This London Fashion Week Designer Has Made Wedding Guest Dressing More Exciting Than Ever

Olivia Rubin has gone from making a few clothes for herself to viral sensation. Hannah Banks-Walker discovers the secret to her success.

Olivia Rubin London Fashion Week

by Hannah Banks-Walker |
Updated on

Olivia Rubin just staged a show at London Fashion Week for only the second time. The show itself was testament to Rubin’s aesthetic – a riot of colour, sequins and, ultimately, joy. This seems fitting given the fashion landscape at the moment, which seems to be a return to the pure joy of clothes, to dressing up and celebrating how it can make you feel. As embodied by Harry Styles at the recent BRIT Awards, eschewing transient trends in favour of showcasing personal style, flair and flamboyance is very much in favour right now.

@thefashionbugblog in Olivia Rubin
Olivia Rubin's bow-back dress ©@thefashionbugblog

Excellent news for Rubin, who creates a sartorial dream realised in sugary pink, bow-back dresses, embroidered lace dresses in sorbet shades and rainbow sequined, swirling skirts. These are the kind of clothes that fashion magpies will scoop up to elevate their everyday wardrobes. The more low-key among us all will be crying out for wedding invitations in order to wear an Olivia Rubin outfit.

‘There was no real plan, believe it or not,’ explains Rubin. ‘Six months after I had my second daughter I missed designing (having worked in fashion for 10 years previously) and wearing my own clothes, so I started making a few pieces with Ann, my pattern cutter, and posting them on Instagram. The rainbow sequin stripe skirt went viral and that was the start of my brand.’ Back when she graduated from Central Saint Martins, Rubin found work with some of fashion’s heavyweights including Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, and her eye for cut and detail is obvious from her own collections. She aims to make clothes that are, according to her, ‘Colourful, happy, feminine collections. I want to design pieces that make you feel good from wearing them and looking at them. I don’t take fashion too seriously; for me it is about experimentation and having fun.’

Thanks to the rainbow skirt, Rubin has now built up a loyal following of fans, some of whom are incredibly well-known in their own right. ‘I get such a buzz from seeing people in my designs. All the celebrities who have worn my collections have been in touch directly so the whole process is really organic. When Lena Dunham got in touch I had to reread the email two or three times. Being such a fan of her and her work, I was so thrilled that she was a fan of mine.’

Indeed, Dunham is in good company – Eva Chen, Busy Phillips, Kelly Clarkson, Holly Willoughby and Fearne Cotton are some of Rubin’s other famous fans. And the stockists have followed, including Selfridges and Harrods. ‘I always dreamt of being in Selfridges so when they approached me before I had even started wholesaling was a real pinch me moment, Rubin says. ‘ I launched the label exclusively there with a pop up and still continue to work closely with them. They are a special store to me.’

Of course, like any contemporary brand, Rubin is facing an increasing need to address sustainability. She has just launched a range of sustainable daywear made of organic cotton and Tencel, and has plans to make other areas of the business as eco-friendly as possible. ‘As a brand we are becoming more conscious of making sure our factory and as many products as possible have a sustainable element. This includes using recyclable web mail boxes and removing the use of plastic where possible.’

Rubin’s prices, too, hit that sweet spot that other brands such as Ganni occupy, too. It’s far from fast fashion – it’s a different way of engaging with clothes that are designed to be loved and worn for years – but it’s still affordable and democratic. Like I said, joy is at the heart of this endeavour.

The recent London Fashion Week show had a distinct ‘80s influence mixed in with the habitual mix of colour, texture and flourishes. Rubin says it’s a ‘new vibe… more sophisticated’, which suggests her brand is growing in the right direction. The future entails ‘keeping the industry on their toes,’ she says. ‘Offering new ideas, staying true to the brand aesthetic yet growing the signature. I am a designer but in this industry you have to have a business head; I have to think about sales and ways to grow globally in order to survive in this tough industry.’ Let’s hope she does just that.

SHOP: The Best Olivia Rubin Pieces That Will Bring Joy To Your Wardrobe


The Best Olivia Rubin Pieces That Will Bring Joy To Your Wardrobe

Polka Dot Tiered Dress, £5501 of 11

Polka Dot Tiered Dress, £550

Embroidered Organza Dress, £4952 of 11

Embroidered Organza Dress, £495

Pastel Tiered Silk Dress, £5303 of 11

Pastel Tiered Silk Dress, £530

Bow-Back Silk Dress, £5904 of 11

Bow-Back Silk Dress, £590

Floral Silk Dress, £4205 of 11

Floral Silk Dress, £420

Silk Polka Dot Dress, £4206 of 11

Silk Polka Dot Dress, £420

Ombre Skirt, £3307 of 11

Ombre Skirt, £330

Ice Cream Print Dress, £3708 of 11

Ice Cream Print Dress, £370

Silk Slip Dress, £3509 of 11

Silk Slip Dress, £350

Cotton Floral Dress, £35010 of 11

Cotton Floral Dress, £350

Bow Back Silk Taffeta Dress, £55011 of 11

Bow Back Silk Taffeta Dress, £550

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