INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN - Jennifer Wigham, Freelance Lingerie Professional
Throughout our careers, and especially since founding Violet & Wren, we have been surrounded by strong, talented women. From designers to florists, freelancers to CEO's, we are lucky to know an amazing amount of talented and inspirational ladies, and we wanted to share with you their stories and their style!
First up is Lingerie Trend guru, Jennifer Wigham. Jenny worked as Design Director for lingerie design and consultancy group, Concepts Paris, mentored by the fabulous Jos Berry. We adore her sense of style and use of colour, and she fell for our Orient Bloom print pyjamas! We caught up with her to find out a little more about her life and what inspires her...
Describe yourself in a few sentences:
I'm a creative person, I love beautiful things and creating beautiful things and being surrounded by beautiful things but thankfully my dad has also passed on a very practical streak so I also love getting the job done! The intimate apparel sector has become my specilism, and now it's a real passion.
How did you start in your early career? Have you always been in the field you are now?
When I was at University I decided to do an internship in Paris with Jos Berry at Concepts Paris. I knew nothing about any of it but I just needed to get out of my hometown and felt I needed to live abroad for a while. Basically I loved it, and they saw something in me also, I returned right after graduation and I worked for the company for 12 years. At the end of October 2016 I made the massive decision to leave Concepts and to stretch my wings… and I’m currently freelancing and figuring out my next big career move! I love working in trend but for the next step I want to combine that with design and product development. Working with a design team and technical people to produce some exceptional lingerie.
Where do your creative ideas / inspirations come from?
Art and fashion exhibitions, shopping, catwalks, my creative friends, magazines, the women I see around me, fabric suppliers, discussions with innovative people, the life of different cites, the news. I love when all of that input is buzzing around in your head and then you sit down in front of your computer or sketch book and hopefully you manage to capture it and communicate that strand of an idea which is in your mind.
Who/ what is inspiring you in your field right now and why and who is your guru/ aspirational figure?
Jos is still the person who inspires me the most. She’s taught me so much, she has such creativity and amazing taste.
How do you start your day?
No matter if it's an early start or a more chilled day I always start the morning with a good coffee and breakfast... the thought of food literally gets me out of bed. I'm a real morning person, I get more done in those first 3 hours than the rest of the day.
What makes you feel the most alive?
There are loads of things that make me feel alive... a fun day with friends, an inspirational exhibition, discovering a new city, buying a perfect new outfit, a hike in the Lake District... on a good day my work makes me feel alive.
If you could choose anywhere in the world to live and/ or work, where would it be?
Honestly I think I would say where I am right now, London. There is a lot going on here and you can be settled and homely and stick to your little ‘village’, or be out every night if the mood strikes. But I think that different places are right for different periods of your life so who knows when I’ll get itchy feet. Although I’ve never lived there I get the feeling I would love Italy, I seem to get on well with Italian people and the food is pretty good.
What view most inspires you?
The view from Friars Cragg over Derwent Water always stops me in my tracks. I feel so relaxed when I see that.
Do you have a favourite place to eat or a desert island meal?
At the moment I have two favourite restaurants. The Palomar, an Israeli restaurant in London and Taberna da Rua Das Flores in Lisbon, the tapas was off the chart and I hope to go back some day.
One thing you have done that you think everyone should try in their lives?
Live on their own for a little while… it’s a real luxury and I think it’s good for you.
Your most unforgettable memory?
When John and Jos Berry asked me to be their Design Director in Paris after my stint in their New York office. It was exactly what I wanted at the time, we were in a restaurant in Barneys and I called my parents crying the second I left them. I know it should be when my husband asked me to marry him, but that just felt so natural and certain…
How do you wind down and find that all important work/ life balance?
Ahhhh, the illusive work/life balance quest! After leaving my previous job I had a couple of months off and I promised myself that going forward I would find a better work/life balance. Time off was something that I really craved as I'd been working non-stop for 12 years. I had so many plans... personal admin, having a perfectly organised home, sewing that pair of trousers that have sat there for months, cooking, researching, creating. Don't get me wrong I did loads of it and it was wonderful but my house is still a bit of a mess at times and I still sometimes eat cereal for dinner. It made me realise that I was blaming busy work days for a lot of the stuff that is just ‘my life’. I now realise that work will be mental a lot of the time, but that’s the choice I’ve made, nobody forced me into this career and to live in London, I wanted that very much. So basically I’m not sure that an ideal work life balance is possible all of the time. There will be periods when my work is crazy and I have to embrace it and try to enjoy it. My aim is that when I am doing something nice; having dinner with my husband or drinking a glass of wine in the bath… just enjoy the moment to the max. Try to compartmentalise life.
Winding down however is very important! The gym works wonders for me and I recently took up modern calligraphy and that’s great because you have to be very focused to get it right, you forget about everything else.
Oh and I think that a 2 week holiday once a year is essential for everyone!
Describe your style. Who is your style muse?
I would say classic proportions, slightly preppy, quite masculine, but with a twist… I love to mix prints together and to add bold accessories. I’m really into the PJ dressing trend at the moment. I don’t really have a style muse but I adore most of what Dries van Noten does, shopping there is my goal!
Where do you like to shop? Who (either a high street, designer or niche brand) do you think are doing a great job at the moment?
At the moment I’m shopping online at Uterqüe a lot, I think they have amazing accessories and they just push the boundaries a tiny bit without it becoming too strange. Essential Antwerp is another favourite at the moment, although it does depend on the season, that’s really good for work stuff when you want to be trendy but professional. Love Stories is an underwear brand but they have some ‘PJ’ pieces that are really great as ready-to-wear. Bimba e Lola every now and then. Other than that just the usuals really… Zara, Cos, Topshop, & Other Stories, J.Crew. I often end up picking the odd random item up when I’m on business trips or holidays, I can be quite an impulse shopper when the moment strikes and suddenly splash a large amount on one jacket or necklace, but when I think about it these are the best items in my wardrobe! There you have it… you know it when it’s ‘the one’, and don’t worry too much about the price tag, you’ll love it for ages!
Where is your go-to brand ?
Well for years it was Topshopbut I think I’m just a tad bit over the hill for that one now. Then it was J.Crew but they’ve gone a bit weird and pastel. If I had to pick one right now it would be Uterqüe.
Favourite piece in your wardrobe (clothes/ bag/ jewellery)
Oh my gosh, very difficult to decide. I have a very beautiful tunic/dress from For Restless Sleepers, one of my fave brands and a real find in Selfridges sale. Jos bought me the most wonderful vintage jacket in an oriental look brocade with a fur collar, the best gift! And I have a printed silk shirt from Marimekko that is literally never off my back.
Favourite piece of furniture (yours or your dream piece of design)
We went a bit nuts in Lisbon and bought a sofa that we fell in love with and had it shipped over. It’s a 1970’s Arne Norell safari sofa… we love it, it’s very us. And we have some Mid Century dining chairs which are beautiful. I also love String shelving by Nils Strinning. In general I like to mix it all up, eclectic is our aim at home.
What do you wear to bed?
Most of the time just a pair of pants and a cotton vest top… sexy! (not)
And of course, what is your favourtite flower?!
That’s a hard one, I love flowers. I would say either a hydrangea or anemones, I love their black centre.
Thank you for reading!