Perhaps I am biased ,because she is my friend ,but I think Karen Mabon’s designs are completely enchanting! The thing is, I know I’m not biased because since launching her eponymous brand in 2013 Karen has paved her way to global success – her designs have graced the pages of Vogue and Elle, are stocked around the world from Liberty London to Isetan Tokyo, and with celebrity fans like Fearne Cotton and Dawn O’Porter the future looks pretty rosy!
 A graduate of Edinburgh College of Art and The Royal College of Art, Karen is a seriously talented illustrator and artist. I adore her eclectic references and vivid aesthetic, each design sucks you into a new little world where even mundane daily happenings become intriguing. Case in point this Midnight feast scarf (rumour has it Taylor Swift has one!):Midnight-feast
  We caught up with the designer herself to talk inspirations, aspirations and guilty pleasures….
 Karen - 20150325-INCUBATOR-StudioRoRo-0146
Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a scarf designer based in Edinburgh. I draw all the scarf designs by hand before the are printed and finished in Como, Italy.

karen mabon sketchWhere is home? 

I live in a flat near the botanic gardens in Edinburgh  but I grew up in the Black Isle and my parents still live there. My parents house still feels like home, I think because they always have a fully stocked fridge!

Describe a typical work week? 

I work Monday – Friday and try to have the weekends off, which isn’t always easy during busy times of the season. But I think when you have a creative job it’s really important to take time out to do things which generate ideas- seeing exhibitions, going for walks or even just looking at a book.

karen mabon poodle

You travel a lot for work, where’s your favourite place you’ve visited?

I actually went to Japan with Rosie which was an amazing experience. Everything was completely different from the food to the music in the subway to the toilets. We were there on Hallowe’en and it was like nothing I’ve ever seen- everyone was dressed up on the streets, and all the dogs were in costumes too although some of them looked less than impressed about it!

rosie and karen in japan

Can you tell us what you are working on at the moment?

I have a few projects on the go at the moment- as well as my spring/summer 2016 mainline collection I’m also working on the new season of prints for Dawn O’Porter’s BOB womenswear line and a couple of other commissions for bespoke scarves.

bobbydop  x karen mabonbobbydop x karen mabon

Best piece of advice you can give an aspiring designer? 

I think just work really hard, try To get as much experience in industry as possible to make sure being a designer is really what you want to do. The fashion industry is huge and there are a lot of exciting jobs which are just as creative, from visual merchandising to set design to PR and marketing. As far as being a designer goes, I’m still in the early stages of my career but I believe in saying yes to any opportunity and brief, even if it feels quite small and the money isn’t great, to allow your skills to develop, learn to work quickly and get your name out there.
karen mabon x coco fennellWhat inspires you and your work?

So much! It sort of changes. I have a really obsessive personality so I get fixated on things. At the moment it’s Andy Warhol. I watched this amazing 6 hour documentary on him on youtube and his career and drive are phenomenal. People always talk about the factory and his obsession with celebrity but he was also a brilliant colourist and had such a keen eye for print and pattern. I read about the studio shooting – he was technically dead for 4 minutes and believed for the rest of his life that God has given him another chance. So time was really precious to him and he was exceptionally prolific. I’m also into the rococo movement, masks and Stanley Kubrick films at the moment.karen mabon studio
What’s your guilty pleasure?

Daily mail sidebar of shame – but isn’t it everyone’s? And Michelle Keegan’s Instagram.

What’s on your iPod at the moment?

I’m listening to The Velvet Underground a lot and Bob Dylan, jut because of the Andy Warhol link. But in the studio I like listening to old desert Island discs (Alan Scillito and Jo Malone are my favourites)

karen mabon

Favourite film?

Grease 2.

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 What are you most proud of?

Setting up my business.


Favourite hour of the day?

6-7am when no-one emails and I can have a coffee and a bit of time to think.

Favourite Edinburgh hang-out? 

My studio at Hill Street Design House is my favourite place- it’s lovely and bright, and if I get lonely there are lots of other creatives in the building who I can go and bother for a chat. It’s been great being there in terms of access to other creatives – for example, Martin Bailie the graphic designer works upstairs and did a beautiful job on my AW15 look-books (see below), and I’ve done two photoshoots in the in-house photo studio. On the rare occasions I feel like leaving the studio, there is delicious coffee at Cairngorm Coffee across the road, cocktails and beers at Lucky Liquor around the corner ,and El Cartel on the same street for the best guacamole.

karen mabon aw15 look book

Favourite place in Scotland?

The Black Isle.

Tell us one thing people would be surprised to know about you? 

I’m really clumsy and not very dexterous so I can’t sew or make anything to save my life!

fancydresscutoutkaren mabon poodles

Above: For all you dog lovers out there.. two of our Favourite Karen Mabon best selling designs available here.

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