Giles Deacon On The Similarities Of Designing Haute Couture and Aspinal Accessories

4 min read

Giles Deacon and Mariya Dykalo pictured at the Aspinal store in The Dubai Mall, during the launch of the Giles x Aspinal capsule collection

In Dubai to launch his inaugural collection for the British accessories label, Giles x Aspinal, Giles Deacon tells MOJEH how he balances being an in-demand couture designer with creating timeless handbags


How did your relationship with Aspinal come about? Interestingly, the lovely Mariya Dykalo is a couture client of mine, and I’d known of Aspinal for quite some time. We were introduced a couple of years ago, and Mariya would come to the studio with these gorgeous bags, gorgeous coloured clutches and whatever else, and she suggested we collaborate by doing a capsule collection.

How do you feel about being the new design director? Wonderful. Really nice how it came around. They are a family run company still and they asked if I was interested in doing something more full time. Design director works well for me – Mariya is a great creative director, face of the label, and ambassador. My role is giving design experience, not going in and getting rid of everything. It’s their stamp, I love what they do.

How do you approach it? I don’t want to design a whole load of new bags. I don’t think it’s that. We have so many fantastic shapes and existing iconic bags, and accessories in general, so I thought let’s use those. They are a great blank canvas for me to appropriate my design thoughts, and being a prolific illustrator, I thought it would be a great opportunity to design some new prints, illustrations, and come up with some new characters.

Giles X Aspinal Mini Trunk

Characters? I always think of things I design as character-led. I love inventing worlds… and I think that is what Aspinal does very well as well, so all of the pieces kind of standalone. They have their own personality: little mini trunks with the all over prints; getting some elements of the couture in through the embroidery with the silk thread; and the filigree key – kind of key motifs; and the moray leather, which we would normally use to help get it all tied together, from the couture world. And again that sense of playfulness and whimsy that I love as well.

Who are the characters? Well, the characters are all imagined. They are based upon elements of various characters and private clients of mine worldwide, so from all over the place. They embody everything I like about design and fashion really: playfulness, colour, fabrications, texture, whimsy, a bit of cool in there – you name it we’ve got it all in there.

Do you see any similarities between Giles Deacon the couturier and Aspinal? We are two very different, but quintessentially English, labels: they do what they do, and I do what I do. In the world of accessories, I felt it would be something very super and special to do [together]. Aspinal through my eyes is what I thought when we first discussed what we would do.

Giles X Aspinal Regent Tote

What is your view of the brand? I think it resonates across the world. People have that appreciation of that kind of Britishness, which is what I love about Aspinal. It stands alone and has a voice within that world. It’s not trying to be like anybody else, which is really refreshing for me. I hate it when brands are homogenised and all go off on a tangent, all trying to be sat within a certain trend. They occupy this really unique position of making these beautiful handcrafted, very kind of cool, ladylike bags. That opens up the whole world to them.

Giles X Aspinal Luggage Tags

You are primarily a couturier these days – how does working with accessories differ? I have dabbled with accessories within my own world, and within places I have worked. It’s a very natural home for me working with accessories. And within the context of working with the existing styles there is so much to work with. Their speed and ability to turn things around, and look at things – developments and that kind of thing – is really great. A real treat to work on. As well as that, gifting is such a large part of the Aspinal business – 40 per cent – so I was very conscious of getting those pieces in, so that there is something for everybody within it. Gorgeous little luggage tags, journal and passport holders, scarves, you name it, all the things I love.

Shop Giles X Aspinal at the Aspinal London boutique in The Dubai Mall

  • Interview by Natascha Hawke