Five Minutes with Em Prové, Luxury Textile Designer

Words by
Sarah Kennelly

25th April 2024

Em Prové, luxury textile designer, illustrator, and consultant who has worked for brands like Céline, Burberry, and Jimmy Choo. Much of her work is inspired by the beauty of the natural world, featuring designs of Anglaise leaves and gouache florals. It all started with a doodle she made on an envelope that caught the attention of a passerby, opening a door to the fashion industry. Now, heritage luxury brands come knocking on her door and celebrities as famous as Madonna are spotted in her creations. 


Em Prové, Luxury Textile Designer's collaboration with On the Island
Em Prové, Luxury Textile Designer's collaboration with On the Island

I got my break… doodling. After doing an art foundation course at Falmouth University I started illustrating for a local surf and lifestyle magazine called Stranger. Then I moved to London and got a job working in a clothes shop and on quiet mornings I would doodle on the back of unopened letters. One day this guy came in and saw me drawing, and asked if he could show the designs to a friend who had a T-shirt company called Illustrated People. They liked them and became my first client, and I started building up my portfolio and contacts from there. 

In the morning… I try to get up early and go for a walk and have a coffee before I start my work because I find it really difficult to break away once I begin. I sometimes work in house with a client like COS but with most of the brands I’m at home in my studio and on a regular day I start at 9am sharp. Depending on the amount of work, the urgency and location I sometimes start much earlier. For instance when I work with Zimmerman in Australia meetings can start online at 7am.   

I stay motivated by… organising time when I do something that inspires me, like going to galleries or antique markets, I really enjoyed the Doron Langberg exhibition at the Victoria Miro earlier this year. I always look forward to starting a new commission and seeing where it takes me and I’m also really motivated when clients like the work and offer me more.


Em Prové Luxury Textile Designer - Em Prové artist
Em Prové, Luxury textile designer, sketching

I became a freelancer because… Early on in my career I worked in-house for a British brand for four years but quit that to go freelance because I felt I’d outgrown their range and I was becoming more interested in luxury brands. People there thought I was insane walking away from the security of a full time job during a recession but in the first year I worked with Jimmy Choo, Gloverall and Barbour amongst others and it just carried on from there. I still prefer being self-employed. Over the years I’ve built a lot of contacts with the brands that I’ve worked with who come back to me each season. 

The creative process… is different for each brand. Many like Zimmerman come to me with a really clear brief and strong understanding of exactly what they want. Other brands, like Jimmy Choo, would often describe what they wanted without using any visual references. Generally I give the client a few different versions of a print and then take on board their feed back. It often starts with a single motif and then I would build the repeated pattern from there.

When I’m experiencing a creative block… I look at the design as it stands and identify what IS working then step away for five or ten minutes and that often helps. I’ve a great collection of vintage reference books that I’ve collected over the years in flea markets that I look through for inspiration.

After work… When I switch my computer off and tidy away my art materials I physically disconnect from the work but I’ll still be thinking about it and will sometimes look at images of the day’s development on my phone, seeing it smaller can help me see things I can improve on the next day. I stay in and cook and watch TV or go out and have dinner. 

Em Prové Luxury Textile Designer - early sketches for Olivia Von Halle
Em Prové, Luxury Textile Designer's early sketches for Olivia Von Halle

The best part about my job is… when I see people wearing my designs either in real life or on Instagram, in a magazine or on TV. It’s such an amazing feeling, really rewarding. Sometimes I see designs I created a year before and am able to have a new appreciation for it. I also love seeing people in the public eye wear my designs - I was really excited to see Madonna wearing my hand painted snake print for Olivia Von Halle. Angeline Jolie wore the Panther print I did for Olivia to promote Malificent, and Elle MacPherson and J-Lo have worn other prints I’ve created for the brand. 

The most memorable part of my career was when… about 7 years into my career I started working for Céline, when I handed in the first project and they said they loved it. Working with them really raised my visibility and I regularly see some of my old work there on an insta accounts like @thearchivedotcom which is nice. When I first started out I drew up a list of brands I really wanted to work with, Burberry were at the top and that’s who I’m currently working with, so it continues to remain really exciting.

Visit Em's website at: