How We Met: Amy Molyneaux & Percy Parker

'Amy can't help herself: she's a child of the 1980s and can't get batwing sleeves out of her system'
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Percy Parker, 40, is a designer. He graduated from Royal Holloway in 1993 to become part of the fashion/art collective PPQ. In 2000 it held its first catwalk show and is now one of London's most respected fashion brands with a fanbase that includes Madonna, Agyness Deyn and Sophie Ellis-Bextor

At the end of the 1990s I was running a nightclub in London called Happiness Stan's. I was DJing there one night when Amy turned up with a mutual friend. He was quite notorious and a bit of a player. He introduced Amy to me and, if I remember rightly, saw someone he owed money to and disappeared into the night.

I invited Amy along to the after-party in our art gallery. I don't remember much else, aside from me pointing out that she had a massive hole in her fishnets. She was still at college in Preston while the PPQ fashion line was in its infancy. At first she came down at weekends to help out, but when she graduated, she moved down to London and it was then that we started work on our first proper collection.

She's brilliant to work with and has boundless energy, which keeps the office alive. We share a 1950s/1960s aesthetic but if we have one recurring sticking point, it is whether something is too 1980s. Amy can't help herself. She's a child of that decade and can't get her love of a good batwing sleeve out of her system.

We're a bit unusual for a fashion brand – I have a degree in history and politics and no formal training. I'm rubbish at drawing, but Amy is brilliant at interpreting ideas and turning them into patterns.

Because of the way we met, a good party has always been a big part of what we're about. Our launch parties are never just a random gathering of fashion people. On the day we finally signed our investment deal, we got so carried away that Amy only just managed to save me from being thrown out of Claridges for pouring a bottle of Champagne over my head.

The financial pressures have been enormous though: there have been times when we've lived on beans on toast for months on end. When things go crazy, in the run-up to Fashion Week, for example, when we spend all our days and a lot of nights together, things can get fraught. Of course we end up shouting at each other, but it's fun having someone to share the ups and downs with. If one of us is down, the other is there to pick them up.

Amy Molyneaux, 31, is a designer who studied fashion at Central Lancashire University. She graduated in 1999 and joined PPQ a year later. She lives in London.

I'm from up North, so when I came to London and discovered Percy's Northern Soul night I was so happy. It was quite a tight scene. Eclectic as well – a few people ended up going mad, a few turned into accountants and a few, Sam Taylor-Wood and Gavin Turk included, became really successful. It was the start of an era for me that involved lots of going back and forth to London on the lovely Virgin train line.

I was coming up with ideas all the time and was adamant that if me and Percy didn't just go for it, we'd lose the momentum and end up getting sucked into part-time jobs. I am a bit weird and will happily sit up all night working, but I do need someone to bounce ideas off. There's been many nights when everyone else was out having fun that me and Percy have stayed in counting T-shirts. Our friends thought we were bonkers.

Percy is very considered. And he can be frustrating. He could learn to loosen up a bit. We make fun of him in the office because he'll obsess about the latest chocolate bar on the market, eat it religiously for a month and then give it up. He also hates all songs with lyrics in them. It's not something we argue over; I just make him listen to 6 Music all day.

We do have disagreements: what we're having for lunch, who to employ, what band to hire for the shows. Neither of us are averse to speaking our mind either. I think we shock each other sometimes.

I'm very resourceful and he's very good at monitoring things. But it's more than that – it's like he needs to be half my brain and I need half of his brain as well. We balance each other. He's also really stoic and good at being very fair with people, which is a lovely part of his personality.

The opening party for the shop was hilarious. We managed to bring our two customer types together – the music crowd and the wealthier fashion lot. The after-party at London Fashion Week was good as well. Kelly Osborne, Jamie Hince from The Kills and Alexa Chung were all there. Percy got pissed. When he's drunk he becomes just slightly more talkative than when he's sober. I remember seeing him at the Isle of Wight Festival once. Madness were playing and he started crying. Maybe he'd had one too many wines, but for me, that says it all.

There have been times when we despise each other – such as on the day we were moving premises and had to move four floors of business entirely on our own. Or the time we bought a factory in Nottingham and suddenly found ourselves in charge of the livelihood of 30 people. Sometimes we look back and think, how did we survive that? How did we not go mad?

PPQ is at 47 Conduit Street, London W1 (020 7494 9789). Oli Fusion by PPQ is available from www.oli.co.uk

Comments