Interview: Caggie Dunlop

Whilst many celebrities use their name and status to launch a clothing line, 24-year-old Caggie Dunlop did not want to rely on her newfound fame. “I wanted to create a brand that could stand alone regardless of my profile,” she explains. ISWAI, which stands for ‘It Starts With An Idea’, is not your average celebrity clothing line; it is a label and a springboard for new talent. “The idea for ISWAI came while I was still on [Made in Chelsea]; I knew I wanted to do something in fashion. It’s definitely a bit quieter being off the show but probably in a good way. It was a bit of a rollercoaster for me when I was on it. I’ve really enjoyed building this brand and I do it with my mother so it is in the family.”

The day-to-day running of ISWAI is, she tells me, a difficult task, “We will have someone doing jewellery by hand, someone doing samples in China for something, someone creating something from scratch. It’s all very complicated. It’s nice when it all comes together.” ISWAI provides a great entry into the fashion industry, and one of her designers, Michael, now even works at the world-renowned fashion house, Balenciaga.

Caggie’s own personal style is pretty chilled though, “I love fashion because I am a creative person but I don’t take it too seriously — I like it to be fun and expressive. “I am comfort first. Especially at this time of the year, I’m literally just in denim shorts and an ISWAI slogan t-shirt. That’s about as adventurous as I tend to get!” 

But she’s also not afraid of dressing up, as she demonstrated at the Boodles Tennis Tournament, organised by the eyewear brand Taylor Morris that was founded by Hugo Taylor, Caggie’s Made in Chelsea co-star and close friend. “Of course, in the evening going out I love to make an effort and I like to take a risk every now and again.” When asked whether there will be a collaboration between ISWAI and Taylor Morris, Caggie earnestly replies, “I haven’t thought about that — but I wouldn’t mind them doing a Caggie pair of sunglasses! I love the brand — Hugo is a great friend of mine and it is doing really well.”

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With such an effortlessly cool dress sense, I wonder who her style icons are. “I really like Erin Wasson — I always have,” she explains. “When I first started ISWAI, I used her as the poster girl for what I’d like to reflect — that dishevelled chic. She dresses like an art teacher and I like the laid back look! I’ve always loved Australian fashion for that.” Some of Caggie’s favourite brands include Sass and Bide, and Finders Keepers. She says, “The way they do things there I find really cool, creative and organic.”

However, Caggie is not one to spend huge amounts of money on designer shoes, preferring to shop in vintage stores, “I really feel like I’ve accomplished something if I can go and get [some Prada shoes] second hand, for like £60!”
Not only has Caggie created a successful fashion label, but she is also finding time to focus on other projects. Signed with Independent Talent Group in the UK, she hopes to build an acting career.

Before the madness of Made in Chelsea, Caggie studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York. “[Made in Chelsea] gave me a huge amount of experience in terms of being in front of the camera, so it has all been quite beneficial,” she tells me as she explains her plans to move to LA in the new year. “[LA] is the epicentre of the entertainment industry so that is exciting!” There, she will be focussing her efforts on pilot season, but she is still keen to experience theatre and film, whilst not abandoning her singing career. I’m sure we all remember her nervous debut performance on Made in Chelsea.

“I started singing very late — the first time I had ever sung in front of anybody was on the show. I do love singing. That’s what I’ve been doing a lot of since I left the show. I went on tour with an American artist, which was a great experience, and I did a mini tour myself. But the lifestyle of a musician is quite isolated, ironic considering you are around people the whole time.” Caggie is unsure when she will release a debut album, but tells me it is something that will definitely happen.

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The style in New York does slightly differ from London, Caggie explains, but not as much as we might think, “There’s something about New York which is very Sex and the City, which I like. I think maybe in New York they’re a bit more adventurous, and it’s maybe a bit more of a fashion hub.”

I had to ask Caggie about the Made in Chelsea special of Come Dine With Me, which saw her compete against co-stars Binky Felstead, Spencer Matthews and Mark-Francis Vandelli to win prize money for charity. This was possibly my favourite episode of Come Dine With Me ever. “Come Dine With Me was really fun – it was at the end of a season of Made in Chelsea, so we were all sort of running down off the filming and then had to do this. My head was completely all over the shop at the time. I was completely unprepared! Millie had to come over with the food; Spencer had to bring my cutlery! I literally was a disaster, but it was so much fun. I ate so much that week, but you don’t eat dessert until one in the morning!”

Not only has Caggie found time to juggle a singing career, an acting career, and a fashion label, but she has also done in charity work. She has worked with both Beat Bullying and the Tickled Pink Cancer Campaign. “Beat Bullying is a really great charity. I wanted to get involved with a dolphin one but they never got back to me,” Caggie explains to me.

To conclude, I ask her about her ideal dinner date. She answers, “Marilyn Monroe. There is so much mystery around her. She has become a goddess-like character. I would be really intrigued as to whether the persona matched the person she actually was”