Earlier this year, designer Catherine Quin joined the public cacophony in the wake of the the #metoo movement. Quin launched her Women of Purpose campaign with the help of a raft of famous and respected faces from the worlds of acting, charity, modelling, architecture and more. Her goal then was to offer an alternative series of role models “as women break down barriers in the light of the #metoo movement”. But Quin wasn’t finished and has now launched a second campaign celebrating women who have displayed ‘Grace Under Fire’, inspired by Dr Ford and Gina Miller. The new campaign features an incredible array of inspiring and accomplished women, including: artist Quentin Jones, writer Lou Stoppard, composer Isobel Waller-Bridge, jewellery designer Monique Pean, actress Janet Montgomery, choreographer Emma Chadwick, editor Deborah Brett, tech founder Amber Atherton, chef Jemima Jones, event creative Fiona Leahy, and entrepreneurs Kate Percival, Lily Hanbury, Joanna Payne, and Lily Simpson. We spoke with Catherine Quin to learn more about her motivation behind the new series, how she selected the women to be involved and much more.
1. How did you decide to start this campaign – was there a breaking point where you knew you needed to do it?
This year in particular, I was struck by how toxic and bitter the public dialogue has become, often with women on the receiving end of the vitriol. So now more than ever, I wanted to celebrate women who have stood up to adversity with graceful defiance rather than employing tactics of division.
2. How did you select the women you wanted to participate in the campaign?
The women in the campaign have inspired me in the way in which they have navigated their personal and professional lives with grace and dignity. The women we chose have achieved great success, often in industries that suffer from historical gender inequality, both in terms of pay and progression. In this sense, they’ve contributed in a meaningful way to how we start to address these inequalities, and I felt this should be celebrated.
3. How did you choose Smartworks as your charity partner?
Smartworks empowers women in such a tangible way; it’s proof in action of how clothing can give women immediate confidence to improve their lives. My designs strive to give women that confidence both in and out of the workplace, and as such I feel a great synergy with Smartworks’s use of fashion to clothe women for success.
4. Tell me about the process of designing the pieces for the purposes of this campaign? Did you approach it any differently than you would any other collection you’ve designed?
Not really, I have to say. The starting point for each of my collections is always how best to empower women as they go about their daily pursuits. Fluidity and quality of fabric, comfort and piece of mind are central to this goal and my design process each season.
5. What does the phrase “Women of Grace” and “Women of Purpose” mean to you?
Grace and purpose are two qualities that I admire and aspire to, both as a woman and as guiding principles that get to the heart of my brand values. Graceful in the face of opposition and purposeful in pursuit of one’s goals. To me, a Women of Grace is someone who presents herself with dignity and understated strength in the face of everything and anything that life might throw at her.
A longtime journalist, I am the former Associate Editor, Print and Digital at Vanity Fair in London and the current London Correspondent for vanityfair.com. I have also also worked freelance for a variety of international publications, including House & Garden, Departure.