Meet the man who turned the Queen's head

By Marie Jackson
BBC News

image copyrightEPA
image captionRichard Quinn says his runway show was "a bit surreal"

It was only ever going to be a matter of time.

Richard Quinn is "the printmaster fashion needs", wrote Paper magazine in 2016.

A designer to watch, said magazines 10 and Dazed and Confused, the New York Times and the Sunday Times.

Lady Gaga is apparently a fan and internationally-renowned photographer Juergen Teller shot his graduate collection for a Modern Matter magazine front cover.

But until Tuesday, most people had never heard of British womenswear designer Richard Quinn.

In only his second year at London Fashion Week, he got a publicity boost that must be the stuff of dreams - a 91-year-old in duck-egg blue on the front row.

image copyrightPA
image copyrightReuters
image copyrightEPA
image copyrightEPA

The Queen, sitting beside fashion's queen bee, Vogue's editor-in-chief Dame Anna Wintour in trademark sunglasses, made for a compelling shot that was splashed across Britain's front pages.

The runway show showed off Quinn's bold prints, retro florals and models in motorcycle helmets and scarves - in fashion-speak his collections bring a "colourful optimism".

At the end, the Queen presented Quinn with the very first Queen Elizabeth II award for British design.

media captionThe Queen sat between Caroline Rush of the British Fashion Council and Vogue's Anna Wintour

For Quinn, dressed in baseball cap, Nike trainers and five o'clock shadow, it was all "a bit surreal".

He told reporters he was given only a couple of days' notice, so decided to add a few "Queen touches" giving his models headscarves and scarf patterns.

"We really hammed it up," he told the Telegraph.

"It's a tongue-in-cheek take on Balmoral - my take on it, basically," he said.

The Queen was "definitely a fashion icon", he said, but it's Meghan Markle, soon to be married to the Queen's grandson, Prince Harry, who he dreams of dressing one day.

image copyrightPA

Quinn was born in south-east London, and has stayed close to his roots. He studied fashion at London's Central St Martin's, following in the footsteps of fashion giants John Galliano, Roksanda Illincic, Christopher Kane and Alexander McQueen.

Another alumnus, Stella McCartney, sponsored his MA on the fashion programme of 2016 through her foundation.

His work draws on a little known artist from the 1960s, Paul Harris. Quinn became obsessed with the idea of transforming a woman into a textile by covering her entirely in colour and print.

"I wanted to create a strong image," Quinn said in an interview with Dazed and Confused. The result is an odd, otherworldly look.

His womenswear is currently stocked in Matches Fashion, Machine A and Liberty London.

image copyrightEPA

His love of prints led him to set up a textile studio in Peckham, near the headquarters of his father's scaffolding company.

From there, he makes prints for the fashion and interior design industries, but also opens up the facilities and workshops to everyone from students to professionals.

And it's that collaborative approach that was a factor in his royal win.

Sarah Mower, ambassador for emerging talent at the British Fashion Council, said Quinn's printworks showed a "community-minded business sense" which was contributing to British fashion manufacturing.

"I congratulate Richard for cementing this link between fashion and British industry," she said.

More on this story