Amelia’s Magazine | The Wonderful World of Prangsta Costumiers

“It was when we were awarded a giant golden penis at the Erotic Awards, pilule that has to be my best moment here so far. It was a fashion show that went really well and everything came to plan.” Holly Jade picked up, cure with grinning pride, a huge, winged and golden figurine of male genitalia. As manager of a successful London business, you might expect a more contained answer from Holly, who sits adorned with silver chains, ripped tights and purple streaked hair. Wait a second. Scrap that.

Prangsta Costumiers is far from conventional. “We don’t try and be something that we’re not.” And quite rightly so. Why play the fashion game when their concept already oozes the type of London decadence, imagination and crisp tailoring that one would expect from the likes of Westwood? Seem like an overstatement? Well, yes. But don’t knock this place until you’ve seen it.

I first came across Prangsta when strolling through the streets of New Cross with my mum (as you do). We stopped outside the barred up, clouded shop window and strained our eyes through the metal, trying to fathom what this place was. Despite my mum’s adamance that it was a brothel, she confidently ducked under the corrugated iron and called out for any possible inhabitants. A French lady emerged. She beckoned us inside, casually wearing a riding helmet (as one also does).

An Aladdin’s cave still is the only way to describe it. Trunks and dressers spilling with jewels, brooches, elaborate belts, crowns and masks; dishevelled bustiers heaped with wigs and mad fabric; a trapeze swinging from the ceiling. There was no order. It was undisputed beautiful chaos.

The best part? Every costume is hand-made and tailored by the tight-nit Prangsta team. “We try to purchase as little material as possible so we go to a lot of vintage markets and also get a lot of materials donated to us. We take apart old costumes and old fabrics and then restore them and make them into our own Prangsta designs.” This kind of eco-awareness has been a core principle of Prangsta ever since Melanie Wilson founded the company in 1998. “She studied fashion at Central Saint Martins and really hated how wasteful the fashion industry was portrayed to her.”

Theatrical and period costume dominates Prangsta’s extensive mish-mash gallery of stunning work. A Victorian suited wolf, a burlesque fox or perhaps a two of diamonds playing card? (The shop does have an astonishingly brilliant Alice in Wonderland collection). Simply enter their hidden world and you could transform into characters you barely knew of. Hell, you could make up your own! Or at least leave the imagination to Holly herself, who styles her clients’ costumes rather than creating the pieces in their 1500 square foot studio in Deptford.

I of course guided the conversation onto that 21st birthday party of one Daisy Lowe. Daisy, her mother Pearl and several members of the star-studded guestlist were dressed by Holly and her talented team. Daisy, in particular, wore floor-skimming jaw-dropping ‘Ice Queen’-esque attire. “It was great… They are rock n’ roll royalty. Daisy is a lovely girl and a pleasure to dress.”  ? ?And their impressive list of clients doesn’t end there. Prangsta have also dressed The Noisettes (Shingai, the lead singer, used to work for the company), the Moulettes, the White Stripes, the BBC2 comedy drama ‘Psychoville’ and, get this, have even dressed Florence & The Machine.

Holly insists, however, that dressing such high-flying stars aren’t considered amongst Prangsta’s greatest achievements. I know. ‘You what?’ was my reaction too. But she continued… “I think it’s more of an achievement that we’ve been going like this for 12 years. We’ve made everything ourselves and we’re a London-based local business. Everyone works really hard. We work long hours, sometimes 12 hour days, and keeping the business running I think is more of an achievement.”

And she’s right. The Prangsta team do seem to work incessantly hard. They don’t just simply lend beautiful costumes to individuals. They tour all different festivals throughout the summer. They organize community nights for local performers and artists. They scour markets and thrift stores for the beautiful trinkets and treasures you’ll see placed around their shop. They even run their own dressmaking classes which take place in their Deptford studio. “Classes are taught by Mel and two of her seamstresses,” she says. I then of course comment on the advantage to the class members by being taught by Melanie, being an ex-Saint Martin’s student and pioneer of this mad palace. Holly even mentioned to me how Melanie began squatting in the building that we were sitting in. “Mel started out completely alone, from nothing.”How’s that for a success story?

I also just HAD to ask about that haunting but quirky shop-front that had my mum so convinced we were about to come across prostitutes. Holly laughed when I told of her of this.  ?“We do what we can. We’re in New Cross, not in Soho. And I guess we’re quite an urban team. We’re quite subversive, eccentric characters. It is quite dilapidated but we’re a small business in a rundown area.” But no excuses were necessary. I really and truly loved the subversive exterior. And, well, the mysterious look of Prangsta is certainly parallel with the mysterious Melanie, who apparently prefers not to do interviews (damn, eh?).  ? ?Prangsta sure has got a good thing going, but they’re not stopping there. They have pretty big plans for future expansion. “One day we will have an online shop. People will be able to click on, say, a little hat and will be able to request one to be made for them. Within the next five years I’d say we’d like to be working on expanding our costume collection and maybe pump out a fashion collection aswell. We’d like to break through this wall to next door so that we can have an exhibition space and put a lot of costumes up on the walls like a bit of a gallery, have some music playing with a DJ, have some chai on the go. Above all, we want to provide a really quality service by restoring and recycling aswell as contributing to the community.”

After seeing the place for the second time, and speaking to Holly, it appears that not only Prangsta’s enchanting costumes, but also it’s intriguing story and extensive achievement is a true example of what those young, fun, London minds are made of.

Prangsta can be found at 304, New Cross Road, London. ?Costumes are between £80-100 to rent for 5 days and are also sold at individual prices. ?Their next dressmaking classes begin on Wednesday 22nd September from 7 – 9.30pm and cost £200. There is a maximum class size of 10 (so get in there quick if you’re interested!).

Categories ,Aladdin, ,Alice in Wonderland, ,BBC2, ,Costume, ,daisy lowe, ,Dress, ,fashion, ,Florence & the Machine, ,Holly Jade, ,london, ,New Cross, ,Pearl Lowe, ,Prangsta, ,the Noisettes, ,Victoriana, ,Vivienne Westwood

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Amelia’s Magazine | Trash Fashion Exhibition at the Science Museum


Marie Anne Lynch, more about illustrated by Antonia Parker

This week the London College of Fashion exhibits work from eight of its 2011 MA fashion courses, stomach from photography to footwear. Housed in Victoria House on Bloomsbury Square, where the ON|OFF catwalk shows take place during London Fashion Week, it’s open to the public until 9th February. I went to the opening to see if I could spy some fashion stars in the making.

If you visit, be careful not to walk straight past the main event on the way to the basement – the clothing from the Fashion Design Technology MA is in the foyer on the ground floor. The well-deserved winner of Collection of the Year was Matteo Molinari (his name already sounds like a successful Italian brand), whose all-black menswear collection played with the proportions of sharp suits – a longer sleeve here, a higher waist there – and added crochet and cable-knit elements.


Charlie Goldthorpe, illustrated by Sarah Matthews

Another shortlisted designer, Jo Power showed dresses so long, black and formless I wondered if she’d been commissioned by the Church of England to create ecclesiastical wear. But in reality, Power could be well-placed to ride out a current fad: her brand of monochrome minimalism (save for the odd splash of scarlet red) is, along with Phoebe Philo, Jil Sander et al, the kind on which the fashion world is heaping masses of praise at the moment.

At the other end of the spectrum, Tatwasin Kahjeenikorn’s dresses were so densely encrusted with heavy hematite beads and trinkets they were difficult to lift off the rail. One black sleeveless sack dress was covered in rows of metal components you’d be more likely to find in a hardware shop than a haberdashery.


Paul Beckett, illustrated by Michelle Urvall Nyrén

Paul Beckett experimented with sportswear for men to great effect as tracksuit tops were rendered in leather and silk in muted brown tones. Who’d have thought the midpoint between chav and luxe could be so chic? His collection looks like an ideal portfolio for an interview at Adidas. Equally employable, I wouldn’t be surprised if Miuccia Prada offered Jennifer Morris a job in future – I can easily imagine Morris’s turquoise and blue silk pajama-esque trousers and matching jacket on the Miu Miu catwalk.


Zoe Grace Fletcher, illustrated by Gemma Smith

Over in the Fashion and the Environment MA room, students presented a variety of approaches to solving the problems of the unsustainable and wasteful nature of clothing production. If there was a prize for the best collection title, I would give it to Zoe Grace Fletcher. ‘Britain needs Ewe’ explored the local sourcing route to sustainability, and saw Fletcher learning how to shear sheep and dig for Madder roots to extract dye for her hand-knitted wool dresses. Focusing on clothes that can lead to a more sustainable lifestyle when living in a hot climate, Lu Yinyin took a hundred-year-old Chinese dying technique using yams and mud to create a silk that helps to keep the wearer cool. Lu found that air conditioning, a huge source of energy consumption, could actually be turned down a degree or two when Sun Silk garments were worn.


Paul Kim, illustrated by Karolina Burdon

From the title alone I wasn’t even sure what the Fashion Artefact MA course entailed, but it may as well have been called Fashion Accessories because hats, bags and shoes were the artefacts of choice for most designers. In fact, Charlotte Goldthorpe told me she started on the footwear course before the tutor decided she was ‘too weird’ (her words) and she made the switch. A wise decision, if you ask me, as her standout collection took found objects that had lost their functionality (a broken key, a locket that wouldn’t open) and cast them in spheres of silicon. Paired with traditional shapes like a doctor’s bag and an old-fashioned suitcase in flesh-coloured leather, the collection had a wonderful almost medical feel to it. Also in the weird and wonderful artefact category, Oliver Ruuger took the anonymous bowler-hatted businessman archetype and turned it on its head; his umbrella with a ponytail and briefcase covered in soft spikes and metallic studs are the antithesis of conservative dressing.


Ivan Dauriz, illustrated by Alison Day

All in all, the LCF collections may not be as avant-garde and ground-breaking as that other great London fashion institution Central Saint Martins, but there’s clearly a lot of talent on show at this exhibition. It’ll be interesting to see which of these graduates return to show at Victoria House in the future in its London Fashion Week capacity.


Marie Anne Lynch, drugs illustrated by Antonia Parker

This week the London College of Fashion exhibits work from eight of its 2011 MA fashion courses, online from photography to footwear. Housed in Victoria House on Bloomsbury Square, where the ON|OFF catwalk shows take place during London Fashion Week, it’s open to the public until 9th February. I went to the opening to see if I could spy some fashion stars in the making.


Vesna Pesic


Paul Kim


Oliver Ruuger


Yan Liang


Nam Young Kim. All photography by Katie Wright

If you visit, be careful not to walk straight past the main event on the way to the basement – the clothing from the Fashion Design Technology MA is in the foyer on the ground floor. The well-deserved winner of Collection of the Year was Matteo Molinari (his name already sounds like a successful Italian brand), whose all-black menswear collection played with the proportions of sharp suits – a longer sleeve here, a higher waist there – and added crochet and cable-knit elements.


Charlie Goldthorpe, illustrated by Sarah Matthews

Another shortlisted designer, Jo Power showed dresses so long, black and formless I wondered if she’d been commissioned by the Church of England to create ecclesiastical wear. But in reality, Power could be well-placed to ride out a current fad: her brand of monochrome minimalism (save for the odd splash of scarlet red) is, along with Phoebe Philo, Jil Sander et al, the kind on which the fashion world is heaping masses of praise at the moment.

At the other end of the spectrum, Tatwasin Kahjeenikorn’s dresses were so densely encrusted with heavy hematite beads and trinkets they were difficult to lift off the rail. One black sleeveless sack dress was covered in rows of metal components you’d be more likely to find in a hardware shop than a haberdashery.


Paul Beckett, illustrated by Michelle Urvall Nyrén

Paul Beckett experimented with sportswear for men to great effect as tracksuit tops were rendered in leather and silk in muted brown tones. Who’d have thought the midpoint between chav and luxe could be so chic? His collection looks like an ideal portfolio for an interview at Adidas. Equally employable, I wouldn’t be surprised if Miuccia Prada offered Jennifer Morris a job in future – I can easily imagine Morris’s turquoise and blue silk pajama-esque trousers and matching jacket on the Miu Miu catwalk.


Zoe Grace Fletcher, illustrated by Gemma Smith

Over in the Fashion and the Environment MA room, students presented a variety of approaches to solving the problems of the unsustainable and wasteful nature of clothing production. If there was a prize for the best collection title, I would give it to Zoe Grace Fletcher. ‘Britain needs Ewe’ explored the local sourcing route to sustainability, and saw Fletcher learning how to shear sheep and dig for Madder roots to extract dye for her hand-knitted wool dresses. Focusing on clothes that can lead to a more sustainable lifestyle when living in a hot climate, Lu Yinyin took a hundred-year-old Chinese dying technique using yams and mud to create a silk that helps to keep the wearer cool. Lu found that air conditioning, a huge source of energy consumption, could actually be turned down a degree or two when Sun Silk garments were worn.


Paul Kim, illustrated by Karolina Burdon

From the title alone I wasn’t even sure what the Fashion Artefact MA course entailed, but it may as well have been called Fashion Accessories because hats, bags and shoes were the artefacts of choice for most designers. In fact, Charlotte Goldthorpe told me she started on the footwear course before the tutor decided she was ‘too weird’ (her words) and she made the switch. A wise decision, if you ask me, as her standout collection took found objects that had lost their functionality (a broken key, a locket that wouldn’t open) and cast them in spheres of silicon. Paired with traditional shapes like a doctor’s bag and an old-fashioned suitcase in flesh-coloured leather, the collection had a wonderful almost medical feel to it. Also in the weird and wonderful artefact category, Oliver Ruuger took the anonymous bowler-hatted businessman archetype and turned it on its head; his umbrella with a ponytail and briefcase covered in soft spikes and metallic studs are the antithesis of conservative dressing.


Ivan Dauriz, illustrated by Alison Day

All in all, the LCF collections may not be as avant-garde and ground-breaking as that other great London fashion institution Central Saint Martins, but there’s clearly a lot of talent on show at this exhibition. It’ll be interesting to see which of these graduates return to show at Victoria House in the future in its London Fashion Week capacity.


Illustration by Aysim Genc

Did you know that we’re all buying a third more clothing than we did a decade ago? Yep, cialis 40mg you read that right. A third more in only 10 years. And are you also aware that today’s average household contributes 26 items of wearable clothing to landfill every year? Tallied up, that’s well over 600,000 garments in the UK alone. Can you visualise that waste? It’s A LOT.

The appropriately-named Trash Fashion exhibition is a relatively small presentation with a big message. Be honest, you can’t remember the last time that ‘textiles’ sprang to mind when thinking of world waste and pollution. Something along the lines of ‘oil’ or ‘water’ or ‘plastic bottles’ would be up there; never the words ‘clothes’, ‘dyes’, ‘fabric’. And yet, it’s a big deal. For example, a huge 17-20% of worldwide industrial water pollution is down to textile dye. The truth is that the concept of waste produced by the textiles industry is dangerously underestimated. Fact.


Illustration by Ankolie

Okay, so I didn’t predict a fashion-related exhibition at the Science Museum either. And, in its allotted space, Trash Fashion did rather stick out like a sore-thumb. One also is required to walk through the entire ground floor to actually reach the exhibition, which features steam trains, outer-space and other extravaganzas along with a large population of noisy children. As it was a Saturday, immersed in engines and spaceships, I’m guessing either über-nerdy kids or über-nerdy parents. However, I just used the word ‘über’ twice in one sentence so I’m clearly the nerd here.


All photographs courtesy of Lois Waller/Bunnipunch

Moving on, I learnt shed loads about ‘designing out waste’ in the fashion industry by wandering through. For one, I learnt that an initiative, led by Central Saint Martins, is being developed. An idea that started with a small mat of cellulose being immersed in green tea in order for it to grow into usable fabric. Fabric that is literally living and breathing. It turns out rather like leather and, having a feel of the fabric myself, couldn’t believe that it came from some bacteria bathed in green tea. Weird. Anyway, it turns out that, at this early stage, the so-called ‘Bio Couture’ is way too heavy and gooey to wear and would practically disintegrate in the rain. Nevertheless, it’s a damn-good start – the product is natural, non-toxic and compostable and scientists are working on developing the idea further all the time.


Illustration by Stephanie Melodia

Another part of the exhibition that I found enthralling was a project hosted by the London College of Fashion called ‘Knit to Fit’. It puts forward the concept of ‘Mass Customisation’, something that I could definitely see materialising in the near future. It starts with an individual having a 3D Body Scan done by a special computer that reads all, and even the very intricate, measurements of the body. This information, along with personalised details such as colour and pattern, is then transmitted to a fairly new machine in the textiles world that, before one’s very eyes, produces an entirely seamless 3D garment. No off-cuts. No waste. Considering that fashion designers are known to leave a whole 15% of the fabric they work with on the cutting-room floor, these are absolutely imperative pieces of technology in the movement towards sustainable and efficient textiles of the future. The idea is that, in the not-too-distant future, the average shopper will be able to stroll into a clothing store and have a custom-made garment made there and then that is unique to us and, most importantly, will leave absolutely no waste.


Illustration by Caroline Coates

Without a doubt, the most immediately imposing feature of the exhibition was a large, flamboyant dress, made out of 1000 pieces of folded scraps of the London Metro newspaper. It stood tall at the entrance and its grandeur seduced a small crowd to gather around and take photographs.
In my opinion, however, it just isn’t enough to rip up a few copies of the London Metro, origami fold them into numerous pieces and make a dress – not to wear, but to make a statement. Not to dismiss the skill that goes into constructing such a fiddly garment, or the fact that it DOES make a pretty huge statement. It relates waste and fashion to one another, which is crucial, through something impressive and, ironically, quite beautiful. But it’s been done. I’ve seen countless garments like these, designed for that shock-factor yet completely un-wearable. It’s time to stop representing the problem and to instead turn to the solution – to science. And this, bar the newspaper dress, is where ‘Trash Fashion’ came up trumps.

So, despite being a little late-in-the-day with this one, might not be worth trekking all the way to South Kensington to see this exhibition alone. If you do, time it in with a trip to the National History Museum or the V&A, both right next door. After all, it’s free entry. You’ll just have to hurdle past the children screaming at steam engines and Apollo 10 and I honestly don’t think you’ll regret it.

Trash Fashion: designing out waste is supported by SITA Trust as part of the No More Waste project and is free to visit at the Science Museum in London.

As part of the exhibition, there is an interactive competition whereby members of the public can submit photos of their ‘refashioned’ old garments, before and after, and could land their new design a spot in the exhibition. To upload pictures of your customised clothes go to www.flickr.com/groups/trashfashion

Categories ,Bio Couture, ,Central Saint Martins, ,Dress, ,environment, ,Ethics, ,fashion, ,Flickr, ,Knit to Fit, ,Landfill, ,London College of Fashion, ,Mass Customisation, ,Metro, ,No More Waste, ,Science Museum, ,SITA Trust, ,South Kensington, ,textiles, ,Trash Fashion, ,Waste

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Amelia’s Magazine | London Fashion Week S/S 2012 Showroom Review: EcoLuxe London

'Ecolooks' EcoLuxe London Exhibition LFW SS12 by Maria Papadimitriou aka Slowly The Eggs

‘Ecolooks’ by Maria Papadimitriou aka Slowly The Eggs

I was hugely excited that during this London Fashion Week I had the opportunity not only to go and see but also exhibit at the EcoLuxe London exhibition that took place in a beautiful space on the ground floor of the Kingsway Hall Hotel almost next to the Vauxhall Fashion Scout’s Freemasons’ Hall. Ecoluxe London takes place twice a year during London Fashion Week and is a non-profit platform that promotes fashion related ecoluxury brands and aims to raise awareness of ecological issues with the public. Its organisers, information pills Stamo and Elena Garcia, who are sustainable womenswear designers themselves, featured over 40 brands this year and EcoLuxe London is growing every year – here’s only a few examples that took my fancy!

EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 Lucy Harvey Ethical Stylist

EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 Ethical Stylist Lucy Harvey and Hetty Rose

Ethical stylist Lucy Harvey styling shoe designer Hetty Rose with a Plastic Seconds headpiece and necklace.

Upon entering the exhibition visitors were greeted by superbly talented stylist Lucy Harvey and her assistant Charlie Divall, who offered to upstyle them with various pieces from the exhibitors’ tables and then photograph them and tweet about it. I thought in this way Lucy offered a really fun, interactive introduction to the exhibition and a great way of promoting both the designers’ and the visitors’ work.

EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 Lupe Castro wearing Supported by Rain and Plastic Seconds

Stylist Lupe Castro styled by Lucy Harvey with a Supported by Rain coat and a Plastic Seconds headpiece, photo by Charlie Divall

Walking further into the exhibition the first thing to catch my eye was a series of gloriously colourful raincoats by Maria Ampatielou’s new brand Supported by Rain – seen above. Made of recycled umbrellas and end-of-roll waterproof fabrics, these raincoats are not only beautiful but also cleverly fold into their own pockets or hoods, whose insides have remained dry, so that you can put them back into your bag without any soaked diary dramas!

STAMO EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 by Celine Elliott

By Stamo S/S 2012 by Celine Elliott

EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 STAMO belt

By Stamo, which featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, is another brand I enjoyed especially because of the theatricality in the designs and the extensive use of found and recycled materials whose original form is often retained – as seen in this bullet belt.

INALA LONDON EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 by Caire Kearns

INALA London S/S 2012 by Claire Kearns

My neighbour exhibitor Alani Gibbon of INALA London showed some designs which were a natural hit with me becuase of their bright colours, but they further impressed me with their cleverness and versatility. For example a hooded short dress could be turned around and worn as an all-in-one playsuit! Not to mention the use of pulped eucalyptus fabric which felt amazing to touch.

OUTSIDER Ecoluxe London LFW SS12 by Maria Papadimitriou aka Slowly The Eggs

Outsider Fashion S/S 2012 by Maria Papadimitriou aka Slowly The Eggs

I was thrilled to see the brand Outsider winning the JP Selects womenwear award at the end of the show as they stongly promote the notion that ‘ethical’ fashion should just look like very good fashion with their range of classic but very stylish designs.

HEMYCA EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 by Celine Elliott

Hemyca S/S 2012 by Celine Elliott

Hemyca is a multi award winning brand and I was most attracted by this beautifully tailored matching dress and coat.

LFW SS2012 Agnes Valentine Ecoluxe London by Maria Papadimitriou aka Slowly The Eggs

Agnes Valentine S/S 2012 by Maria Papadimitriou aka Slowly The Eggs

Along with Hemyca above, whom I was not aware of, it was great to discover my dream swimsuit designer Agnes Valentine! The brand sources fine italian eco fabrics and their designs are minimal and classic but with bold colours and very feminine indeed.

EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 Hetty Rose shoes

EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 Hetty Rose shoes worn by Alice Wilby

It was an honour to meet another ACOFI designer Hetty Rose whose fun bespoke shoes are made using vintage Japanese kimono fabrics, Alice Wilby from Futurefrock modelled this pair and did not want to take them off!

EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 Golden Grass Company clutch

Next to Hetty Rose I found the friendly couple behind the Golden Grass Company who design jewellery and accessories for native artisans in Brazil to make out of a naturally golden, light and durable fibre, which is grown without chemicals or pesticides, under fair trade standards – LOVED this clutch!

EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 Monique Luttin headpiece

Sharing a table with me was Monique Luttin who makes intriguing headpieces using offcuts or vintage fabrics and found objects – I particularly liked this bird scull one which has a tribal, ritualistic element to it.

EcoLuxe London LFW SS12 Palstic Seconds printer packaging pendand

And finally a piece from the Plastic Seconds recycled jewellery collection I exhibited made out of the plastic, colourful bits one finds when unpacking a new printer…

As Hannah Bullivant pointed out in a previous post on EcoLuxe London, hopefully sustainable practices in fashion design will become mainstream and the brands that are still termed ‘ethical’ will no longer have to exhibit in separate showrooms and sections such as EcoLuxe or Estethica. Hopefully soon.

All photography by Maria Papadimitriou unless otherwise stated.

Categories ,Agnes Valentine, ,Alice Wilby, ,By Stamo, ,Celine Elliott, ,Charlie Divall, ,Claire Kearns, ,Classic, ,Coat, ,design, ,designer, ,Dress, ,ecodesign, ,Ecoluxe, ,Elena Garcia, ,estethica, ,Ethical brands, ,fashion, ,Feminine, ,Freemasons’ Hall, ,Futurefrock, ,Headpiece, ,Hemyca, ,Hetty Rose, ,Inala London, ,jewellery, ,Kingsway Hall Hotel, ,London Fashion Week, ,Lucy Harvey, ,Lupe Castro, ,Maria Papadimitriou, ,minimal, ,Monique Luttin Millinery, ,Outsider, ,Outsider Fashion, ,Plastic Seconds, ,Pulped Eucalyptus, ,Recycled Materials, ,shoes, ,Slow Fashion, ,Slowly the Eggs, ,Supported by Rain, ,Swimwear, ,tailoring, ,Vauxhall Fashion Scout, ,vintage, ,Womenswear

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Amelia’s Magazine | London Fashion Week S/S 2012 Catwalk Review: Aminaka Wilmont

Aminaka Wilmont show LFW SS2012 by Gemma Sheldrake

Aminaka Wilmont S/S 2012 by Gemma Sheldrake

The title Changeling on the poster-sized invitation to Aminaka Wilmont’s show – the last womenswear show in the BFC show space at Somerset House during this London Fashion Week’s season – already prepared me, cost before actually seeing the collection, illness for some allusions to legends and folklore. Of course the designers behind the Aminaka Wilmont, Maki Aminaka Löfvander and Marcus Wilmont have a wealth of such otherworldly inspiration to draw from their Swedish, Japanese and Danish cultural backgrounds.

Aminaka Wlimont LFW SS12 by MattBramford

Aminaka Wilmont show LFW SS12 by Maria Papadimitriou

Aminaka Wilmont show LFW SS12 by Kristina Vasiljeva

Aminaka Wilmont S/S 2012 by Kristina Vasiljeva

The first thing that struck me when the show begun was the way the models had their hair styled with a mid-parting and straight bands of hair placed hanging in front of their ears, which immediately reminded me of Neyriti’s hairstyle in the movie Avatar.

Aminaka Willmont show LFW SS12 by Gemma Sheldrake

Aminaka Willmont S/S 2012 by Gemma Sheldrake

Interestingly, afterwards I read that Aminaka Wilmont were partly inspired for their Spring Summer 2012 collection by Ori Gersht’s photographs of dark landscapes and high mountains which look very much like Pandora’s Hallelujah Mountains in Avatar. The dove grey tones we saw in a lot of the outfits evoked the colour of karst limestone formations found in some of Gersht’s work and on the chinese Huang Shan Mountains which inspired the Hallelujah Mountains.

Aminaka Wilmont show LFW SS12 by Maria Papadimitriou

Aminaka Wlimont show LFW SS12 by Matt Bramford

Aminaka Wilmont show LFW SS12 by Maria Papadimitriou

Perhaps following this line of thought, the designers had placed white orchids – which often grow under geological conditions such as those described above – on the front row seats while the pure white colour, and innocence of the flower was reflected in a number of simple white chiffon dresses.

Aminaka Wilmont show LFW SS12 by Maria Papadimitriou

Aminaka Wilmont show LFW SS12 by Vasare Nar

Aminaka Wilmont S/S 2012 by Vasare Nar

Violets and shades of brown dominated in abstract floral prints where again one could see Ori Gersht’s influence. Jersey assymetrical dresses featured cut out panels and custom-made Merve Tuna shoes came in mermaid blues and greens that alluded to creatures of an ambiguous identity. I really enjoyed the chain vial necklaces that contained something which looked like a magic potion in various bright colours.

Aminaka Wilmont show LFW SS12 by Maria Papadimitriou

Aminaka Wilmont show LFW SS12 by Maria Papadimitriou

Aminaka Wilmont show LFW SS12 by Maria Papadimitriou

Aminaka Wlimont show LFW SS12 by Matt Bramford

Aminaka Wlimont show LFW SS12 by Matt Bramford

In line with this ambiguity of the theme of the Changeling was also the duality expressed through the use of leather in the jackets versus sheer chiffon in the dresses and skirts as well as through some bottom halves that were pants-length versus long trains hanging at the back. Indeed here I should add that I felt one should really own an otherworldly pair of legs or simply be a fairy to be able to sport some of the shorter pieces…

Aminaka Wlimont show LFW SS12 by Matt Bramford

Aminaka Wilmont show LFW SS12 by Maria Papadimitriou

Aminaka Wilmont show LFW SS12 by Maria Papadimitriou

Aminaka Wlimont show LFW SS12 by Matt Bramford

Aminaka Wlimont show LFW SS12 by Matt Bramford

Of course the most beautiful and startling contrast was between the masculine/aggressive and feminine which was revealed in the final pieces in the collection; floral printed body armour pieces with 3D flower forms sewn onto them as if the armour was blossoming. Intriguingly the designers cite as an inspiration ‘the Hayflick effect’ or limit – which is the number of times a normal cell population will divide before it stops – and I thought that at times the models looked, walked and had an expression on their faces, especially at the end when they all walked together in a huddle, like they were hopefull warriors or amazons – perhaps determined to survive in a world where the cells do not have that many more times left to divide?

Aminaka Wlimont show LFW SS12 by Matt Bramford

Aminaka Wilmont show LFW SS12 by Maria Papadimitriou

Aminaka Wlimont show LFW SS12 by Matt Bramford

Aminaka Wilmont show LFW SS12 by Maria Papadimitriou

Aminaka Wlimont show LFW SS12 by Matt Bramford

Aminaka Wlimont show LFW SS12 by Matt Bramford

All photography by Matt Bramford and Maria Papadimitriou

Categories ,Aggressive, ,Aminaka Wilmont, ,Armour, ,Avatar, ,british fashion council, ,Changeling, ,Chiffon, ,collection, ,Danish, ,Dress, ,fairytales, ,fashion, ,Feminine, ,Folklore, ,Gemma Sheldrake, ,Hairstyle, ,Hayflick Limit, ,Jackets, ,japanese, ,jersey, ,Karst limestone, ,Kristina Vasiljeva, ,leather, ,London Fashion Week, ,Maki Aminaka Lofvander, ,Marcus Wilmont, ,Maria Papadimitriou, ,Masculine, ,Matt Bramford, ,Merve Tuna, ,Necklaces, ,Neytiri, ,Orchids, ,Ori Gersht, ,Swedish, ,Vasare Nar, ,Womenswear

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Amelia’s Magazine | Frock Me! Vintage Fair at the Brighton Corn Exchange


Illustration by Rosie Shephard

Coming in from a freezing cold Brighton day, here dosage I was welcomed with the warm glow of row upon row of vintage. A cornucopia of vintage clothing and accessories including 1950s lace wedding dresses, link 1960 shifts, information pills 1970s smocks and 1980s mohair. This was Frock Me Vintage Fashion Fair at the Brighton Corn Exchange. An enticing collection of clothes, bags, jewellery, shoes and even a whole stand dedicated to vintage buttons.

Frock Me Vintage Fashion Fairs, a vintage fashion institution no less, have been running since the mid 1990s. With awareness and demand for vintage apparel rising massively since the early 1990s, it’s clear to see Frock Me haven’t missed a trick. Walking in to the Corn Exchange was like stepping in to a props and costume department, no surprise really as Matthew Adams, who runs Frock Me, studied Costume and Theatre Design during the mid 1970s.

There’s something quite liberating about rummaging through row upon row of vintage clobber. The feeling that you’re buying a one-off,  something that’s built to last, something that’s stood the test of time, something with a history. Why would you want to buy anything new and mass produced ever again? Vintage is big business with everyone searching for one-of-a-kind fashion, and fairs like this attract an eclectic bunch adorned in various clothes throughout the ages, 1940s swing mixes seamlessly with 1960s kitsch, like a history lesson in style.


Illustration by Rosie Shephard

There was an overwhelming choice from over 70 exhibitors, but something caught my eye, all feathers and netting and appliqué, so like a magpie swoops on something shiny, I swooped in on a hat stall. To me these millinery marvels were the stars of the show. Lovely 1920s cloches, 1950s pillboxes and 1960s fur felt styles were begging to be tried on.

Frock Me Vintage Fashion Fairs have become a regular face on the vintage fashion circuit with fairs being held several times a year at Chelsea Town Hall and Brighton Corn Exchange.  Check out frockmevintagefashion.com for more details.

Categories ,1920s, ,1940s, ,1950s, ,1960s, ,1970s, ,1980s, ,brighton, ,Chelsea Town Hall, ,Corn Exhange, ,Costume, ,Dress, ,fashion, ,Frock Me, ,Matthew Adams, ,vintage

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Amelia’s Magazine | Gyunel: London Fashion Week A/W 2013 Catwalk Review

Gyunel AW 2013 by May van Millingen
Gyunel LFW A/W 2013 by May van Millingen

I am distracted by a wedding dress photoshoot on my way to Gyunel‘s show at The Savoy and veer in via the wrong entrance, barely making it in time for the show. When I do finally enter, out of breath, it’s to the sound of crackling flames. The Savoy is a fancy venue with a fresco feel (Sistine Chapel as opposed to al) and Gyunel‘s Demi-Couture show is at home in this opulent location, where the clothes are complimented by chandeliers and a luxurious egg-shell blue decor. Supermodel Jodie Kidd is one of the well-known faces in the front row and the circular catwalk makes for a refreshing change to the usual straight up, straight down.

Gyunel AW 2013 by May van Millingen
Gyunel LFW A/W 2013 by May van Millingen

The collection is kicked off with a feather-covered gown in dark blue modeled by Erin O’ Connor. There are some futuristic haircuts and revealing leather, which feel a little Fifth Element, although none of the models sport the giveaway tangerine mop. A Pantone style selection of blues, a dash of white, a dab of purple and some striking cream hoods make up some of the glorious colours in this show. I can’t help but think the dresses have the feel of another era, and the leather-bound models with their billowing train dresses gives me an aftertaste of steam-punk.

Gyunel AW 2013 by Hannah Smith
Gyunel A/W 2013 by Hannah Smith

My street-side wedding-dress encounter must have been an omen as there’s a traditional, white, flowing matrimony dress in the collection too. This virginal piece is a strong contrast to the sexuality exuded by some of the other frocks, and some of the models are, what my boyfriend would (with a mischievous grin) call, ‘smuggling peanuts’.

Gyunel LFW AW 2013
Gyunel LFW AW 2013

The series of white hoods are unexpected and add an aura of mystique to the show. The make-up, provided by AOFM graduates gives the models dramatic, white, metallic eyes; right up to the brow, making them seem simultaneously as though they could be from Narnia and outer space.

Gyunel‘s collection is a well-used deployment of contrasts; leather mixed with chiffon makes for an interesting look, as does the presence of ready-to-wear garments alongside couture. With the strong underlying blue tones and a generous show of skin, the models remind me of Jason’s sirens effortlessly luring men to sea. Perhaps this influence is something I’ve imagined though, as sea salt hairspray is one of the goodie-bag freebies I managed to nab from an earlier show.

Gyunel LFW AW 2013

Gyunel LFW AW 2013

Gyunel LFW AW 2013

You can tell almost everything you need to know about someone from their walk. There is a world of difference between a prance and a skip, a mooch and a stride. I prefer those who amble, and I do a good mosey myself. Models tend to strut, but these catwalk beauties have a stride of their own; they glide. Combined with the make-up and the clothes, the effect is otherworldly. The braids that hold the hair back from their faces adds to the effect and has a trace of Princess Leia making the whole effect, not just of the clothes, but of the entire experience, pretty impressive. Whether it’s the surroundings or the dresses, I feel like I’m in a different universe for the duration of Gyunel’s fresh, varied and fantabulous show at The Savoy.

Gyunel A/W LFW 2013 By Maya Beus
Gyunel A/W 2013 by Maya Beus

Categories ,A/W 2013, ,AOFM, ,chandeliers, ,couture, ,Demi-Couture, ,Dress, ,Erin O’ Connor, ,Feathers, ,Futuristic, ,Gyunel, ,Hannah Smith, ,Jessica Cook, ,Jodie Kidd, ,lfw, ,London Fashion Week, ,Luxury, ,May van Millingen, ,Maya Beus, ,The Savoy, ,Wedding

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Amelia’s Magazine | Exhibition: Herb Ritts

A Herb Ritts photograph is instantly recognisable and admittedly my first thought on seeing his early work at the rather stuffy Hamiltons Gallery was, ‘It’s all a bit Athena isn’t it’. As obvious as it sounds there is something incredibly late 80s/early 90s about his work. Take ‘Fred with tires’, one of his most popular prints featuring a muscle bound mechanic looking intensely at well, some tires. Homo-erotic seemed to be the order of the day. In effect, his photography is so of it’s era that your immediate reaction is to be a bit sneering. The days of buff young oil covered men and girls in tennis skirts adorning our living room walls are well and truly over. The 80s have become just one big ironic joke.

However, it was time to stop being smug, the fact is I actually love Herb Ritts. This is the man that gave us a crotch grabbing Madonna on the cover of True Blue and the Mer-boy in the ‘Cherish’ video. Remember the genius that was ‘Keep it in the closet’ featuring Miss Naomi Campbell? Herb was perhaps the only man to make Michael Jackson look sexy in a video. The infamous ‘Cindy Crawford straddling KD Lang’ shot ….the list goes on. Rather than being some anachronistic relic of the late 20th century, Herb actually helped define the aesthetic of the time, making black and white indicative of all that was fashionable and cutting-edge. Perhaps it was incredibly commercial and a touch cheesy but it worked. So, as much out of nostalgia than admiration I actually started to enjoy the exhibition.

A collection of his most well-known work, it covers all bases from his striking figurative work, all intense poses and clean lines, to his adventures in the world of celebrity portraiture. Tom Cruise (1994) and Nicole Kidman (1999) never looked better. His work with the A-list isn’t about creating the definitive image of his subject but stripping away the glitz and glamour and finding something new. In addition his more surrealist side is represented with works such as Mask (1989) and Djimon with Octopus (1989) as well as his near obsession with the body, specifically ‘skin’ (covered in oil, dusted in sand, dripping with sweat…), present throughout the exhibition. A great collection that rarely sees the light of day, wherever you are Mr Ritts, I apologise for ever doubting you.



Categories ,exhibition, ,Hamiltons Gallery, ,Herb Ritts, ,Print

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