Amelia’s Magazine | Central St Martins BA Show

Last night was the BA fashion show from the students of Central St Martins in a blisteringly hot Bethnal Green York Hall, hospital search where forty students had their work sent down the catwalk to an audience expecting nothing except the best and, web of course, the wackiest. With such a massive amount of creativity flying about it saw an awful lot of boxes being ticked, including (unfortunately) the prerequisite models who couldn’t make it down the runway without falling over the sheer volume of fabric they were swathed in.

It’s a strange and sometimes disconcerting sensation being hurtled straight into the centre of somebody imagination for only about a minute and a half, and some informed you of their vision more immediately and successfully than others. Particularly memorable was Caroline Jarvis’s menswear, a selection of loose knits, oversized jerseys, with a gorgeous fair isle cardigan and wooden birdbox accessories (a rucksack and a bumbag, as you ask).



I found it a really well put together collection and that’s effortlessly wearable but also enduring, with relaxed, rural overtones that provided a welcome dose of rustic respite amidst a sea of harsh, futuristic designs, with the models lobbing a stone back and forth between them a likeable touch.


I especially like the roughly cut schoolboy shorts on the final look, and the velvet pantaloons combined with some knitted socks. At the opposite end of the spectrum was John Booth, whose pieces had the air of children let loose with a whole lot of psychedelic crayons and felt tips, with raincoats covered in cartoon patches, giant beads and more colour than I’ve ever seen anywhere, ever, in the world.


Apart from in Peter Bailey’s collection of course, which saw giant plasticated jewellery and rockabilly straw hats against clashing check and polka dot prints. Pessimism certainly had no place here.



Knitwear was a popular choice and cropped up in unlikely places, including some seriously thick knitted trousers (by Sorada Thaiwaranon) that had the roasting hot audience looking on aghast. In fact the revelation of the evening seemed to be influence of craft on many of the collections, showing how the sustainable act of making perhaps has become more current than ever. Included in this was runner up Luke Brooks whose models were in some cases almost entirely enclosed in basket-weave cocoons, and elsewhere there were enormous thatch pockets, woven string blouses, wire coats and basket shoulder-pads. The patchwork tulip dress by Tamaki Fujie was another favourite, accessorised with a neckscarf made of flowers and a feather headdress.



The most positive responses seemed to be generated by the pastoral – maybe expressing some sort of growing ambivalence towards urban life, now that things are perhaps a bit more austere than we would like.

The winning collection was Dutch fashion print student Marie Hill, who sent out a series of fluorescent-techno bodycon cocktail dresses, with the body divided by contour lines of delicate folds with spider webs taut at the back.


The construction seemed to reveal a tension of ideas, and we found out afterwards from Marie that she was keen to do something technically impressive with the materials that had been donated by 3M. The fabrication certainly lent her designs a toughness, which I think successfully created a curious dialogue with the sophisticated evening silhouettes on show.


She actually changed her whole collection two weeks before the show because she wanted it to be more feminine so I wonder how the robust materials translated prior to the revamp. The reflective pieces were actually safety vests cut into thin strips, and like Olga Shishinka who appeared to use old tent material, it was an opportune foray into the reuse of materials.


Obviously a lot of trends were pandered to here – there were more jumpsuits than you could shake a stick for instance. The only rule here as an audience member is never to raise an eyebrow: you never know what you might be wearing next year.


Categories ,catwalk, ,craft, ,graduate, ,graphic prints, ,knitwear, ,reusable fabrics

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

Milena Kovanovic by Laura Hickman
Milena Kovanovic by Laura Hickman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Milena Kovanovic Ursula's Hoard Mayflower Ring
Mayflower Ring.

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

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

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

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

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