An interview with Lee Miller: the man behind new luxury accessory line Dr. Robert
Eric Idle may have extolled to us at the Olympics closing ceremony to “Always look on the bright side of life”. Whilst that may not always be possible, when one is feeling down, one of the best pick-me-ups in life is treating yourself to life’s little luxuries.
Enter Dr. Robert, a new accessory line that made a stealth debut at London Collections: Men in June, but will be having its grand coming-out ball at The University Club during London Fashion Week in September. “Dr.Robert” by Lee Miller is a Luxury Leisure Wear and Accessories collection for “the burnt out style junkie” focusing on exclusive luxury skins such as python and crocodile. Ahead of this much anticipated debut by a home-grown London lad, The Upcoming spoke with Lee about his forthcoming line:
Hi Lee, tell us about your new line?
I am launching my own signature collection under the guise of Dr. Robert, of Luxury Leisure Wear and Accessories for Spring/Summer 2013. My SS13 collection features luxuriously designed pyjamas, athletic relax wear and jersey evening/resting gowns in taffetas, matte jersey and lightweight gabardine, alongside make-up pouches, travel pouches, coin purses and evening/opera bags in exotic skins such as python, crocodile skin and lamb napa leather and lux suedes.
I was born and raised in Stratford, East London, left school at a very young age, spent a lot of my youth in the clubs of 80s London and ended up in New York in the 90s, where I began to understand the real work ethic and developed a real taste for fashion. I worked as an account executive in a PR company representing brands such as Diesel and Alexander McQueen when they first entered the US market on events and fashion shows, then went on to become a market editor at USA Marie Claire magazine when Glenda Bailey arrived at the helm. I moved back to London in 2000 and took a part-time course in shoe making and hand-made goods at Cordwainers College where my uncle was a tutor, and through that experience decided to one day have my own range. I have worked for several designers and here I am; my mother was always making clothes and worked as a shoe maker for Rayne’s in the 60s (shoe maker to the Royal Family). I have always had fashion around me from a young age as an influence, so feel I have the knowledge to take it on.
Who is Dr. Robert?
Dr. Robert is the pseudonym/theme of the collection. There is a film called Ciao! Manhattan where the stars visit Doctor Robert for vitamin B12 and amphetamine shots and it has also been widely used in The Beatles song Doctor Robert. My friends and I used to say “Doctor Robert” as a reference for feel-good moments or quips because in the movie they all feel so much better when they have seen Doctor Robert and it kind of grew from there. When I was designing the collection I almost felt like I was writing prescriptions and the Dr. Robert thing kept cropping up; if you go to the doctor to feel good then why not come to Dr. Robert for a fix on a handbag or dress? I can’t inject anyone with B12 or amphetamines, but I can make them giddily high with chic clothes and bags.
Who is the Dr. Robert customer?
My customer is someone who travels and is always on the go, constantly collects paraphernalia and needs various bags and pouches to store them in. I like to be able to move around and go in and out of buildings and taxis and need a lot of fluidity in wear, so my clothes are mostly unconstructed shirtdresses and gowns.
You will be launching your line this LFW. What do you have in store?
I am presenting in a salon format over three hours in the library at The University Club on Audley Square with models walking in Dr. Robert outfits and accessories, whilst you are served champagne and canapés to a soundtrack created by the London-based duo The Home Office. Launching my line is a nervy feeling as I am off-schedule so am up against a lot of other shows and illuminated designers, but I am confident in the collection and concept and instinctively feel people are looking for a new brand to excite and stimulate them amongst all the conformity.
With the economic slowdown, do you feel that people will cut back on their luxuries or turn to them more as a means of escapism?
Not at all cut back. I would find that hard, but I think particularly now there’s a strange world order and when everyone thinks the global money pot is being controlled or running out, if it looks as though things are going to get really awkward, we spend more. It’s like a fear driver: if it’s going to get brutal at least you’ll have designer items.
Who are your fashion heroes?
I had an extended stay period in the New York apartment of my friend actress Billie Madley, who is a well-known fashion hero herself and I love how she puts it all on, but she had this wild neighbour called (as we knew her) Corinne Beauchamp. Sometimes she would go to the deli in a tennis skirt and polo and tennis socks at five in the morning with a tennis racket and in the snow, other times she would be belted in a trench with a headscarf outside the apartment door, eccentricity in its purest form. I used to want to film or photograph her, but sadly never got the chance. She used to write these dramatic and elaborate notes to Billie which alone could form a gallery retrospective on the death of handwritten communication. Designer Charles James I adore. I love Charlotte Rampling anything and especially in White Mischief, and David Bowie has amazing style.
Are there any people alive or dead who you consider your muses?
I have to say Little Edie from Grey Gardens does it for me as well as Bonnie and Clyde. I respect people who live on the street as you have to hold a lot on your person and keep moving 24/7 which is pretty admirable. I have seen bag ladies in New York walking proudly wearing three multi-length fur coats, carrying a plastic carrier bag and my mouth drops in awe.
Who would you most like to collaborate with as part of future projects?
I would love to work with Coty perfumes on a range of Dr. Robert fragrances.
Each piece from Dr. Robert has been cleverly designed with inner compartments to accommodate all that the modern 21st century traveller needs to carry. Handbags, evening clutches and doctor’s bags will follow after the September launch.
You can shop Dr. Robert here.
Ian Michael Turner