Amelia’s Magazine | Eco Fashion by Sass Brown: A Review

Illustration by Abigail Wright

I have always been fascinated with analogue photo booths. I have vivd memories as a child – the excitement and anticipation, malady pulling ridiculous faces, find never really knowing what you’ll get until the old machines clunk and churn out your photographs. So, on a recent trip to Berlin, I was desperate to get back involved, like so many others, with the analogue phenomenon.

A short while after my return, I discovered that the Photoautomat project that exists in Berlin had transferred to London – one of those brightly coloured, glorious booths had been on my own doorstep and I didn’t even realise. A bit of internet research, a blog and a Twitter account later, I met Alex – Photoautomat’s London representative. He’s on a mission to bring back the beauty and art of the old-fashioned photo booth. Me, Amelia and fashion writers Sally and Jemma paid Alex a visit on a crisp Saturday morning to get involved, and have a chat with the man himself…

How did the Photoautomat project start, and where did the booths come from?
Well, it really started about 5 years ago in Germany, where my friends bought one of the booths because they were fascinated with the old analogue machines and the photos they produce. Soon it took over Berlin and the rest of the country. I got interested in the booth when I was over visiting and followed my friends around to look after the booths. We all have our memories from when we were young and fooling around in those booths at the Mall, but seeing them again in Berlin really ignited my passion for them again.

What do you know about the history of the booths?
The photo booth was invented 1925 by a Russian immigrant in New York. He opened his Photomaton Studio on Broadway. For just 25 cents, everybody could get their photograph taken. That was quite a revolution back then as photography was just for the rich and famous; because of the booths, it became accessible to everybody. 
From then on they were used as props in movies such as Band Wagon with Fred Astaire, by artists like Andy Warhol and people from all backgrounds for fun or memories and obviously passport photos.

Where are the booths located now?
Our booths are all over Germany. Most of them are in Berlin, but also in Hamburg, Dresden and Cologne. We launched a booth a while ago in Vienna. Then there is my booth here in London. There are also booths in Paris and Italy. 

How did this one end up in Cargo?
I thought it would be much easier to get a good location for a photo booth in London, but it turned out to be more difficult than I thought – policies and regulations mean a seemingly straightforward thing as installing a photo booth quite a task. I approached Cargo and they gave me the space in their beer garden straight away; they just liked the idea and it was done.

Photoautomat Cargo. Photograph by Matt Bramford

Why do you think the booths are so popular?
Well, people always like old things: vintage, analogue. The rebirth of Polaroid showed there is still a demand for analogue photography.There is something precious about a photo booth strip. It’s one moment, one photo and it can’t be replicated. No negative, no back up, just like real life. The photos also have a better quality than digital ones. There are apps out there on smart-phones to imitate the effect and I understand that most people don’t want to go through the hassle of having a analogue camera. This is where the photo booths come in. For a few quid, you can take your photo booth strip with your friends and keep that moment forever.

How do you think the qualities of these booths compare to the modern booths we see in train stations/etc?
I guess I answered that question above, but there really is no comparison. The digital ones lack quality and depth and the spontaneity you have in the analogue booth. 

Are there any other London locations planned? Or elsewhere in Europe?
I am looking for more locations in London. I would love to get some booths on the Southbank.

Has the booth been used for anything other than people taking pictures with their mates?
I had a photo shoot last year with Mixmag in the booth. It was a fashion special with hats. There were also a few artists who used the booth for their projects. Fionna Banner used the booth for her work twice.

Photoautomat Berlin. Photograph by Matt Bramford

Have you seen/heard any funny experiences concerning the photo booth that you can share?
I had a guy calling me once – he was totally out of it. He took some photos with his girlfriend and they didn’t came out. She got naked and they were concerned that they might get into the wrong hands. I wasn’t in town at that time and couldn’t do anything about it, but he insisted for me to come around. I finally managed to calm him down and sort everything out. 

What are you favourite images that the booth has created?
That would have to be all the photos form the exhibition/project we had during Photomonth last year. They reflect what the whole photo booth thing is all about.

Who would be your ideal customer – who would you most like to see use the booth?
Everybody is ideal. Everybody is welcome, as long as they respect our work and leave the booth as they found it for the next to come! Most likely they are probably analogue enthusiasts, students and Cargo guests. I have families, a couple from Lisbon, artists form Nottingham and even Henry Holland taking their photo in the booth!

A Photoautomat booth in Berlin, photographed by Lizz Lunney

What does the Photoautomat project hope to achieve, long term?
Hopefully we’re here for years to come and give people from all backgrounds the opportunity to have their little moment. It’s really all up to the people who use our booths and what they make of it. That is the beauty about it – and always will be.

See more pictures from the booths on the Photoautomat Facebook and Flickr pages.

Eco Fashion Sass Brown cover

Eco Fashion is the first book on ethical fashion design from publishing giant Laurence King. It profiles ethical fashion designers by type, malady embracing Community and Fair Trade, page Ecological and Slow Design and Corporate Initiatives in separate chapters. Author Sass Brown clearly has a good knowledge of her subject; she sells her own ethical collection in the UK and Canada, is Resident Director of the New York Fashion Institute of Technology‘s programme in Florence, and has helped out in women’s cooperatives across South America.

Eco Fashion-Noir

Across 200 pages the book showcases look book and studio shots of designers from around the world in the fields of clothing and accessories design, accompanied by short potted histories. It does what it says on the tin: giving a good all round introduction to ethical fashion design, with just enough technical information to inspire rather than bore. It falls down where all publications from large publishers suffer: books take so long to get to market that the information they contain is already out of date – whilst Sass does well to steer away from too many references to specific collections nothing beyond 2009 is mentioned, and crucially she has missed out some of the most exciting new ethical fashion designers that are now coming to the fore. No Ada Zanditon, no Beautiful Soul, no Henrietta Ludgate and no Christopher Raeburn. In the fast moving world of fashion design this is a real failure – but an unavoidable one when working with the long lead times of a big publisher. Sass Brown also keeps a blog where she features the more recent work of designers that did not make it into her book.

Eco Fashion-Sass Brown

Naturally, if I were to suggest you were to buy one book on ethical fashion then I would recommend that you instead buy mine, featuring as it does the most up to date information of the 45 featured ethical designers which I interviewed barely two months ago, and images from upcoming S/S 2011 collections. Straight from pen to paper, it’s much easier for me as an independent publisher to produce a book quickly. Having said that Eco Fashion is a great introduction to a whole host of ethical designers – many of which I didn’t previously know about – and features a much broader global outlook than my own book which focuses much more on the personal philosophies, inspiration and work practices of European designers. And anything which promotes ethical fashion design should naturally be applauded.

Eco Fashion-Alexandra Faro

Which brings me to the blurb at the start of Eco Fashion from designer Geoffrey B. Small. “A book that for the very first time examines sustainability in fashion and a few of its pioneering practitioners, proponents and concepts is, indeed, a timely thing.” He writes. “Historic and courageous, its effort alone merits both immense applause and support for its author Sass Brown and its publisher Laurence King.”

Eco Fashion-Angela Johnson

If a mainstream publisher with huge financial resources (printing cheaply in China) deserves this kind of hyperbole, then I can only hope my small homespun efforts (printed at great cost in the UK) will attract a tiny amount of praise too. You can buy Eco Fashion here and Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration (featuring the very best in ethical fashion design) here – with a special pre-Christmas discount. AND it features fashion illustration too. It comes back from the printers on Thursday this week. I can’t wait…

Categories ,ACOFI, ,Ada Zanditon, ,Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, ,Beautiful Soul, ,book, ,Christopher Raeburn, ,Eco fashion, ,fairtrade, ,Fashion Institute of Technology, ,Florence, ,Geoffrey B. Small, ,Henrietta Ludgate, ,Laurence King, ,new york, ,review, ,Sass Brown, ,Slow Fashion

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with jewellery designer and gemologist expert Milena Kovanovic

Milena Kovanovic by Laura Hickman
Milena Kovanovic by Laura Hickman.

I was blown away by the unusual jewels of Milena Kovanovic when I first discovered her at The Craft Market last year, curated by Megan Taylor as part of Tent London during the 2012 London Design Festival. It’s taken me awhile to catch up with this Central Saint Martins graduate, gemologist and self confessed hoarder, who explores ideas of science and antiquity to create her unique designs – but I didn’t forget her. Her new Ursula’s Hoard Collection features rough precious gems such as Lapis Lazuli, Carnelian and Baroque Pearls set in swathes of bubbled gold, all inspired by the potential spoils of a sunken galleon: forgotten gems that Milena Kovanovic imagines lie encrusted in coral reefs on the depths of the ocean floor. Customers with a very healthy budget can commission from her high end Luxe Reef collection, featuring even more exotic jewels. I spoke to Milena about her inspiration, design process and knowledge as a qualified gemologist.

Tent London Oct 2012-Milena Kovanovic gem
Tent London Oct 2012-Milena Kovanovic
Spessartine Garnet and Smokey Quartz necklace from the Krystalline collection. Discovered at Tent London 2012.

When did you first realise that you wanted to be a jewellery designer, and what has been the best thing about following this career path?
I came across jewellery design whilst doing my art and design foundation course, really enjoyed working in metal and decided I’d apply to the degree course after my tutor convinced me I’d be perfect for it. It must have been fate as I used to make jewellery as a teenager and sell it at Greenwich Market to earn some extra cash, though I never considered it as a career at the time. The best thing about following this career path is that it encompasses all the things I love – making and gems and minerals.

Milena Kovanovic Ursula's Hoard red gems
What was the best bit about studying at CSM?
For me the best part about studying at CSM was the freedom you got to explore and experiment within your degree course. It also have one of the best libraries for books and materials that is an invaluable resource for any designer.

Milena Kovanovic Jewelry by Veronica Rowlands
Milena Kovanovic Jewellery by Veronica Rowlands.

The Ursula’s Hoard collection features gems that are encrusted with molten gold that looks like coral – how did you achieve this effect?
I enjoy exploring new processes and techniques in my work, so for my last two collections I have been doing a lot of electroforming. This is a process which uses an electrical current to take metal in a solution and deposit/grow it onto the surface of whatever you want. This method was perfect for the Ursula’s Hoard collection as I wanted the pieces to look like they’d been under the sea for centuries, becoming encrusted in barnacles and corals.

Milena Kovanovic Ursula's Hoard La Belle Ring
La Belle Ring.

Where do you go for inspiration when you start designing a new collection?
Inspiration can come from anywhere, it’s all around us. I’m very visual and take a lot of photographs of things that catch my eye, especially focusing on the details. Sometimes it can be from something I’ve read or an exhibition I’ve seen. I also love to travel which is a great influence for new ideas.

Milena Kovanovic Ursula's Hoard Golden Hind Necklace
Golden Hind Necklace.

Where did you study and how long did it take you to become a qualified gemologist?
I trained as a gemmologist at the Gemmological Association of Great Britain in Hatton Garden. They have a fast track course which combines the foundation and diploma into a 1 year full time programme, which is what I did.

Milena Kovanovic Ursula's Hoard rings
What amazing and little known gemological fact can you share with us?
The gemstone Tourmaline is pyroelectric – meaning that when it is rubbed or heated, it will develop a static charge that attracts lightweight particles to its surface like dust. This effect could be one probable source of it’s name, which originates from the Sinhalese word Turmali which means both “coloured stone” and “attractor of ashes“.

Milena Kovanovic Ursula's Hoard Mayflower Ring
Mayflower Ring.

What are your favourite kind of gems to work with?
That’s a tough one, there are so many it’s hard to choose! I’m really drawn to vibrant coloured gems such as Rubellites, Spessartine Garnets and Emeralds to name but a few. The gems are always the starting point from which I will create a piece of jewellery as they usually inform the design.

Milena Kovanovic Ursula's Hoard earrings
How and when are you able to use your gemological expertise these days? (apart from in jewellery design)
I regularly utilise my gemmological knowledge to source and supply gemstones for clients and trade, as well as offering specialised training in gemstones and jewellery production to staff in retail businesses.

I can’t wait to see what the talented Milena Kovanovic designs next. Visit her website here to explore her wonderful world of gems.

Categories ,2012, ,Baroque Pearls, ,Carnelian, ,Central Saint Martins, ,electroforming, ,Emerald, ,Gemmological Association of Great Britain, ,Gemologist, ,Gems, ,Golden Hind Necklace, ,Greenwich Market, ,Hatton Garden, ,jewellery, ,Krystalline, ,La Belle Ring, ,Lapis Lazuli, ,Laura Hickman, ,London Design Festival, ,Luxe Reef, ,Mayflower Ring, ,Megan Taylor, ,Milena Kovanovic, ,pyroelectric, ,Rubellite, ,Sinhalese, ,Spessartine Garnet, ,Spessartine Garnet and Smokey Quartz necklace, ,Tent London, ,The Craft Market, ,Tourmaline, ,Turmali, ,Ursula’s Hoard Collection, ,Veronica Rowlands

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