Cutting it – with Laura Booty

May 28th, 2009

Old, new, borrowed and blue…

Up and coming designer Laura Booty developed an interest in salvage and reclaimed objects while studying fashion at UCA – University for the Creative Arts – in Rochester. She gained inspiration after a visit to a local conceptual artist called Alison Stockmarr, where Laura became fascinated by the way Stockmeyer’s artwork was constructed from found objects and thrown-away material – discarded written notes, keys and toys. “She even used her brother’s childhood pajamas and cut them up to use as part of one of her installations”.

While beach combing on Mersey beach in Essex, with her parents, Laura started searching for glass and bottle caps. Her father, a mechanic, would then take the bottle caps and blow torch them to get rid of the plastic before flattening and drilling them until they eventually resembled sequins.


At this time Laura also started to work using rusty washers with interesting patterns from her dad’s workshop, recycling the ring-pulls from cans and old penny coins – “nobody wants them any more” she tells me.

“The collection started off as very beach and castaway”, but Laura wanted to produce a luxury bespoke product. So she delved into the world of Art Nouveau finding inspiration in particular from the decorative art and architecture of the movement. She was especially taken by the organic natural elements within its art, with its floral plant inspired motifs and highly stylized fluid forms. She set about creating a contrast between the fluid shapes and found objects – “the natural conflicting with mechanical” – which is now becoming Laura’s signature as a designer.

The main challenge for Laura was how to attach these objects to her dresses, “it’s rather like putting a stain glass window together, or jigsaw puzzle” she says, but refuses to give away the secret of how she makes her intricate embellishment sections, although she did reveal they are produced on a backing.

Laura recently was approached and subsequently collaborated with a shoes and bag designer from India, producing designed embellishments for their latest ranges. It’s the attention to detail and the practical use that interests her here. Embellishing shoes and bags whilst making them more hard wearing at the same time was the challenge.

Laura is currently working on a new collection, experimenting with vintage lace and is launching her own label, called Ernie & Betty – named after her grandparents. The 22 year old designer wanted to have an old school, quirky character for the name, as she sees herself primarily as a craftswoman, keeping alive the old techniques. “I like taking things from the past and bringing them into the present” she says. Ernie&Betty.com will be going live at the end of May.

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