Amelia’s Magazine | Twist Baby Twist at the Fashion and Textile Museum

7 Foale and Tuffin exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum CREDIT photographer Kirstin SinclairImages throughout courtesy of both Fashion and Textile museum and Felicitie’s Designer showroom

A couple of weeks ago, information pills I was lucky enough to attend the Twist Baby Twist event at the Fashion and Textile Museum which included entry into Foale and Tuffin exhibition (previously reviewed here). The idea was to recapture the swinging sixties as Foale and Tuffin remembered it and to celebrate their success as fashion designers.

1 Sally Tuffin and Marion Foale - Foale and Tuffin exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum CREDIT photographer Kirstin SinclairSally Tuffin and Marion Foale

Celebrating how the sixties formed the world of music, approved fashion and art as we knew it, the exhibition was brimming with live music, film, fashion shows, dressing up boxes, a David Bailey inspired photo booth and 1960s make over’s.

Greeted with sounds of the swinging sixties, including Baby Love by The Supremes and She Loves You by The Beatles heightened the Foale and Tuffin experience, taking the guests onto a trip down memory lane.

With daisy chains gracefully decorating every head as the guests listened to the live music from Bebe & Paulo, Remi Nicole and Theoretical Girl and The Equations, this event was everything that it promised to be; lively, entertaining and realistic.

The Original Foale and Tuffin Team - Foale and Tuffin exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum CREDIT photographer Kirstin SinclairThe Original Foale and Tuffin Team

Professional make-up and hair stylists transformed twenty-first century boys and girls into stylish sixties icons. A rail of beautiful vintage clothes and accessories from the sixties were on offer for the guests to dress up in and reminisce about a more radical time.

A David Bailey photo booth was on offer for anyone who wanted to capture the moment with friends. Dancing and smiling in front of the camera, dressed up in their sixties outfits, the guests got to experience what it would have been like to be captured by the famous photographer.

6 Foale and Tuffin exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum CREDIT photographer Kirstin Sinclair

Key pieces by Foale and Tuffin were put on display including a napoleon raincoat, the corduroy brown trouser suit, which famously changed the way women dressed (even before Yves Saint Laurent), the domino dress and the black mini dress with fringe detail.

There was a vibrant catwalk courtesy of Pop Boutique whose models were dressed in clothes from the shop that perfectly represented the sixties era to a tee. Full of enthusiasm and lively music blasting out, the models proudly swept down the catwalk proving that it is still possible to wear sixties clothes and look on trend.

With sixties label such as Biba, Mary Quant and Ossie Clark re-launching themselves, Tuffin has not ruled out the possibility of Foale and Tuffin making a come back. Described as quirky, youthful and sensitive to the latest atmosphere and styles it was good luck and dedication that found them at the centre of the cultural explosion in London that defined the swinging sixties.

Categories ,BeBe & Paulo, ,biba, ,Coco Watts, ,David Bailey, ,Fashion and Textile Museum, ,Foale and Tuffin, ,Mary Quant, ,Ossie Clark, ,Pop Boutique, ,Remi Nicole and Theoretical Girl, ,the beatles, ,The Equations, ,The Supremes, ,Twist Baby Twist, ,Yves Saint Laurent

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Amelia’s Magazine | London Fashion Week: February 2007

The last time I saw Final Fantasy was in the tiny Spitz venue. Tonight he is playing to full capacity at the Scala; word has clearly spread and expectations are high. I am here on my own with only a monster coldsore for company. Prior to the gig I sit down at a table opposite a morose and unenthusiastic man in his mid-30s (that point where the unfulfilled of the gender start to become manically desperate) who is nevertheless keen to talk to me – his profession changes from writer on the blag to “actually I work at an internet company and I am a frustrated musician” at the drop of my job description. Not so worth trying to impress me, purchase buy eh?! I persuade him that Canadian impresario Owen, decease the man who is Final Fantasy, will be well worth watching. Post-set I am vindicated, but Mr. Morose is nowhere to be seen.

Owen takes to the stage with his inimitable banter in full flow, and proceeds to play his entire set on his lonesome, with just his trusted viola, a keyboard, and some looping mechanism (that I can’t hope to understand) for company. Oh, and a lovely young lady, who stands with her back to the crowd in front of an old fashioned projector that she proceeds to masterfully manipulate. Final Fantasy‘s music has been set to acetate drama, and the result is mesmerizing, even if I have to struggle to see the events unfold through the lighting rig that obscures my view on the top balcony.

Final Fantasy is on a one-man misson to coax as many sounds as he can possibly can from a viola, and in his looping hands this one instrument becomes a full orchestra, and the crowd loves it. There is even a lady at the front of the audience whose frantically waving hands can’t decide whether they are vogueing or conducting throughout the entire set. “Has anyone got any questions?” he asks at one point. “Any constructive criticism?” “No, I don’t normally do poppers!” he replies to the one query he gets. “Lesson learned, never talk to the audience!” Even when things go slightly pear-shaped with the looping business, which they inevitably do, he carries on in such a postive manner that no one minds. As the climax is reached and the star-crossed silhouette of lovers finally meet on the projection screen, Owen lifts his miniature partner into the air and they both stumble off stage. There will be a wave of enquiries into viola lessons across the capital shortly.

Did you know that the man who designed Battersea Power Station (Sir Giles Gilbert Scott) also designed the classic red phone box? Clearly a talented guy. I went to see the Chinese exhibition at the Power Station (as it has now been rebranded) for the same reason as everybody else was there – mainly to see the station before it is at last transformed. The art I could give or take – it was haphazard and I was unsure of its meaning, remedy although I particularly enjoyed the fermenting apple wall (mmmm, store yummy appley smell) – the other stuff was merely an adjunct to the amazingly damp interior of the building, (you will find out a lot more about Chinese contemporary arts by reading my new issue). I really hope that the ludicrously long-in-the-planning development will do this amazing building justice – the ominous and ugly “luxury resort hotel” going up next to it must surely be one of the ways in which they have at last found funding. I hadn’t realised how much I treasure the iconic shape of the station, what with me being a sarf-Londoner and all.

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Amelia’s Magazine | Foale and Tuffin: Made in England

With our current fixation with everything 80s and 90s, ask patient it’s easy to see why the 60s have become a little side-tracked, order a little blasé, drug and so ‘a few’ years ago, when the shift dress silhouette was last in vogue. But what do we know, as a common consciousness, about the 60s anyway? Twiggy was hot, the Beatles were big and sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll were prevalent, right? But isn’t that a little bit one-dimensional and something we could have learnt from Austin Powers?

foale-and-tuffin-spotlightImage courtesy of Fashion & Textiles Museum

Fast forward to 2009 and to the Fashion and Textile Museum, who in their continual efforts to thrill and excite (as well as educate), are exhibiting a retrospective: Foale and Tuffin: Made in England. No doubt the aforementioned names mean very little to those unfamiliar with this great exhibition. However, this design duo was heralded as responsible for “Youthquake”, the creation of a youth movement encompassing teenagers who wanted to dress, shop and live differently from their parents.

Upon graduating from the Royal College of Art, the two designers decided, with only £200 to their names, to open a new shop aimed at a younger clientele. Following their own tastes in constructing simple shift dresses, trouser suits and biker jackets, their clothes were soon selling out. After Woollands stores started stocking their brand, Vogue’s new darling photographer David Bailey shot some of their pieces, and stardom was born, with their clothes gracing the editorials of Vogue, Queen, Honey and Nova.


All photographs courtesy of Becky Cope

Despite starting out by utilising their RCA background for constructing high fashion garments in high quality fabrics, they soon began to adopt a simpler, stream-lined approach more suited to their customers. Major trademarks of the pair include their creation of trouser suits for women, their use of light lace, their peter pan collars and graphic, pop prints inspired by the art of the period. Particularly famous is their double D pocket shift dress, a reference to Double Diamond ale advertising of the time.

IMGP1111Pieces that feature all of these signature trademarks are well-represented in the exhibition, with its layout mimicking their store off London’s iconic Carnaby Street. Mannequins showcase their most popular and successful designs, such as the navy lace dress with key hole neckline and peter pan collar, as well as some of their most radical, such as “Geoff’s Jacket” inspired by their boyfriends’ clothing. Sportswear was also an early inspiration, reflected in their range of light weight, coloured jersey dresses with white piping detail. Liberty prints were also important, utilising them in their designs through to the 1970s.

IMGP1122The key to their reign of success, from 1962-1972, seems to lie in the fact that they were catering to a previously ignored market and tapping into the consciousness of the period in doing so. Indeed, Tuffin has commented for the exhibition, “We made our own clothes and we realised there was a gap. So it was very much that people would make their own clothes, people would dress themselves and style themselves with bits and pieces… and we sort of jumped in and made the bits and pieces for them.”

IMGP1110When the design duo finally hung up their measuring tape, it was only to pursue families and other personal dreams. This landmark exhibition is highly significant because it dispels the myth of a singular London youth explosion more commonly associated with Quant and Biba, and instead showcases the diversity and range of changes taking place within the decade that brought us so many freedoms.

Foale and Tuffin: Made in England is showing until 24 February 2010.

Categories ,Austin Powers, ,Beatles, ,biba, ,Carnaby Street, ,David Bailey, ,Double Diamond, ,Fashion and Textile Museum, ,Foale and Tuffin: Made in England, ,Honey Magazine, ,Nova magazine, ,Quant, ,Queen magazine, ,Royal College of Art, ,twiggy, ,vogue

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Amelia’s Magazine | An Interview with Fashion Blogger turned Fashion Designer Coco Fennell

Kiss Me Coco Fennell by Jade Boylan
Kiss Me Coco Fennell by Jade Boylan.

I discovered via good old Facebook that my talented ex intern Jenn Pitchers has been creating bespoke print designs for gorgeous curvaceous dresses made by the blogger turned fashion designer Coco Fennell, so of course I had to check them out. Here Coco describes her career move and how she hooked up with Jenn.

Coco Fennell by Amyisla Mccombie
Coco Fennell by Amyisla Mccombie.

What is your education and what brought you to this point in your fashion career?
After school I did a great graphic design course in East London which then led me on to art direct a magazine where I met Jenn Pitchers, the illustrator who I work with on my prints! 

Coco Fennell Louie_Banks

Did being a blogger first help you to launch your own label and what has it taught you about the business?
Yes for sure, working on my fashion blog made me realise that what I really wanted to do was design dresses and that with the internet it could be possible. It showed me that it wasn’t impossible to have an online shop to start a label with low overheads when you don’t have terrifying things like shop rent to deal with!

Coco Fennell new tricks
What does your blog focus on, and has the focus changed since you started your own label?
Yes I think so. I probably blog more about editorials and look books where as before I was focusing on key pieces to buy. It’s just like an online scrapbook. I love that I can find great websites I blogged about ages ago which I would have otherwise forgotten. 
Coco Fennel Veronica Rowlands
Coco Fennell by Veronica Rowlands.

What is the process of working together with Jenn to create your unique print designs?
I come up with a theme, pull together lots of imagery and then we meet up, talk about it, Jenn sketches up some awesomeness and we go from there! 

Coco Fennell kiss me
Why was it so important that you create your own bespoke print fabrics and what do you think makes them so different to anything else on the market?
I’ve always loved designers like Jeremy Scott and Swash and when I met so many illustrators working at the magazine it inspired me to make some of my limited edition pieces in cool, unusual prints.

Coco Fennell by Rebecca Rawlings
Coco Fennell by Rebecca Rawlings.

What else inspires your designs?
The female form is the first thing because I want to achieve a flattering shape – if the dress isn’t flattering then girls don’t feel as wonderful as they could and I don’t think there’s any point in making something that doesn’t make you feel good! I love 60′s and 70′s designers too like Biba and Ossie Clark.

coco fennell 1
How have you managed to acquire such a good relationship with celeb fans such as Daisy Lowe, Pixie Lott and Bip Ling?
I’ve just been lucky enough to get in touch with stylists and have been even more lucky that the girls like my dresses so have worn lots of different pieces.
Gypsy Heart Dress by Jamie Wignall
Smokin' Hot Babe Dress by Jamie Wignall
Gypsy Heart Dress and Smokin’ Hot Babe Dress by Jamie Wignall.

Who is the model in your current look book and how did you achieve that amazing hair? what was the inspiration?
She is such a babe! She’s called Mimi Wade and she already had that amazing green hair we just added in some yellow extensions. I love big Dolly Parton hair!

coco fennell  2
How many collections do you create a year?
Around three, but it depends. I haven’t really been making set collections so sometimes there are bits inbetween.

Coco Fennell, Circus,Circus by EdieOP
Coco Fennell: Circus,Circus by EdieOP.

What are you aspirations for the future?
I want to grow my brand: promoting fun, friendliness and a positive body image! I love brands like Nasty Gal and Wildfox and the way they work – I aspire to build something like that. There’s a big aim to set myself!

Find Coco Fennell‘s collection online here.

Categories ,70s, ,Amyisla Mccombie, ,biba, ,Bip Ling, ,Blogger, ,Coco Fennell, ,daisy lowe, ,Dolly Parton, ,EdieOP, ,Fashion Designer, ,illustrator, ,Jade Boylan, ,Jamie Wignall, ,Jenn Pitchers, ,Jennifer Matignas Pitchers, ,Jennifer Pitchers, ,Mimi Wade, ,Nasty Gal, ,Ossie Clark, ,Pixie Lott, ,Print Design, ,Rebecca Rawlings, ,retro, ,Veronica Rowlands, ,Wildfox

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Amelia’s Magazine | Ani Saunders interviews Amelia Gregory about ethical fashion for The Muse TV

Illustration by Gabriel Ayala

I’ve always approached Cassette Playa with caution. She’s responsible for making Shoreditch look like a live Pump up The Jam video and has a lot to answer for when it comes to one of my good friends’ questionable fashion choices.

All photography by Matt Bramford

And then what happened? Well, more about I can’t tell you, more about but I at least didn’t here anything for a while; I’m sure Carrie Mundane didn’t disappear, you probably had to look a bit harder than I was (i.e, not at all). Then, when the schedules were released at the beginning of the year, there was Cassette Playa on Menswear Day. I have to admit I got a little excited – last season’s KTZ show was one of the highlights and really mixed up Menswear Day in a sea of classic tailoring and less-than-experimental clobber for blokes, and I expected Cassette Playa would do the same.

Illustration by Krister Selin

Unsurprisingly the show was packed with all sorts of fashion-forward dressers, including one flamboyant gent sporting a Katie Eary PVC rabbit mask. At regular intervals he removed it to deeply inhale because he clearly couldn’t breathe behind it. Well, I ask you.

As the glamorous polythene sheet was removed from the catwalk and the lights began to dim, a rather flustered PR boy shoved me along the front row shouting ‘We’ve got to seat Charlie! We’ve GOT TO SEAT CHARLIE!’ As I pondered the different Charlies that could warrant such a reaction, Charlie Porter from Fantastic Man took a seat at the side of me and I wondered if that was all really necessary.

Illustration by Gemma Milly

I don’t know what’s changed since nu-rave had its day, but I bloody loved this show. A marriage of rude boys, rockers and thugs, this comeback collection had a bit of everything. This definitely wasn’t a collection for the sartorial dresser; not a single (or doubled-breasted) blazer in sight.

Leather and denim jackets were jazzed up with all sorts of various emblems representing various subcultures: rocker flames and hip-hop graffiti, for example. Cable-knit hooded sweaters in grey (worn on the most tattooed man I’ve ever seen, save on the pages of Pick Me Up Magazine) were embellished with embroidered graphic logos and teamed with baby pink shorts, and one of my favourite pieces was an oversized grey jersey t-shirt with an enormous leather motif in pink.

Padded jackets famed on East End market stalls were emblazoned with the Cassette Playa logo came in varied, vibrant colours and were worn with oversized rucksacks and trousers with acid graphic prints that bordered on hallucinogenic.

Illustration by Antonia Parker

A bit of womenswear showed up to – more references to music subcultures on body-conscious short dresses with sleeves. These were modelled by a curvaceous chick who swaggered up and down to the sounds of metal music, and it was bloody marvellous to see a model with sex appeal rather than the dead-behind-the-eyes waif I’d grown accustomed to this season.

Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

The lights dimmed, and the second half of the show brought out models sprayed head-to-toe in gold to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ken (of Barbie fame) – the ‘ultimate boyfriend’. CP X Ken is a capsule collection which features mostly black garments with Cassette Playa’s unique mix of prints and embellishments – silk rose-printed shirts, baseball jackets with patches, that sort of thing. I have to admit, when a model is gold and has enormous breasts (I’m talking about a menswear show, here) the clothes can go unnoticed.

So, consider me now a fan of Cassette Playa. Soz, Carrie, that I ever doubted you. Welcome back!

See more of Gareth A Hopkins, Gemma Milly, Antonia Parker and Krister Selin’s illustrations in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration!

Gabby Young at Selfridges, hospital illustrated by Sam Parr

The ‘Supermarket Sarah’ pop-up shop opened last month in Selfridges stationery department, treatment I attended Friday’s opening night to check it out. Press, designers and shoppers celebrated the opening with Campari cocktails whilst enjoying an energetic acoustic set from Gabby Young.

Back in December 2009 I visited Poke Design Studios at The Biscuit Factory for Supermarket Sarah’s Christmas Extravaganza, on behalf of Amelia’s. A year on and Sarah has had wide press coverage, and has celebrity followers such as; Lily Allen, Lindsay Lohan, Tinie Tempah and La Roux. ‘Supermarket’ Sarah Bagner seems, however, unphased by all the attention and continues to do what she does best; sourcing an eclectic mix of quirky vintage finds and indie crafts, and displaying her discoveries in an inspiring and creative way. Starting out in her home in Portobello, Sarah would beautifully arrange her own walls with items to buy and serve customers tea and cakes. The launch of her website expanded her work outside of her living room and has allowed her to exhibit in a variety of locations. Using the website, customers can browse through the items displayed on real walls as part of styled stories.

Illustration by Madi Illustrates

The retro-inspired Selfridges store layout holds shelves of vintage china trinkets, playful plastic jewellery and quirky gifts and accessories, all organized into the walls four sections; Super Stuff, New Designers, Vintage and Gallery where Sarah presents a designer she admires. Currently the Gallery space presents the work of Eley Kishimoto. The collection of printed accessories include; iPhone covers, textiles, limited edition screen printed books, and even a skateboard.

Sarah’s hand-picked selection of designers are given the opportunity to have items displayed in the Supermarket-style ‘gallery’. Carefully thought out curation and styling mean each piece compliments each other, contributing to the personal nature of the ‘Supermarket Sarah’ shopping experience. It was great to see the interactivity at play between customer and product; this interactivity is also achieved on the Supermarket Sarah online platform.

Illustration by Danni Bradford

My favourite pieces included; cross stitch badges from Ma Magasin, Mell Elliot’s Lady Gaga paper doll and Strawberry Creme Nouveau‘s rubber moulded biscuit brooches. John Booth’s eccentric bag charms, Nick White fake tattoos, Katy Leigh‘s painted egg cups, and YCN‘s ‘Light up your mood’ light switch stickers, all also deserve a mention. And other great designers involved include Tatty Devine, Patternity, Donna Wilson, Lynn Hatzius, Swedish Blonde Design and Rina Donnersmarck.

All photographs by Ester Kneen

Bringing a sense of Portobello Market to London’s central shopping location. ‘Supermarket Sarah’ at Selfridges gives tourists a sense of what the London vintage and craft scene is all about. Congratulations to all involved!

Amelia Gregory and Ani Saunders with Amelia's Compendium of Fashion Illustration
Me and Ani Saunders with Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration.

Last week Ani Saunders of The Pipettes asked me to take part in a short TV programme looking at vintage and ethical fashion for new digital channel The Muse TV. Inspired by reading Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, ampoule she decided to take a look at the links between charity shopping, site vintage and ethical fashion, visiting Oxfam in Dalston, 123 Bethnal Green Road (which she discovered when she DJ-ed at my launch party) and Beyond Retro. She then invited me into their Covent Garden office to ask why I think ethical fashion is so important.

YouTube Preview Image

You can see my interview about 5.30minutes into the programme, and at the end there is also the chance to win a copy of ACOFI, which you can also purchase here. For the interview I wore my favourite ethical combo: a top by Beautiful Soul and earrings by Joanna Cave.

Ani Saunders with ACOFI
Ani Saunders with ACOFI.

Ani Saunders studied fashion but is also coincidentally an amazing illustrator herself, who goes under the moniker of The Lovely Wars. I urge you to check out her website! You can check out The Muse TV blog here, and video channel here. FInd out more about ethical designers by buying my book here.

Notes to self: my hair looks a mess when I don’t have the benefit of an on tap hair stylist. Sigh.

Categories ,123 Bethnal Green Road, ,ACOFI, ,Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, ,Ani Saunders, ,Beautiful Soul, ,Beyond Retro, ,dalston, ,ethical, ,illustration, ,interview, ,Joanna Cave, ,oxfam, ,The Lovely Wars, ,The Muse TV, ,The Pipettes, ,TV, ,Vintage Fashion

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Amelia’s Magazine | BIBA is BACK!

Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

BIBA, viagra 60mg illustrated by Abi Daker

It was the now legendary Barbara Hulanicki that brought Biba into the lives of so many young people.  Barbara, capsule with her husband Stephen, advice had previously run a small mail order company before opening Biba, a small boutique on Abingdon Road, South Kensington, in 1964.  It was an instant success and customers flocked to the boutique to buy clothing that was inspired by Art Nouveau and Deco designs, as well as Hollywood glamour of the 1920s and 1930s.  The interior of the shop was designed to suit the original and covetable clothes perfectly; it was ornately decorated with beautiful furniture and antiques. Hanging out at the Biba shop was the thing to do, it was the hippest place to be seen and young celebrities of the time such as Twiggy, Julie Christie and Brigitte Bardot were loyal customers.  

‘Big Biba’ illustrated by Alia Gargum

Following its quick success, Biba moved to a further two stores but it was in 1973 that it relocated to the Art Deco department store Derry’s and Toms on Kensington High Street.  Barbara and Stephen spent £1m on refurbishing the store that became known as ‘Big Biba’.  It sold everything that the contemporary household needed and desired, from furniture, food, cosmetics and other household goods, alongside Barbara’s clothing and accessory designs.  Behind the scenes, Biba had become a profitable venture and Dorothy Perkins became a large stakeholder when the company was privatised.  For Barbara and Stephen, their personal relationship with the brand had soured and they were frustrated with the lack of control that they had over the everyday running of the business. In 1975 the nationwide recession forced Big Biba to close, and the couple relocated abroad.   

In 2005, Biba was given new life under the reins of designer Bella Freud.  As creative director, Freud and the company who had bought the rights to Biba tried to capitalise on the legacy that Barbara and Stephen had left behind them.  Freud’s vision was not well received and the collection was criticised for being over priced, and lacking the spirit that Barbara had instilled in the brand.

Daisy Lowe wears Biba, illustrated by Natasha Thompson

It is now at the hands of House of Fraser that Biba has its third revival.  House of Fraser will offer three ranges; Biba, Biba Blue and Biba Boutique.  Biba Blue will carry popular denim styles, whereas Biba Boutique will offer limited edition dresses.  For this season, bang on trend, there are 11 statement maxi dresses. There will be approximately 160 pieces for the launch, and also available will be jewellery, handbags and scarves.  There is a strong contemporary feel to the collection, but sensitivity to the Biba history is clear.  The design team at House of Fraser have been busy delving into the archives and sourcing inspiration from original pieces.  For this season the collection contains maxi dresses, heavily embellished tops and dresses, metallic colours and sheer panelling.  Materials such as velvet, faux fur, marabou feathers and sequins give a nod to the original decadence and Art Deco inspiration of the brand.  With an average selling price of £100, House of Fraser aims to avoid the ‘disposable clothing’ concept that Hulanicki championed.  This does not mean, however, that the collection should be cast with the same contempt that Freud’s fell victim to.  The collection contains some fantastic offerings.  Daisy Lowe has been selected as the face of new Biba, and in one marketing shot she coquettishly wraps herself up in the must have piece of the season – the floor length leopard print faux fur coat.  Other must have items include a wine coloured velvet maxi dress and a range of marabou feather jackets. 

The new collection, illustrated by Jenny Robins

The resurrection of vintage brand Halston shows that with the right creative direction an enterprise like this can be successful.  House of Fraser CEO John King spoke recently of the requests he received from American retail giants Macy’s, Saks and Bloomingdale’s about when they were able to place orders for the Biba collection to sell in their department stores.  The interest in Biba is mammoth; it always has been.  Hulanicki’s capsule collection for Topshop was a huge triumph, but even she has closed the doors on Biba for the foreseeable future.  Available to buy in store now, perhaps it will be a case of third time lucky.

Categories ,Abi Daker, ,Alia Gargum, ,Art Deco, ,Art Nouveau, ,Barbara Hulanicki, ,Bella Freud, ,biba, ,Bloomingdales, ,boutique, ,Brigitte Bardot, ,daisy lowe, ,Glamour, ,Hollywood, ,House of Fraser, ,Jenny Robins, ,John King, ,Julie Christie, ,Macy’s, ,Natasha Thompson, ,Saks, ,South Kensington, ,twiggy

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Amelia’s Magazine | Black is the new Black- Hannah Marshall Interview

When you think of the humble pom-pom you think of children’s clothes, order buy of gigantic sombreros for tourists, generic unsightly snow boots and poodles with dodgy haircuts. Experimenting with pom-poms always seemed to be a bit like tequila shots – one was fun, two was adventurous, any more was way overboard and enough to make you gag.
NOT ANY MORE! Somebody somewhere decided it was time to wrench those pom-poms from the cheerleader’s sweaty grasp and boom! Stick them in the right places and we’re in love – and it turns out you can have hundreds of them!



They might have come to our attention bobbling out all over the catwalks in fashion week and with the high street following suit, but this is a look that could be even cheaper for the creative recessionistas amongst you. Make your own! Check it.
If you ever find yourself sat staring into space on the tube, you could be churning out a whole lot of pom-poms instead. Worn the right way I think it’s a really easy and fun accessory to jazz up an outfit– this cute Peter Jensen ring as a prime example:


We’ve seen some girls wearing them in their hair, which make a nice woolly alternative to bows, and of course the contentious scrunchie.








Don’t be wearing those in the cinema mind you.

It’s amazing that something so simple has been culturally reinterpreted so often over the course of history. That might sound grand but something that’s gone from dangling off the edges of sun hats in Central America, to being mass marketed to children all over the world to making on the Paris catwalks is pretty unique. Yikes, Pom Pom international even reckons they can promote world peace. Maybe that’s one tequila too many. Sporting them could almost seem a throwback to childhood, a fashion revival harking back to the days of hats and mittens (I’d like to say ‘and snow and toboggans’ but let’s face it, it doesn’t snow THAT often).
The last thing we can learn about pom-poms is from cheerleaders everywhere, who if nothing else, seem mind-bogglingly happy. Why? POM-POMS!
“At a T-cross-section go to the left. On your left hand you will see a hill. At the end of the hill, tadalafil on the top, this you will see a green cottage. That is where you can find me. If I am not there I might be outside doing some experiments.”
Holland’s answer to a modern day Darwin, Theo Jansen has spent the last 19 years playing god and taking evolution into his own hands. An arrogant way to spend the best part of two decades you might say, but not when you see what incredible results this passing of time has produced. Jansen’s kinetic creature creations exist in a carefully crafted overlap of art and engineering.
From a physics background to a study of painting via an interest in aeronautics and robotics Jansen arrived at 1990 with a thirst for breathing autonomous life into mechanical sculpture. What started as a highly technical computer animation program is now only reliant on the power of the wind with no machine assistance and only minimal human input required, and even that Jansen hopes to eventually phase out.
My personal attraction to what Jansen does comes from my deep seated loathing of plastic waste, which he cleverly conquers by incorporating discarded plastic bottles as part of a complicated wind energy storage system and he sources metres and metres and metres of yellow plastic tubing- 375 tubes per animal to be exact- to create the skeletons for his beautiful monsters.
He claims he started to use the plastic tubing because it was unbelievably cheap and readily available although he quickly discovered that a more perfect material for the project would be hard to find as they are both flexible and multifunctional. He draws comparisons between the plastic required in his art and the protein required for life forms. “in nature, everything is almost made of protein and you have various uses of protein; you can make nails, hair, skin and bones. There’s a lot of variety in what you can do with just one material and this is what I try to do as well.”
The heads of his giant beings act as sails, directing the intricate frames to glide gracefully across the nearby beaches to Jansen’s home and laboratory. The insect-like wings catch gusts of wind and propel the body forward. When there is no wind not even for ready money, the stored energy in the belly of the beasts can be utilized.
Jansen’s vision is of a landscape populated by herds of these sculptures taking on entire lives of their own. The versions of models that made it into existence have raced and won survival of the fittest contests through his computer program and having studied these ‘winners’ Jansen designed creatures so developed they are even capable of self preservation, burrowing themselves in the sand when the gusts are too powerful for them to use constructively.
His imagination like his Strandbeests (literally translated as ‘Beach Animal) is an ever evolving self perfecting organ. He envisions a point at which he will release his creations ‘into the wild’, which he speaks about in the same loving tone you would expect from a parent preparing their nest to be flown by their offspring. “I imagine that two animals will meet each other and compare their qualities in some way; have a demonstration somewhere on how they run and how fast they can run and also do some quality comparison on how they survive the winds. And the one with the better quality kills the other one and gives the other its own genetic code. There could be 30 animals on the beach, running around all the time, copying genetic codes. And then it would go on without me.” It’s not so far fetched after all to consider what Jansen does as god-like. He plainly and rather humbly philosophizes, “I try to remake nature with the idea that while doing this you will uncover the secrets of life and that you will meet the same problems as the real creator,” he added. Theo Jansen is simply a genius though his genius is far from simple. Amen.

It has been a while since I have found a political party that I feel that I can get behind. Politics seem to have descended into a misguided mess. Anytime I read about a Tory or Labour MP, more about it is usually because of a scandal. What is going on environmentally and economically seems to play second fiddle to infighting and lies. Meanwhile, living in East London, I have become friends with a couple of people who are involved in the Hackney Green Party. They don’t seem to lie, or cheat, or claim expenses – this is a party that I can support! I wanted to find out more about them, so I sat down for a cup of tea with Matt Hanley, who is the Green candidate for Stoke Newington Central.

Illustration by Jessica Pemberton

I really liked the political broadcast; I thought it was very astute. The message is not that we have to step outside of our comfortable lives, but that the Green Party are the only political group who can deal with the contemporary and current issues that the world is facing; both politically and environmentally.

We have changed in almost a 180-degree way, twenty years ago the stereotype was beards, sandals, pipes, hemp clothes, it was almost like lecturing the public – it was unsophisticated. Twenty years ago was what, 1989? Scientists for the first time had come to an agreement that climate change was happening, and that it appeared to be man made. I guess when that news was first out there; people were like ‘look, its GOT to change’. Now we are a bit savvier. We have to present policies which are palatable to the voting public; there is no point in standing on the side lines and finger wagging, if we present a policy which will save money but drive down carbon emissions – that is what we are all about. I see the environment agenda of the Green Party very much subset of our core goal, which is social justice. Everything we do, we put the welfare of the human being at the very core. If they are not benefiting from our policies then… I don’t want to know…. that is what the Green Party stands for. So we work for human rights, LGBT rights, promoting the local economy, promoting local business, right though to reducing carbon emissions, they are all under this umbrella of social justice. We are providing a very electable platform, which will improve people’s lives. We are a very well run political party with extremely good innovative ideas to get ourselves out of this economic mess and we are also challenging climate change and enabling our communities to do the same and preparing ourselves for peak oil.

There have been a many protests organised recently, a lot of people who have never protested before are taking to the streets. What is the Green Party’s stance on direct action?

We are the political wing of the New Social Movement; we are the only party who advocate non-violent direct action. The Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas, is probably the only leader with a criminal record, she has been arrested at a nuclear base up in Scotland. We support legitimate protest. There is a place for the protesting, and a place for the parliamentary process. So we are the elected wing of the protest movement.

Illustration by Aarron Taylor

Other parties don’t like their protesters do they?

Absolutely not, they just want you to nod along. Like good citizens, nod along like The Churchill Dog! (Laughs)

For people who have only heard of Hackney and have not been here, the first words that would come to mind would not be “sustainability”, “communities” or “grow your own”, but plenty of people are living by these ideals here and there is actually quite a healthy sized green movement in Hackney….

There is a massive opportunity for a green movement here, and massive support for us. It is unbelievable. In the last elections, the Greens reached second or third in every single ward in Hackney.

And you have a good relationship with Transition Town Hackney as well?

Yes, but they are completely different organisations. The Transition Town movement doesn’t want to be in the thrall of the political party. We definitely support the parties and their principles. We are all about a localised economy, we should be able to feed ourselves, produce our own energy, and I should be able to send my kid to the local school. The Transition Town model is about preparing for the onslaught of climate change and equipping communities for that transition, and that is also what the Greens are all about.

Can you see Hackney functioning well under a Green Party council?

Absolutely! They are doing it in Lewisham at the moment, which is a similar demography. They are doing all these fantastic things, for example, they have set a system up where you can go to the library and hire energy reading meters which you can take home and fix into your energy meter and this allows you to do an audit of your energy usage. I definitely want to see this launched in Hackney. It’s an innovative, creative way of thinking. It’s about putting sustainability at the core of everything, which also saves lots and lots of money!

I see The Green Party as being very accessible to young people as well.

The average age of people joining is mid to late 20′s. They are not wedded to 20th century politics, a lot of older labour supporters can’t bring themselves to leave. We have the same agenda that Labour did, back when they were good Labour. Only we can add the environmental agenda. We stand up for peace. We stand up for nuclear disarmament, no other party does that. We want public services to stay public. We want to renationalise the railways – the cost of rail tickets hits young people very, very hard. Younger people can see that we are standing up to big businesses, supporting local shops, and standing up for individuals. We have a whole plethora of progressive policies……..

Illustration by Aarron Taylor

And also The Green Party a very media savvy bunch – you are on Facebook, you organise lots of activities….

Absolutely! In fact next week we are going paintballing – ‘Paintballing for Peace’

(Laughs) What other way is there to find peace?

(Laughs), and we are going on a Hackney Greens bike ride down to Brighton, we are organising a summer solstice away down to the coast. And we go on alternative pub-crawls. (Laughs)

Speaking of young people, Matt, you are 30 years old and you are standing for Stoke Newington Council for next May. What prompted this move?

I don’t like politicians – they are all the same, especially with what is going on with news about their expenses at the moment.
Working for the Green Party, and seeing the good that they are doing, I thought, you have to step up. I know that I can do a good job. Labour are failing miserably both in Hackney and in the country. The Conservatives are the same, the Liberal Democrats are no different, and so as a Green, you just have to step up.

What will you do if you won and had the power to implement any idea? What’s the first thing that you would do?

Free insulation! It’s a scheme that stems from European legislation, which states that energy companies are obliged to give a certain percentage to energy efficiency schemes. But the councils have to apply for that. The Green Party in Kirklees is on the local council, so every single person in Kirklees gets free insulation. It drives down energy costs, and drives down the carbon emissions and creates local jobs, so it’s a win win situation. Why every single council on the country is getting on this I don’t know. It saves everyone money, make peoples homes warmer, make them healthier – it stops people going to NHS with colds and flu and also reinvigorates the local economy by producing jobs. It creates a programme of very sustainable jobs. We tried to implement it before, but the Labour Councellors called it ‘daft’, dismissed it out of hand and didn’t give a reason beyond that!

That doesn’t make any sense!

The Labour and Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats are on the wrong side of history, but there is a new movement, and it takes into account the Green Party, Transition Town and Friends Of The Earth…. Amnesty International, trade unions, CND etc and all these community grass routes organisations. This is a wonderful new social movement that can be called green with a small g and is a new paradigm of social and political engagement…. this is what the 21st Century is coming to now, but the three big parties are still clinging onto the coat tails of 20th Century ideology. This whole new multifaceted social movement (of which the Green Party are the political wing) is the new politics of the 21st century.

Illustration by Faye Katirai

Can you tell us the best changes that we can make to our lives to make our world more sustainable?

Number one is vote Green! Although I don’t want to lecture people about being ” eco trendy”. Eco trendiness and eco consumption is not going to sort this mess out. We need strong government action to allow this country to change to a sustainable economy. But back to things that you can do as an individual: don’t use your car as much. Don’t eat as much meat. Cut down, you don’t have to stop eating meat completely, just don’t buy from supermarkets. Stop shopping at supermarkets altogether, because that is killing the environment, and your local towns. Support your local shops instead.

Wise words! Thanks Matt.
While the rest of us spent the winter windblown and wet-toed, viagra knitwear designer Craig Lawrence was dreaming of a resort escape, prostate with all the bells and whistles. And what hard earned sunburn doesn’t deserve to be soothed by an embarrassingly oversized tropical drink with all the tacky accoutrements. And ‘splash’ inspiration is born! Those fanciful toxic colored fishbowls of liquor with their cascading garnishes were all the visual inspiration Craig needed to create his first collection since graduating from St.Martins last July. Knitted up with satin ribbons and swirling metal yarn, the knitwear newcomer’s sugar sweet confections made it to Vauxhall Fashion Scout’s runways and onto the lips of the fashion heavies.


I understand sweets and cocktails were the inspirations for your recent collection. What are some of your favorites?
After my degree collection for St.Martins I needed a bit of time to catch my breath so when I started designing again it was winter…cold and grey. I was eating sweets in my studio and daydreaming of beaches and tropical drinks. Some of my favorite things are peach daiquiris, parma violets. My favorite sweet is probably chewy toffee and favorite drink is that fizzy orange drink irn-bru.
What do you recall as the first piece of knitwear you ever made?
A wooly, salmon colored scarf that I actually lost on the train. That and an awful grey ruched square-shaped polyester thing I had to make for my A levels.
If given the chance to collaborate with anyone who would you have in mind?
I’ve always thought of doing pieces for a more theatrical environment. I would love to work with Slava Snowshow.


You recently worked with stylist Katie Shillingford on a shoot for your recent collection. There’s so much movement in those images which really brings your knits to life, how did you manage to capture that?
I’d wanted dancing and movement but the studios’ ceilings were too low and they were all too expensive. So we brought a 9 ft family size trampoline to a rooftop overlooking the city and had the girls bouncing up and down on it. A bit risky actually as there was really not much there to stop them from going over if we weren’t careful. We did the hair and make up at home with the help of my boyfriend and flatmates, one of which is a model, which definitely helps when you need someone for fittings.
Did you start out interested in knit or did you find your way to it while studying fashion?
Actually, I wanted to do menswear while I was at London College of Fashion, by the time I got to St.Martins they encouraged me to do knit because they saw that all my stuff to that point had been designed in jersey. And I loved the chunky quality of knit.


I hear you managed to do the impossible and actually design 6 seasons of knitwear for Gareth Pugh, while doing your BA, AND working a retail job once a week. How were you able to do that and how many of yourself did you have to clone?
I was in school at the time and had knitted a scarf for a friend who’s flatmate wore it on a date with Gareth, who mentioned he was looking for a knitwear designer. He got in touch and said he needed to have pieces made up in a week. So it was all quite fast. All that while doing my BA degree and working in the stock room at John Lewis on Saturday mornings, sometimes having to be there at 6 am. You get used to not sleeping.
And a year after graduating you were showing at Vauxhall Fashion Scout?
My PR agency BLOW called me up a week before the show and said they had an opening for me, so I made up some accessories and a few pieces to fill out the collection I’d been working on. I was given a team of hair and make up artists and we were off.


Which comes first for you, the yarn or the garment?
Usually the textiles come first for me. I’ve learned alot about them along the way, like for example needing to use a flat knit for tight fitting garments.
Are there any textiles, practical or not that you’re really keen to use?
I’d like to do something with little leather strips or pvc something shiny and bright. Maybe even strips of diamante.
What is one of the more random things you’ve used to knit with?
You know those yellow rubber gloves used for washing up/ i found a guy in Dalston Market selling a gaint roll of it and bought it. I cut it up into tiny little strips and started knitting it up but as a garment it was incredibly heavy and totally unweareble.
Could you give us a peek into the inspirations for your next collection?
At the moment I’m interested in accessories, chenille, and fireworks!
Look out! That is some recipe. Craig Lawrence wants to expand our minds and preconceptions, to push knitwear into places we’d least expect it. Can’t wait to see what Molotov cocktail awaits us next season!

Prepare yourself for copious amounts of black eye liner as this week sees us take an awe-inspiring look at one of London’s fashion firmament Hannah Marshall. A rapidly establishing icon Marshall has been injecting a healthy dose of rock and roll back onto our catwalks since her break through debut in 2007.

I tracked down Hannah to find out more about this talented lady


How are you doing? It’s a lovely sunny day in London; hope your enjoying the sunshine?

I have escaped from London to work from home today in the beautiful Essex countryside; the weather is beautiful here too.

Take me through life since you’re A/W 09 collection showcased at London Fashion Week?

The Autumn/Winter 2009 collection ‘Armour’ was shown at London Fashion Week as part of the New Generation exhibition sponsored by Top Shop. In addition, store I did my first presentation at the On|Off space with Ipso Facto in the Science Museum. The collection was also shown in Paris and New York and there has been a very positive reaction with UK and International press and buyers alike. Since fashion week, ed I have started working on more music collaborations, approved which is really exciting.


Your one of the few designers I have come across that you really get the sense that your personal style plays prominence in your designs, would you agree?

I think it’s important to practice what you preach, and at the end of the day I am designing what I want to wear, that I believe isn’t out there already. I am obsessed with black, shoulder pads and eyebrows. My brand is an extension of me and my aesthetic and vision, which is about empowering women through clothing.

Every girl needs her staple black dress, for me anyway there is a sort of salvation and self-assurance in black clothing, would you agree?

When I design, I design in black. It’s the strongest and most powerful colour there is. Black is the perfect tone to create bold and interesting silhouettes with. For me, the iconic Little Black dress is the epitome of timeless clothing and is the wardrobe staple that is exudes a powerful elegance, authority and quiet confidence. When I launched my label in 2007, I just showed 12 black dresses – for me, a black dress is all you need.


What would you say stimulates you to create your collections?

This season the Hannah Marshall woman wears her own suit of armour. Her body is encased in steel line panels, protected with angular breastplates, concealed with pronounced contours and shielded with moulded hips. This body armour concept allows pieces to offer the illusion of strength and lend the wearer a sense of security.

My design philosophy stems from my continuing obsession with the human form and bodily contours, resulting in carefully orchestrated designs that fit to perfection, inspired insect exoskeletons references such as the beetle’s armoured shell, mimicked through protective interconnecting segments. Black takes the main stage once again, in contrasting and tactile fabrics to create a second skin concealing what lies beneath. The introduction of caviar- look stingray, luxurious stretch velvet and taught elastic is added to my ritual butter soft leathers and lustrous stretch silks

I know it’s a generic question, but which designers out their would you
pinpoint as inspirations?

I am obsessed by Thierry Mugler and the super tailored, sexy designs from the 80′s period. I love the minimalism of Jill Sander in the 90′s and appreciate the sculptural shapes from Japanese designers like Yohji Yamamoto.

You utilise black very heavily within your work, would you say “black is
the new black?’

Always – black is irreplaceable and will always be around throughout each season.

I know you’re enthused by music, you recently used Ipso Facto as muses for you’re A/W 09 collection, which other bands blast out of your headphones?

Ipso Facto of course, as well as The Kills, Iggy Pop, Skunk Anansie, The Black Keys, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Florence & The Machine, Prince, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Nirvana, Siouxie & The Banshees, and more…

If you could work with any iconic figure from the past, who would you choose any why?

Cristobal Balenciaga – pure genius.


Do you have any advice for budding designers eager to break into the fashion sphere?

Believe in yourself, otherwise how can you expect others too. Also, I would advise any young designers to get a mentor and do their ground work.


The more that I delve into the world of Hannah Marshall the further in awe I become. Marshall creates collections that are not merely appreciated as catwalk objects, she creates pieces that tap into every woman’s subconscious. Her Designs follow a distinctive aesthetic, beautifully crafted with architectural precision but with a sensibility that just screams wearability.


I think on a subconscious level we are all black aficionados, when your endlessly trawling the deepest realms of the wardrobe on those bleary eyed mornings, what brings us the utmost in self-assurance and feistiness? Without a doubt it is the quintessential little black dress that consoles all dilemmas. Its been engrained into our sub conscious, think avante garde, think Audrey Hepburn. The back dress prevails time, it still retains the same stylish potency now as ever. Regardless of occasion Its my one true ally admist the abysses of print and colour that can often just make the head spin. Blacks connotates effortless dominance, sexiness and style.


So watch out world we have a new queen of darkness on our hands!

(images supplied by Victor De Mello)

Categories ,Black, ,Fashion, ,Hannah Marshall, ,Interview, ,London Fashion Week, ,Rock and Roll

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