London Fashion Week: London, New York, Paris, Scunthorpe

Shelley Fox is the proud possesser of one of fashion's more unusual pasts - and one of its brightest futures.

"I'm really into Morse code," says Shelley Fox, whose show, one of the undisputed high points of London Fashion Week, takes place later today. The designer has in the past also used Braille to express her feelings, embossed on to felted wool across stiff, A-line skirts. "This is a skirt," read one of the most memorable of these.

"But this year they're stopping using Morse code for good, which seems sad," she says. "I'm really interested in expressing what happens because of lack of communication."

If you think that this all sounds a little on the cerebral side, you're right; Fox's business is frocks, after all. But this is a designer who hangs out at the Imperial War Museum in her spare time, rather than London's Met Bar; a designer who is more likely to cite the thoroughly disturbing dolls of Hans Bellmer as inspiration than, say, a trip to Goa.

Later in the day, Fox faxes me the meaning of the Morse code prints in her current collection. "He who considers more deeply knows that, whatever his acts and judgements may be, he is always wrong." Yes, it would probably be safe to say that this designer is the first in the world to embellish her designs with the words of none other than Friedrich Nietzsche. To say, then, that Fox is a far cry from the frivolous and frothy norm associated with her trade would be to understate her seriousness as a designer.

Shelley Fox in person is, in fact, rather like her clothes: gentle, feminine and graceful, if a little dour. The 34-year-old designer's clothes are endowed with a quiet but majestic power; in the woman herself this translates as grim determination.

Of the aforementioned Braille skirt, she once told me: "I was working on a project at the RNIB [Royal Institute for the Blind]. The ladies there told me that when blind people dress themselves, each item of their clothing carries a button with Braille print on it, describing what colour it is. And that got me thinking."

Most things do. Fox is, above all, a designer who is unlikely to take things for granted. She is nothing if not resourceful in the way only Britain's underfunded designers know. To say that she has learnt from her mistakes would be to understate their importance. She has, in the past, even created garments out of sticking plasters. "I cut my knee, and took a good look at the Elastoplast," she recalls

At Central St Martins, where she trained, she allowed a clothes press to overheat and liked the result of the scorching so much that it has since gone on to become one of her signatures. Likewise, when she shrank a garment in her washing machine "it came out all scarred and rippled. I spent ages trying to do it again."

Fox's life has changed immeasurably over the past six months. In February, she became the first winner of the Jerwood Fashion Prize, worth more than pounds 125,000; there were more than 100 applicants. Only weeks before that she was sleeping on her studio floor - her boiler had broken at home and she couldn't afford to have it fixed. Last season she sent out only a capsule collection, designed from her tiny studio in Brick Lane; this season's offering boasts an impressive 70-plus pieces, generated from her new, sunlight-drenched workplace at the Jerwood Space, near London Bridge.

"It's great," she says. "I don't feel as if I'm begging any more. Things are far easier than they have been."

Fox was born in Scunthorpe and grew up there in the shadow of the steelworks.

"When I was young," she recalls, "I didn't think I wanted to be a fashion designer. I didn't even know you could do fashion. But - and I know this only in retrospect - I felt quite claustrophobic in that very small town. And I could never find things I wanted to wear. I used to buy old curtains and furnishing fabrics, and turn them into clothes. I made the patterns out of old newspaper."

At the age of 14, in an area of England that is hardly famous for its fashion forward approach, she attracted more than her fair share of attention. She remains something of an outsider to this day; her work is a far cry from both the hard-edged glamour for which Britain's fashion capital is famous, and the eclectic, London-girl, mix-and-match aesthetic.

Rather, Fox's clothes, cut in geometric shapes that gently envelop the female form, are, both in their rigour and their subtle embrace of femininity, reminiscent of the work of Japanese designers.

It's refreshing to note that Fox is, without question, that all too rare thing in fashion - a woman's woman. It was her mother, she says, who finally inspired her to break the family mould; her father was a steel worker, and his wife worked in the administration department of the same works. When young Shelley was offered a place at art college in Grimsby, her mum said, "You're going." "She knew it was my only way out." More recently, Fox has attributed much of her independent thinking to the influence of her grandmother.

It is well known that the danger of a high profile in London is that the very brightest young thing one season may have disappeared without trace the next. Not so Shelley Fox, who has come up the ranks slowly but surely, and is respected as much by buyers and press as she is by this city's established designers.

Her show this afternoon will be her first on the official British Fashion Council schedule and, though she would rather choke than admit it, it would be safe to say that Shelley Fox has now arrived.

"Each season is still this enormous learning-curve," she says, "but I believe in what I'm doing, and I don't think it's like other people's work."

Shelley Fox is truly a designer in a class of her own, one who has waited quietly in the wings, and rather longer than many of her contemporaries, for her time to come.

But those who laugh last, as they say...

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

art
Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?