Amelia’s Magazine | Little Women AW15: an interview with Renli Su

Renli Su by Bonaramis
Renli Su AW15 by Bonaramis.

Chinese born designer Renli Su first caught my eye when her collection appeared on the catwalk as one of the Fashion Scout Ones to Watch crew in 2013. The designer explores the idea of Time and Memory, with each season expanding and developing on this theme. For SS15 and AW15 she has been inspired by the tale of Little Women, resulting in two ‘strong yet feminine’ collections that reflect the typical dress sense of elegant and charming girls living in the mid-late 19th century.

Renli Su AW15
Renli Su AW15
Where did you train in fashion design and what was your biggest design inspiration growing up?
I began studying painting and then completed BA Fashion Design at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. Being surrounded by artists I found an appreciation for fabric as a material for my work, which is where my fashion education began. After my BA, I came to London to study MA Fashion Design and Technology Women’s wear at London College of Fashion, and I’ve been based in London ever since.

Renli Su AW15
Renli Su AW15
How did you first start researching the Little Women collections?
The most part of my research came from my travels. The materials used were Chinese Summer Fabric, Indian hand-woven cotton, Indian black print cotton and Irish innovative cotton linen, so this meant I spent time in all of these countries, finding the fabrics and exploring the traditional techniques used to create them.

Renli Su AW15
I source fabrics from all over the world. For AW15, again I used the four materials that made up the SS15 collection, but I also added Tibetan Yak Wool and Chinese Silk. I am passionate about sourcing and reviving traditional techniques from different parts of the world as each of the materials are made in a different way and I meet interesting people who have dedicated their lives to creating these fabrics, it’s something I want to explore further.

Renli Su AW15
Renli Su AW15
What have been the biggest hurdles in terms of getting the collections together?
There is a lot of research involved in the early stages and then in the later stages it requires a lot of dedication to create a collection that will stand the test of time in elegance, cut and quality.

Renli Su AW15
Renli Su AW15
Where can your garments be bought?
Young British Designers in the UK, Dongliang in Shanghai, China, Dongliang in Beijing, China and Berween in Changsha, China. And of course online from

Categories ,AW15, ,beijing, ,Berween, ,Bonaramis, ,Central Academy of Fine Arts, ,Dongliang, ,Ecofashion, ,ethical, ,fashion, ,Fashion Scout, ,interview, ,Kristel Pent, ,Little Women, ,London College of Fashion, ,Ones To Watch, ,organic, ,Renli Su, ,SS15, ,Time and Memory, ,young british designers

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Amelia’s Magazine | Fashion Scout AW15: An interview with Typical Freaks

Typical Freaks by Bonaramis
Typical Freaks AW15 by Bonaramis.

One of my most exciting discoveries at the AW15 Fashion Scout exhibition stands was the work of design duo Seun Ade-Onojobi and Sonia Xiao, who together are Typical Freaks. Their new collection takes inspiration from the unlikely world of dog pageants, an adjunct to the more serious initial inspiration of politics.

Typical Freaks by Louise Andersone
Typical Freaks by Louise Andersone.

How did your partnership happen, and how does it work when you are designing a new collection?
We both enjoy colour, print and texture but we have different ways of approaching design. We felt like this slightly ying and yang philosophy in the design process would create something new and exciting. When we begin a new collection we will think of things we are interested in at the moment, or unusual books are trinkets we have found, and research around that theme. We then try and find ways to implement antithetical influences that will make the overall aesthetic a bit more disjointed and nuanced.

You’ve been producing clothing for some time now, what prompted the decision to showcase your wares at LFW this season?
We had been working on slightly more commercial clothing for a while and felt like we needed a platform to showcase our vision of fashion to a wider audience. We felt like there is a space in the industry for a bit more humour, colour and fashion which does not take itself too seriously.

When did you decide to focus on dog shows for AW15, and where did you find the best imagery?
The collection was initially a lot more political. The rosettes came from looking at a lot of right wing politics. We felt the collection was becoming a bit too overtly dark and serious. We always try and keep in mind that there should be some element of humour and maintain our ‘kawaii-punk‘ aesthetic. We then thought about the other uses for rosettes and began looking at dog shows. We got imagery from studying dogs with their owners in general life, researching crufts and the kennel club, and of course the film ‘Best in Show‘ which tonally, was perfect for our collection.

You have also imagined a fictitious female character who streaks at football matches – where does she fit into the picture?
We envisaged this woman would create an outwardly veil of conservative restraint, but would probably be quite freaky underneath. The big trench coats throughout the collection were symbolic o the streaking/flashing concept we began with.

What caught my eye at Fashion Scout was the great attention to application that is present throughout the collection, can you detail some of the techniques you have used?
We used a lot of painting techniques inspired by well known artists. The overall aesthetic of the dogs was influenced by Warhol’s animal prints for example. We used screen printing, painted with palette knives and hand painting – with brushes, sponges and our actual hands.

What were the most time consuming elements to create?
The Backing Cloth Trench Coats took the longest. They are made from the fabric we used to protect the table during screen printing. We have had these fabrics for almost a year, and they are built up with layers of print, hand paint and our design sketches throughout that time.

What kind of person wears Typical Freaks?
They are usually quite confident, like colour, don’t mind a bit of attention and don’t take themselves too seriously.

Categories ,AW15, ,Best in Show, ,Bonaramis, ,Fashion Scout, ,kawaii-punk, ,Kristel Pent, ,Louise Andersone, ,Lulu and the Lampshades, ,Seun Ade-Onojobi, ,Sonia Xiao, ,Typical Freaks

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Amelia’s Magazine | Ikebana AW15: An interview with fashion designer Sadie Williams

Sadie Williams by Bonaramis
Sadie Williams by Bonaramis.

Fashion designer Sadie Williams was inspired by the 1962 Best of Ikebana book on Japanese flower arranging to create a bold and innovative AW15 collection that features multiple textile techniques and a glorious mash up of fabrics. Here she tells us more…

Sadie Williams AW15
Where did you study on BA and MA and what were the best aspects of your courses?
BA in Fashion Design at Brighton. Best aspects were the technical training this gave you, and the amazing tutorship of Jane Shepherd, who introduced us young, clueless first years to many many brilliant and inspiring aspects to this vast industry. She also and helped us to develop into stronger designers, and taught us that we should be unafraid of creating something extreme, bizarre or seemingly ‘anti-fashion’.

Sadie Williams AW15
MA on the ‘Textiles For Fashion’ pathway of the MA Fashion course at Central Saint Martins. This is where I finally felt like I found ‘my thing’, through lots of learning through mistakes! It was tough, but the best thing I have ever done. I feel honoured to have been taught by my textile tutor Fleet and the late great Louise Wilson.

Sadie Williams AW15
You’ve been much feted since your MA collection caught imaginations, what has been the best outcome of this?
Being able to continue working creatively and express myself and my vision, sometimes this is in collaboration with another brand or project and more recently under my own label. I have also loved being able to travel and meet so many brilliant people along the way. It’s all still very much a learning curve.

Sadie Williams AW15
Your collections are defined by sleek silhouettes, what is it about such graphic shapes that appeals to you?
For me, I really focus on creating the textiles, often quite laboured (multi-layered, printed, quilted, appliqued, embossed etc). I love clean simple silhouettes and feel that partnering them with my textiles is both cool and necessary way to present my work in a stronger and clearer way, and avoid the danger of fussy garments being overworked or theatrical.

Sadie Williams AW15
How do you source so many different types of metallic fabrics?
Always on the look-out! But also, I create a lot of different metallic fabrications through altering/re-working existing fabrics using various techniques, for example bonding shimmering transparent fabrics over satins or lurex, weaving metallic ribbons into fabrics, or stiffening flimsy loose-weave lurex by embossing and bonding it.

Sadie Williams AW15
What fabrics are your favourite kind to work with and why?
I think it’s clear that I rather like lurex! But honestly, I just really love working with all sorts of textiles. I love being set a project/job where I have to work with a fabric that I wouldn’t normally select myself, for example, one of my favourite projects form the CSM MA was working with lace, which I doubt I would ever have considered before.

Sadie Williams AW15
I understand you are in the process of moving studios, where is the new one and what would we see if we came to visit?
It’s in East London, Haggerston, right by the canal! There’s a lot of rolls of fabric! Shelves full of books and mags, lots of portfolio boxes, my heat-press, sublimation printer sewing machine, mannequin etc. Lots of crafty things like wire, plasticine, coloured acetates and tons of different kinds of papers (which I often use for making our animations). All the things I need to do what I do!

Sadie Williams AW15
I loved your latest collection, inspired by Ikebana flower arrangements, what was the process of translating the Best of Ikebana books into wearable garments?
It was more the idea of translating the spirit of those beautiful 1960’s images of floral arrangements into my work, rather than a visual translation. I liked the way that they were subtly vibrant, and very playful and fun yet so composed and still at the same time. I hope that makes sense! I worked with my friend Georgina Norris to create accompanying floral arrangements using the leathers that were featured in my collection, so we used these in my installation spaces at London and Paris fashion week, and I always intended to pair them up with imagery of my garments into a printed and digital lookbook.

How did you include techniques such as weaving, quilting and applique?
I wove together some brilliant vintage Indian ribbons that I sourced from a market stall in Shepherds Bush. In fact I bought up all his stock! I appliqued these as decorative patched onto the fronts of tops. I also used applique to apply metallic leather onto fine silk-prganza, which was actually pretty tricky and took a lot of sampling. It’s a multi-step process involving machine-sewing the leather and organza between layers of a specialist translucent quilting paper, which you can then tear away. I quilted a few lurex garments, by sewing around the print design through lyers of wadding and onto a backing fabric.

Sadie Williams AW15
Do you have any other collaborations with your brother Joe Williams on the horizon?
He is currently on a trip travelling for a few months, but we have an agent, and so when the right projects come up and we are both available, then yes! And I would love to work with him again to illustrate some of my own work again in the near future.

What’s next for Sadie Williams, can we expect another full collection next season and if so can you give us a clue about your new inspiration?
I am definitely going to be applying for NewGen sponsorship again for SS16, so fingers crossed! And I am afraid I’m going to keep my lips sealed at the moment!

Categories ,AW15, ,Best of Ikebana, ,Bonaramis, ,Central Saint Martins, ,East London, ,Fleet, ,Georgina Norris, ,Haggerston, ,Ikebana, ,interview, ,Jane Shepherd, ,japanese, ,Joe Williams, ,Louise Wilson, ,Lurex, ,Metallic, ,Newgen, ,Sadie Williams, ,University of Brighton

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