“I’ve always loved the plastic-y feel of pill capsules,” shares stylist-turned-shirt-designer Lauren Grant. We aren't discussing pharmaceuticals, per se, but rather the lacquered pill-shaped buttons on the silky white collared shirt she's launching today.  “I [also] love,” she continues, “that shirts are so masculine but also devastatingly feminine, worn a certain way. I think a perfectly cut, luxurious shirt can make a woman feel very powerful. Silk shirts I am especially obsessed with as they’re such an effortless way to look chic and louche.”

Lauren Grant
It was whilst Grant was working as a stylist that she began to develop what would in 2018 become her brand S.A.R.K.  “My styling moodboards always had a strong sense of identity,” she explains, “and became the early mood boards for S.A.R.K. I always had a designer in me, it just took a while to be brave enough to make the jump - and to feel like I’d learned enough to do it really well.”
“I am,” she admits, “obsessed with effortless Parisian women. But because I’m British I found I wanted to do chic shot through with something else - a little darkness… the kind of vice that often comes hand in hand with luxury. So a beautiful silky, spotty shirt is actually in a pill print; an evening shirt has little ring pulls for buttons.

The Valium Shirt
S.A.R.K shirts are now recognised for exactly this sort of eclectic, slightly salacious detailing: buttons that look like fake nails, embroidered lighters and pill motifs. Despite these embellishments, Grant firmly states that they are “not novelty pieces… this kind of detailing on a whatever shirt wouldn’t work. But because I have obsessively (and I mean obsessively) worked on the fit, fabrics etc. to make them easy and perfect - they can work as a silent backdrop to the more outspoken detailing.

Le Smoking Shirt
Her latest collection is “inspired by luxury - and the debauchery that often comes with it. Valley of the Dolls is a big one for me - with all of its beauty and glamour and tacky tragedy…The whole aesthetic of a glossy nail opening a heavily loaded meds cabinet.”  The shirts include the Poetic Shirt, available in navy or cream, with Dolly Parton’s eternal quote ‘It costs a lot of money to look this cheap!’ embroidered in cursive pink script under the collar, the Valium Shirt which has round, little pills masquerading as polka dots and Le Smoking Shirt which is printed with crumpled cigarette packets.

There are also shirts with Marlene Dietrich’s hand (complete with red painted nails and a cigarette), ring pulls or, as ever, pill capsules for buttons.  
“The hardware in my collection forms a kind of paraphernalia of a certain kind of life - and definitely that’s a life of glamour," Grant explains. "And all glamour is just a veneer, really.

The Daily Dose Shirt
“They’re certainly all of a certain world,” she continues, “a place of glamorous, decadent vice. Of perfect shiny nails tipping ash all over the white carpet.  I’m not saying take the pills or smoke the cigarettes. (I for one have never smoked!). But I see no harm in wearing them.” 

Shop the new S.A.R.K collection now at www.sarklondon.com.

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