Amelia’s Magazine | London Fashion Week S/S 2012 Presentation Review: Craig Lawrence

Craig Lawrence S/S 2012 by Meagan Morrison

Craig Lawrence S/S 2012 by Meagan Morrison

I’m quite partial to a knitted design – one of my favourite designers is Mark Fast, order whose spun creations I yearn for, and I loved the A/W 2010 work of graduate student Phoebe Thirlwall. I’m also very fond of Craig Lawrence, whose work I have followed and celebrated, and so I was eagerly anticipating his intimate salon show at The Portico Rooms at Somerset House, the perfect surrounding for the debut of his S/S 2012 collection. An excitement it appeared that was shared by everyone else attending London Fashion Week… The queue for the presentation wound round the marble staircase of Somerset House, and snaked along the grand hall – a bit of a change from what Matt Bramford had seen the previous year.

Craig Lawrence S/S 2012

Craig Lawrence S/S 2012 – All photography courtesy of Ella Dror PR

Craig Lawrence is a London Fashion Week must-see. For six seasons, before he graduated from Central Saint Martins and set up his own label, Craig produced knitwear for the outlandish designer Gareth Pugh. He showed his debut collection for A/W 2009, which won him The British Fashion Council’s NEWGEN sponsorship. The Council’s faith and support continues, as this season sees Craig celebrating his sixth season under the sponsorship. As I was finally ushered into the room and asked to find myself a square inch of space, I spotted blogger Susie Bubble on the front row. I realised what a hot ticket this show was, and thought that maybe next year’s space should be rethought, regardless of the atmospheric surroundings. By the time the doors were closed, every seat in the room had been taken, but in this close setting, I couldn’t have asked for a better view of the clothes.

Craig Lawrence S/S 2012 - All photography courtesy of Ella Dror PR

Craig’s primary inspiration for the collection was the seaside photo sets of British documentary photographer Martin Parr. Parr is known for projects that explore modern life in England, and for his sense of humour that runs through his photos. He claims that the seaside is one of the most fascinating places for people watching, where we lose our inhibitions and where true personalities are unveiled. As the first looks of Craig’s collection were presented, the influence of the British seaside towns was clear, but rather from the depths of the sea, instead of the beach and its holiday makers. The models were enchanting sea creatures. Adorned in the metallic threads of a fisherman’s net or wrapped seaweed, in the colours of the ocean and washed up treasures and sun baked sand, with headpieces like sea coral reefs. Craig presented a rich and textured collection of knitwear in a palette of pastel and muted hues, run with metallic details.

Craig Lawrence S/S 2012

Last season’s moody palette of dark metallic blues, purples and black was replaced with a lighter, gentler combination of creams, pale mint greens and pinks. As the models swayed down the short catwalk they glistened with every step. Craig Lawrence collaborated with Swarovski Elements for this collection which gave a sparkle of luxury to his intricately knitted designs. Swarovski Pale Crystal yarns and fibres had been woven into individual pieces, which caught the bright lights of The Portico Rooms as the models revolved to face each wall of the room. The Swarovski crystals were also sewn in to other designs as pure embellishment.

Craig Lawrence S/S 2012 by Megan Thomas

Craig Lawrence S/S 2012 by Megan Thomas

It was apparently the idea of the Essex phenomenon ‘vajazzling’ that inspired Lawrence’s use of Swarovski crystal fibres for this season, but with this influence aside, it was a sophisticated and refined concept that pushed the collection to another level. Craig’s material of choice, unique Kyototex metallic yarns, keeping to the sea-theme in cream and shell colours, were woven into the designs, adding to the luxuriance and feminine appeal of each look.

Craig Lawrence S/S 2012 - All photography courtesy of Ella Dror PR

Layering was an important detail across the whole collection. The dresses and skirts were flowing, with knitted bralets, metallic leggings and tights worn underneath. There was also a mix of body-con wrap pieces, worn over designs such as a flowing lace-hole knitted maxi skirt, or tank top dress, and super wearable raglan-sleeved tops with elasticated vests which would add a perfect metallic shimmer for day or night. The Swarovski crystal embellishments added texture, and luxuriance. The draped designs left the body effortlessly, as the narrator explained how the pieces were knitted without elastic to create a looser, relaxed fit.

Craig Lawrence S/S 2012 - All photography courtesy of Ella Dror PR

One of the best things about a salon show is the chance to gain a greater understanding of the make up of the collection. For each of the 18 looks, a very well spoken narrator took the audience through the individual components, and explained the techniques undertaken. This replaced the usual upbeat modern song, and was a welcome point of difference. Through this, the salon show to me felt like a proper couture show, harking back to old fashion houses and buying appointments. There was a real sense of charm and nostalgia to this which I know is also an influence that Craig cites from his childhood in the countryside town of Ipswich.

Craig Lawrence S/S 2012

It was great – the audience was able to learn so much from the commentary. The narrator gave away details of craftsmanship that made you study Craig’s work as it came out one by one. We learnt that many of the pieces were created from a single thread to maintain the weightlessness. Indeed some of the designs looked like finely spun gold fisherman’s nets, and the models were beautiful sea creatures that had been caught in the webbing. The narration really helped to emphasise the level of work that had gone into creating this collection.

Craig Lawrence S/S 2012 by Gilly Rochester

Craig Lawrence S/S 2012 by Gilly Rochester

This was not the only aspect of the salon show that ensured it achieved a polished finish – the show was also styled by Dazed and Confused’s fashion editor Kate Shillingford, who has been a strong support of Craig’s career from the start, and oversees the creative direction of the label. Her expertise was really evident – no hanging yarn was out of place, the handmade shoes from Natacha Marro shoes fitted with the otherworldly air, and the delicate woven headpieces made by Steven Doherty were a superior finish acting as sparkling coral reefs, encased around the models heads.

I was mesmerized by Craig Lawrence’s embellished and shimmering sea-bed inspired offering. The pastel tones, metallic yarns and crystal details were subtle, serene and luxuriant. It was a fantastic collection that fully demonstrated his ability for producing knitwear that is challenging yet wearable, and significantly as a young designer, constantly pushing forward.

Categories ,british fashion council, ,Craig Lawrence, ,Crystals, ,Ella Dror PR, ,fashion, ,Gilly Rochester, ,Katie Shillingford, ,knitting, ,knitwear, ,lfw, ,Mark Fast, ,Martin Parr, ,Matt Bramford, ,Meagan Morrison, ,Megan Thomas, ,Metallic, ,Miranda Williams, ,Newgen, ,Phoebe Thirlwall, ,Presentation, ,S/S 2012, ,Salon Show, ,Somerset House, ,Swarovski, ,Womenswear

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Amelia’s Magazine | Port Eliot Festival 2014 Review: Books, Food, Comedy, Craft & Fashion

Port Eliot Festival by Maia Fjord
Port Eliot Festival by Maia Fjord.

I’ve been meaning to take in Port Eliot festival for several years but it has always been just that little bit too far away. This summer we were able to attend, thanks to a holiday in Cornwall with family.

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Once more we were blessed with a weekend of near perfect sunshine, ideal for wild and muddy swimming in the adjacent river, and the grassy banks were packed when we arrived on Friday afternoon. It’s a relatively small festival, which meant that we could pop up our tent quite close to the action. Beyond the main tented areas we traversed overgrown rhododendron paths, frolicked in a full sized maze and emerged with a spectacular view of the impressive aqueduct beneath which a couple of stand up paddle boarders were dwarfed.

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Port Eliot is not your average festival; here the usual music takes a back seat to other offerings: literary, foodie, comedic, crafty and fashionable. Thanks to some well placed connections it has built a bit of a reputation as the fashionistas’ festival, and despite the distance from London the big names return year after year. It was telling that (in comparison to my adventures at Green Earth Awakening) all the people I ran into on the site were friends I know from working in fashion.

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Port Eliot Festival 2014 Review-0001
I liked the mix of activities, but it took awhile to get used to the workings of this festival, where queueing is a prerequisite for popular talks and workshops (I am very bad at queues, and never more so now that I have a toddler in tow). My partner tried to hear Martin Parr speak on several occasions (about his new film, which was also showing) before we finally tracked him down on the Sunday at the Dovegrey Reader tent, where the audience could sit out on the grass (and knitting is de rigeur). Lucky then that Martin Parr was speaking so many times! And obviously taking the opportunity to snap away at this most middle class of festivals. The favourite thing I took from his talk was his admission that he takes huge amount of photos, because most of them are crap. I have always believed it’s all in the edit so it was good to hear that Martin thinks so too.

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Port Eliot Festival 2014 Review-0017
I didn’t have so much luck joining an Anthropologie workshop, having arrived at the allocated time to book a class, only to find they were already full. Instead I learnt how to crochet (at last!) with Ros Badger at The Badger Sett.

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Port Eliot Festival 2014 Review-0010
Plenty of authors were on hand to talk about and then sign books but I only caught small parts of many talks due to toddler demands. Viv Albertine talked very engagingly about her new book Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys which I am desperate to read (Luella Bartley spotted in the audience), and I enjoyed listening to Richard Benson talk about rural life and his new book The Valley, but not so much Gruff Rhys on his US adventures (he didn’t engage). Susie Bubble was front row for a chat with fashion designer Simone Rocha and I bought a signed copy of Babette Cole’s new children’s book, inspired by her lodger, pictured above in dreadlocks and bunny ears.

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Port Eliot Festival 2014 Review-0007
In the beautiful Walled Garden the fashion set held arty sewing workshops and a catwalk show for tweenies. I admired a clever bunting made from colourful hair weaves and the dexterity of The Flower Appreciation Society, ensuring that many ladies at the festival sported beautiful real floral headdresses.

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Every time we tried to get to the kids’ Hullabaloo area I got lost in the winding labyrinth of paths. Once there we discovered plentiful crafty workshops, theatre productions, a bouncy castle, puppet shows and comedy. Speaking of which, I managed to contain Snarfle for long enough to hear most of Robin Ince’s genius set.

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The main house was home to displays of crocheted tea cosies, cakes, flower arrangements and scarecrows. We didn’t visit the foodie tent but admired the stage set up from afar. Instead we frequented the Hix pop up in the Orangery, with food supplied by Fortnum & Mason. It was a pricey meal but we enjoyed the incongruous silver service. Elsewhere we dined on Cornish seafood, wood fired pizza and local ice cream. Food was a definite highlight!

Port Eliot Festival 2014 Review-the odd folk
Port Eliot Festival 2014 Review-love nor moneyy
Port Eliot Snarfle and Sheepie
In the early evenings Snarfle and I headed to the smallest music tent, where he jumped around to the ramshackle and rather brilliant The Odd Folk one night and electro powered drum n bass anthems from sister act Love Nor Money on the next. He is now obsessed with ‘rock guitar’ as well as banjo. Thank goodness his Sheepie doubles as a guitar/banjo/ukelele stand in.

Categories ,2014, ,Anthropologie, ,Babette Cole, ,books, ,Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys, ,comedy, ,Cornwall, ,craft, ,crochet, ,Dovegrey Reader, ,fashion, ,festival, ,Food, ,Fortnum & Mason, ,Green Earth Awakening, ,Gruff Rhys, ,Hix, ,Hullabaloo, ,knitting, ,Love Nor Money, ,Luella Bartley, ,Maia Fjord, ,Martin Parr, ,Orangery, ,Port Eliot, ,review, ,Richard Benson, ,Robin Ince, ,Ros Badger, ,Sheepie, ,Simone Rocha, ,Snarfle, ,Susie Bubble, ,The Badger Set, ,The Flower Appreciation Society, ,The Odd Folk, ,The Valley, ,viv albertine, ,Walled Garden

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Amelia’s Magazine | A Review of The Art of Dining Pop-Up Dining Experience at Fenton House: A Night With The Mistress

The Art of Dining at Fenton House by Briony Jose
The Art of Dining at Fenton House by Briony Jose.

Anyone who knows me will know that I love my food, so when I was offered the chance to sample a unique outdoor dinner event from The Art of Dining at Fenton House I of course jumped at the chance. I arrived just in time to take a quick peek around the rooms of this National Trust venue – an old 17th century merchant’s house perched high on Hampstead Heath – and made a beeline straight for the rooftop balcony with stunning views over the City of London. On my way up I made note of a couple of antique embroideries that I would love to go back and pore over again another day, but it was the view of the immaculate gardens in the low evening light that really caught my attention.

The Art of Dining at Fenton House
The Art of Dining at Fenton House - embroidery
The Art of Dining at Fenton House garden marquee
Back out on the lawn each guest was given a glass of Prosecco topped with candied hibiscus flower, then guided towards two long tables. I was seated with a group of three charming men – not, as I had imagined, with other solo press guests. This could have been awkward as I felt I was intruding on their party, but luckily they were very accommodating and we chatted the night away. As one of them pointed out, the seating felt a bit like ‘being at a wedding where you don’t know anyone else‘ but having been to a few of these mass dining affairs I know this to be standard procedure, and I quite like the way in which it encourages strangers to talk to each other.

The Art of Dining at Fenton House flowers
The Art of Dining at Fenton House garden
The Art of Dining at Fenton House garden guests
The Art of Dining at Fenton House dining
The Art of Dining is the brainchild of chef Ellen Parr (who happens to be the daughter of photographer Martin Parr) and set designer Alice Hodge, and thanks to this artistic twosome we dined in wonderful style beneath dangling grapes and extravagant swathes of draped foliage. Tables were topped with lace, stuffed pheasants and candelabra, and our five courses were served on an enchanting selection of vintage crockery. The dinner was themed after A Night with the Mistress; inspired by a portrait of singer and courtesan Dorothea Jordan in the house, so in between courses from a menu inspired by the beautiful vegetable gardens and decadent past of Fenton House we were serenaded in Regency style by Kezia Bienek, with excerpts of favourite tunes from operas of the era.

The Art of Dining at Fenton House - stuffed vine leaves with slow cooked carrot salad
The Art of Dining at Fenton House: stuffed vine leaves with slow cooked carrot salad.

Art of Dining's edible soil with freshly picked salad. Illustration by Rebecca Corney
Art of Dining’s edible soil with freshly picked salad. Illustration by Rebecca Corney.

Culinary delights included enticing combinations such as edible flower salad and soil (we were invited to pick petals from the arrangements on our tables, and the ‘soil’ was a combination of bacon, walnut, dates and rye bread), a richly succulent curried rabbit leg and an absolutely divine Eton Mess made with elderflower and gooseberry. There was also a very reasonably priced wine menu on offer courtesy of Borough Wines – I sensibly stuck to water with my meal. The copious courses were delivered over a three hour period which was perfect as I never felt overly full and it gave plenty of time to savour the unusual flavours whilst chatting to new friends.

Fresh Bacon Salad by Isher Dhiman
Fresh Bacon Salad by Isher Dhiman.

Art of Dining by Jessica Buie
Art of Dining by Jessica Buie.

The Art of Dining pop ups at National Trust venues are a wonderful way to experience unusual gastronomic delights combined with the chance to visit a little known historical treasure. Where else can you dine in such splendour for the price of just £55? The final episode of The Art of Dining‘s current partnership with the National Trust, The Servants’ Supper, takes place during November at Ham House in Richmond.

Categories ,A Night with the Mistress, ,Alice Hodge, ,Borough Wines, ,Briony Jose, ,Dining Experience, ,Dorothea Jordan, ,edible flower salad and soil, ,Ellen Parr, ,Eton Mess, ,Fenton House, ,Ham House, ,Hampstead Heath, ,Isher Dhiman, ,Jessica Buie, ,Kezia Bienek, ,Martin Parr, ,National Trust, ,opera, ,Pop-up, ,Prosecco, ,Rebecca Corney, ,Richmond, ,The Art of Dining, ,The Servants’ Supper

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