June | Spotlight On
Spotlight On: E.Stott
Designer Elizabeth Stott on creating practical, stylish and elevated eveningwear designed to be endlessly mixed and matched for her fledgling London label, E.StottEmma Sells
Elizabeth Stott is a woman who knows a thing or two about conjuring extraordinary, scene-stealing dresses. The designer’s CV includes stints at a triumvirate of London’s eveningwear stalwarts – Issa, Roksanda and Emilia Wickstead – and now her fledgling label, E.Stott, is bringing an irresistible element of longevity and sustainability to the elevated world of occasion dressing.
The label and its thoughtful ethos were inspired by the design process that Stott has always instinctively followed, riffing on existing silhouettes to update, alter and reimagine them. Striking out on her own had never been part of her gameplan, but a combination of maternity leave and Covid lockdowns left Stott feeling overwhelmed by her own wardrobe, unfulfilled by the pieces she was creating for others, and with a clear sense of purpose. So, in 2022, she set about putting together a collection of timeless, flawless and flattering dresses alongside separate wardrobe additions – long-sleeved shrugs, dramatic pleated over-skirts, XXL hair bows – that could be mixed and matched in infinite combinations both with each other and anything else already in your closet. “I thought, if you have something that you can wear multiple ways, or two dresses and two additions, you’ve actually got six options there straight away,” says Stott. “As a practical dresser, as an environmental dresser, as someone who wants to look different and have my own personal style, it ticked all those boxes for me. And I hadn’t seen it anywhere else.”
“As a practical dresser, as an environmental dresser, as someone who wants to look different and have my own personal style, it ticked all those boxes for me. And I hadn’t seen it anywhere else”
With an aesthetic that Stott describes as “feminine but with a slightly harder edge”, each piece draws inspiration from references as eclectic as military uniforms and coffee-table art books, but her constant and primary touchstone is a woman’s body. “It’s always about the female form,” she says. “I do a lot of sketching to get ideas out, but fundamentally I always like to design around the mannequin, working around the body and making sure that I’m looking at it as a whole.” And she’s worked hard to source her luxury fabrics as sustainably as possible: any virgin fabrics are made from natural mono fibres, but the vast majority are end-of-line and deadstock rolls that she’s hunted down in vast, packed-out warehouses. She’s equally considered about how the clothes are made, too – closely collaborating with her factories in London, Poland and Portugal to build close personal relationships with the people who work there.
Alongside the ready-to-wear collections that have been picked up by Matches, Harrods, BonMarché and more, Stott makes pieces to order in her north London atelier. Not only does that allow her to serve the sartorial needs of individual women, but it also gives her the opportunity to conjure end-of-roll fabric and leftover scraps into innovative shapes and intricate patchworks. “When you order fabric, you always have to order 10% more than you need because you never know how it’s going to cut,” she explains. “Sometimes you get left with a little bit more than that 10% and sometimes it’s just tiny little squares. So, in-house, I use this waste to cut garments that I put on my website as one-off pieces so people can have something unique. I think that, ultimately, is true sustainability – creating something for someone with leftover fabrics that’s just for them so that, hopefully, they’ll keep it for longer.”
L: E.Stott PF23 R: E.Stott AW23
The craft of making clothes is in Stott’s blood: both her grandmother and great-grandmother were machinists and ten generations of her dad’s family made cotton in Manchester. “I feel like I just have an affinity with fabric and how it moves,” she says. “Sometimes on big interviews I take my great grandfather’s cotton counter in my bag.” Determined to study fashion, even in the face of discouragement from her school, she did a degree at Kingston University London that included a stretch in New York working at Brooks Brothers before she moved through some of London’s most-loved fashion houses. “I think you can see that I’ve picked up something at every place I’ve worked,” she says. “Issa taught me that I couldn’t work with Chinese factories – it’s too hard to be so disconnected. Roksanda was just so creative and so amazing that I learned to be freer. And then Emilia [Wickstead] is an amazing businesswoman, she just knows fashion and how to make money. So, although they have similar customers, the way they go about design is very different, and I’m so glad I had those two points of view. I’m super-lucky to have had the experience that I did.”
She’s been taken aback by how quickly the label has been picked up by such big-hitting stockists and is working out how to push the label further, both in terms of success but also its responsible approach. “There’s not just one way of doing things better – you just try to do a little bit and you get all these marginal gains that add up to something bigger,” she says. “That’s how I’m trying to work it out; every time just reassessing what I’m doing and pushing forwards, building on how we talk about it and how we educate people. Just doing more of the same but trying to do it better.”