Antoni & Alison

Vanessa Semmens

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA110

The two founders of Antoni & Alison, Alison Roberts (b. 1963) and Antoni Burakowski (b. 1962), met at Central Saint Martin’s School of Art and Design, London, where Alison studied fine art and Antoni studied fashion, graduating in 1986. With just £200, they founded their label in 1987 and produced a debut collection for spring/summer of 1988 called “Be Happy.” It was originally designed for a French company, but then released under their own names.

Antoni & Alison showed their February 1999 collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum as a part of London Fashion Week. A crossover between art and fashion is crucial to Antoni & Alison’s ethos, and an accompanying slideshow added another facet to the show. The collection was based on interiors and wallpaper, the duo drawing inspiration from the homes of friends and family. The entire Antoni & Alison back catalog has been accessioned by the Victoria & Albert Museum as a “living archive”; it includes sketches and other materials produced by the brand.

The pair constantly push to create new and exciting aspects to the brand, and in 2002 started renovating “the House of Mr. and Mrs. Antoni & Alison”—an 1820s mid-terrace house in Southwark, London. Antoni & Alison’s website works with the House of Mr. & Mrs. Antoni & Alison to showcase the brand to its best advantage. Projects such as this ensure that the brand is never two-dimensional: there is always something new to discover.

Antoni & Alison’s twentieth anniversary was in 2007, and for this they created a film called Party Portraits. The pair directed Nicole Kidman in a film about a party where only one person turned up. The film was only screened once, at the Curzon in Mayfair, and was a part of their spring/summer collection of 2008. A year later, the pair were awarded MBEs by the Queen for their services to the fashion industry.

Antoni & Alison are known for digital print and their “vivid text print T-shirts.” In 2011 they collaborated with Uniqlo. They were also previously part of the line Designers at Debenhams. Antoni & Alison is a very English label, and there is a lot of wit in the work. Alison brings simplicity and chic to the brand, while Antoni has a louder aesthetic.

Their London store, which opened in 1997, is on Rosebery Avenue and is called the Factory of Lights and Experiment. For fall/winter 2013, Antoni & Alison personally invited people to the store so that they could be talked through the collection. It is experiences like this that led to fashion commentator Colin McDowell describing them as “jewels in the crown of English fashion.” Antoni & Alison like to say that they sit outside of fashion, as it “has a tendency to take itself too seriously, and laughter is the best way of breaking out of that pattern ... laughter is a means to communication.”

Antoni & Alison, Spring/Summer 2001 Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

Find in Library ““Antoni & Alison”.” Harper’s Bazaar , 1995: 22 .

Find in Library Blanchard Tamsin. ““The Odd Couple”.” Observer Life , 21 February 1999: 72–75 .

Find in Library Cronin Emily. ““Fashion Notes”.” Elle ( UK ), October 2013: 175 .

Find in Library Field Marcus. ““Antoni & Alison”.” Blueprint , 1998: 35 .

Find in Library Gibberd Matt. ““Urban Legends”.” The World of Interiors 26 (2006): 179–185 .

Find in Library ““Indepth Arts News: Mr and Mrs Antoni and Alison: An Exhibition of Photographs by Antoni and Alison”.” Absolute Arts , April 2006 .

Lau Susie. “Rediscovering Antoni & Alison.” Style Bubble , 4 December 2012. http://stylebubble.co.uk/style_bubble/2012/12/rediscovering-antoni-alison.html

Find in Library Orru Peppe. ““The Past, Revisted”.” Collezioni Donna 110 (2006): 260–265 .