Zoey Bittleston is embarking on a Disco Pony adventure and she wants to take you along for the ride. For the gorgeous 25-year-old brunette behind August Style Icon MAKESHIFTMODEL, life’s path is paved in sequins and knows no bounds. She’s been a ballet teacher in South Africa, a Fine Arts student at Goldsmiths in London, an aspiring opera singer in Barcelona and, now, a stunning fashion designer for her line Disco Pony in Hong Kong. No matter where in the world she is, Bittleston is sure to be outfitted in luxuriously elegant pieces with a dash of quirk that only a globetrotter such as herself could produce. Bittleston took a detour from her busy life to chat with us about what gets her heart racing, the best way to get some glitz in your wardrobe and the somewhat frustrating task of tapping into her inner model for Chictopia posts (we’ve all totally been there!).
Everybody Is Ugly:You’ve been all over the world doing all sorts of amazing things (from working in finance to yacht-hopping in South Africa to designing glam garments in Hong Kong). How have all your travels influenced your style?
Zoey Bittleston:I have to say, travel is always such an eye opener when it comes to style. I’ve been fortunate enough to wander the globe enough to have been completely influenced by so many different cultures and styles over and over again. Saying this, my style is still most influenced by London… Despite my low tolerance for this place, I still love it for all its experimental, grungy takes on fashion. In all the places in the world I have been, including New York, Paris, Barcelona, HK, Sydney, Cape Town, wherever it has been, I have never been able to turn any corner and witness without a doubt the kinds of intricately clad folk than I got used to seeing in London- especially the East end where I lived for many years. Cape Town and Hong Kong have come extremely close however!
EIU:What inspired your AW/11 collection for Disco Pony?
ZB:So many things go into my inspirations… I am constantly gathering up fabric samples down in the Hong Kong fabric district of Sham Sui Po. Honestly, anything that makes my heart beat faster, or that I am instinctively drawn to goes straight into my physical inspiration box on my desk! I am very tactile when it comes to fabrics, and I know the exact feeling I want in order to create the grungy atmosphere I’m hoping to achieve. On top of this, I spend hours upon hours absorbing all the stunning imagery out there from blogs to Chictopia and in magazines. I have a huge inspiration folder on my desktop where anything from funky furniture, to super cool girls rocking pieces in extraordinary ways, shapes, textures, colors, and make up looks all go. As I said, if it makes my heart beat faster, it goes in.. clearly this past collection was inspired at my 200 bpm heart rate at seeing sequins! This, as a general rule seems to be highly successful!
EIU:If you had to lose all your luggage abroad, what outfit would you do anything to get back?
ZB:I actually recently (thought) a large amount of my luggage had gone walk about on my flight back to Hong Kong via Barcelona and London… I appeared to have lost my all time favorite shoes which were used to shoot the first Disco Pony lookbook, and an array of hats. Hats are pretty much a staple in my life and those shoes, well I can’t function properly without them- not that I don’t have a trillion other pairs, but they are my go-to’s! I was rather sad, but I must say, with all the traveling and country hopping I do, I have started to whole heartedly embrace the whole “less is more” concept! Being a designer and around so much fabric also means that I can make up anything I want these days if I put my mind to it… So, in all honesty, if this were to happen, I would just have to swallow the pain of its loss and make a new, even better version! (My shoes and hats magically appeared in the office with a suitcase brought over from Spain! Relief!!!)
EIU:When it comes to fall, what pieces are you most excited about rocking?
ZB:I’m just most excited for fall!!! The summers in Hong Kong seem to be relentless. It’s still averaging 40 Degrees C at the moment, so just thinking about fall is making me go all loopy with excitement! I am having some beautiful pieces made up now for Disco Pony which are causing me to beg the weather gods for cooler climates… I’m feeling layering and leather and long flowy crepe silks are all going to be a big thing in my life when the hallowed time does eventually come! Hats are always very important to me too… I wish I knew how to make them, I’d give my favorite shoes for that maroon Gucci fedora!
EIU:What’s the best way for a Chictopian to incorporate sequins into her wardrobe?
ZB:My philosophy with sequins is they have to be as dressed down and as rock star as possible. As a designer, I am crudely uninterested in a head to toe polished look… there must be a healthy dose of yummy, rough, edginess to beautiful pieces. The Silver Surfer (Silver sequined Jacket) for example begs to be worn with chipped back nail polish and a bed head! Pair it with a red lip and some worn in skinny jeans, and perhaps even that tee you love to sleep in and voila! Grungy, glam perfection is yours!!!
EIU:What’s the meaning behind your Chictopia username, MAKESHIFTMODEL?
ZB:This is the name of my blog which originates from a frustration to model and or prance about for the camera whilst striking modelesque poses, all without being a six foot amazonian creature with huge pouty lips and perfect skin! The term “make- shift” is defined as “A temporary or expedient substitute for something else” It’s basically me laughing at myself for being such a poser, but not quite having the goods!!!
EIU:Best piece of style advice?
ZB:Own your clothes, never let them own you! I tell this to my mum all the time, who loves to play dress up in my things whilst making these frumpy movements implying she can’t wear them like me. Once I’ve banged it into her head that she must OWN IT, she stands up straight, and gives it some attitude, and there you have it… she looks fabulous! (Not that it’s too hard for her in the first place!!!)
EIU:In your Baby You See Right Through Me post you’re holding a ukulele. Do you play any instruments?
ZB:I do indeed! I come from a hugely musical background. My dad is an incredible pianist, and happens to play any instrument you put in front of him like he’s been doing it his whole life (Highly annoying!)! My mum is a concert clarinetist, and again, plays a multitude of instruments… my brother is a fantastic jazz pianist in his spare time and I trained for many years from an early age as a classical singer. I have gotten through about 15 instruments in my time, and before giving them all up I was (to toot my own horn- pun intended) pretty good at the violin and the oboe! I started training to be an opera singer in Barcelona, but as life so often seems to do, plans changed and we moved to Hong Kong! I will always be singing with or without training… But I do hope to start opera training again soon!
EIU:Do you have a favorite article of clothing or accessory that you’ve bought while abroad?
ZB:On my last stint in Hong Kong, I discovered an absolute gem of a thrift store. I have never been so surrounded with so many cool, exciting pieces at such amazing prices! (Thrifting in London is just not a cheap past time!) I have picked up a number of goodies from this place, but my all time favorite piece is the white flowy midi skirt.It’s a piece I wasn’t that sure about when I picked it up… but it’s such a practical, beautiful skirt that can be worn on so many different occasions, it’s become a true staple in my closet!