Ellie Goulding is incredibly down to earth. Which isn’t all that surprising considering her quick rise to fame and mass critical adulation was a humble one, characterised by hard work and a great attitude. Goulding grew up on a Hereford council house, her father absent most of her childhood. After failing her music A-level she made it to university only to drop out to sign with music label Polydor and launch a career punctuated by regular awards and what seems to be non-stop touring. It feels like the 27-year old has not had a moment to sit down since her 2010 debut, Lights. In recent times she’s found herself the subject of paparazzi fodder for her fledging relationship with McBusted’s Dougie Poynter. Also her haircut right after we met her last week at the British Designers Collective in Bicester Village garnered her a space on the Sidebar of Shame. Forget the Brit Awards – that’s the new indication for being a modern household name. And Goulding gives the type of impression that you know her. She’s open, fresh and adored the world over for her emotionally naked song lyrics, where relationships are for the electronica tinged picking with romantic and familial issues enjoying the chart-topping treatment. Her first words during our brief interview at the launch of this boutique in the world-famous designer outlet of which she is this year’ ambassador, are “Where’s the wine at?” There is something wildly endearing about someone who instead of saying hello, takes in your fashion-event-champagne-flute.
We’re in Bicester Village, the UK sister to our Kildare Village, to talk to Goulding about the launch of the British Design Collective, a one-off event in 2008 in response to the recession that has now become a fixture on the fashion calendar. For five years now Bicester Village and the British Fashion Council have worked together to showcase some of the leading lights in British fashion. With Yasmin Sewell curating, this event becomes a summer home to true talent which brings niche creations such as Ryan Lo’s Sylvanian Families inspired sweaters to the masses, as well as offering consumers the chance to buy some key on-the-rise pieces from Jonathan Saunders and Emilia Wickstead, whose pastel wares Kate Middleton brought with her to the Antipodes. This year limited edition prints from Royal Academy artists like Grayson Perry hang along on the walls, overlooking rails of Mary Katrantzou and Peter Pilotto.
Last Wednesday, under the blistering sun, we found ourselves swaddled under too many Irish layers and milling about the crowded and bespoke space lusting after JW Anderson’s entire collection while famous bloggers such as Susie Bubble ‘toured’ the collection. Camera phones were at the ready, snapping elbows at the photographer crush on the red carpet turning up nothing but blurs of the pop singer we were all there to glimpse. For her debut as style ambassadress, Goulding told us she was wearing “Lucas Nascimento, he’s a very new designer, just graduated from the London College of Fashion. And these are Sophia Webster shoes. Aren’t they amazing?” Eclectic high heels with a fluffy strap? Yes, they are.
Goulding’s style is like her music, modern and catchy. In off-duty shots she’s on very good terms with Doc Martens while her stage shows introduce the adventurous. “I just choose stuff that is practical, most of the time.” Her performances are energetic, a mish mash of flashing lights. “I run around, so I can’t wear anything too covered up because I get too hot. I sweat a lot,” she admits. This explains the on-stage uniform of shorts, shorts and more shorts. For her personal style she told us “I like wearing a lot of leather. I used to be a bit of a grunger when I was younger so there are still some elements of that about me. I don’t have the piercings anymore,” she says pointing out the small pockmark below her bottom lip. “I think I still sort of have my teenage years left in me and I like that kinda rocker. Occasionally I sometimes wear something a bit more ethereal. But I’m quite black and white.”
The past four years have been like a factory line with hits such as Anything Could Happen and I Need Your Love dominating airwaves. Add in collaborations with Calvin Harris and Skrillex, as well as a gig as the wedding singer to Kate Middleton and Prince William where she performed her now-iconic cover of Elton John’s Your Song and you’ve got a never-ending Wikipedia entry. Goulding is just after finishing the US tour for her second studio album Halycon, spending two and half months driving across the country and wowing crowds in New York and in the Californian desert at Coachella. She must be exhausted, especially when one takes into account she barely rested after the UK tour that immediately preceded her stateside jaunt. “That was by far the longest stint,” she says in a matter-of-fact manner. With festival season about to kick off she has no time to feel sorry for herself. When will she finally take a break? “September will be the time that I officially stop touring but I will certainly not be doing nothing. I’m going to get back into the studio.”
Jeanne Sutton @jeannedesutun