During the coronavirus shutdown, The Post fashion team is sharing the stories of buzzy brands as they navigate uncertain times.
When Lizzo celebrated her three Grammy wins at a Hollywood strip club in January — just before the coronavirus crisis took hold of the country — the singer flaunted a flirty zebra-print bodysuit with matching feathered gloves by British brand Miscreants.
Back in England that evening, Miscreants founder Lillie Hand pulled an all-nighter to watch the music awards. She couldn’t believe her eyes when Lizzo’s party pictures finally popped up on her screen at 7:30 a.m.
“I thought, there’s no way,” Hand told The Post during a recent interview in London. “It was amazing, and I could actually then go to sleep.”
Dressing America’s chart-topper (Lizzo will perform Saturday in Lady Gaga’s “One World: Together at Home” global charity special) would be a tremendous accomplishment for any designer, but it’s all the more impressive for an unknown like Hand.
A photographer by training, she started her self-funded label just over a year ago, and has already outfitted performers from Saweetie and Mabel to Chloe x Halle in her signature strapless, stretchy “Cupid” dress (from $245) and her cheeky “Cleo” bodysuit (from $205).
Now, with her London-based manufacturing on hold due to the COVID-19 shutdown, she is filling online orders with remaining stock and planning for the future.
“I’m taking every day as it comes and trying to use this time productively,” says the 28-year-old, who lives (and respects the UK’s strict confinement rules) at her parents’ house in rural Blackmore, outside London.
“Unfortunately, we don’t qualify for any sort of government help,” she says. “I’m working on a capsule collection currently which is going to be different to anything I’ve ever done before. It has a lot of intricate craftsmanship behind it, and I’ve had to master new skills in order to execute it. It’s going to consist of six pieces, men’s and women’s.”
Hand grew up in Blackmore, feeling like she didn’t quite fit in. Expelled from two schools for bad grades, she ended up at a nearby community college. While applying to art schools, the severely dyslexic student accidentally ticked the box for world-renowned Central Saint Martins. Her acceptance came as a complete shock.
After graduating in 2016 with a degree in fine art, Hand interned at British Vogue and in famed photographer Mario Testino’s art department. She went back and forth to Los Angeles for a few years to pursue photography, then decided she simply wasn’t that good at it.
She eventually settled at home and slung drinks in her family’s pub, the Prince Albert, using the money she earned to develop her first collection. “The message is about being confident and breaking the stereotypes,” says Hand, adding that she wanted to make her line feminine and accessible. “You can see Mabel or Lizzo in this and actually buy it.”
Her photography skills and fashion connections came in handy when she shot her own digital lookbook and emailed it to contacts. One of the first to respond was stylist Zerina Akers, who pulled several versions of the “Cupid” dress for Chloe x Halle’s “Who Knew” video. Law Roach, the man who shapes Ariana Grande’s aesthetic, also requested samples but the package arrived too late for the pop star’s video shoot.
Image makers appreciate her can-do attitude. Lizzo’s stylist, Marko Monroe, spotted the “Cupid” at a Los Angeles showroom last year, and was astonished when Hand turned around a custom order for his queen in just three days. The “Juice” superstar helped put Miscreants on the map when she paraded the adorable heart-print frock at Missy Elliott’s post-VMA party.
Hand’s friends in her hometown village have also been invaluable. Resident computer whizzes solve her website glitches in exchange for free drinks at the pub. Neighbors call and propose unusual furniture as props. A local who runs a bird sanctuary loaned her an enormous owl for a shoot. “It sat on the bar and no one batted an eye,” says Hand with a laugh.
The Prince Albert will remain closed until the lockdown ends. Hand misses the laughter and support of her customers, and their collective excitement about her successes.
“Without them, I wouldn’t be able to have all those weird and wonderful things that make the brand what it is.”