Amelia’s Magazine | SHOWstudio: Fashion Revolution at Somerset House

 PA061099
Image courtesy of Rachael Oku

Earlier last week I ventured down to Somerset House to see the eagerly anticipated SHOWstudio: Fashion Revolution exhibition which charts this rise of the iconic website from its creation in 2000. This large-scale retrospective of sorts was bursting to the seams with installations of some of the best videos, viagra 100mg podcasts, there interviews and most importantly– live projects. Split over two levels, as I entered I was greeted with a room comprised entirely of mirrors that were designed to make each person entering ‘really’ look at their reflection. After a few moments of looking at myself and feeling rather vain and awkward I felt obliged to move on and make way for the hoards of teenagers waiting to pull pranks on each other and the non-suspecting public.

Naomi- image courtesy of Showstudio.com
Image courtesy of Showstudio.com

In the next room I found a giant 3-D sculpture of Naomi Campbell, which was linked to an etch-a-sketch computer where visitors could get involved and draw images which were in turn projected onto Naomi’s imposing frame. Interestingly I discovered after my visit that there were several hidden cameras dotted around the Naomi sculpture to record the best comments made by visitors, so I was very relieved that I had gone alone therefore having no one to talk to.

There were many great fashion moments and highlights peppered throughout this exhibition. I think the best was watching a loop of the project ‘More Beautiful Women’ which pays homage to Andy Warhol’s ‘Thirteen Most Beautiful Women’ screen tests of 1964. It’s based on a simple idea where Nick Knight invited several iconic models from the 1960’s through to the present day and asked them to stand in front of a video camera for two minutes. Models involved were Twiggy, Marie Helvin, Kate Moss, Liberty Ross, Stella Tennant and Gisele to name but a few. The best clip that I saw was that of Stephanie Seymour who looked rather bored throughout and remarked ‘This is the longest two minutes of my life!’ This was sheer brilliance in its subversive undertones both perpetuating and playing upon the underlying opinions most people have of models.

'Freedom of Love'- image courtesy of Showstudio.com
Image courtesy of Showstudio.com

Another project that was popular with all visitors was the 2004 collaboration between Brad Pitt and SHOWstudio titled ‘Freedom of Love’. The short film depicted Pitt frantically painting over an enlarged passport sized photograph of himself adding in captions and blurbs, whilst reciting Breton’s sixty line poem of the same name. Whilst I was there this installation drew the biggest crowd and I believe was so popular due to Brad Pitt’s global fame and heartthrob status rather than everyone’s love of the great poet Breton.

fashionfilmtopsfw
Image courtesy of Showstudio.com

Just when I thought the exhibition was coming to an end I stumbled upon a small section dedicated to Fashion Film, which was comprised of a reel of 16 short films created for SHOWstudio. My favourite was titled ‘Sheena is a Punk Rocker’ which depicted a topless and rather energetic Kate Moss doing a frantic pogo dance which saw her head banging. This was great as I feel it showed much more of her personality than you could possibly gleam from a still image and also had a funny moment near the end where she started ripping the paper background and gets so into it that she suddenly falls to the floor which is the finishing shot.

All fans of SHOWstudio.com would absolutely love this exhibition as it was great to see highlights of the work together in one place, but most importantly it was humbling to see how fashion in general has progressed during this past decade which I feel can partly be credited to Nick Knight and the wealth of contributors who make up the SHOWstudio team. Over the years it has really pushed the boundaries of what is possible and helped guide fashion into the mainstream sphere by applying and manipulating all the modern technologies available to bring it to the masses, whilst looking forward to new and innovative ways to make fashion even more engaging. SHOWstudio: Fashion Revolution is running until 20 December 2009 and costs £5.

Categories ,Andy Warhol, ,Brad Pitt, ,Breton, ,Gisele, ,Kate Moss, ,Liberty Ross, ,Marie Helvin, ,Naomi Campbell, ,Nick Knight, ,SHOWstudio: Fashion Revolution, ,Somerset House, ,Stella Tennant, ,Stephanie Seymour, ,twiggy

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Amelia’s Magazine | Tata Naka: London Fashion Week S/S 2013 Presentation Review

Tata-Naka S/S 2013 by Jamie Wignall
Tata Naka S/S 2013 by Jamie Wignall.

I always look forward to the Tata Naka presentation and this season was no exception: this time the twin sisters had chosen to direct their models posed as if at the end of a diving platform against a skyline of palm trees. It was a clever piece of set design that suited their slightly retro style, all 80s power hair and nipped in waists. When I arrived they were shooting a range of glossy purple dresses on offer for S/S 2013. Centre stage a beautiful hourglass silk dress featured dramatic cut outs around the shoulders and hemline. Floral offerings flanked a bold placement print cutout dress, the ginger hair of a painted girl placed at hip level. For a more casual look the same image was applied to a swimming costume, worn with very high hot pants.

Tata Naka SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Tata Naka S/S 2013, photography by Amelia Gregory.

I only stayed at the ‘pool party’ presentation long enough to get a shot of this particular look, but a glance at a set of images on Vogue tells me that this collection was notable for its subtlety – cream and mint separates for daytime and jewel block colours for night providing a commercial counterpoint to the colourful clashing ditsy prints and painted life size faces: eye catching in house prints that the Tata Naka girls are known and loved for. It all worked brilliantly, as always.

Categories ,80s, ,Claire Kearns, ,cutout, ,Jamie Wignall, ,lfw, ,London Fashion Week, ,Portico Rooms, ,prints, ,S/S 2013, ,Somerset House, ,Tata Naka, ,vogue

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Amelia’s Magazine | Tata Naka: London Fashion Week S/S 2014 Presentation Review

Tata Naka S/S 2014 by Laura Hickman
Tata Naka S/S 2014 by Laura Hickman.

My last write up for this season features the new collection from the ever wonderful twins behind Tata Naka. This season they eschewed the cool light of the Portico Rooms (no longer used for LFW presentations) to show in the newly created Studio space on the lower levels of Somerset House. Given that this is a dark venue it was a wise decision to shoot with plenty of flash against a simple black backdrop, the girls rearranged on blacked out props, sometimes with parts of their body obscured. Given the complicated set designs of the past few seasons this was probably a relief to put together.

Tata Naka SS 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory
Tata Naka SS 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory
Tata Naka SS 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory
Tata Naka SS 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory
Tata Naka SS 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory
Tata Naka SS 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory
Tata Naka SS 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory
Tata Naka SS 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory.

This season the girls delved into a wealth of inspiration left behind by Sergei Diaghilev and his iconic Ballet Russes. The bold constructivist shapes that characterised his graphic costumes and set designs were made for these girls to expand on in their inimitable style. The collection was shown in staggered stages so that Tata Naka could shoot their look book, so I only had time to view one part. By a stroke of luck it may well have been my favourite, with geometric designs and lettering placed in great swipes of glorious colour across cream and black grounds on simple calf length strapless flapper dresses, a sleeveless playsuit and a twosie lounge suit with hexagon embellishments. For summer a simple 80s style tank swimsuit looked perfect worn with slicked back hair and heels.

Tata Naka S/S 2014 by Daisy Steele
Tata Naka S/S 2014 by Daisy Steele.

Other parts of the collection (which you can view here) featured dotty net dresses encrusted with giant appliqué stars, jigsaw panels in sugary pastels, and pop art style placement prints on strapless prom dresses. After a mild diversion into new territory last season this felt like Tata Naka returning to their rightful groove: every outfit a beautiful (wearable) piece of art in its own right.

Categories ,Ballet Russes, ,Book Review, ,Daisy Steele, ,Laura Hickman, ,London Fashion Week, ,Presentation, ,S/S 2014, ,Sergei Diaghilev, ,Somerset House, ,Studio, ,Tata Naka

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Amelia’s Magazine | The London Fashion Week Virgin: Estethica Review

Illustration by Avril Kelly http://cargocollective.com/avrilkelly

There’s something about coming out of the Tube in an area you’ve never been to before. I realise this is an extremely London-centric point, order but bear with me – when you find yourself spat out onto a brand new street it’s like discovering a different city. But then you look up and see the familiar roundel and you know that yes, it’s still London. It’s interesting how so many of us seem to come to London to experience its variety, only to entrench ourselves in one specific part of the city. Some (who, me?) may even develop a few prejudices about certain other parts of the city too, as if London were some sort of microcosm of the world … Oh actually that last bit’s about right, isn’t it. ‘There is in London all that life can afford,’ Samuel Johnson famously said, and it’s very true. But still, going all the way to Clapham on a Saturday morning? SOUTH London? Really!

But last weekend I went to Clapham for the very first time, because that’s where the Papered Parlour is and I’d been looking forward to their silversmithing class for weeks. I resurfaced from the Tube at Clapham Common, curiously peeking around while the nice man with the coffee cart ground beans from scratch to make my espresso. The Papered Parlour is just up the road, hidden behind a plain door in a side street. Claire and Louise, the workshop’s founders, weren’t there, but my fellow would-be smithers and I were welcomed by Hana and our teacher, Caren Hartley.

Upcycled jewellery by Madi http://www.madiillustration.co.uk

Jewellery upcycling, or recycling of old items, was the theme for last Saturday’s seminar. We each poured out our bags of old, neglected jewellery, hoping Caren would be able to help us make something usable out of it. I’d brought two rings I was hoping to fix, having broken both of them within weeks of each other after having worn them every day for years. I’d also brought some broken brooches my grandma had given me, as well as a few other pieces I weren’t wearing. Having just told the group we could not use heat on any item that wasn’t pure silver or gold, Caren shook her head at my beloved moonstone ring. ‘You can’t heat anything with a gemstone as it will break,’ Caren said. Araldite glue it is, then.

My mother’s old floral pendant also got the brush-off from Caren: ‘That’s pewter, it would melt before you could do anything with it.’ This is the main danger when working with old jewellery, as you haven’t made it yourself and hence you can’t be completely sure about the metal composition. Caren studied the pendant, curved and prone to annoying swinging, concluding: ‘You could flatten it, with the mallet.’ Mallet! I was expecting delicate tools, tiny adjustments and boiling frustration, but it turns out silversmithing includes plenty of hammer action.

Caren Hartley

The next few hours went by in a flash. After my mallet fun I got the little pliers and snippers, changing the broken grandma brooches into pendants. Rough edges were smoothed down with the metal files – silver is quite soft when you’re working with it. Silversmithing is also a surprisingly dirty activity, with the suds from my hands running black as I washed before the cake break. It can be dangerous too – judging by the fact they made us sign some sort of release before letting us use the saw.

Make do and mend by Naomi Law http://www.nimlawdraws.co.uk

Halfway through the day we were introduced to the blowtorch, used not only to join pieces of metal together but also to prepare silver to be worked on. Heating up the metal to reach ‘the cherry red temperature’ loosens the molecules within the silver, Caren explained, meaning you can work on it. My main task with the blowtorch was to mend my ring, a little lady who wraps her legs around your finger. I’d got the ring half price at a craft fair nearly ten years ago, and worn it every day until the poor girl broke her leg about two years ago. High street silversmiths didn’t seem very keen on sorting this for me though, and now that I’ve seen how it’s done I can see why: it’s fiddly.

I put on the leather apron and the protective goggles, ready for the big moment. ‘Now, angle the flame away from me, as I will be holding the leg piece,’ Caren said as I lit the torch, wondering if she gets paid extra if a student maims her. But as the little lady turned cherry under the blue flame, everyone’s digits remained intact and the leg was back where it belonged. Okay, so it sticks out a bit more than it did before, but a little tap of the hammer and Bob’s your uncle.

Caren and Eva by Avril Kelly http://cargocollective.com/avrilkelly

Detail

I left the Papered Parlour with eight new pieces of jewellery, having altered or mended old things I either couldn’t or wouldn’t wear. My hands were aching as I counted up change for another espresso from the cart, about to go back to the familiar side of the river. As I stood on the platform waiting for my train, I absent-mindedly ran my thumb along the lady-ring. She’s back, and I fixed her all by myself.

Result

The Papered Parlour is in Clapham: 7 Prescott Place, London SW4 6BS. For more information about the spring workshop schedule see our listing – there are more silversmithing workshops to come, plus printmaking, sewing, photography, quilting and how to make your own shoes. Also, the Papered Parlour is putting on two mini-festivals at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green this spring: ‘Ethical fashion in the age of austerity’ tonight (3 March) and ‘It’s your write!’ next month (7 April) – for more detail see our listing here.


Illustration by Avril Kelly

There’s something about coming out of the Tube in an area you’ve never been to before. I realise this is an extremely London-centric point, treat but bear with me – when you find yourself spat out onto a brand new street it’s like discovering a different city. But then you look up and see the familiar roundel and you know that yes, buy it’s still London. It’s interesting how so many of us seem to come to London to experience its variety, only to entrench ourselves in one specific part of the city. Some (who, me?) may even develop a few prejudices about certain other parts of the city too, as if London were some sort of microcosm of the world … Oh actually that last bit’s about right, isn’t it. ‘There is in London all that life can afford,’ Samuel Johnson famously said, and it’s very true. But still, going all the way to Clapham on a Saturday morning? SOUTH London? Really!

But last weekend I went to Clapham for the very first time, because that’s where the Papered Parlour is and I’d been looking forward to their silversmithing class for weeks. I resurfaced from the Tube at Clapham Common, curiously peeking around while the nice man with the coffee cart ground beans from scratch to make my espresso. The Papered Parlour is just up the road, hidden behind a plain door in a side street. Claire and Louise, the workshop’s founders, weren’t there, but my fellow would-be smithers and I were welcomed by Hana and our teacher, Caren Hartley.


Upcycled jewellery by Madi

Jewellery upcycling, or recycling of old items, was the theme for last Saturday’s seminar. We each poured out our bags of old, neglected jewellery, hoping Caren would be able to help us make something usable out of it. I’d brought two rings I was hoping to fix, having broken both of them within weeks of each other after having worn them every day for years. I’d also brought some broken brooches my grandma had given me, as well as a few other pieces I weren’t wearing. Having just told the group we could not use heat on any item that wasn’t pure silver or gold, Caren shook her head at my beloved moonstone ring. ‘You can’t heat anything with a gemstone as it will break,’ Caren said. Araldite glue it is, then.

My mother’s old floral pendant also got the brush-off from Caren: ‘That’s pewter, it would melt before you could do anything with it.’ This is the main danger when working with old jewellery, as you haven’t made it yourself and hence you can’t be completely sure about the metal composition. Caren studied the pendant, curved and prone to annoying swinging, concluding: ‘You could flatten it, with the mallet.’ Mallet! I was expecting delicate tools, tiny adjustments and boiling frustration, but it turns out silversmithing includes plenty of hammer action.


Caren Hartley

The next few hours went by in a flash. After my mallet fun I got the little pliers and snippers, changing the broken grandma brooches into pendants. Rough edges were smoothed down with the metal files – silver is quite soft when you’re working with it. Silversmithing is also a surprisingly dirty activity, with the suds from my hands running black as I washed before the cake break. It can be dangerous too – judging by the fact they made us sign some sort of release before letting us use the saw.


The blue flame by Naomi Law

Halfway through the day we were introduced to the blowtorch, used not only to join pieces of metal together but also to prepare silver to be worked on. Heating up the metal to reach ‘the cherry red temperature’ loosens the molecules within the silver, Caren explained, meaning you can work on it. My main task with the blowtorch was to mend my ring, a little lady who wraps her legs around your finger. I’d got the ring half price at a craft fair nearly ten years ago, and worn it every day until the poor girl broke her leg about two years ago. High street silversmiths didn’t seem very keen on sorting this for me though, and now that I’ve seen how it’s done I can see why: it’s fiddly.

I put on the leather apron and the protective goggles, ready for the big moment. ‘Now, angle the flame away from me, as I will be holding the leg piece,’ Caren said as I lit the torch, wondering if she gets paid extra if a student maims her. But as the little lady turned cherry under the blue flame, everyone’s digits remained intact and the leg was back where it belonged. Okay, so it sticks out a bit more than it did before, but a little tap of the hammer and Bob’s your uncle.


Caren and Eva by Avril Kelly

I left the Papered Parlour with eight new pieces of jewellery, having altered or mended old things I either couldn’t or wouldn’t wear. My hands were aching as I counted up change for another espresso from the cart, about to go back to the familiar side of the river. As I stood on the platform waiting for my train, I absent-mindedly ran my thumb along the lady-ring. She’s back, and I fixed her all by myself.


Result

The Papered Parlour is in Clapham: 7 Prescott Place, London SW4 6BS. For more information about the spring workshop schedule see our listing – there are more silversmithing workshops to come, plus printmaking, sewing, photography, quilting and how to make your own shoes. Also, the Papered Parlour is putting on two mini-festivals at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green this spring: ‘Ethical fashion in the age of austerity’ tonight (3 March) and ‘It’s your write!’ next month (7 April) – for more detail see our listing here.

My first experience of London Fashion Week was less in at the deep end with the big kids, click and more of a splash about in the shallow end with armbands on. And actually, I found it a rather favourable place in which to position myself.

My task was to skulk around the Estethica and Ecoluxe show rooms and report back on some of my favourite designs, a task I undertook with gusto. Anyone who reads my personal blog will know that I adore beautiful ethically made clothes. So I jumped/squealed at the chance to meet some of the designers and see the clothes up close. I have been watching the rise and shine of some of the new ethical designers with interest, having been introduced to many of them via Amelia’s book (which of course you have bought, yes? Yes?)

My first hurdle in getting to Estethica involved ‘borrowing’ a friends pass and hoping that no one would look at the name on the badge and question my gender when I beeped in. I was a tad nervous approaching Somerset House, but was buoyed on by ‘West End Girls’ which popped onto shuffle at the most opportune moment for the final bit of the walk. I bloody love it when shuffle gets it right. So it was with a strut that I entered Somerset house aided by the Pet Shop Boys, my trusty Spanx and one too many soya latte’s.

My second hurdle was actually finding the room. Directions typically included: “You’re in entirely the wrong place. You need to turn round, go back downstairs and outside, then enter through one of two doors, left again….” I think I went cross eyed. It was located in a particularly awkward spot, which was a shame as the rooms contained some marvellous work. But the getting lost, trekking up and down stairs and being stomped on by lethal platform wedges was worth it. The quality of some of the designs was inspiring and innovative, easily rivalling their ‘non ethical’ neighbours.

I had kind of hoped that I’d be able to blend in with the crowd, take notes and snap pictures before skulking on, but I quickly realised that this would be nigh on impossible.  I soon found myself confabulating with some of the friendly designers and PR people. I was repeatedly asked if I had a card. I didn’t. Rookie error. Lesson learned for next time.  Stall holders craned to read my badge as I smiled sheepishly and surreptitiously covered it with my scarf. I was nervous so wondered around with a slightly creepy perma-grin, but thankfully most of the participants had heard of Amelia’s Magazine so far from being rebuffed, I had a very warm welcome. PHEW.

Ok- on to the clothes. I met lot of lovely people and saw some beautifully crafted clothes, but here are just a few of my favourites.

The jewellery of Little Glass Clementine caught my eye before I had even entered the room, and like a magpie, I was beckoned in by it. Necklaces are made from a marvellous concoction of found objects; from bird skulls and bottle tops, to bath plugs and plastic toys.  They are totally unique, slightly mad (in the bestest of ways) and utterly covetable. Little Glass Clementine is featured in Amelia’s book. See an extract of the interview here .

Goodone pulled me in next, with their soft jersey bodycon dresses and thick woollen belts that begged to be handled. I loved the combination of figure hugging dresses with drapey, overized pieces too, all made from recycled, end of roll and salvaged materials. Feminine yet bolshy. Ace. Goodone are featured in Amelia’s book, see an extract of the interview here:


Illustration by Natasha Thompson

There is something irresistible to me about Joanna Cave’s delicate filigree jewellery. Inspired by ballet and old Art Nouveau costumes, the pieces are delicate and girly yet dramatic and bold. They are made from recycled sterling silver, ethically sourced pearls and vintage ribbon. Joanna cave jewellery is featured in Amelia’s book, see an extract of the interview here:

Actualy, I was pretty spoiled on the jewellery front. Kumvana Gomani uses old bottles and recycled aluminium to create gorgeous long necklaces and pretty earings.


Illustration by Alison Day

The North Circular, an ethical knitwear company, inhabited the corner of one of the rooms, filling it with an impressive alluring installation involving a huge bundle of sheeps wool and TV’s. Apparently the video was showing a piece called ‘metamorphosis’ with Lily Cole in it, but I managed to miss it. Truthfully, muted colours are not my thing, but the pieces were luxurious to feel and beautifully crafted, using British ethically sourced wool.


Illustration by Alison Haines

I loved this bright Pink Ciel dress. Just the right balance of smart and sexy.  All Ciel fabrics are carefully sourced to be as ethical as possible. Sarah Ratty, the founder of Ciel and chair of the Ethical fashion Forum was warm and friendly, and a long time friend of Amelia’s Magazine. She is featured in Amelia’s book, you can read an extract of her interview here.

Illustration by Avril kelly

I have to say that, despite the fact that the person in the stall seemed too busy to talk, I fell in love with Max Jenny. My favourite pieces were their colourful cape’s, for the following reasons.  They are waterproof; this satisfies my northern fell-walking roots. They are capes; this satisfies my Drama Queen roots. Amazingly their products are made from recycled PET bottles, which satisfies my inner hippie. Tick, tick. tick. MaxJenny is featured in Amelia’s Compedium of Fashion Illustration.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

Lu Flux’s designs also caught my eye. I have always loved their use of colour and therefore loved this colourful leather rucksack. By working with salvaged, vintage and organic fabrics, that combine pleats, knitting and patchwork, the collection makes something new out of something old. .Lu Flux is featured in Amelia’s Compedium of Fashion Illustration. You can read an extract of their interview here.


Photograph by Damian Ucieda Cortes

Tara St James made use of copper pipe work in her gorgeous, chunky jewellery, and I also loved the blanket capes too. Chic and snuggley. Good for campsites and cocktails, bonus.


Photograph by Lauren Bilanko

And then I was out the door again, navigating Somerset House’s warren like corridors. I presumed I’d be surrounded by long legged, anorexic, bitchy looking women. I did see some ultra skinny, unhealthy looking people, which will always sadden me, but there were also plenty of healthy looking amazingly dressed people there too. In fact, I enjoyed the London Fashion Week street style stuff as much as the main show photo’s (perhaps sacrilegious?). But what really struck me was that people were, well, NICE. And mostly normal. Which I have to say I wasn’t expecting.

Next up, I’ll be reviewing Ecoluxe. You can buy Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration (featuring the very best in ethical fashion design) RIGHT HERE.

Categories ,4 Equal Sides, ,ACOFI, ,Alison Day, ,Alison Haines, ,Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, ,Avril Kelly, ,ciel, ,Ecoluxe, ,estethica, ,esthetica, ,goodone, ,Hannah Bullivant, ,Joanna Cave, ,Kumvana Gomani, ,lfw, ,Lily Cole, ,Little Glass Clementine, ,London Fashion Week, ,Lu Flux, ,Matilde Sazio, ,Max Jenny, ,Maxjenny, ,Natasha Thompson, ,pet shop boys, ,Somerset House, ,Soya Latte, ,Spanks, ,Tara St James, ,The North Circular

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Amelia’s Magazine | The London Fashion Week Virgin: Estethica Review

My first experience of London Fashion Week was less in at the deep end with the big kids, and more of a splash about in the shallow end with armbands on. And actually, I found it a rather favourable place in which to position myself.

My task was to skulk around the Estethica and Ecoluxe show rooms and report back on some of my favourite designs, a task I undertook with gusto. Anyone who reads my personal blog will know that I adore beautiful ethically made clothes. So I jumped/squealed at the chance to meet some of the designers and see the clothes up close. I have been watching the rise and shine of some of the new ethical designers with interest, having been introduced to many of them via Amelia’s book (which of course you have bought, yes? Yes?)

My first hurdle in getting to Estethica involved ‘borrowing’ a friends pass and hoping that no one would look at the name on the badge and question my gender when I beeped in. I was a tad nervous approaching Somerset House, but was buoyed on by ‘West End Girls’ which popped onto shuffle at the most opportune moment for the final bit of the walk. I bloody love it when shuffle gets it right. So it was with a strut that I entered Somerset house aided by the Pet Shop Boys, my trusty Spanx and one too many soya latte’s.

My second hurdle was actually finding the room. Directions typically included: “You’re in entirely the wrong place. You need to turn round, go back downstairs and outside, then enter through one of two doors, left again….” I think I went cross eyed. It was located in a particularly awkward spot, which was a shame as the rooms contained some marvellous work. But the getting lost, trekking up and down stairs and being stomped on by lethal platform wedges was worth it. The quality of some of the designs was inspiring and innovative, easily rivalling their ‘non ethical’ neighbours.

I had kind of hoped that I’d be able to blend in with the crowd, take notes and snap pictures before skulking on, but I quickly realised that this would be nigh on impossible.  I soon found myself confabulating with some of the friendly designers and PR people. I was repeatedly asked if I had a card. I didn’t. Rookie error. Lesson learned for next time.  Stall holders craned to read my badge as I smiled sheepishly and surreptitiously covered it with my scarf. I was nervous so wondered around with a slightly creepy perma-grin, but thankfully most of the participants had heard of Amelia’s Magazine so far from being rebuffed, I had a very warm welcome. PHEW.

Ok- on to the clothes. I met lot of lovely people and saw some beautifully crafted clothes, but here are just a few of my favourites.

The jewellery of Little Glass Clementine caught my eye before I had even entered the room, and like a magpie, I was beckoned in by it. Necklaces are made from a marvellous concoction of found objects; from bird skulls and bottle tops, to bath plugs and plastic toys.  They are totally unique, slightly mad (in the bestest of ways) and utterly covetable. Little Glass Clementine is featured in Amelia’s book. See an extract of the interview here .

Goodone pulled me in next, with their soft jersey bodycon dresses and thick woollen belts that begged to be handled. I loved the combination of figure hugging dresses with drapey, overized pieces too, all made from recycled, end of roll and salvaged materials. Feminine yet bolshy. Ace. Goodone are featured in Amelia’s book, see an extract of the interview here:


Illustration by Natasha Thompson

There is something irresistible to me about Joanna Cave’s delicate filigree jewellery. Inspired by ballet and old Art Nouveau costumes, the pieces are delicate and girly yet dramatic and bold. They are made from recycled sterling silver, ethically sourced pearls and vintage ribbon. Joanna cave jewellery is featured in Amelia’s book, see an extract of the interview here:

Actualy, I was pretty spoiled on the jewellery front. Kumvana Gomani uses old bottles and recycled aluminium to create gorgeous long necklaces and pretty earings.


Illustration by Alison Day

The North Circular, an ethical knitwear company, inhabited the corner of one of the rooms, filling it with an impressive alluring installation involving a huge bundle of sheeps wool and TV’s. Apparently the video was showing a piece called ‘metamorphosis’ with Lily Cole in it, but I managed to miss it. Truthfully, muted colours are not my thing, but the pieces were luxurious to feel and beautifully crafted, using British ethically sourced wool.


Illustration by Alison Haines

I loved this bright Pink Ciel dress. Just the right balance of smart and sexy.  All Ciel fabrics are carefully sourced to be as ethical as possible. Sarah Ratty, the founder of Ciel and chair of the Ethical fashion Forum was warm and friendly, and a long time friend of Amelia’s Magazine. She is featured in Amelia’s book, you can read an extract of her interview here.

Illustration by Avril kelly

I have to say that, despite the fact that the person in the stall seemed too busy to talk, I fell in love with Max Jenny. My favourite pieces were their colourful cape’s, for the following reasons.  They are waterproof; this satisfies my northern fell-walking roots. They are capes; this satisfies my Drama Queen roots. Amazingly their products are made from recycled PET bottles, which satisfies my inner hippie. Tick, tick. tick. MaxJenny is featured in Amelia’s Compedium of Fashion Illustration.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

Lu Flux’s designs also caught my eye. I have always loved their use of colour and therefore loved this colourful leather rucksack. By working with salvaged, vintage and organic fabrics, that combine pleats, knitting and patchwork, the collection makes something new out of something old. .Lu Flux is featured in Amelia’s Compedium of Fashion Illustration. You can read an extract of their interview here.


Photograph by Damian Ucieda Cortes

Tara St James made use of copper pipe work in her gorgeous, chunky jewellery, and I also loved the blanket capes too. Chic and snuggley. Good for campsites and cocktails, bonus.


Photograph by Lauren Bilanko

And then I was out the door again, navigating Somerset House’s warren like corridors. I presumed I’d be surrounded by long legged, anorexic, bitchy looking women. I did see some ultra skinny, unhealthy looking people, which will always sadden me, but there were also plenty of healthy looking amazingly dressed people there too. In fact, I enjoyed the London Fashion Week street style stuff as much as the main show photo’s (perhaps sacrilegious?). But what really struck me was that people were, well, NICE. And mostly normal. Which I have to say I wasn’t expecting.

Next up, I’ll be reviewing Ecoluxe. You can buy Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration (featuring the very best in ethical fashion design) RIGHT HERE.

Categories ,4 Equal Sides, ,ACOFI, ,Alison Day, ,Alison Haines, ,Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, ,Avril Kelly, ,ciel, ,Ecoluxe, ,estethica, ,esthetica, ,goodone, ,Hannah Bullivant, ,Joanna Cave, ,Kumvana Gomani, ,lfw, ,Lily Cole, ,Little Glass Clementine, ,London Fashion Week, ,Lu Flux, ,Matilde Sazio, ,Max Jenny, ,Maxjenny, ,Natasha Thompson, ,pet shop boys, ,Somerset House, ,Soya Latte, ,Spanks, ,Tara St James, ,The North Circular

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Amelia’s Magazine | Treasure Jewellery Show 2013: Review

Treasure jewellery show review
This year I got my first taste of the Treasure jewellery show at Somerset House, a vast showcase now on its sixth outing during Jewellery Week. Here’s the familiar talents and hot new jewellery discoveries that caught my eye.

Ostrich little finger ring in rose gold with iolite gemstone by Dominique Lucas
The first thing to grab my attention was this unusual ostrich little finger ring in rose gold with an iolite gemstone by Dominique Lucas. Dominique trained with master craftsmen in Italy, Mexico and London. She’s created some bold pieces based on animals, and I love her current collection, featuring big bullet gem rings.

A clever neon lot display for silicone bracelets by #brazelights
Brazelights had created this clever neon lit display to show off modern silicone bracelets.

Ros Millar Nugget_Stud_Earrings
I couldn’t get close to Ros Millar‘s stand – an young award winning designer from Northern Ireland, who creates on trend organic metal jewels with a ‘Gothic Luxe‘ feel.

Tessa Metcalfe jewellery

Jeweller Tessa Metcalfe looked amazing in her own jewels. This young jeweller trained as an illustrator and has been championed by the Secret Emporium for some time. Now I see why her bold bird claw rings and necklaces are fast gaining a loyal following. Check out her innovative video look book above.

Rosita Bonita jewellery
Beautiful Rosita Bonita looked gorgeous sporting her new embossed leather collection (inspired by a combination of Japanese and Spanish styles) at her fabulously appointed stand. She’s another jeweller who trained as an illustrator before settling on her profession – read our recent interview with Rosita Bonita here.

An outsized showpiece ring containing fruit Atelier Laibach
This outsized showpiece ring containing fruit was worn by Kerstin Laibach of Atelier Laibach. She is an entirely ethical jeweller, so nothing is newly mined and her collection is vegan friendly. This wasn’t something I have ever considered before, but apparently many of the items used in the day to day production of jewellery feature animal products.

Pretty necklace of found objects by Sarah Drew with ecoluxe london
Ecoluxe London has recently launched a shopping site to compliment its trade fair presence during London Fashion Week, and their stand featured a variety of represented designers. This pretty necklace of found objects is by Sarah Drew, who finds all sorts of interesting things to work with on the beach where she lives in Cornwall.

Öhlund silver mens jewellery
These recycled sterling silver pendants are by men’s jewellery designer Öhlund and are inspired by aviation and industrial design. I think the shapes in the Boneyard 13 collection look like bullets or cartridges.

Myia Bonner
Jeweller Myia Bonner builds on her deconstruction of the traditional diamond shape with these dangly earrings. As one part of the Metric Collective she’ll be showcasing new work at their annual pop up store between 7th July – 1st September on Columbia Road.

It’s not often that I am gobsmacked. But three quarters of my way around Treasure this is what I stumbled upon: astonishing moving stainless steel rings by Atelier Michael Berger. His kinetic jewels swing around the finger on invisible mechanisms as if by magic.

Abby Carnevale jewellery New York
abby carnevale
Another beautiful jeweller wearing her wares was New York based Abby Carnevale, who solders fine chains together with gems to create intricate waterfall designs. This was her first visit to London, but she hopes to return again.

Michele White jewellery
Without a doubt the most fabulous person I met at Treasure was Michele White, sporting amazing thigh length hair that was dip dyed purple to match her clothes. It was a delight to talk to this former ceramics teacher turned master jeweller and gemologist based in the famous Birmingham jewellery quarter. Her timeless art nouveau inspired designs (below) make the most of the natural beauty of opals and other gems, and really stood out amongst a sea of very similar jewels.

michele white gold opal ring
Michele White opal earrings
Now I can’t wait to discover more graduate talent at the New Designers shows!

Categories ,Abby Carnevale, ,Atelier Laibach, ,Atelier Michael Berger, ,Birmingham, ,Boneyard 13, ,Brazelights, ,Cornwall, ,Dominique Lucas, ,Ecoluxe London, ,Gothic Luxe, ,jewellery, ,Jewellery Week, ,Kerstin Laibach, ,Metric Collective, ,Michele White, ,Myia Bonner, ,Öhlund, ,review, ,Ros Millar, ,Rosita Bonita, ,Sarah Drew, ,Secret Emporium, ,Somerset House, ,Tessa Metcalfe, ,Treasure

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Amelia’s Magazine | Treasure: London Jewellery Week 2012 Show Review

Grace Hamilton at Treasure by Claire Kearns

Grace Hamilton at Treasure by Claire Kearns

Being a jewellery designer myself I was thrilled to have an invitation to the press view of Treasure at Somerset House during London Jewellery Week, which took place from the 11th to the 17th of June. I particularly enjoy Treasure, as opposed to The Jewellery Show for instance, as it showcases a wider variety of styles and more contemporary cutting edge jewellery. I really enjoyed going around the show talking to designers – all of whom somehow managed to look like models – and here is a selection of my favorite encounters of the night…

Treasure-show-Pip-Jolley-photo-by-Maria-Papadimitriou

Exciting jewellery was on show immediately upon entering. Pip Jolley was not one of the exhibitors, but a jewellery designer working at the welcoming desk and I loved her roller necklace – her own design.

Tatty Devine at Treasure by Naomi Wilkinson

Tatty Devine at Treasure by Naomi Wilkinson

Treasure show Flavie Michou photo by Maria Papadimitriou

In the Fashion Gallery the first thing that caught my eye were these Lady Skull Rings by Flavie Michou. Some of them have movable jaws!

Treasure show Jessica de Lotz photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Then it was Jessica De Lotz, whose work I knew of and admired. Jessica makes narrative based collections and works with vintage pieces. This fabulous ring called ‘Edith’s cheeky winking eye ring’ is from her ‘Edith Mary Baldwin Collection’ inspired by a framed baptismal certificate, dated 1909, found by Jessica at Portobello Market.

Rachel Galley at Treasure by Sally Cotterill

Rachel Galley at Treasure by Sally Cotterill

Treasure show Daniel Claudio Ramos Y Munoz photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Daniel Claudio Ramos Y Muñoz was showing these bangles in beautiful colours. Two of them can be worn together as they fit into each other and the clever bit is that they can serve as a carrier bag support in your hands when you do your shopping!

Treasure Treasure show Lehmann & Schmedding Marilyn Brooch photo by Maria Papadimitriou

In the Design Gallery I saw Lehmann & Schmedding’s ‘Marilyn Brooch’. Aramith spheres with little magnets in them energise each other and hold onto cloth.

Treasure show Yoko Izawa photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Yoko Izawa’s stand had these fabric covered flakes, which did not look like jewellery at first sight, but when she put them on, they became super cool rings. I also quite like that her jewellery has some philosophical meaning for her behind it: ‘Veiled jewellery reflects my assumption that although certainty is often required in modern society, ambiguous expression has been the most distinctive characteristic found in Japanese values and religious beliefs‘.

Jessica De Lotz at Treasure by EdieOP

Jessica De Lotz at Treasure by EdieOP

Treasure show Christiane Wichert 1 photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Treasure show Christiane Wichert 2 photo by Maria Papadimitriou

I loved Christiane Wichert’s bold, sticky jewellery. The green brooch stuck on her skin like a suction cup and some of her other pieces also stuck on clothes.

Treasure show Jenny Llewellyn 2 photo by Maria Papadimitriou

This necklace is from Jenny Llewellyn’s ‘Plume’ collection of hollow silicone cups that glow in the dark. I liked not only its bold colour and shape, but also that the cups looked like they were made from a hard material but when I touched them they felt so soft I did not want to stop squeezing them.

Imogen Belfield at Treasure by Lucy Robertson

Imogen Belfield at Treasure by Lucy Robertson

Treasure show Rachel Galley Jewellery photo by Maria Papadimitriou

I was happy to see some larger body jewellery at Rachel Galley’s stand. This is a larger piece from her ‘Enkai Sun Collection’ inspired by Rachel’s travels in Tanzania.

Treasure show Tatty Devine photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Of course Tatty Devine are always a favorite! I love seeing their larger, more couture pieces. Coincidentally, I saw a lovely photo recently of Kate Nash wearing this necklace.

Treasure show Grace Hamilton photo by Maria Papadimitriou

The Emerge Gallery had tons of talent on display. Grace Hamilton’s beautiful statement accessories are handcrafted using traditional crochet and knotting techniques.

Treasure show Imogen Belfield photo by Maria Papadimitriou

It was great to at last meet the young, talented designer that is Imogen Belfield and her sales manager Emma Crosby, both good friends of Amelia’s Magazine. Imogen makes gorgeous textured jewellery influenced by nature, architecture and in some cases, as she told me, by shapes in packaging. Matt Bramford did a lovely interview with Imogen Belfield a little while ago in Amelia’s Magazine.

Treasure show Claire English photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Claire English was another designer drawing inspiration from everyday objects, such as matchsticks, and I loved her display which included corks!

Treasure show Gina Melosi photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Gina Melosi’s ‘Broken Promises’ collection featured pieces moulded from broken glass This necklace is moulded from a broken gin bottle.

Flavie Michou at Treasure by Polly Stopforth

Flavie Michou at Treasure by Polly Stopforth

Treasure show Jessica Flinn photo by Maria Papadimitriou

I liked Jessica Flinn’s hand printed and gold plated Floral Lace Collar Necklace and Rose Lace Curved Cuff.

Treasure show Diane Turner Jewellery photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Finally in the Emerge Gallery Diane Turner showed pieces created by growing metal on natural fissures in the wood.

Treasure show Emma Ware photo by Maria Papadimitriou

In the Essence Gallery, Treasure’s ethical jewellery gallery, I found Emma Ware, another Amelia’s Magazine favorite. Emma makes beautiful one off pieces by juxtaposing malleable dark rubber with polished metal and look at her refreshing display using plant pots!

Treasure show Linnie Mclarty photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Linnie Mclarty won me over again with her swirly, recycled silver rings.

Treasure show Renush photo by Maria Papadimitriou

One of the best pieces from Renush was this necklace made from assembled leather left overs.

Treasure show Mel White Jewellery photo by Maria Papadimitriou

And my last pick from the Essence Gallery was this pair of elegant cufflinks by Mel White Jewellery made with recycled silver and limited edition reclaimed British wood off-cuts.

Treasure show Sarah Elizabeth Jones photo by Maria Papadimitriou

Finally, in the Design Space room I was impressed by Sarah Elizabrth Jones’ collection which explores her experimentation with the material wood veneer, to create fascinating pieces of body adornment, such as this brooch.

All photography by Maria Papadimitriou.

Categories ,Christiane Wichert, ,Claire English, ,Claire Kearns, ,Daniel Claudio Ramos Y Munoz, ,Design Space, ,Diane Turner Jewellery, ,Edie OP, ,Emma Crosby, ,Emma J Crosby, ,Emma Ware, ,Essence gallery, ,Flavie Michou, ,Gina Melosi, ,Grace Hamilton, ,Imogen Belfield, ,Jenny Llewellyn, ,Jessica De Lotz, ,Jessica Flinn, ,jewellery, ,Kate Nash, ,Lehmann & Schmedding, ,Linnie McLarty, ,London Jewellery Week, ,Lucie Robertson, ,Maria Papadimitriou, ,Matt Bramford, ,Mel White Jewellery, ,Naomi Wilkinson, ,Pip Jolley, ,Polly Stopforth, ,Rachel Galley, ,Renush, ,Sally Cotterill, ,Sarah Elizabeth Jones, ,Somerset House, ,Tatty Devine, ,The Jewellery Show, ,Treasure, ,Ware, ,Yoko Izawa

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Amelia’s Magazine | Valentino: Master of Couture at Somerset House


Valentino A/W 2005 by Krister Selin

A recent viewing of the documentary Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel, a film dedicated to the infamous fashion editor’s pioneering feats, highlighted that going to a gallery to view exhibitions of living fashion designers is a relatively new concept. When Vreeland launched an Yves Saint Laurent retrospective in 1983 at the Costume Institute, she set a precedent for a legion of future fashion fairs.

In the modern era, fashion fans have no qualms about trading their hard-earned cash to gaze at frocks on mannequins and fashion retrospectives have dominated galleries with record-breaking visitor numbers. Presenting these exhibitions comes as a challenge to curators: no longer is it a case of whacking a few frocks on mannequins like you’re assembling a high street window display. A quick look at Viktor & Rolf at the Barbican, McQueen at the Met or Louis Vuitton/Marc Jacobs at Les Arts Decoratifs shows the dedication and commitment necessary to present fashion as art.


Valentino A/W 2002 and Natalia Vodianova by Cathleen Naundorf

What better way, then, to present Emperor of Couture Valentino Garavani‘s illustrious history than on one long catwalk? Avoid temptation to sashay past the tableaux as mannequins appear amongst elegant white chairs on either side of a runway, on which you’re the model. The Embankment Galleries at Somerset House have been transformed; no longer tiny catacombs, but brought together for dramatic effect.


Valentino A/W 2002 by Maya Beus

The lower floor showcases a number artefacts appearing in glass cabinets at the start of the exhibition. Letters from prominent designers and magazine editors celebrate Valentino‘s last milestone, his 45th anniversary as King of Couture, showering the Italian with praise for his record-breaking anniversary couture show at the Santo Spirito in Sassia in Rome. Glorious fashion sketches line other cabinets, but as was with Margiela and other exhibitions here, I found myself skimming past these in order to get to the main event upstairs.


Photographs courtesy of Somerset House/Peter MacDiarmid

And so the catwalk comes alive on the upper level, with a breathtaking 130 haute couture creations on models appearing as guests. They are arranged pretty haphazardly amongst the aforementioned white chairs, almost with abandon, without any rigid chronological order. Empty seats bear the names of the great and the good that have worn Valentino and attended countless shows: Princess Margaret, Elizabeth Taylor, Carla Bruni, Diane Kruger, Iman; Diana Vreeland herself.


Valentino S/S 1998 by Annie Rickard Straus


Valentino A/W 1992 by Sandra Contreras

La dolce vita comes alive as you make your way along the displays, featuring floor-sweeping gowns, kaftans, trouser suits and capes. I particularly enjoyed the 1990s section – creations designed with the decadent abandon of an era when the supermodel ruled fashion and Valentino, Gianni Versace and pals were bending over backwards knee-deep in gold chains to appease them. These pieces were without doubt the height of fashion, but have dated the most. Compare these to some numbers from the 1960s: they’re indistinguishable from the output of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccoli, heading Valentino, over recent seasons.


Valentino S/S 2005 by Jamie Wignall


Valentino S/S 1969 by Maya Beus

The show’s dramatic finale sees Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece‘s wedding dress come to life on a dramatic platform. This pearl-encrusted ivory silk gown features a 4.5m train and 12 kinds of lace. Sure.


Princess Marie-Chantal’s wedding dress

While I wouldn’t wear it, it’s one of the greatest examples of dressmaking in history and this presentation allows you to see the astonishing detail in the flesh.


Valentino S/S 2004 by Krister Selin

I particularly enjoyed a personal tribute to le regazze – the girls – the loyal atelier that have produced innumerable tulles, mock-ups and eventual red-carpet-ready frocks for the Grand Master’s enormous following. They’re the stars of groundbreaking documentary film Valentino: The Last Emperor, bickering as they lovingly stitch the last couture collection by the man himself. In the exhibition we’re spoiled with an education of Italian atelier terms – such beauties as ‘Incrostazioni‘ ‘Drappeggio‘ and ‘Budellini‘, a couture technique specific to Valentino where double charmeuse silk is rolled and sewn around a looped length of wool. Each term has a visual representation, occupying a glass box and highlighting the important role that these individual processes have played in Valentino‘s roaring success.


Valentino A/W 2002 by Jamie Wignall


Valentino S/S 1998 by Sandra Contreras

Unmissable. Go.

Categories ,Annie Rickard Straus, ,Budellini, ,catwalk, ,couture, ,Drappeggio, ,Embankment Galleries, ,emperor, ,exhibition, ,fashion, ,Grand Master, ,Incrostazioni, ,Italy, ,Jamie Wignall, ,Krister Selin, ,le regazze, ,london, ,Marie-Chantal, ,Matt Bramford, ,Maya Beus, ,Natalia Vodianova, ,Peter MacDiarmid, ,Rome, ,runway, ,Sandra Contreras, ,Somerset House, ,The Last Emperor, ,Valentino Garavani

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Amelia’s Magazine | London Fashion Week S/S 2012 Menswear Day Presentation Review: SIBLING


Sibling S/S 2012 by Antonia Parker

I had raced around the Fashion East installations in record time to ensure that I had the opportunity to have enough time to look around the Sibling presentation.


All photography by Matt Bramford

I loved the Sibling A/W 2012 collection so much – a whistle stop tour around East End boozers – that I was a little concerned that they couldn’t top it. Where do take it from there? To the fairground, of course! Entering the room they’d been assigned was a bit like a trip to the fairground itself: a dodgem car was positioned in one corner, in which a mannequin had a TV for a head. It was all part of Sibling’s slightly mysterious world. Enormous illuminated letters spelling out S I B were casually leaning against another wall, and rollercoaster graphics adorned the walls.


Sibling S/S 2012 by Rebecca Strickson

As per usual, there wasn’t a single piece in this new offering that I wouldn’t buy instantly. Each piece evoked childhood memories of fairgrounds and all their kitsch connotations: delicious but dirty food, the rides that satisfy thrill-seekers’ pleasures and the boys you shouldn’t really fancy but who spin you on the waltzers so hard that you occasionally revisit that hot dog that you just ate.

Knitwear was on top form as usual, including cardigans with Argyll prints in edible sorbet colours and the show piece: a grey sweater with a wonderful embroidered pattern, cramming in as much fairground action as possible.

S/S brings an exciting t-shirt range, with LOVE and HATE logos, an I HEART HOT DOG motif, and various other fairground-themed designs. It was a little like fantasy shopping. I particularly like the Waltzer print on a pale blue t-shirt, should anybody wish to buy me a gift.

This season sees the trio collaborate with artist Yuko Kondo, who is responsible for the tattoo-like design on aforementioned sweater and the I HEART HOT DOG logo. Pastel-coloured leopard print sweaters are also a real winner. Playful LOVE and HATE t-shirts are sure to be everywhere come next summer, thanks to this wonderful collection. Last, but not least, I think the denim jacket with Kiss Me Quick emblem speaks for itself.


Sister by Sibling S/S 2012 by Matt Bramford

The weekend before saw the launch of womenswear line SISTER. I didn’t get much time to peruse this offering, such is the jam-packed weekend of London Fashion Week, but what I did see (a girl mounting a carousel horse) had the same fashion-as-fun ethos. Kondo’s emblems, sequins, foil prints and the dreamy leopard-print pattern in similar sorbet tones were the mainstay, proving that Sibling’s unique vision translates from menswear to womenswear with ease.

See highlights from the Sister presentation here:

Categories ,Antonia Parker, ,Argyll, ,Cozette McCreery, ,Dodgems, ,Fairgrounds, ,Hate, ,Hot dogs, ,Ice Cream, ,Joe Bates, ,Kiss Me Quick, ,knitwear, ,London Fashion Week, ,Love, ,Matt Bramford, ,menswear, ,Menswear Day, ,Newgen, ,Presentation, ,Rebecca Strickson, ,review, ,Rollercoaster, ,Sibling, ,Sid Bryan, ,Sister by Sibling, ,Somerset House, ,Sorbet, ,T-shirts, ,Waltzer, ,Womenswear, ,Yuko Knodo

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Amelia’s Magazine | Pre-London Fashion Week S/S 2011 Interview: Cooperative Designs

Photograph by Matt Bramford

After being spellbound by Cooperative Designs’ last two presentations (see here and here) at London Fashion Week.

Amelia’s Magazine are delighted to have had the opportunity of interviewing Annalisa Dunn and Dorothee Hagemann, ed the designers behind the fantastically experimental knitwear. With London Fashion Week just around the corner, page we discussed their previous presentations and what it was that first attracted Cooperative Designs’ to wool…

In recent years Knitwear has seen a massive resurgence on the catwalks, adiposity what first attracted you to the material?

We both learnt to knit from our grandmothers.

Knitwear has such a unique position in the fashion world, its both textiles and fashion. As you design the fabric you affect the structure and form of the garment. The whole process gives you such control and ensures that every piece is unique.

As the designer you choose the basic materials, the way the yarn is spun, then the way the fabric is knitted and then the way the garment is structured and put together. Its a long, time consuming and expensive process, but its very rewarding.

illustration by Stuart Whitton

What are the influences behind the graphic prints, that often appear on the designs?

We met on the Fashion MA at Central St Martins. Although our MA collections were very different, they both had strong graphic elements. It made sense to develop this style together.

What was the experience of studying Knitwear at St Martins?

We both studied Knitwear on the Fashion MA. It was a great experience, it made us tough, confident and it gave us such great experience of working to deadlines, taking fierce criticism, and continually pushing ourselves to improve. It was a stressful but exhilarating process.

What is the decision making process behind the colours of your collections?

We use our primary research as the means to develop the colour palette. Our references are normally from art sources: Rodchenko, the Bauhaus, De Stijl, Memphis, to name a few.

Once we have edited our research we focus on the graphics and colours we find most exciting. We use computer programmes and hand drawings to develop the graphics, and then we have to redesign them specifically to be knitted. There are so many technical limitations in knit, finding ways to work around them are what makes the discipline so exciting and challenging.

Photograph by Amy Gwatkin

What is the relationship between the jewellery designer Corrie Williamson, and Cooperative Designs?

Annalisa: I met Corrie at Brighton University, where we both studied on the BA. We became friends and ran a stall at Camden Market together! When Dorothee and I started the business, we both decided that cooperating with other designers was really important to us. We both loved Corries work, so it made sense to incorporate it into the collection.

We all meet up at the start of the season. We give Corrie a ridiculously conceptual brief, which she then attempts to make some sense from. She then goes away and develops initial samples of materials and shapes. We then meet again with our stylist Elizabeth Cardwell, and the whole process continues.

Photograph by Amy Gwatkin

What techniques do you use to make the garments? Is the outcome influenced by the equipment you have access too?

Absolutely. We specialise in combining really traditional techniques such as intarsias, jacquards, handknits and fairisles with new technologies. Working with advanced yarns, machines and some incredible factories means our garments can really push the limits, whilst still remaining very recognisable as knitwear.

Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

Your clothes have been described as ‘architectural’, how does the design process begin usually for Cooperative Designs?

Our clothes have the architectural aspect because of their predominantly 2D forms. As Dorothee has more of a womenswear background then me, she has developed a process she calls Primary pattern cutting. Pieces are designed as flat graphic angular shapes then left to drape and distort on the body. This process particularly suits knitwear, as it has such great drape and stretch properties.

What is your relationship to the Bauhaus?

We are big fans! We have been speaking to them about a potential collaboration, that would be really exciting for us.

Photograph by Matt Bramford

I loved last year’s down the road from Somerset House with the ‘Zine, the video and the live show in the basement. Does staging a presentation allow more freedom, than if you presented a catwalk show?

Definitely. With a presentation we have the opportunity to design the entire event, we try to encapsulate the feel of the collection as an real experience for our guests. This season we are showing at the Groucho Club, and we have some really exciting plans!

How did the ‘Zine develop?

The Zine developed because we asked our friends and colleagues to take portraits of our collection in their own individual ways. A ‘Zine seemed like a great way to give everyone a little reminder of these portraits to take home. We worked with Amy Gwatkin our photographer to make a really handmade, Lo Fi photocopied zine. We really enjoyed the collaborative process and the end result, and it would be something we would love to develope for the future.


Photograph by Matt Bramford

What are Cooperative Designs currently working on?

We are working on the new collection and getting all the plans for the presentation into place. We have just finished designing a collection for Autumn Winter for Italian super brand Stefanel, the collection should be dropping into stores really soon. We can’t wait to see the collection on the high street all over Europe! We have also just developed a capsule mens Tshirt collection, which will be previewed at LFW, details will soon be revealed!

We have also recently launched an online shop! We are offering archive pieces, show pieces, and special one offs from our collaborators. We are hoping to expand this shop and offer more collaborators and more products as we develop.

The photographs by Matt Bramford are from Cooperative Designs SS10 collection show at London Fashion Week 2010.

Categories ,A/W 2010, ,Amy Gwatkin, ,bauhaus, ,british fashion council, ,Cooperative Designs, ,Gareth A Hopkins, ,graphic, ,Groucho Club, ,grthink, ,knitwear, ,London Fashion Week, ,Memphis, ,Off Schedule, ,On Schedule, ,Rodchenko, ,Somerset House, ,Stuart Whitton, ,zine

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