Portrait: Alice Mary Lynch

Portrait: Alice Mary Lynch



Hi Alice, thank you so much for agreeing to be one of our H&B portraits!

You, like myself, grew up in Somerset. I remember your mum creating a large community textile piece for the Town Hall where I lived in Castle Cary, I must have been about 9 at the time. Has she been a big influence? And your father is a painter? Can you give me some snippets about your life growing up? 

I grew up in an old dairy house with cold, flagstone floors, an open fire and my dad’s hand painted flowers on wood panelled walls and cupboards. I had a china doll I played with and spent hours quietly inventing imaginary games. No mobile phones! Somehow, that feels like a golden era now. 

My dad started knocking on people’s doors, offering to paint their houses and it just carried on from there. There were paintings propped up everywhere and my parents’ constant chatter about exhibitions, landscapes, animals and overdrafts. My mum trained as an art teacher but when we got a bit older, she did an art foundation course and began to focus solely on her own work. Their working methods are quite different, these days, mum tends to be out drawing craftspeople in real time, documenting their lives in charcoal, paint and pastel. Dad goes out into the landscape, often paragliding to see the world from a different perspective, he paints with egg tempera. They both have studios at home and I admire the way they both make a living from their art and they are a great team.  

Where did you go after Somerset? What was the next part of your journey?  

In my teenage years, I had a strong desire to escape the quiet, country life. I spent some time in Madrid and I loved speaking a different language and opening my eyes up to the world beyond sleepy Somerset. I did some work experience with a jewellery designer, Helena Rohner and as I spread my wings, I began to realise I might have a creative path of my own to find. I came back to England, did an art foundation, which I loved, and then I left to do a fashion degree at Kingston University. 

 Have you always loved embellishment, I can imagine a really luxurious and rich final collection? Did your work have a similar feel to your characters you create now? Or was it wildly different then? 

When I was growing up, I spent most weekends at jumble sales, gathering piles of clothes, you could get a lot for 20 pence! This eclectic mix of styles fed into my work at university. I made my final collection from a vintage french parachute and, with my grandmothers’ help, we embroidered little characters on to circus inspired outfits. The embroidered motifs were talisman to ‘look after’ the wearer, the designs were created during an impromptu game of consequences with family, I love the unexpected combinations that emerge in that game. This has continued to be a bit of a red thread throughout everything I do. 

 I read that you spent 9 years in Paris, how did you find that? Was it as romantic as it sounds?  

Within a few months of graduating, I set off for Paris with my portfolio under my arm and began knocking on doors. I visited a few different fashion houses, but I knew where I wanted to be and I was offered an internship at John Galliano. I didn’t speak French initially, so every day was a challenge, but in those situations, your senses are awakened, it is intense and marvellous for the mind. It was a very romantic time, the surroundings, musicians always just around the corner, the bars, cafes, restaurants, markets, food, people…never quite knowing what was going to happen next…I do miss it and I am glad to have experienced it. 

How was it working for Galliano? What was your role there? I’m sure you have some mad stories to tell! 

Working for Galliano was such an adventure. Every day was different and we worked in a room packed with crystals, beads, fabrics, trimmings, it was so inspiring. We were inventing and reinventing embellishment details, sculptural silhouettes, print designs. At the time, Galliano really encapsulated that crossover between art, theatre, fantasy, playfulness and wearability. I loved it. There was a great sense of comradery between us all. I went on to design for Sonia Rykiel and Uniqlo after that.   

When did you decide you’d had enough of fashion?

I loved the whirlwind adrenalin of the shows and the dreaming up of creative visions, but it can be such a funny old business, the stress levels were very high and some aspects of the fashion world felt such a far cry from my Somerset upbringing. When I had children, my perspective on life changed and it felt incompatible with my inner world. 

Have you always had these magical characters in your head? Or have they slowly formed in your head over the years? 

When I was about five years old, my mum made some Little Red Riding Hood puppets with their very own show booth, she used to take them around to various village fetes. I don’t think I played with the puppets much but I have a vivid memory of them. Years later, when I was at university, someone asked me to make some dolls and I instinctively knew I could. Making these little characters became a beautiful escape. The more I made, the more the ideas flowed, emerging from somewhere in my subconscious. They were a conduit to express all that I loved, theatre, storytelling, fabrics, textures, poetry, always with an element of playfulness or intrigue. I could, and still can, wile away hours, days and weeks on them. And I am grateful I found my way to them. Or they found their way to me. Whichever way you choose to look at it. 

 Tell us about your most exciting project?

Looking back, the very early years of working in fashion in Paris were so lively, professionally, but on a personal level too. It was a real adventure. Conjuring up Christmas collections for Harrods and Fortnum and Mason is a real highlight each year too. The most exciting thing for me is making something and seeing it bring joy to others.  

What brought you back to Somerset? 

Paris was a blast, but day to day, there were some challenges. Once we had small children, we were longer taking full advantage of everything that was on offer there. Living in an apartment on the 6th floor with no lift began to lose its charm. But ultimately, I just really wanted to bring my family back to my roots.  

What are you working on at the moment? 

I am working on designs for Christmas 2024, it’s a bit like Christmas all year round in my studio actually. I am also working on bespoke commissions, new personal projects and planting the seeds for a few new directions too. 

 For our next portrait we will be interviewing your partner Atsushi? How did you both meet? 

One bright and sunny July day, with a terrible hangover and an ex-boyfriend in tow, I was at a fantastic flea market on the Canal St. Martin in Paris. I arrived at a fairly empty stall where I found an ornament, a little nest with two birds and three baby chicks. The nest fit perfectly inside the palm of my hand and I bought it for fifty centimes. I suddenly felt lighter, less hungover and off I floated. As I walked a bit further along the canal, I bumped into Atsushi. I had been vaguely introduced to him at a party some months before (where I apparently didn’t give him much of a second glance) but this time something drew me to him and we walked and talked for hours. Later that afternoon, I told my mum I had just met my future husband. 

I found so many treasures that day.   


He is Head of Creative at The Newt in Somerset. You can see a lot of your characters in his work there. Do you work together often? 

We push each other creatively a lot, we demand more, discuss, challenge and encourage. We often don’t agree, but there is a lot of respect and we probably do inspire each other. We don’t necessarily work together but there is an understanding that we want each other to do the best we can creatively and not settle for less. I’ve learnt a lot from him, he is a wild card and a very free thinker. 

What are you most looking forward to this year?

I am looking forward to a family trip out to Japan in July, it’s been over 4 years since we were last there and we all need it. I feel so calm there, it’s always inspiring and brings us together as a family. 

How did you discover H&B?

I actually can’t remember but I absolutely loved the colour and pattern combinations! I love the easily wearable shapes and the playfulness of it all. I kind of wished I had come up with it myself actually! Then I realised our parents knew each other too, which was a lovely coincidence. I love wearing the “Alice” dresses and invested in two of those last year. Looking forward to getting those back out of the wardrobe soon.  


What would your dream piece of clothing be? 

So many possibilities! On an everyday level, cheerful and vibrant patterns and colour are important to me and I do love a jumpsuit. Clothing that makes you feel comfortable, happy and expresses something. That’s all you need really. And then, every now and then, I would get totally dolled up in some flamboyant and ridiculous multi-layered Marie-Antoinette ensemble dripping with silver, gold, sparkles and jewels. 


Follow Alice on Instagram at: @alicemarylynch

Or visit her website: www.alicemarylynch.com

Studio photos by: Celie Nigoumi




Alice wears our Reversible Quilted Jacket in 'Chess Set', Jessie Dress in 'Divine & Conquer' & Jessie Dress in 'Oranges on Blue'.

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