London Calling, Anita Barry

Living away from the established fashion hotspots is no hindrance for Scotland based designer Anita Barry.

Feature by Jasper Hamill | 13 Sep 2006


Living away from the established fashion hotspots is no hindrance for Scotland based designer Anita Barry. Scotland, she says, is a place where it is "easy to get somewhere… in London you can be overlooked." Quite the opposite is true of her profile in Scotland, doubly boosted by an award-winning show at Edinburgh College of Art and a subsequent invitation to China Fashion Week. In an industry known for its international outlook, many can flounder away from Bond Street, yet Barry insists that in the capitals a young designer is "constantly bombarded with fashion. If you work elsewhere you are able to follow your own path." Her ambitions towards becoming a successful designer will surely be aided with what appears to be a canny way with the media. Already snapped and interviewed by the Scotsman, hers is a face that already looks comfortable in print. Her background as a model galvanised the public aspect to her persona, giving her the perfect combination of looks, talent and charisma the media are sure to swoon over.

Her creations lean heavily towards the high-end, couture market. Using mostly black, her clothes nonetheless can be warm, chic and "feminine without being floaty." She is drawn to garments with a masculine feel and uses meticulous tailoring to give a sharp silhouette to her trouser-suits. "I suppose I don't make life easy for myself, but I really love the androgynous effect that can come from tailoring." Her favourite figures in the fashion world are Helmut Newton, famous for his rigorously constructed photographs, and Corinne Bay, who introduced Kate Moss to the scene and pioneered the waif look which revolutionised the fashion world. Key to her ambition is making "wearable clothes," – she is not drawn to the fashion show as theatre style of designers like John Galliano. "I love to see an inspired show and I've heard of so many great ones, but I want people to remember my clothes rather than how they were presented." Tellingly titled "Who's That Girl?" her first major show, which won a Scottish International Style Award, is a mature, confident step towards success. The red-carpet glamour of her clothes, which have the timeless elegance of the greatest couture, is matched by her obvious media savvy. Regardless of where she works, it seems inevitable that Anita Barry is set to be a star.

Her ECA Collection can be seen at