Amelia’s Magazine | Style Passport: An interview with fashion retail website entrepreneur Sarah Walter

Sarah Walters by Gemma Cotterell
Sarah Walter by Gemma Cotterell.

Style Passport is the brainchild of Sarah Walter, formally a fashion director at Marie Claire, now retail entrepreneur. Realised as a one stop shop for the ultimate holiday wardrobe, Style Passport champions many smaller designers and artisan makers. I caught up with Sarah to find out how she got into the internet business, how her previous career has impacted her work and what she recommends for the ultimate vacation look this season.

Style Passport Matthew Williamson silk print utility dress blue
Matthew Williamson silk print utility dress in blue.

Hi Sarah, I believe I did a short work experience stint in the fashion cupboard when you were still at Marie Claire… what drew you to working in magazines during the first part of your career?
Did you really? How did you find that experience? I too started in a cupboard in a fashion department at Vogue, it still seems to be the only way to break into the business. Why was I drawn to magazines? Well, when I started they were wildly creative with photo shoots taking up 20 pages and really extending the editors’ and photographers’ imagination. Coming from art college this merged my two great loves – art and style – so was the perfect career path for me.

Nicole Fahri by Chloe Douglass
Nicole Fahri Easter patchwork print shirt dress. Illustration by Chloe Douglass.

How did becoming a mother inspire your career swerve into retail?
I experimented in retail just before I had my first daughter and found the whole experience pretty interesting. Not only was I trying to create something interesting to wear but then I got to see if it was actually bought and worn by someone. My daughters became experts in spotting a dress or bag I had created and we all shared the same excitement. It’s pretty addictive actually. Oh, and the pay is generally much better.

Fiona paxton coral and wood necklace £175 style-passport
Fiona Paxton coral and wood necklace.

How has your experience of working on fashion editorials influenced the way that you approach retail?
Creating a story in a magazine has all the same elements as creating a window in a shop or a page on a web site. All need a good idea to start with, then great creative and copy that hooks you in. The fact that more and more editors have left magazines in recent years to move into e-commerce and retail just shows you how blurred these worlds are now, whereas 20 years ago there were distinct barriers. The internet and technology has changed and will continue to change everything.

Style Passport Belize Rajasthan Ombre sequin top charcoal
Cool Change Belize Rajasthan Ombre sequin top in charcoal.

What factors do you consider when looking for a new brand to stock on the website?
Well, we start by thinking ‘Where is she going and what does she need to take with her to ensure she has the easiest and most stylish trip possible?‘ We love colour (we do mostly think of holidays in colour, not black and white, don’t we?), print and items that are easy to fold up, so jersey features strongly and unstructured jackets too. Some brands particularly scream ‘holiday’ like Matthew Williamson and Antik Batik; you can literally imagine yourself on the beach when you see them. We have a broad price architecture too, it’s very much the Fashion Editors‘ choice, so we try to choose what you can get for a reasonable amount of money (Armor Lux bretons for example are perfect, you don’t need to buy a designer version).

Matthew Williamson multi coloured column digital blossom jersey dress by Shy Illustrations
Matthew Williamson multi coloured column digital blossom jersey dress. Illustration by Shy Illustrations.

What have been your most exciting discoveries when hunting down new labels? Are there any particular finds which stick in your mind?
I’m very excited about Visconti & du Reau gladiators which will be on the site in March. Sam and I saw them in Paris and literally dropped everything on the spot.

Matthew Williamson style-passport
Matthew Williamson hat, an exclusive collaboration with Style Passport.

Where do you source your artisanal goods from, and why are these products so exciting to you?
Artisanal goods to me have always been the holiday ‘finds’ which tell the stories of your adventures and create your personal style. They are personal and remind us of the best times in our lives. We find our artisanal items from our own travels and now increasingly, artisans approach us with their goods and we love to find out about them and bring their stories to our customers.

Tam Tam one piece noir swimsuit Style Passport
Tam Tam one piece noir swimsuit and Vida Vida embroidered leather clutch.

How do you balance your stock of expensive high end products with more affordable items?
It’s all determined by our approach to style. Items on the site are there because they are loved and we believe they are worth the money. Sometimes it’s a designer piece that will make all the difference and sometimes a trusted basic or artisanal find. To me, this combination is true style.

Matthew Williamson by Isher Dhiman
Matthew Williamson oversized digital blossom cutout t-shirt. Illustration by Isher Dhiman.

How do you decide which beauty brands to promote on Style Passport?
Again, we try to focus on brands we love which support our travel ethos. We have to have suncream and mosquito spray so our customers really can come to us and get their bag packed in one place.

Style Passport mood board 1
Style Passport mood board.

You’ve spoken of plans to expand the website to include menswear and kidswear – what else would you like to do with Style Passport in the future?
One step at a time! We would love to eventually have our own label associated with the best travel items, so let’s see what happens.

Style Passport mood board 1
Style Passport mood board.

What have been the best and hardest parts of going it alone with your own business?
The best is creating what you want in the way you want to and surrounding yourself with hugely passionate, talented people. The worst is raising money to drive forwards and getting the call at 1am when the alarm goes off in the warehouse.

Style Passport mood board
Putting it all together: Style Passport looks.

Lastly, what are the three most important things to pack: for a hot destination?
1. A scarf that keeps you relaxed on the plane, is nice enough to wear out at night, can be doubled and belted to make a skirt and of course used as a beach coverup or a hair protector…… I can go on about scarves for ever.
2. Great sunglasses. Nothing makes you feel more glamorous and in the mood like these. Plus, after a long journey they cover puffy and tired eyes.
3. Your favourite dress. Dresses are the easiest way to get dressed as most decision making is removed. For me they are the most versatile of items. Very little work is required to take the same dress from a market shop (basket, flats, headscarf) to a dinner (heels, lipstick, ear rings).
Some of my key holiday looks are included in this blog. For S/S 2013 I’d go for a Matthew Williamson blue shirt waister dress, an Indonesian sarong – always a sarong, the gladiators in lizard and neon by Visconti & du Reau and a Seafolly Goddess swimsuit which just fits and improves every body that it is put on. 

And for a winter holiday this season?
A down coat. ADD and Barbour are great. Light, warm and stylish.
Lip salve – the cold really affects your lips. Carmex is the original and best in my view and the yellow pot is very friendly.
Base layers. American Vintage cotton fitted longjohns and roll necks should be the first thing you put on after your underwear.

Thanks Sarah! It’s so interesting to hear from someone who has created a successful retail experience. Do visit Style Passport to discover more great holiday ideas.

Categories ,ADD, ,American Vintage, ,Antik Batik, ,Armor Lux, ,Barbour, ,Beauty, ,Carmex, ,Chloe Douglass, ,Cool Change, ,fashion, ,Fashion Editors, ,Fiona Paxton, ,Gemma Cotterell, ,Hoilday, ,Holiday Wardrobe, ,interview, ,Isher Dhiman, ,Key holiday looks, ,Marie Claire, ,Matthew Williamson, ,Nicole Fahri, ,S/S 2013, ,Sarah Walter, ,Seafolly Goddess, ,Shy Illustrations, ,Style Passport, ,summer, ,Swimwear, ,Tam Tam, ,Vida Vida, ,Visconti & du Reau, ,vogue, ,Winter

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Amelia’s Magazine | Sunglasses Trends: London Fashion Week S/S 2013 Catwalk Review

Chanel Sunglasses SS13 by Isher Dhiman
Chanel Sunglasses S/S 2013 by Isher Dhiman.

According to trends analysts designer sunglasses are getting smaller and rounder: with edgier designers such as Ashish showing the kind of sunnies that I sported in the early 90s, along with baggy rave clothing, hippy dresses and grunge gear.

Ashish SS 2013 Sept 2012-sunglasses
There are also a plethora of Ray Ban Aviator type shapes such as those at Felder Felder which are coloured in a nod to the ever popular heavily shaded retro look which is still popular, as seen in Gucci glasses for S/S 2013.

chanel sunglasses illustration shyillustrations
Chanel S/S 2013 sunglasses by Sheilagh Tighe aka shy illustrations.

My favourite high end designer look of the season has to be these amazing Coco Chanel sunglasses featuring a sculptural cutout of the visionary lady herself. But if the styling at some shows is anything to go by then the hottest sunglasses trend for S/S 2013 is still bigger, brighter and lairier. And not always entirely fit for purpose.

Tatty Devine sunglasses for Louise Gray S/S 2013 by Helena Clarkson
Tatty Devine sunglasses for Louise Gray S/S 2013 by Helena Clarkson.

Tatty Devine sunglasses for Louise Gray by shy illustrations
Tatty Devine sunglasses for Louise Gray by Sheilagh Tighe aka shy illustrations.

Tatty Devine‘s scribble sunglasses for the new Louise Gray collectionNow What‘ echo the oversized rings and dramatic eyebrows created for the show. You’d struggle to see out of them but they made a big impact when worn with huge pearlised mirror effect dangly earrings.

Leutton Postle SS 2013 Sept 2012-close
Leutton Postle S/S 2013 sunglasses by Sharon Farrow
Leutton Postle S/S 2013 sunglasses by Sharon Farrow.

Over at Leutton Postle the daring design duo had raided their craft box to embellish bold sunglasses with brightly coloured beads, leaving only a small gap through which to view the world. It will be intriguing to see how such unconventional looks filter through to mainstream sunglasses trends over the next few seasons.

Leutton Postle sunglasses by Rebecca May Higgins
Leutton Postle sunglasses by Rebecca May Higgins.

Categories ,90s, ,Ashish, ,Coco Chanel, ,Designer glasses, ,Felder Felder, ,Glasses, ,Gucci glasses, ,Helena Clarkson, ,Isher Dhiman, ,Leutton Postle, ,lfw, ,Louise Gray, ,Ray Ban Aviator, ,Rebecca May Higgins, ,S/S 2013, ,Sharon Farrow, ,Sheilagh Tighe, ,Shy Illustrations, ,SmartBuyGlassesUK, ,Sunglasses, ,Tatty Devine, ,trends

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Amelia’s Magazine | Xander Zhou: London Collections: Men S/S 2014 Catwalk Review


Xander Zhou S/S 2014 by Isher Dhiman

Sometimes I look at fashion week press releases with the same disdain that I do art gallery captions. I have absolutely no idea where some of the designers (or press personnel) get their ideas from. I often stifle giggles as I read them, waiting for somebody to pop out and say ‘we had you there, didn’t we!’ And so it was highly refreshing when I arrived at Xander Zhou, my final show of this London Collections: Men season, to find not a rigid press release but a selection of thought-provoking words. Words like ‘personal’ ‘cosmetic’ ‘online’ ‘variety’ and, erm, ‘Thai boxing’ flooded a sheet of purple card.


All photography by Matt Bramford

I have to hold my hands up and say that I didn’t know much about Xander Zhou before this show. It turns out he studied industrial design in China and fashion design in the Netherlands, both of which have clearly had a resounding effect on his collections.

I was back inside the Old Sorting Office for the last time and by this point I’d worked out where the best spot was. An obscure, celestial soundtrack and a model clad in a beige latex blazer and shorts launched this S/S 2014 collection, which was to explore the internet and cyberspace through a range of futuristic garments. A selection of latex aprons followed, in muted colours, worn over crisp white shirts. Thin white garters worn on thighs and detachable collars completed these looks.

The collection then took a curveball direction into smart, dark tailoring with futuristic elements: double-breasted overcoats toyed with proportions and featured elongated sleeves; discrete checks, almost invisible to the naked eye, were constructed into sleeveless jackets and loose-fitting trousers.

More surrealist tailoring followed, including waistcoats with differing lengths and blocks of complimentary colours. Jackets nipped in at the waist to give a slightly feminine silhouette, styled with basic leather slip-ons.

Then came the most dramatic pieces. Show-stopping knee-length coats hammered home Xander Zhou’s internet-based inspiration, featuring images such as Google search pages, Facebook symbols, internet memes and dramatic photography – a masterclass in print.

More tailoring closed the show; pastel-coloured playsuits featured black highlights, but it will be the printed coats that I remember this show for.

Categories ,China, ,cyberspace, ,internet, ,Isher Dhiman, ,LCM, ,LCMSS14, ,London Collections Men, ,Matt Bramford, ,menswear, ,Old Sorting Office, ,tailoring, ,Xander Zhou

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Amelia’s Magazine | Zeynep Kartal: London Fashion Week A/W 2014 Catwalk Review

Zeynep Kartel A/W 2014 by Melissa Angelik

Zeynep Kartel A/W 2014 by Melissa Angelik.

I was witness to the run through for Zeynep Kartal when I took a wrong turning at Freemasons’ Hall and ended up in the wrong venue… easy to do when the route to the shows are changed each season. This meant I already had a clear idea of the kind of thing to expect from this Turkish designer well before I sat down for the main event.

Zeynep Kartal AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Zeynep Kartal AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Zeynep Kartal AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Zeynep Kartal AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Zeynep Kartal AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Zeynep Kartal AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Zeynep Kartal AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Zeynep Kartal AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Zeynap Kartal A/W 2014 by Isher Dhiman

Zeynap Kartal A/W 2014 by Isher Dhiman.

The Manchester based designer boasts more than twenty years of experience in the fashion business, and for her first turn on the London Fashion Week catwalk she delivered pretty embellished evening wear fabricated from sheer and glitzy fabrics in an eye-pleasing colour palette of deep blue, blood red, gold and cream. Pattern details on this elegant and feminine collection were inspired by a combination of the Gothic revival architecture of Manchester’s Town Hall and Hollywood high glamour. The show ended with a fabulous 40s inspired wedding dress from her bridal range, but my favourite pieces (and the most fashion forward of the show) were those that featured a delicate all over sequinned zebra pattern. You can never have enough animal patterns in your life, you know.

Zeynep Kartal AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Zeynep Kartal AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Zeynep Kartal AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Zeynep Kartal AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Zeynep Kartal AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Zeynep Kartal AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Zeynep Kartal AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Zeynep Kartal AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Zeynep Kartal AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

Zeynep Kartal AW 2014-photography by Amelia Gregory

All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Categories ,A/W 2014, ,catwalk, ,Freemasons’ Hall, ,Hollywood, ,Isher Dhiman, ,London Fashion Week, ,Melissa Angelik, ,review, ,Town Hall, ,Turkish, ,Zeynep Kartal

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Amelia’s Magazine | Nova Chiu: London Fashion Week S/S 2013 Catwalk Review

Nova Chiu S/S 2013 by Sharon Farrow
Nova Chiu S/S 2013 by Sharon Farrow.

It’s always difficult to follow up a much feted graduation collection: so I had to admire the spunk of Nova Chiu… who seemed to grab the task with relish for S/S 2013. The show opened with images of the open road, waterfalls and trees, setting the scene for what was to come. Rather than reproducing the extravagant layering of last season, the duo concentrated on the creation of some truly stunning placement prints, inspired by their travels around the world.

Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu S/S 2013 by Kristina Vasiljeva
Nova Chiu S/S 2013 by Kristina Vasiljeva.

Loosely draped silk dresses and separates came in a range of cuts; strapless, bat sleeved, cropped, mullet hemmed and tasselled. But the tailoring took second place to the stunning colour combinations chosen to depict fantasy landscapes. Clouds scudding across open skies, water cascading over piled rocks, rustling autumnal trees, fiery sunsets – all seemed to acquire an otherworldly neon Nova Chiu tint.

Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu S/S 2013 by Shy Illustrations
Nova Chiu S/S 2013 by Sheilagh Tighe aka Shy Illustrations.

The outfits were worn with colour matched platform high heels, some covered with oodles of tiny ruffles. Nova Chiu‘s trademark embellishments appeared on miniature barrel bags and in the form of bold jewels by Marina Prokopiva at neck, wrists and ears. The models came in a range of sizes that included sexily curvy, an admirable choice that highlighted the wearability of the garments.

Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu S/S 2013 by Isher Dhiman
Nova Chiu S/S 2013 by Isher Dhiman.

The diminutive Nova made a brief appearance on the catwalk at the end with her partner Jeff Archer. I hope that they are pleased that with the Bon Voyage collection they have retained their signature colourful drama whilst exploring new production techniques so successfully.

Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu S/S 2013. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Categories ,Bon Voyage, ,Fashion Scout, ,Freemasons’ Hall, ,Isher Dhiman, ,Jeff Archer, ,Kristina Vasiljeva, ,lfw, ,Marina Prokopiva, ,Nova Chiu, ,S/S 2013, ,Sharon Farrow, ,Sheilagh Tighe, ,Shy Illustrations

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Patrick Li from Fashion Scout’s ‘One’s to Watch’ A/W13, London Fashion Week

Patrick Li A/W 2013 by Isher Dhiman
Sneak Preview of Patrick Li A/W 2013 by Isher Dhiman. All other images S/S 2013.

It’s that frantically fabulous point of year again, when Fashion Scout’s coveted Ones to Watch of the season is announced before the highly anticipated London Fashion Week. Among the selected talents is Patrick Li; with an MA from the Royal College of Art and experience working under the likes of Viktor & Rolf and Hussein Chalayan, it is clear that he is a force to be reckoned with. Prior to the show, I had the pleasure of picking Patrick Li’s brain to see what he’s all about and where the ease and fluidity of his designs come from.

Patrick Li by Deborah Moon
Patrick LI by Deborah Moon

Congratulations on being chosen as one of the Ones to Watch this season! How does it feel?
Thank you! It’s feels great to be chosen as once of the Ones to Watch, I am looking forward to presenting A/W 2013.

PATRICK LI SS13
What do you like to think sets you apart from the other designers?
Design, vision and the aesthetic of the brand set PATRICK LI apart from the other designers, I think every designer is unique and has his/her own take on the direction and vision of their brands.

Patrick Li by Natalie Lines
Patrick Li by Natalie Lines

Your designs are so beautifully crisp and seem almost architectural, what has inspired your collection for the Ones to Watch?
For A/W 2013, I was inspired by a V&A exhibition Shadow Catchers, especially the work of Garry-Fabian Miller. The singular lighting objects are so impeccable, yet sensual at the same time. I used the lighting coming through darkness as the initial idea for the collection. I have also looked at architecture and interiors designed by Zaha Hadid. I find the organic bold structures and lines of the buildings very intriguing. I started to develop the collection from there and I have worked with bias seams to achieve softer graphic lines for the body shape this season.

Describe your collection in 5 words.
Graphic, Contrasting, Dimensional, Asymmetrical, Sensual.

PATRICK LI SS13
When designing, what gets your creative juices flowing?
Sunshine! Minimal electro tracks.

Your clothes are to be stocked at Joyce in Hong Kong soon, which is MAJOR. Do you have any trouble balancing creativity with commerce?
It’s exciting to know that my debut collection will be stocked at Joyce. There will also be exhibition event at Joyce with my S/S 2013 collection. I found it hard to balance creativity and commerce at first, because creativity doesn’t really always translate into wearability well. There is compromise to be made along the process; I had to constantly remind myself of the woman that I am designing for.

Patrick Li by Kirsty McGill
Patrick Li by Kirsty McGill

Fashion aside, what are some of your favourite things to do in London?
Going to the Cinema, dining out, visiting museums and galleries.

What’s next for you in the near future?
I am looking forward to starting S/S 2014 straight after Ones to Watch. A solo show next season perhaps.

Patrick Li Illustration by Naomi Samara
Illustration by Naomi Samara

Patrick Li shows as part of Ones to Watch on Saturday 16th February 2013.

Categories ,Deborah Moon, ,Garry Fabian Miller, ,Hussein Chalayan, ,Isher Dhiman, ,Joyce, ,Kirsty McGill, ,London Fashion Week, ,Naomi Samara, ,Natalie Lines, ,Ones To Watch, ,Patrick Li, ,Royal College of Art, ,Shadow Catchers, ,Zaha Hadid

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Amelia’s Magazine | Modern Love: S/S 2012 Preview Interview with designer Sarah Arnett

Modern Love by Ola Szpunar
Modern Love by Ola Szpunar.

Sarah Arnett is a multi talented designer who just happened to train at the same university as me. She graduated the year above, and since then has had an extremely interesting and varied career – from contributing illustrations to Amelia’s Magazine to creating a beautiful fashion line that is exclusively stocked in Liberty – it seems she is capable of turning her hand to all aspects of design! Prepare to be very inspired….

Modern Love SS12
sarah arnett Modern Love by angela lamb
Modern Love by Angela Lamb.

You’ve had an eclectic career, training firstly in woven textiles for fashion on the same course as me at Brighton Uni, and then moving into illustration, interior design and back into the world of fashion. Can you tell us more about your journey across these disciplines?
I found it very difficult to decide what to do in the first place, all I knew was that I wanted to go to art college, I grew up with a family of designers and makers so being able to sew and paint seemed normal and I used to watch my father work in his studio, everyone was able to draw, paint… in fact my great uncle designed fabrics for Liberty. Things happen in your life like having children, and other things become important… it’s the same with my work, other things become more exciting and more important. I am totally inspired by the process and that drives me to try more things. It’s an exciting time for crossing over disciplines and I have always just thought of my self as a designer… It could be fashion, interiors… or illustration. I am so inspired by working on a range of projects; in the last couple of years year I have shown in a couple of exhibitions at Somerset House, worked on Modern Love, designed the new look of the uniform for the National Trust, as well as creating illustrations for The Sunday Times Style Magazine. I also design a small bridal collection that I sell through a vintage shop in Brighton… and there is a long list of other things that I want to do!

Modern Love SS12
Sarah-Harnett-by-Laura-Griffin
Modern Love by Laura Griffin.

What is the highlight of working across disciplines?
No day is the same….

Modernlove ss12 Long v neck dress
And what have been the difficult parts?
I love and hate fashion, sometimes I think it’s a frivolous waste of time and on the other hand can make someone feel beautiful and have a real impact on their life… I don’t think I am a fashionable person and have never felt very comfortable in my own skin, but I am and have always been fascinated by clothes. I find fashion a very big challenge. The stress of running your own business is hard work, as is that freelancer’s worry of where the next job will be coming from… and there is always self doubt. But I look at all of these as things that drive me on to try and do better.

Sarah Arnett Modern Love by Isher Dhiman
Sarah Arnett’s Modern Love by Isher Dhiman.

Why did you name your clothing brand Modern Love?
Myself and my business partner Kim Hunt really liked the idea of a name that encompassed what we felt and admired about good design. The Love of beauty, vintage, heritage and the feminine and the Modern… a way of thinking, responsibility to the environment, ethical and local manufacturing, our vision, our way of working and maintaining a good work/life balance for ourselves (we did have our production meeting on the beach over looking a very calm sea today!) and a reference to David Bowie never hurt anyone! I

Modern Love print design SS 2012
Print design from the current collection.

For S/S 2012 Modern Love is all about a mix of tropical and country garden prints – described as earthy African hues meet the soft English sky (love that description) Where did you find inspiration for the imagery?
I find that I am constantly working and re-working the same themes which are a mix of my African, big sunshine early influences and my love of the softer, rolling South Downs up-bringing. I can’t ever choose between them. If I admire or value or find something beautiful or fascinating I am drawn to design with it, I think it’s a very similar sensation to eating something or collecting things. It’s a different way of owning or tasting something. I draw it.

Modern Love print design SS 2012
How do you reconcile living on the sometimes rainy south coast of Brighton with your fabulous African childhood? Are there ways to bring a bit of African sunshine back into your life?!
In a strange way having the coast and that big expanse of water and sky to look can be as dramatic and uplifting as the sunshine and dry African plains: I walk down to the sea every day I possibly can, it’s very important to me. Without it I would hate the winter even more than I do! My ideal situation would be six months here, six months there. 

Modern Love print design SS 2012
How easy is it to design shapes to suit your prints, or do you begin the other way around?
The collection starts out with shapes and a woman in mind first. Then I feel like I have to think about that woman, what she would wear and start to fit the prints around it. It’s always a bit of a narrative, there has to be a reason for the print to be there. Quite often we will find an image of a woman for each season and then we will always question whether she will wear each design. Kim and I design the shapes together so we talk and talk and draw and have to justify why it has to be there. Once we have the bones of the collection together I go into my own world for a few weeks getting the new prints together. I like to engineer the print to the pattern pieces of the garment.

Modern Love print design SS 2012
Why did you decide to print the fabrics in Como, Italy?
There is a fantastic tradition of textiles in Como. I first went there when I did a work placement in Switzerland. We were very near to Como and visited it often. If you have to choose a location for a factory visit, I can’t imagine anything more beautiful! The printers I work with have printed in a traditional way for a couple of generations and then moved over to digital twenty years ago when it was first being experimented with. The laying down of pigment, whether via digital or by screen print, is only part of the process. They are very skilled in the handling and finishing of the fabrics which makes them feel beautiful and gives them a longevity. The digital process is much cleaner than traditional screen printing and uses far less water and energy. I like the tradition and the finesse of the final production. What they lack in delivering on time they make up in the detail and quality!

Modern Love SS12
Modern Love SS12 5
Modern Love by Nanae Kawahara
Modern Love by Nanae Kawahara.

Who are the craftspeople who make the collection for you? Can you introduce us to them!
Brighton is so full of talented machinists and pattern cutters, it’s a very sociable place and over the years I have met lots of people I can call on to help me. I have used the same machinists for the last ten years. They work form home and small studios as well as working for me they are working for lots of top designers; a good machinist is worth her weight in gold! There used to be a lot of small garment factories in the area and it’s a shame they have all disappeared. There is a new initiative called The Fashion Trust based in Sussex which is trying to pull all the local resources together which will be great for designer just starting up.

Modern Love SS12
Sarah Arnett Modern Love by Jacqueline Valencia
Sarah Arnett’s Modern Love by Jacqueline Valencia.

Modern Love is stocked exclusively in Liberty – a dream for most clothing brands. How did you get the label into this most prestigious of shops?
Well, Liberty made it very easy, even with beautiful photographs and constant emailing it’s very difficult to get the attention of the buyers unless you see them face to face at a show. We lined up with everyone else at their Best Of British Open Call and were the only womens wear brand to have got through last year. It was a great experience because at least you knew you had a few minutes of complete attention to show your collection in the flesh. I think it has been a great success and we feel very proud to have our collection there, especially since it was our first goal when starting Modern Love.

Modern Love SS12
Modern Love SS12
Find Modern Love at Liberty right here.

Categories ,africa, ,Angela Lamb, ,Best of British, ,Best Of British Open Call, ,Bridal, ,brighton, ,Como, ,David Bowie, ,fashion, ,Fashion Textiles, ,illustration, ,Interior Design, ,Isher Dhiman, ,Italy, ,Jacqueline Valencia, ,Kim Hunt, ,Laura Griffin, ,liberty, ,Modern Love, ,Nanae Kawahara, ,National Trust, ,Ola Szpunar, ,print, ,Sarah Arnett, ,Somerset House, ,Sunday Times Style Magazine, ,Sussex, ,The Fashion Trust, ,University of Brighton, ,vintage, ,Woven Textiles

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Amelia’s Magazine | New S/S 2013 Season Interview: Fanny & Jessy present Uscopia

Fanny & Jessy by Rebecca Higgins
Fanny & Jessy by Rebecca Higgins.

A year ago I was blown away by the S/S 2012 catwalk collection by design duo Fanny & Jessy. This season the androgynous style of Uscopia is presented in the otherworldly terrain of… Somerset (with added foil). Sporty utilitarian shapes are given the Fanny & Jessy treatment with metallic fabrics and digital prints inspired by the Northern Lights.

How did Fanny & Jessy start life?
We met at London College of Fashion in our very first pattern cutting class! 

Fanny and Jessy S:S 2013
What sets Fanny & Jessy apart from other fashion brands?
We tend to make clothes that we would like to wear and based very much on us, our likes, personalities and what we’re influenced by rather than following trends – although there’s obviously a lot of sub-conscious influence from living where we do. We are also moving away from the un-written rules of the industry, this is a recent change, but definitely sets us apart from other brands. We are moving away from season’s and having direct contact with our customer through our new E-Commerce site and social networks.

Fanny and Jessy S:S 2013
Can you tell me a bit more about Uscopia, the current collection?
Welcome to Uscopia! After spending a long season delving in to images of other-worldly terraines, earthscapes and mind-bending natural formations we have created our own world. Using found images of the northern lights in Iceland, manipulated by artist Leif Podhajsky we have created a colourful yet organic print which includes the seemingly unnatural colours that run through the entire collection. 

Fanny and Jessy S:S 2013
How and where was the new look book shot?
We went off on our own little adventure to the countryside to shoot our new campaign and make some short films with a dream team gang consisting of photographer Rory DCS, film-maker Danny Sangra, megababe models Georgia Frost and Polly Brown, stylist Siobhan Lyons and make-up artist Poppy France. We went and explored the (suprisingly) supernatural landscape of our home county Somerset and came out with some beautiful results!

Fanny and Jessy SS2013 by Shy Illustrations
Fanny and Jessy S/S 2013 by Shy Illustrations.

You’ve decided to sell your clothes from your own online store, what led to this decision?
We are taking a step away from being a traditionally seasonal brand, and looking more towards the way we felt when we started the label, making our own rules, setting our own deadlines and feeling closer to our customers. We will be stepping outside of the all consuming Fashion Orb and see what new places we can discover along the way! 

Fanny and Jessy S:S 2013

What did you do with Danny Sangra over LFW, and how did this come about?
We have worked with Danny since we first started the label, he designed our Logo and also the cult I Hope You Die Soon T-shirts that became synonymous with our label in the early days. He is one of our best friends and favourite people to work with so it was natural to start this new adventure with him. We made 5 video stings for our online launch, 1 for each day of fashion week. See all 5 stings above. We also got him to graffiti all over The Salon Club‘s gorilla – they have a big white gorilla as part of their furniture and Danny drew all over him for the launch!

fanny&jess by_angela lamb
Fanny & Jessy by Angela Lamb.

What else did you do to launch the current collection? 
We threw an exclusive party at The Salon Club in Mayfair for friends of the label after fashion week with our favourite boys and band of the moment Splashh who played a live set with visual projections and special DJ set from the masterful Leif Podhajsky. It was a great way to share the excitement of our revolution! 

Fanny and Jessy S:S 2013
Fanny&Jessy SS13_IsherDhiman
Fanny & Jessy S/S 2013 by Isher Dhiman.

What next for Fanny & Jessy
Collaborations, small capsule collections and a new film.. also an exciting Advent Calendar Christmas sale to get your hands on some of our A/W 2012 Sea Foam in Your Eyes collection!

Categories ,A/W 2012, ,Angela Lamb, ,Danny Sangra, ,Fashion Orb, ,Georgia Frost, ,I Hope You Die Soon, ,interview, ,Isher Dhiman, ,Leif Podhajsky, ,London College of Fashion, ,Polly Brown, ,Poppy France, ,Rebecca Higgins, ,Rory DCS, ,S/S 2013, ,Sea Foam in Your Eyes, ,Sheilagh Tighe, ,Shy Illustrations, ,Siobhan Lyons, ,Splashh, ,The Salon Club, ,Uscopia

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Amelia’s Magazine | New S/S 2013 Season Interview: Martina Spetlova

Martina Spetlova S/S 2013 by Sharon Farrow
Martina Spetlova S/S 2013 by Sharon Farrow.

Innovative fashion designer Martina Spetlova introduces her new S/S 2013 collection and explains why you should help fund the movie to showcase her upcoming season on Kickstarter.

Marina Spetlova 'The Print & The Jacket' by Dom&Ink
Marina Spetlova ‘The Print & The Jacket‘ by Dom&Ink.

You are a textile innovator – what is it about different textures that you find so appealing?
Texture is like print for me, juxtaposing diferent textures together gives my designs the power I like to achieve in my collections. I tend to experiment with contrasting colours and opposing textures. I am always trying to find ways to treat standard fabrics to give them different structural properties – for instance by bonding, pleating and weaving satin through leathers – which helps me create a point of difference. That is how I can make my designs stand out but I also have lots of fun creating new collections. I am minimalist in shapes but maximalist in texture.

MartinaSpetlova_SS13_Look11
MartinaSpetlova_SS13_2
Your colour palette is also always very distinctive – what inspired this current season’s colour range?
My selection of colours is always little bit random. I usually start with 3 or 4 colours I like and are available and add more of them while working on my fabric samples.

Where did the graphic patterns come from?
From a photograph of my mum in the 70s.

Martina Spetlova by Alexandria Coe
Martina Spetlova by Alexandria Coe.

How do you source your fabrics?
This season I mainly worked with leather. My supplier in London has certain sustainable policies: I am concern about environment and I try to be as eco friendly as possible with my label.

Who creates your pieces?
All the knitwear is created in my studio in London, which does all samples and production at the moment. We work on domestic knitting machines.

MartinaSpetlova_SS13_Look4
MartinaSpetlova_SS13_1
What was the inspiration for the abstractions in your S/S 2013 film?
I wanted to create a land of Martina Spetlova. Shooting the collection froma microscopic view, showing the collection as a diverse landscape of bold colour and glistening mountains of fabric. It captures the detailed focus of this collection.

Martina Spetlova by Ashley Fauguel
Martina Spetlova by Ashley Fauguel.

Looking forward, what can we expect from the new collection?
The new collection is entirely leather and knitwear and features lots of textures and colours again… My simple twisted yarn knitted dresses and neckpieces accompany every look of 15 silhouettes and are a great compliment to raw edged, un-lined leather jackets, tops, skirts, shorts and trousers. Collars are created by patch-working fish skin leathers and off-cuts of sheep skin and no piece in the collection is flat. Amongst the techniques used are the playful exploration of accordion pleats on leather, cuts punched through soft leathers to create grids on the surface and my satin tape hand-woven technique from last season combined with graphic pattern (seen also on knits). I’m using softly twisted stretchy yarns for knitted neckpieces and dresses in black, light grey and graphic patterns. A/W 2013 uses soft colours of pale blue, moth green, mustard orange, white and black together with acid yellow and orange. I use a high quality of craftsmanship, making pieces by hand in the studio.

MartinaSpetlova_SS13_Look13
Martina Spetlova SS13 by Isher Dhiman
Martina Spetlova S/S 2013 by Isher Dhiman.

You are currently seeking funding on Kickstarter – what will these funds go towards and what can contributors expect in return?
I have set up Kickstarter to help me fund my film presentation in Somerset House during London Fashion Week, which will pay for the space to showcase my film in the Portico Rooms. Everyone who sponsors this event will be invited to Somerset House, and pieces from my collections will be gifted to generous backers. Of course there will also be a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who supports me!

There are six days left to help Martina Spetlova raise £1000 for her film presentation at the LFW – help out on Kickstarter here.

Categories ,Alexandria Coe, ,Ashley Fauguel, ,Dom & Ink, ,Dom&Ink, ,Dominic Evans, ,ethical, ,film, ,Isher Dhiman, ,Kickstarter, ,leather, ,London Fashion Week, ,Martina Spetlova, ,Portico Rooms, ,S/S 2013, ,Sharon Farrow, ,Somerset House, ,textiles

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Amelia’s Magazine | Nova Chiu: London Fashion Week S/S 2013 Catwalk Review

Nova Chiu S/S 2013 by Sharon Farrow
Nova Chiu S/S 2013 by Sharon Farrow.

It’s always difficult to follow up a much feted graduation collection: so I had to admire the spunk of Nova Chiu… who seemed to grab the task with relish for S/S 2013. The show opened with images of the open road, waterfalls and trees, setting the scene for what was to come. Rather than reproducing the extravagant layering of last season, the duo concentrated on the creation of some truly stunning placement prints, inspired by their travels around the world.

Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu S/S 2013 by Kristina Vasiljeva
Nova Chiu S/S 2013 by Kristina Vasiljeva.

Loosely draped silk dresses and separates came in a range of cuts; strapless, bat sleeved, cropped, mullet hemmed and tasselled. But the tailoring took second place to the stunning colour combinations chosen to depict fantasy landscapes. Clouds scudding across open skies, water cascading over piled rocks, rustling autumnal trees, fiery sunsets – all seemed to acquire an otherworldly neon Nova Chiu tint.

Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu S/S 2013 by Shy Illustrations
Nova Chiu S/S 2013 by Sheilagh Tighe aka Shy Illustrations.

The outfits were worn with colour matched platform high heels, some covered with oodles of tiny ruffles. Nova Chiu‘s trademark embellishments appeared on miniature barrel bags and in the form of bold jewels by Marina Prokopiva at neck, wrists and ears. The models came in a range of sizes that included sexily curvy, an admirable choice that highlighted the wearability of the garments.

Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu S/S 2013 by Isher Dhiman
Nova Chiu S/S 2013 by Isher Dhiman.

The diminutive Nova made a brief appearance on the catwalk at the end with her partner Jeff Archer. I hope that they are pleased that with the Bon Voyage collection they have retained their signature colourful drama whilst exploring new production techniques so successfully.

Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu SS 2013 Sept 2012-photography by Amelia Gregory
Nova Chiu S/S 2013. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Categories ,Bon Voyage, ,Fashion Scout, ,Freemasons’ Hall, ,Isher Dhiman, ,Jeff Archer, ,Kristina Vasiljeva, ,lfw, ,Marina Prokopiva, ,Nova Chiu, ,S/S 2013, ,Sharon Farrow, ,Sheilagh Tighe, ,Shy Illustrations

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