Taiwanese-born Shao Yen is no stranger to success. This knitwear graduate has caught the eye of other designers such as Nicola Formichetti, created a bespoke dress for dress-up queen, Bjork, and has been showing at London Fashion Week ever since his graduate Central Saint Martin’s MA show for A/W 2010.
As soon as I was directed to one of the spacious upstairs rooms at The Freemason’s Hall, I knew this presentation would be an altogether more relaxed affair than the dizzying thrills of earlier catwalk shows. If you’ve never visited the venue before, I would recommend it. Vauxhall Fashion Scout has used the iconic Art Deco building for their off-schedule shows for ages, and with good reason. The high ceilings, beautifully decorated walls and marble floors set the tone for equally enticing clothes.
As I passed through large doors into the presentation space, I think I audibly sighed in delight of what I saw. Several models stood on plain white podiums, beautifully lit, while a cello player produced soothing classical melodies, setting a relaxed yet formal tone. Although the room was busy, it was a visual treat to be able to come up close and admire a collection. At London Fashion Week, you become used to models practically running past on the catwalk, while you desperately try to take everything in over blaring music and not much room to breathe. For this presentation, it was the audience who couldn’t keep still, moving around the models that posed for every single photographer.
What I loved most about this collection was the mix of themes. Upper-class met underground/sports culture in a zillion different and clever ways. Sports socks were worn with simple black stilettos, tweed suits had elasticised cuffs and hoods, mesh baseball hats matched knitted dresses or silk two-piece suits. Vintage-looking embroidered dresses were dotted alongside stark black leather pieces, as though the Shao Yen woman will wear her mother’s antique dresses, but likes to sharpen things up with masculine tailoring, too.
The colour palette was just as fresh as the models, who I could have hugged for being so patient, even when an over-eager photographer almost knocked one over. Fizzy oranges and bright turquoises were perfectly offset by tweed and monochrome. Hair was pulled into simple, carefree ponytails and roughly backcombed, paired with bright orange-red lips and some blush.
The message for this collection was simple, understated country luxury done in an urban sportswear way. Tweed doesn’t have to be stuffy, and in fact was a massive hit this November when Rugby Ralph Lauren celebrated the opening of their Covent Garden store with a ‘Tweed Run’ where hundreds of Londoners donned their best tweeds and rode bikes around the town whilst stopping for tea and general merriment. We’ve chatted tweed and it’s cycling appeal before too, in an interview with the founders of Bobbin Bicycles, which you can read all about here. Shao Yen has created a whole new look by taking two quite fussy clothing cultures and stripping them down to something fresh and accessible (and more wearable than his previous beautiful yet revealing collections) for A/W 2012. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
West Side Story became ‘East Side Story‘ in this glorious romp through American youth culture with a British twist, taking inspiration from the 1961 film and Saul Bass‘s iconic graphics. Any collection inspired by Saul Bass’s iconic graphics gets my vote.
I settled into my perfect standing spot, sandwiched between a guy wielding an iPad (give over) as if it were a shield and a speaker belting out Gee, Officer Krupkee. The entrance to the catwalk had been daubed in Richard Woods‘s signature woodprint, and just inside I noticed a huge sign saying ‘SMILES PLEASE’ with a cheeky felt-tip drawing of a grin. Well, it would have been rude not to, and so I grinned as wide as I could as the first model appeared.
The masculinity of the Jets and gang dress codes were first explored – cropped denim jackets and oversized bomber jackets featured enlarged JET BOY motifs on the reverse. Models were styled with slick quiffs and huge smiles – oh, hang on, the sign was for them! What a brilliant idea. It took all my strength not to start weeping as each handsome devil appeared, grinning and genuinely enjoying themselves.
From the streets to the gym; up next came polos, cardigans and shorts in Richard Woods‘ aforementioned print. Dreamy colours – mint green, lilac and Shark blue were indebted on the press release to the Ndebele tribe and West Side Story cinematographer Daniel L Fapp.
No SIBLING collection would be complete without chunky knits and a hint of leopard print, and die hard fans weren’t disappointed on either count. Cardigans and cropped jackets in blue peppered the sportswear, as did a thick, black mesh knit at the beginning of the show.
The most dramatic pieces combined scoobie strings (yes, like the bracelets) with American track and field sportswear shapes to create show-stopping tops and shorts in white, neon greens and acid pink.
A knit emblazoned with a ’5′ emblem in stars closed this fifth anniversary show, SIBLING‘s best yet IMHO.
Twinsets, cardigans, and crew-neck jumpers were all over this Sister by SIBLINGA/W 2012 collection, but not as you’ve seen them before. One of the reasons I love SIBLING is that this brand was born out of a trio of designers who wanted to give men’s knitwear an overhaul, striking such a covetable and attention-grabbing luxe look that women started wearing the pieces too. Joe Bates, Sid Bryan and Cozette McCreery dutifully provided Sister by SIBLING, the equally loud leopard-printed, skull-brandishing womenswear brand.
This presentation in the Portico Rooms was a pretty hot ticket, judging by the intense jostle for seats and a front row full to bursting with fashion editors. Long-term SIBLING fan Laura Bailey smiled sweetly from her seat in a way that only someone who has had a private preview of the collection does, safe in the knowledge of what is to come. I did my best impression of a similar smile of satisfaction as I’d already drooled over this sparkly, lurex, sequined offering from SIBLINGin the Somerset Housepress exhibition room.
Katie Grand’s in-your-face styling definitely woke up the sleepy crowd (who like me, wanted a lie-in and chose the later showing) by mixing acid-bright pinks, oranges, and purples together for a strong visual punch. The most special touch came in the form of face masks that turned models into faceless sparkling mannequins with incredible pom-poms and hand stitched flower clustered defiantly on top of their heads.
The genius behind this collection and the Sister by SIBLING brand is that it’s easy to wear. Attention-seekers can go for the whole look, and those who like a bit of crazy colourful sparkle without much effort (ahem, me) get an instant outfit by pulling on some knitwear over jeans. I particularly liked how something as traditional as a Scottish Fair Isle jumper was transformed with skulls and clashing neon leopard print.
As the models walked around the room at the end of the presentation and I resisted the urge to ruffle a pom pom or two, I noticed the shoes. In collaboration with Underground, this means that hopefully the trademark Sister by SIBLING leopard prints and skull Fair Isle teamed with ubiquitous pointy creepers and Chelsea boots may be available to buy next season.
Another nice little touch was the brand’s collaboration with Barbie, who they dressed up in miniature versions of the collection and displayed along shelves on their exhibition stand. If Sister by SIBLING can make someone as clean-cut as Barbie look like she’s right at home wearing glittering skulls, neon prints and fully sequinned jumpers, then surely the look can work for anyone. Besides, a full face of sequins or sparkly lurex means less time bothering with hair and makeup: a definite win.
On the Saturday morning of fashion week I cycled toSomerset House. It was such a sunny, cool morning that I couldn’t help myself. Despite sitting outside the main courtyard for a breather for nearly thirty minutes, I still arrived at theSister by Sibling salon show sweatier than the Editor-in-chief of French Closer. I couldn’t help it. I don’t know what’s wrong with me at the moment, I just can’t stop bloody sweating. I’m just saying.
Anyway, the queue for this hotly anticipated show was enormous and as I stood dabbing my brow I wondered how we were all going to fit inside the tiny Portico Rooms. I managed to find a so-so spot to stand in as the photographers began blocking the entrance. The room was already full, a good percentage of guests modelling this season’s marvellous leopard print numbers. Last minute guests, including my favourite woman (Dame) Suzy Menkes barged in as the show was about to start.
There’s nothing like a bit of dayglo and some X-Ray Spex at a million decibels to wake you up on a Saturday morning. This collection, wonderfully titled ‘Warriors in Woolworths‘, had all the aspects we’ve come to love and expect from Sibling; I was in no doubt when the first model popped from behind the screen that I was going to love everything I was about to see.
Said first model appeared in a white sweater with Sister paint logo daubed across the front and a white ruffle tutu skirt. This was accessorised with the only item you can accessorise a white ruffle tutu skirt with: a full-on lace face mask.
Next came a crocheted top and skirt, complete with ruffles and cap, shortly followed by a pair of white ruffled knickers – but all this white wasn’t fooling me. I knew there’d be some colour pretty soon, and before I could say ‘oh sure’ the colour came coming. Flashes of hot pink, baby pink, yellow and dayglo green appeared on floor length straight-up-and-down no nonsense dresses with matching cardigans.
Crew neck, short-sleeved jumpers and baggy cardigans reminded me of those my grandmother used to wear, expect hers weren’t in illuminous green or embellished with glitter to form reverse skulls. I don’t remember them like that, at least. I much prefer these. A polo-neck dress in green leopard print was a particular favourite, as was a black number with vibrant but delicate flowers splashed all across it.
I can’t be bothered to drone on about the usual fuss that preceded this event, but I’ll just say that my standing ticket offered zero VIP service. Inside I stood in a herd of people five rows deep, aiming my Canon zoom lens through heads while those around me took terrible photographs on point-and-shoot cameras, iPhones and iPads. There’s a whole other piece I could write here, touched on much more eloquently than I could by Michael over at Anastasia Duck, but I will say this: I’ve invested in a decent camera and pride myself on taking decent images that I hope offer a slightly different insight to the normal catwalking shots we’re all familiar with. This is why I continue to work with Amelia because we share the same values when it comes to documenting the shows, but it seems to be getting increasingly difficult to do the job and I left feeling somewhat frustrated.
I probably say the same thing every season, but I’m always reserved about Topman. Aesthetically they’ve upped their game, and whoever is in charge seems to know what they’re doing in the hope of offering a collection akin to the strong contenders on the LC:M schedule. This season relied heavily on a palette of black and red with an injection of pale blue pieces. Box-shaped overcoats offered a different silhouette, sharp tailored blazers worked effortlessly with plaid shirts and heavy knitwear pieces adopting a variety of techniques were exciting.
As usual there were some slightly off pieces – a red tee with graphic lettering (above) looked like something you’d buy on a whim in Kavos after two fishbowl cocktails and some of the double-breasted coats looked awkward on slight-framed models, but overall this was a coherent collection. A reasonable price point means it does offer something more interesting than the rest of the High Street without an outrageous price tag.
For the finale, the heavens (well, the rigging) opened to soak the models as they reappeared for the recap. Not for the first time in history but it was a spectacle none-the-less, but I sure as hell don’t fancy getting caught in the rain in one of those chunky knits. I’m not sure if there was a message here, or how it related to the clothes. Perhaps it was an unsubtle way of saying LOOK OUR THREADS WITHSTAND RAIN, WE’RE NOT CHEAP; maybe it was merely for the aesthetic, but I bloody enjoyed it and everybody else seemed to.
When I joined the queue I was pleased to note that I was maybe 10 or 15 attendees from the front. ‘Marvellous’, I thought to myself as I politely waited. As the door-opening grew closer, one by one various other press, sponsors and ‘VIPs’ did that hilarious thing that only fashion people know how to do. I marvel every time it happens. It’s the Magical Fashion Queue Jumper. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide:
1. Look for somebody you’ve vaguely met once, follow on Twitter, are connected with on LinkedIn, or somebody who looks like somebody you know;
2. Scream ‘HAI darling!‘ at them and swing from their neck with glee;
3. Go a bit red, hoping nobody has noticed you’ve been incredibly rude and pushed in;
Voila – you’ve jumped the queue.
Sigh. Somehow I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do it. It’s just so impolite. I’d tell you how I then got kicked off the front row but managed to get back onto it with half a dozen seats going begging, but then I’d just be a big moaner.
Anyway, yes, back to the show. An usual start unfolded – I’d already noticed that there were a sole pair of shoes and a selection of menswear on hangers to the right of the stage. The lights dimmed and a model appeared wearing white underclothes. Two men wearing white lab coats, I presume students, dressed the man in silence. As soon as he was dressed and styled, the lights shone brightly, the music pounded, and the tattoo-clad model stormed the catwalk.
Here’s a round-up of my favourites from UCA Rochester:
It was Daniel’s model who was dressed live on stage and opened the show. It was a strong menswear opener, with digital print shirts, tweed blazers with contrasting sleeves and flashes of neon green juxtaposed with a dark colour palette.
Lucy’s collection was our first taste of Rochester womenswear. Fitted knee-length dresses were sculptured at the shoulders and hips, creating futuristic silhouettes, embellished with organic felt shapes.
Graduate collection by Richard Sun
The future according to Richard Sun sees women wearing utilitarian geometric dresses accessorised with wire cages. Inspired by Hong Kong architecture, this was an innovative fashion vision.
Graduate collection by Olivia Salmon
Juxtaposed to Richard’s fashion future came Olivia Salmon‘s playful collection of cute floral dresses. Silhouettes were soft and prints were hand-drawn – a welcome break from digital. Models were styled with clusters of flowers in this uplifting collection.
Emily also took her inspiration from architecture – notably Richard Rogers‘ ‘inside-out’ Lloyds building. Visible seams and outer pocket bags explore this concept – a dark colour palette with some flashes of neon and some elements of sportswear made this a really polished collection.
Annie Mae Harris
Blink and you might miss Annie Mae’s attention to detail in this fusion of print and materials. Soft silks and organzas were treated with hypnotic, organic swirls that elegantly floated by. Leather accessories, including a headpiece embellished with gold teeth, added an extra dimension.
War Horse was the inspiration for Jenny’s womenswear and was one of my favourite collections of the week. Military cuts were given a chicer treatment. Leather straps like horses reins were carefully added to garments creating a luxurious look with a hint of kink, whilst also sculpting silhouettes. Oh, and the digital-print sunset – just wonderful.
Marianne presented a beautiful all-black collection teaming luxury materials with dynamic cuts: one of the most polished presentations of the week.
Callum’s modern Miami Vice male had me squealing. Influence had come from the TV show and the Art Deco buildings of Miami (love). Cropped-sleeve shirts, short shorts, oversized sweater and skinny trousers all in a range of cool pastel colours. It was fun, relaxed and infinitely wearable.
Sharon presented a beautiful collection of flattering, body-hugging dresses of varying glamorous lengths. Ruching around the necks and into seams was used to dazzling effect, with cloud-like forms printed onto the garments. But it was Sharon’s transparent perspex accessories that really caught my eye; beautiful, organic shapes creeping up models’ arms.
Elisabeth’s offering was another contender for my favourite collection of this year’s graduates. Sweeping frocks in gorgeous silks featured digital streaks of varying bright colours fused with natural browns. Elisabeth was inspired by natural vs. unnatural, effortlessly blending the two together. Some dresses were embellished with hair for a fashion-forward look with maximum appeal.
I wasn’t at all surprised to see Emma’s collection nominated for the Gold Award at the Gala ceremony the following evening. Inspired by harvest, Emma’s feminine cuts and adept use of the most visually stimulating materials provided a real treat. I loved the aesthetic appeal of the opening woven coat and a gold woven dress.
South Korean designer Yeashin Kim‘s Woodland collection juxtaposed traditional Korean dress with inspiration from the swinging 60s. The colourful results built on the look she has been honing since completing her studies in fine arts and then attending the London College of Fashion.
A multitude of textures were thrown together and somehow emerged victorious. Oversized embellished hats, plenty of colourful trims and digitally printed woodgrain based on Korean furniture lent the collection a fairytale feel, with bespoke woolly boots adorned with pompoms adding to the idea that the models could have stepped off the pages of a children’s book (no bad thing in my world).
Skirts were predominantly short and flared, collars adorned with on trend details, cuffs beautifully buttoned or trimmed in wool. Knitwear came in the form of a dotty cape, bolero and cosy looking chequerboard coat. Yeashin‘s was a delightfully unique collection in this time of monochrome madness, and all the better for it.
Having spearheaded the new London folk scene with their debut album, theremedicalNoah and the Whale are back with their hands full up, releasing a new single, album and film out this summer. We talk school plays, Daisy Lowe, weddings, gardening, Werner Herzog in the studio with the effortlessly charming frontman, Charlie Fink.
Photos by Katie Weatherall
Amelia’s Mag: You’ve got a whole host of new releases coming up – single, album, film – how are you feeling about it all, happy/nervous/excited?
Charlie Fink: All of the above… I dunno, we did the album so long ago… From the last album, I realised the only satisfying feeling you’re going to get is the feeling you get when you’ve finished it and you think it’s good, that’s the best it gets. Reading a review of somebody else saying it’s good is good to show off to your mum, but it doesn’t really mean anything. Likewise, if there’s something you believe in and someone says it’s bad, you’re still going to believe in it.
AM: And the live shows must add another dimension to that?
CF: Yeah. What I’m excited about really is that this record realises us as a band more than the previous one. So that’s going to be really exciting to go out and play that live to people.
AM: And is there anything in particular that has done this or has it been the natural progression of the band?
CF: It’s a million small things, from us playing together more, us growing up, learning our trade a bit better, from what happens in lives and the records you listen to. I very much try to rely as much as I can on instinct and satisfying myself. And this is not a selfish thing because the only way you can supply something worthwhile to somebody else, is if you’re totally satisfied with it yourself. Doing the right things for us and hoping that’ll transfer to the audience.
AM: Was there anything in particular you were listening to whilst making the record?
CF: The things I’m listening to now are different from the things I was listening to when I wrote the record. When I first started the record, I was listening to ‘Spirit of Eden’ by Talk Talk, which is a different sounding record to what we did. Nick Cave, lots by Wilco…
AM: So tell me about the film, ‘The First Days Of Spring’, that accompanies the album (of the same name)… which came first?
CF: The first thing was the idea of a film where the background and the pace was defined by an album. But it totally overtook my whole life. It’s one of those things you start for a certain reason and then you keep going for different reasons. The inspiration was sort of how people don’t really listen to albums anymore, they listen to songs. We wanted to try making an all emersive record where the film puts people into it. We’re not dictating that this should be the only way people listen to music, we just wanted to offer something alternative. On a lot of records these days, you don’t feel like the unity of the album gives it more strength than each individual song. Whereas with this record, the whole thing is worth more than the individual parts. That’s how I see it anyway.
There’s this quote from I think W. G. Collingwood that says, ‘art is dead, amusement is all that’s left.’ I like the idea that this project, in the best possible way, is commercially and in lots of other ways pointless. It’s a length that doesn’t exist. It’s not a short film or a feature, it’s 15 minutes and the nature of it is that it’s entirely led by its soundtrack. It’s created for the sake of becoming something that I thought was beautiful.
AM: And Daisy Lowe stars in it, how was that?
CF: She’s an incredibly nice and intelligent person. I met with her in New York when we were mixing the album and I told her I was doing this film… She was immediately interested. And her gave her the record as one whole track which is how I originally wanted it to be released. Just one track on iTunes that had to be listened to as a whole and not just dipped into. She sent me an email two weeks later, because she’s obviously a very busy person. With her listening to the album, a kind of live feed of what she thought of it. Making a film and having her was really good because she kept me motivated and passionate. She genuinely really took to this project. The whole cast as well, everyone really supported it and it was a pleasure to make. I had to fight to get it made and understood. It’s one of those things that people either passionately disagree with or agree with. From thinking it’s absurdly pretentious or beautiful. Fortunately all the people working on the film were passionate people.
AM: So is film making something you want to continue with?
CF: Yeah, definitely! At some point I’d like to make a more conventional film. The thing that really stuck with me about making a film was surround sound. When you’re mixing a film, you’re mixing the sound in surround because you’re mixing for cinemas. You realise the potential of having five speakers around you as opposed to just two in front of you. The complexity of what you can do is vast. So I’d love to something with that. If you record in surround sound you need to hear it in surround sound, so maybe some kind of installation… Then another film after that…
AM: You’ve been put into a folk bracket with your first album, is that something you’re ok with?
CF: I like folk music, I listen to folk music but then every folk artist I like denies they’re folk. It’s one of those things, it doesn’t really matter. We played last year at the Cambridge Folk Festival and I felt really proud to be a part of that. It’s a real music lovers festival. That was a really proud moment so I can’t be that bothered.
AM: I recently sang your first single, ‘5 Years Time’, at a wedding, do you ever imagine the direction your songs may go after you write them?
CF: Wow. That’s really funny. I’ve had a few stories like that actually. It’s touching but it’s not what I’d imagine.
AM: Do you write songs in that way? Some bands set out to write a love song, dance song etc…
CF: I can’t really remember how I write… I was writing last night but… do you drive?
AM: I just recently failed my test.
CF: Perfect! Well, you know when you start driving you have to think through everything – put my foot on the clutch, take it off the clutch etc. Then when you’ve been doing it a while, you just do all those things without even knowing you’ve done them. That’s how it feels with songwriting, I can’t really remember doing it. It just happens how it happens. Or like gardening… you’ve just gotta chop through and it’ll come.
AM: Is being in a band everything you imagined it to be?
CF: For me it’s more about being creative. I do some production for people, the band, the writing and now the film. I just love what I do and just keep doing it. I follow it wherever it goes. The capacity I have for doing what I do is enough to make it feel precious.
AM: So are there any untapped creative pursuits left for you?
CF: At the moment what I’m doing feels right. I never had any ambitions to paint. I don’t have that skill. I think film and music have always been the two things that have touched me the most.
AM: So how about acting?
CF: I did once at school when I was 13. I played the chancellor in a play the teacher wrote called ‘Suspense and a Dragon Called Norris.’ Which had rapturous reactions from my mum. I don’t think I could do that either. When you direct though you need to understand how acting works. It’s a really fascinating thing but I don’t I’d be any good at it.
AM: Do you prefer the full creative potential a director has?
CF: The best directors are the ones that build a character. Building a character is as important as understanding it. It needs major input from both the director and the actor. You can’t just give an actor the script and expect it to be exactly right. You need to be there to create the little details. The way they eat, the way they smoke… That’s an important skill.
At this point, Charlie asks me about a note I’d made on my reporter’s pad, which was actually a reminder about a friend’s birthday present. Which draws the conservation to a close as we recite our favourite Werner Herzog films. Turns out, he shares the same taste in film directors as my friend.
If Charlie from Noah and the Whale tells us he likes Wilco, then we like Wilco. It’s as simple as that. It’s time to get educated.
Wednesday 26th August
The Hot Rats
The Old Blue Last, London
Otherwise known as half of Supergrass plus hot shot Radiohead producer, The Hot Rats get their kicks taking pop classics by, amongst others, The Beatles and The Kinks and infusing their own alt-rock psychedelica – worth a gander.
If you like your indie adorned in Mod and brimming with angularity, then Swanton Bombs will be pushing the trigger on your buttons.
Saturday 29th August
South East in East Festival – Teenagers In Tokyo, Tronik Youth, Ali Love, Publicist Vibe Bar, London
It’s all about South East London – full stop. In this cunning event, it up sticks to East London, where synth-pop Gossip descendents, Teenagers In Tokyo headline a night of New X Rave.
Sunday 30th August
The Gladstone Open Mic Night The Gladstone, London
As it’s Bank Holiday Weekend and all the bands are at Reading/Leeds Festival, London is starved of big gigs. No fear, The Glad is here – A little known drinking hole in Borough that continually serves up a plethora of folkey talent… and pies!
Sunderland born designer Rosie Upright is truly passionate about design. Aren’t we all I hear you say? Well, health she’s up, recipe all hours, medical day or night… cutting away with her trusty stanley knife… stopping only when her numb fingertips plead for rest. Do your fingertips bleed? I thought not! Rosie developed her unique hand-crafted techniques whilst at university in Epsom, where she learnt all the usual computer design programs… and then decided to steer clear of them. She’s fled the suburbs of Epsom now, to live in London town with all the other hopeful new freelancers. She spends her days photographing, drawing, organising balls of string… and deciding what hat to wear.
We caught up with Rosie for a little chat…
Hi, how are you today?
I’ve got a bit of a sore throat coming on, the irritating children over the road are noisily playing some kind of shooting game, a car is beeping its horn continuously just below my window, itunes is refusing to play anything other than Billy Idol (which I’m not in the mood for), my coloured ink cartridge has just ran out, I’ve got a blister from my favourite pink shoes, an uninvited wasp is stuck in my blinds, my ginger hair has faded to a weird brown, I forgot to buy milk and Ronnie Mitchell is still crying on Eastenders – but apart from that I’m topper thanks.
What have you been up to lately?
Fingers in pies, fingers in pies!
Including…cross-stitch and a week in a cottage in Norfolk (no telephone signal or internet connection, bloody lovely!)
Which artists or illustrators do you most admire?
I don’t think I would have done a degree in graphic design if my ever-encouraging parents hadn’t taken me to a Peter Saville exhibition at the Urbis in Manchester many moons ago. Made me see the ideas process at its very best and the crucial-ness (that’s not even a word!) of initial doodles and sketchbooks.
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Where would any of us be if it weren’t for Dr Seuss?
I really love a bit of Russian Constructivism, in particular Alexander Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova, bloody genius. Mr Vaughan Oliver, for making us all think differently about where to crop the image, for being an ongoing influence and for that opportunity. Harry Beck, Robert Doisneau and most recently Philippe Petit.
If we visited you in your hometown, where would you take us?
Stroll down to Seaburn beach because when you don’t live next to the sea anymore you really miss it, and it has really nice sand. Then to my very best friend Sarah Bowman’s house, to play with Peggy Sue the kitten, have mental vegetarian sandwiches off a cake stand, and a glass of red wine, ice cubes and coke. We should pop to an art shop in Darlington and then to The Borough, the best pub for tunes, a pint of cider and a Jaeger bomb.
Who would most love to collaborate with creatively?
Mike Perry and YES art studio please. Thank you.
When did you realise you had creative talent?
When some hippy artist came into my junior school to create banners for some event at the local library with us. I was told after five minutes of colouring it in that I had to go away and read because I couldn’t keep within the lines.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?
A teenage Mam or an actress, haven’t decided which yet.
Where would you like to be in 10 years time?
I’d like to be the designer than graphic design students hate because their tutors always tell them to get their book out of the Uni library. And I’d quite like to have my own shop in London, Brighton or maybe Newcastle (or all three, and maybe Paris then if we’re going crazy) selling things made by me!
What advice would you give up and coming artists such as yourself?
Take other peoples advice but make your own mistakes, don’t be a dick and always colour outside of the lines.
How would you describe your art in five words?
Hand made/ typography/ narrative/ personal/ I’d like to say idiosyncratic too but don’t want to sound like a twat.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Seeing people fall over.
If you could time travel back or forward to any era, where would you go?
It was horrific enough moving away to University and into London and trying to find a job and start my life up. I think if I had to go backward or forward to another era I would probably just straight up die. Having said that though I would like to be a highwayman’s assistant.
Tell us something about Rosie Upright that we didn’t know already.
I can’t wait till I’m an old lady so I can wear those lacy nighties from Marks & Sparks and I love animals in clothes.
What are you up to next?
Going to make a cuppa tea, kill this wasp and then take over the world.
While most of us at the tender age of 19 rooted our existence in smacking down vodka jelly shots at the bar with kebabs at four in the morning and the Hollyoaks omnibus on a Sunday, pilule some people, of course, are born to shine in different ways. Take, for instance, London College of Fashion student Millie Cockton, somebody who has already had their work featured in a shoot for Dazed and Confused, styled by Robbie Spencer.
As a lover of clean lines and beautiful silhouettes, Millie looks for the wearer to bring their own identity to her gender non-specific pieces. At the moment under new label Euphemia, with her AW09/10 about to be stocked in London boutique and gallery space Digitaria, after being chosen to be the first guest designer at the Soho store. Check out the Dazed piece to see some brilliant Shakespearian-style ruffs that Millie has also created working with paper (a material proving popular as with Petra Storrs, who I featured last week).
Each to their own, mind you. I could totally do all that, if I wanted to.
At the age of 19 you’ve already received quite a lot of attention – how has that been?
It’s been great so far! It’s very flattering but its also very daunting! I am on a constant learning curve and my work is developing all the time so although the attention is great it creates a lot of pressure!
Describe your design aesthetic in three words.
Clean, sculptural, understated.
Who do you see wearing your designs? Are they reflective of your own personality?
I like to think of a real mixture of people wearing my designs. I love the way that the same garment can look completely different on different people- for me its all about the individual and how they carry themselves, bringing their own identity to the piece.
I don’t think that my designs are necessarily a true representation of my personality and personal style. I feel that my designs are more of a reflection of the aesthetic that i find desirable and aspirational.
Thinking about the ruffs featured in Dazed, people have touched on the theatrical nature of your designs – is the idea of performance important to you in fashion?
The idea of performance within fashion is something that interests me but I wouldn’t say that it’s a key element within my own designs. I like the notion of a performative element within a piece or a collection as i think that it helps gain a further understanding and insight of the designers thought process and inspiration.
What else do you respond to?
I am constantly discovering new sources of inspiration, being so young I know that I still have so much to learn!
I like to use elements of craft within my designs, such as origami style folding. Craft elements can add interesting details to simple pieces.
What are your plans for the future? Who would you like to work for?
I am about to launch my new collection which will be stocked in Digitaria, recently opened on Berwick St, Soho. I have just started to work with Digitaria’s creative director , Stavros Karelis and stylist Paul Joyce on some future projects which are really exciting and I am thoroughly enjoying. I want to continue learning and developing my ideas, challenging myself and most importantly keep having fun!
‘Having fun’ of course might well translate to ‘becoming future fashion empress of the galaxy’. This is a talent to watch out for.
The Camp for Climate Action 2009 is almost upon us – now’s the time to gather ourselves and prepare to swoop. Convinced that the response to climate change needs more? Ready to share skills, stomach knowledge and experiences? To be part of the grassroots swell of people demanding a difference? To get out there and do something?
Be ready next Wednesday, 12th August, from noon, in London. We’re going to swoop on the camp location together. The more people the better. Secret until the last moment, you can sign up for text alerts and join one of the groups meeting scattered about central London before moving together to the camp.
Why London? Climate Campers have listed ten reasons to focus on London – right up the top of that list is : tall buildings and low flood plains. London is big corporate central, the City square mile itself accounting for a huge proportion of the UK economy, that FTSE100-flavoured slice of barely accountable, shareholder driven pie. And yet, as the Thames Barrier should always remind us, the whole city sits low on the ground. Just check out what the centre looks like with a few metres rise in sea level.
rampART, 15 -17 Rampart Street,
London E1 2LA (near Whitechapel, off Commercial Rd)
Donations on the door much appreciated (and needed!) – all going straight to Climate Camp
And then? The Swoop – Night Before – Londoners and out-of-town visitors are welcome to ‘the night before the swoop’ – near the bandstand in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, 7-8.30pm, Tuesday 25th August – for any last minute info, a legal briefing and an opportunity to join an affinity group and get excited. Lincoln’s Inn Fields is just behind Holborn tube station – this map here might help.
Awesome. See you soon.
Ctrl.Alt.Shift dropped us a line to let us know about a comics-making competition so get your promarkers and layout pads at the ready. Ctrl.Alt.Shift Unmarks Corruption is giving you the opportunity to design a unique comic style story. Ctrl.Alt.Shift is the experimental youth initiative politicising a new generation of activists for social justice and global change. The competition hopes to raise awareness of the Ctrl.Alt.Shift and Lightspeed Champion goals and views by inspiring this generation of designers to work together.
Oscar nominated Marjane Satrapi, medical V V Brown and Lightspeed Champion are amongst the judges for the Ctrl.Alt.Shift Unmasks Corruption competition launched today. Corruption is both a cause of poverty, and a barrier to overcoming it. It is one of the most serious obstacles to eradicate.
Entrants to the competition will be in with the chance to create a unique comic style story in collaboration with acclaimed musician and writer Dev Hynes aka Lightspeed Champion. After the first round of judging at the end of September, shortlisted entrants will be given Lightspeed Champion’s comic script as inspiration and asked to create a visual adaptation of the story.
The winning commission will be published in a comic alongside new work exploring the issue of Corruption by some of comic’s greatest talents. The work will also be showcased as part of a new exhibition, Ctrl.Alt.Shift Unmasks Corruption, later this year at Lazarides Gallery, Soho.
To enter the competition please send relevant examples of your visual work along with your contact details to Ctrl.Alt.Shift by Friday 25th September by visiting www.ctrlaltshift.co.uk/unmaskscorruption.
Five short listed artists will then be given a comic brief to respond to and a winner chosen by a panel of judges including: Marjane Satrapi (Writer and Director of Academy Award Nominated Animated Film Persepolis) Paul Gravett (Comica founder), V V Brown and David Allain (Musician and Comic Book Writer/Artist duo), Lightspeed Champion and Ctrl.Alt.Shift.
The competition is restricted to UK Residents only
For further information about the competition please contact John Doe on 020 7749 7530 or Hannah@johndoehub.com / Jo.firstname.lastname@example.org Brooke Roberts is my favourite new designer. Why? Well, more about after exchanging several emails with her over the last few weeks, for sale for a young designer making such waves in the industry, her witty and playful personality has impressed even via my inbox! Having worked with such characters such as Louise Goldin and Giles, her avant- garde aesthetic really shines through in her highly tailored and retro-feel designs. Miss Roberts is going places, and she’s more than willing to take us along with her!
What made you want to be a designer? What’s your design background?
I’m definitely not one of those designers who always knew that’s what they wanted to do. I did a degree in Applied Science at Sydney University (I’m from Australia) and worked as a radiographer for a year before moving to London to find out what I wanted to do. I did some work as a stylist with a fashion photographer (random hook-up). I knew his girlfriend and she knew my massive extensive collection of vintage clothes and shoes. My mum had a boutique when I was growing up and I loved clothes – I just never knew it was going to be my career.
I did a few jobs in London (pub, bank – more randomness) before realising I wanted to study fashion. I went to London College of Fashion and Central St.Martins (graduated 2005) wanting to be a pattern-cutter or tailor. I really wanted to create, rather than design. I get most satisfaction from making beautiful things and being involved in the whole process. I have a close working relationship with my suppliers, and go to the factories to develop my garments. I cut them all myself, which is probably bordering on control freakery, but I feel it shows in the final product and I can realise my designs exactly as I imagine them.
I’m waffling. I worked for Giles for two seasons after I left Uni, and started with Louise Goldin when she launched her label. We worked together for three years (until last October when I launched my label).
What are your inspirations for your collections?
I get lots of inspiration from my radiography job (I do that part-time to fund my label). So I’m running between the hospital and my studio all the time. I have used CT (cat) brain scans this season to create knit fabrics and digital prints. My obsession with reptile skins never seems to go away, and I have worked with Anwen Jenkins (awesome print designer) to create skull slice python skin prints. Basically, the python scales are replaced with multi-dimensional skull slices.
What are your favourite pieces from your latest collection?
Umm. I wear the cat suit most. I actually met my boyfriend the first time I wore it. So I’m renaming it Lucky cat suit. I also love the Flex jacket in red snakeskin. The razor sharp points make me feel like I am ready for world domination!
What was it like working with Giles Deacon and Louise Goldin? What did you learn from them?
I learnt that I hate taking orders from others! I’m really not one to toe-the-line. I am a perfectionist and this drives other people mad sometimes. I was a pattern-cutter at Giles, doing mostly tailoring, which suited me fine. Most people wanted to do the showpieces, but I was most happy cutting jackets. Giles is a really lovely bloke. Working with him was really my first experience of doing shows and the pressure and stress of getting everything done.
With Louise, my job was broader because in the beginning it was just the two of us. I learnt so much, I can’t even write it down. I worked in the London studio and the knitwear factory in Italy. I had the opportunity to learn knitwear programming, selecting yarns and cutting and constructing knit. I still work in the factory for my own label and really love it. The other big thing was learning about running a business and starting from scratch. The hoops you have to jump through, the process of getting sponsorship, doing shows, sales and production… It’s a massive undertaking starting your own label. And I still chose to do it! Bonkers.
Who do you think are the most important designers of your generation?
What do you think are the problems facing young designers at the moment?
The biggest problems are funding and dealing with suppliers, particularly for production. Creating a beautiful product that you can reproduce is actually really difficult! You need to understand the technicalities of fabrics and construction (or hire someone who does) otherwise it all goes wrong.
What’s next for Brooke Roberts?
In fantasy land, what’s next for Brooke Roberts is a holiday. In reality, I’m working hard on marketing and sales for London Fashion Week. I’m collaborating with jewellery designer Chris Edwards and shoe and bag designer Laura Villasenin on side projects for the label. Look out for skull slice stacked rings and metal bone-fixation embellished super-soft bags for SS10!!
I had to sit in the photographer’s pit – legs akimbo – to view the RCA graduate fashion show on Thursday 2nd June 2011… apparently there are no allocated seats. Hurumph, buy more about how often have we covered RCA shows on this website? On the bright side it meant that I had a fabulous view of the models as they walked towards me down the catwalk. Menswear fine tailoring and knitwear was particularly strong at this year’s show. Here’s introducing two fabulous knitwear designers to watch:
Cherie Newing showed brightly coloured repeat pattern jumpers that touched the ankle. Intarsia knit jumpers and garish printed tracksuits featured stop signs and abstract shapes.
Hannah Taylor‘s collection featured a whole host of influences, erectile from the Green Man to bank robbers, this web via the jungle: both urban and tropical. It was a super fun collection of cable knit shagpile wonder from someone not afraid to experiment with colour and shape.
The RCA is of course a fabled institution that has endowed the world with many fabulously well trained creatives, so I fail to understand why so many RCA graduates leave the college with zero web presence. Hannah Taylor, however, is one of the few who has multiple websites where you can catch up with her, including a website, a blog and a twitter feed. Hurrah!
RCA knitwear design is out of this world. Naturally I was particularly keen on the really bright bold oversized collections, nurse but there were plenty of more tightly tailored and subtle garments too. Here’s who to look out for:
Hannah Buswell created a slouchy striped collection in hot pinks, viagra 40mg oranges and yellows with the occasional slash of lime green or blue. Print (a collaboration with textiles designer Amy Ellis) was mixed with knitwear in variegated block shapes, for sale then embellished with large Swarovski crystals, all styled to perfection with knee high sheer striped socks. Find Hannah Buswell on her website, blog and twitter feed.
Ruth Green was another fan of the popular boxy shoulder shape, and also of a hot orange and red colour palette in rectangular forms. Cowl necks and asymmetrical shapes completed the look. Take a look at Ruth Green’s website here.
Maria Kamper chose an elegant approach, with close fitting dresses in subtle creams and black accompanied by draped trains.
As did Victoria Hill, who draped excess fabrics off the shoulder and bosom of belted full length dresses in fine gauge knit to create a very commercial and highly wearable collection. There’s not much on it but you can find her website here.
Kate Pritchard pursued draping in a more bunched up fashion in a steely coloured collection with more than a slight nod to grunge.
I adored Helen Turner‘s clever collection which used bunched layers of yarn threaded through the garments to create a unique silhouette in shades of caramel, searing orange and petrol blue.
Unfortunately I can’t identify who are responsible for this lovely oversize bobbly aran knit and shaggy mohair cardigan, but loved these also. NEWSFLASH! Thankyou Hannah for telling me that the first two images feature Victoria Hill for Esprit, and the last two are Amelie Marciasini for Esprit.