass torso in a banded nude floral-print top and skirt held together with suspenders.
It looked like some sort of avant-garde, naughty lingerie set, but in fact it was an ensemble designed by one of London’s buzziest young talents, Charlotte Knowles. The designer, at 26, has already dressed the likes of Solange Knowles and Euphoria’s Hunter Schafer. Knowles graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2017 and began showing her namesake label with the 1 Granary collective of up-and-coming designers and artists in London. She and her partner, Alexandre Arsenault, have built a brand that celebrates femininity and sex-positivity through deconstructed corsets, bras, underwear, and swimwear silhouettes.
The vibe is right for the hyper-sensual dresser that is Bella Hadid, and it was nice to see her support an emerging designer out of Europe. Knowles is pushing the boundaries that still exist between ready-to-wear and lingerie, and she’s doing it with clothes that are meant to attract the female gaze and empower the wearer. She’s definitely one to watch as we enter fashion month. Here are five things to know about one of London’s most provocative young designers.
- Knowles started designing clothes when she was 13 years old after her mom gave her a sewing machine. She honed her skills alongside her grandmother, who owned a small clothing boutique in Bath, England.
- Knowles based her Master’s collection at Central Saint Martins on women who are unapologetic about keeping a collection of porn under their beds.
- She is inspired by the sexual expression of a woman, the female gaze, and specifically the way that lingerie, be it a push-up bra, a thong, or a corset, can enhance a woman’s figure and make her feel strong.
- After receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree from London College of Fashion in 2014, she went on to intern and work for brands like Alexander McQueen, Acne Studios, Helmut Lang, and Gareth Pugh. After that, she got her Master of Arts in fashion at Central Saint Martins in 2017.
- Knowles’s design partner in her namesake label is her boyfriend, Alexandre Arsenault.