Despite Lungta De Fancy designer Mai Marimoto being on her way to celebrating the 10th anniversary of the brand, penning a book and branching out into lingerie in the next coming months, the Central Saint Martins graduate remains a humble and fuss-free designer with a true passion and talent for her work – and a desire to please every one of her shoppers.
And, since we mention it, those shoppers happen to include some of fashion’s most famous faces from Lady Gaga to Victoria Beckham and Rihanna (and even a royal, too).
The appeal, it seems, is her ability to meet every girl’s needs.
You can find Lungta De Fancy in London’s New Bond Street, Knightsbridge and St Christopher’s Place, which is where we caught up with the designer last week as part of the fabulous Thank You Thursdays shopping event.
Find out what Mai Marimoto told us about her inspirations, her plans for the label, and those Lady Gaga shoes…
How do you manage to balance getting the maximum out of your creativity and keeping the prices down to (relatively) affordable prices?
I understand that every customer is special so I wouldn’t mind if someone came up to me and said ‘I love this’, but it needs to be a bit different here so each item can be individual if that’s how a lady wants it. Every lady is something special and everyone has different figures. For three of our stores we do free alterations so we like to make sure it fits the client perfectly before their special event. Like this client that’s come in today – she thinks the dress is a little too long so we are fixing it to how she likes for no extra cost.
London isn’t the only place you have a store, so where would you say you get the most clients?
In London there’s lots of different cultures – Arabic clients, English clients. I’d say my clients are about 50%. 50% live in London and the other 50 are from the rest of the world. Obviously with Arabic ladies they like their arms covered so I add the sleeves, so it gives everyone the chance to wear the designs, which is why maybe they come here.
Do you show at fashion week?
We did presentations in Paris and New York last season… next season we are going to do New York.
Where did you get inspiration for everything in this store?
Everywhere. The collections have always been different to the last collection, every collection you can see the signature. If you look through, I do things very structured, classic, feminine, girly, ruffles. It’s very feminine and romantic.
Many items are custom-made – where are they manufactured and are they of a limited quantity?
They are made in Italy. My stores carry one-off pieces and there are very limited quantities because if I go to a party I don’t want to see another girl wearing the same dress.
So lets talk about the shoes that Lady Gaga wore…
These (pictured) are versions of the ones Lady Gaga wore, she wore the boot version, and they were made in Italy. They’re very comfortable, they don’t look comfy but they actually are. Obviously for the days you run around town you wouldn’t wear these but for a party, these are fine. These are £455, and the ones Lady Gaga bought were £750. She drove past our Knightsbridge store the other night and told her PR that she wanted them.
What other famous women have you dressed?
In the past we’ve had Rihanna, she wore an oversized cardigan, then we had Victoria Beckham, who wore a dress just before she got pregnant, and we had Princess Beatrice who wore my dress the day before Prince William’s wedding. It looks so much better on, obviously. She’s been a good customer for many years, she wears some of my stuff for Ascot.
The other day we heard Victoria Beckham saying that she’d only design something that she’d wear herself – is that your sentiment?
Mostly. I think it makes it more personal. I think there’s something for everyone but I like everything that I design.
Are you branching out into anything else?
I am doing a book, and I am working on a lingerie brand under the same name. We are aiming to launch in February, and if not, the second line will be out in July. We do a silk pyjama set – Japanese kimono style – and we’ve done all the sketches already. It’s always nice to wear something pretty underneath because if you have a lovely dress on it definitely makes a difference. We’ve used some really amazing silks and lots of bold colours like you see in the store. We try to make them match the dresses.
Click through our gallery below for highlights from Lungta de Fancy…