Interview with Elise Johnson
By Alexandra Francis
Please tell me about yourself and your work.
My name is Elise, I'm 29, and I am an independent designer/maker specialising in Historic reproductions and formalwear.
Who or what are your biggest influences?
One of my major influences was Edith Head. Having watched countless old Hollywood movies as a child, the imagination was rivalled only by the sheer level of detail that would be mostly unseen until the advent of high-definition television. Also the inspiration for the one and only Edna Mode.
When did you decide to become an artist/photographer/creator and why?
I have always had an interest in fashion and history, spending as much time making tissue barbie outfits as a child as I did reading entire textbooks! It really took off during high school textiles lessons which led to degree level costume courses.
If you could describe your work to a complete stranger in only 100 words, what would you say?
I am led by romance, history and whimsy in creating beautiful costumes and outfits inspired by the past but suited to today. With experience in the studio as well as in the field, I can adapt a painting, a time period, or a figment of imagination into a fully functional work of art.
How have you developed your career?
I began with the traditional academic route, learning corsetry, millinery, and tailoring as well as multiple art forms in conjunction. This led to a business in accessories and RTW clothing. From there I worked across multiple social media platforms to offer custom pieces.
What accomplishments have you achieved with your work?
The most major accomplishment is almost the furthest from what I set out to do! As a result of my obsessive collecting over the years I found myself with a stash of beautiful vibrant fabric during lockdown 1.0. I was able to join up with other makers to create scrubs for front line workers across Yorkshire. The greater scrub community have been featured in all media including BBC, ITV, local newspapers and wider social media. This led to us raising almost £20,000 to continue the cause.
What challenges have you faced with your work?
My time at university (and my costume degree with it) suffered greatly due to my mental health, during a period when this was not as well explored as it is now. Unfortunately this led to me downing tools for a number of years, until the last couple of years when I was hit with renewed passion to not pick up where I left off, but almost start over with a fresh mindset.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years times?
Who can truly say what the future will bring, but I hope to expand into full bridal and tailoring on a larger scale (just don't tell my day job!)
What is your overall goal?
To find a happy medium between doing what I love and not working myself to misery on pursuit of perfection.
What is the best piece of advice that you have been given?
Slow down. Take a break. It really doesn't matter if you haven't got your you know-what together by 20. Or 30. Or if you ever do. Just let it happen.
You can view more of Harrogate Scrubbers on Instagram at @HgateScrubbers