Inspired by music, art, and photography, Philip Leeming is one half of the design duo (along with Leong Ong), behind Falls. Leeming’s unique line is best known for its airy knits, hand-painted original prints, and sculptural tops and dresses.
The Fashion Spot: Was there ever a point in your life when you were struggling in your career where you had the opportunity to do another job that was more stable and safe, but you decided to stick with your passion? And what made you stay with it?
Philip Leeming: There was a point right after we had launched Falls where I was offered a VP of design position for an American brand. It was a household name, but something very inexpensive.
It was very tempting, but the idea was so soul-destroying after working so hard on creating the line, and my design partner and I were both emotionally invested, with very high hopes. So I turned it down with absolutely no regrets. We are fortunate, because even though the economy has been rough, and even after we restructured our company last year, we have managed to maintain our consultancies, keep Falls alive and back on track to growing, and surviving the worst of it without selling out.
tFS: Was there a defining moment when you knew this career is what you had to do with your life?
PL: My design partner and I both agree that there have been many defining points – graduating school, our first runway shows, and first successes with design for other companies. Mine was a first Vogue Italia editorial right out of grad school. Up until, then I still thought I would be an artist. I think Leong’s was a moment at 14, reading a Vogue in his school’s art department, seeing a gold sequined Chanel couture tutu in an editorial, and deciding that’s what he wanted to do. His other moment was meeting Isabella Blow right after graduation.
tFS: Was there a time in your life where you felt like you accomplished what you have sought out to succeed? When was it, and how has this changed your perspective on your future career goals?
PL: Our goals change all the time – we are always evolving. Leaving safe positions to start our own line was definitely a moment. Deciding to start our own business – our own line – redefined those goals. Perspectives changed, and the absolute ownership of the design process from beginning to end became the what we wanted, and still is.