When you think of the humble pom-pom you think of children’s clothes, order buy of gigantic sombreros for tourists, generic unsightly snow boots and poodles with dodgy haircuts. Experimenting with pom-poms always seemed to be a bit like tequila shots – one was fun, two was adventurous, any more was way overboard and enough to make you gag.
NOT ANY MORE! Somebody somewhere decided it was time to wrench those pom-poms from the cheerleader’s sweaty grasp and boom! Stick them in the right places and we’re in love – and it turns out you can have hundreds of them!
They might have come to our attention bobbling out all over the catwalks in fashion week and with the high street following suit, but this is a look that could be even cheaper for the creative recessionistas amongst you. Make your own! Check it.
If you ever find yourself sat staring into space on the tube, you could be churning out a whole lot of pom-poms instead. Worn the right way I think it’s a really easy and fun accessory to jazz up an outfit– this cute Peter Jensen ring as a prime example:
We’ve seen some girls wearing them in their hair, which make a nice woolly alternative to bows, and of course the contentious scrunchie.
THE KITCHEN SINK:
Don’t be wearing those in the cinema mind you.
It’s amazing that something so simple has been culturally reinterpreted so often over the course of history. That might sound grand but something that’s gone from dangling off the edges of sun hats in Central America, to being mass marketed to children all over the world to making on the Paris catwalks is pretty unique. Yikes, Pom Pom international even reckons they can promote world peace. Maybe that’s one tequila too many. Sporting them could almost seem a throwback to childhood, a fashion revival harking back to the days of hats and mittens (I’d like to say ‘and snow and toboggans’ but let’s face it, it doesn’t snow THAT often).
The last thing we can learn about pom-poms is from cheerleaders everywhere, who if nothing else, seem mind-bogglingly happy. Why? POM-POMS!
“At a T-cross-section go to the left. On your left hand you will see a hill. At the end of the hill, tadalafil on the top, this you will see a green cottage. That is where you can find me. If I am not there I might be outside doing some experiments.”
Holland’s answer to a modern day Darwin, Theo Jansen has spent the last 19 years playing god and taking evolution into his own hands. An arrogant way to spend the best part of two decades you might say, but not when you see what incredible results this passing of time has produced. Jansen’s kinetic creature creations exist in a carefully crafted overlap of art and engineering.
From a physics background to a study of painting via an interest in aeronautics and robotics Jansen arrived at 1990 with a thirst for breathing autonomous life into mechanical sculpture. What started as a highly technical computer animation program is now only reliant on the power of the wind with no machine assistance and only minimal human input required, and even that Jansen hopes to eventually phase out.
My personal attraction to what Jansen does comes from my deep seated loathing of plastic waste, which he cleverly conquers by incorporating discarded plastic bottles as part of a complicated wind energy storage system and he sources metres and metres and metres of yellow plastic tubing- 375 tubes per animal to be exact- to create the skeletons for his beautiful monsters.
He claims he started to use the plastic tubing because it was unbelievably cheap and readily available although he quickly discovered that a more perfect material for the project would be hard to find as they are both flexible and multifunctional. He draws comparisons between the plastic required in his art and the protein required for life forms. “in nature, everything is almost made of protein and you have various uses of protein; you can make nails, hair, skin and bones. There’s a lot of variety in what you can do with just one material and this is what I try to do as well.”
The heads of his giant beings act as sails, directing the intricate frames to glide gracefully across the nearby beaches to Jansen’s home and laboratory. The insect-like wings catch gusts of wind and propel the body forward. When there is no wind not even for ready money, the stored energy in the belly of the beasts can be utilized.
Jansen’s vision is of a landscape populated by herds of these sculptures taking on entire lives of their own. The versions of models that made it into existence have raced and won survival of the fittest contests through his computer program and having studied these ‘winners’ Jansen designed creatures so developed they are even capable of self preservation, burrowing themselves in the sand when the gusts are too powerful for them to use constructively.
His imagination like his Strandbeests (literally translated as ‘Beach Animal) is an ever evolving self perfecting organ. He envisions a point at which he will release his creations ‘into the wild’, which he speaks about in the same loving tone you would expect from a parent preparing their nest to be flown by their offspring. “I imagine that two animals will meet each other and compare their qualities in some way; have a demonstration somewhere on how they run and how fast they can run and also do some quality comparison on how they survive the winds. And the one with the better quality kills the other one and gives the other its own genetic code. There could be 30 animals on the beach, running around all the time, copying genetic codes. And then it would go on without me.” It’s not so far fetched after all to consider what Jansen does as god-like. He plainly and rather humbly philosophizes, “I try to remake nature with the idea that while doing this you will uncover the secrets of life and that you will meet the same problems as the real creator,” he added. Theo Jansen is simply a genius though his genius is far from simple. Amen.
It has been a while since I have found a political party that I feel that I can get behind. Politics seem to have descended into a misguided mess. Anytime I read about a Tory or Labour MP, more about it is usually because of a scandal. What is going on environmentally and economically seems to play second fiddle to infighting and lies. Meanwhile, living in East London, I have become friends with a couple of people who are involved in the Hackney Green Party. They don’t seem to lie, or cheat, or claim expenses – this is a party that I can support! I wanted to find out more about them, so I sat down for a cup of tea with Matt Hanley, who is the Green candidate for Stoke Newington Central.
Illustration by Jessica Pemberton
I really liked the political broadcast; I thought it was very astute. The message is not that we have to step outside of our comfortable lives, but that the Green Party are the only political group who can deal with the contemporary and current issues that the world is facing; both politically and environmentally.
We have changed in almost a 180-degree way, twenty years ago the stereotype was beards, sandals, pipes, hemp clothes, it was almost like lecturing the public – it was unsophisticated. Twenty years ago was what, 1989? Scientists for the first time had come to an agreement that climate change was happening, and that it appeared to be man made. I guess when that news was first out there; people were like ‘look, its GOT to change’. Now we are a bit savvier. We have to present policies which are palatable to the voting public; there is no point in standing on the side lines and finger wagging, if we present a policy which will save money but drive down carbon emissions – that is what we are all about. I see the environment agenda of the Green Party very much subset of our core goal, which is social justice. Everything we do, we put the welfare of the human being at the very core. If they are not benefiting from our policies then… I don’t want to know…. that is what the Green Party stands for. So we work for human rights, LGBT rights, promoting the local economy, promoting local business, right though to reducing carbon emissions, they are all under this umbrella of social justice. We are providing a very electable platform, which will improve people’s lives. We are a very well run political party with extremely good innovative ideas to get ourselves out of this economic mess and we are also challenging climate change and enabling our communities to do the same and preparing ourselves for peak oil.
There have been a many protests organised recently, a lot of people who have never protested before are taking to the streets. What is the Green Party’s stance on direct action?
We are the political wing of the New Social Movement; we are the only party who advocate non-violent direct action. The Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas, is probably the only leader with a criminal record, she has been arrested at a nuclear base up in Scotland. We support legitimate protest. There is a place for the protesting, and a place for the parliamentary process. So we are the elected wing of the protest movement.
Illustration by Aarron Taylor
Other parties don’t like their protesters do they?
Absolutely not, they just want you to nod along. Like good citizens, nod along like The Churchill Dog! (Laughs)
For people who have only heard of Hackney and have not been here, the first words that would come to mind would not be “sustainability”, “communities” or “grow your own”, but plenty of people are living by these ideals here and there is actually quite a healthy sized green movement in Hackney….
There is a massive opportunity for a green movement here, and massive support for us. It is unbelievable. In the last elections, the Greens reached second or third in every single ward in Hackney.
And you have a good relationship with Transition Town Hackney as well?
Yes, but they are completely different organisations. The Transition Town movement doesn’t want to be in the thrall of the political party. We definitely support the parties and their principles. We are all about a localised economy, we should be able to feed ourselves, produce our own energy, and I should be able to send my kid to the local school. The Transition Town model is about preparing for the onslaught of climate change and equipping communities for that transition, and that is also what the Greens are all about.
Can you see Hackney functioning well under a Green Party council?
Absolutely! They are doing it in Lewisham at the moment, which is a similar demography. They are doing all these fantastic things, for example, they have set a system up where you can go to the library and hire energy reading meters which you can take home and fix into your energy meter and this allows you to do an audit of your energy usage. I definitely want to see this launched in Hackney. It’s an innovative, creative way of thinking. It’s about putting sustainability at the core of everything, which also saves lots and lots of money!
I see The Green Party as being very accessible to young people as well.
The average age of people joining is mid to late 20′s. They are not wedded to 20th century politics, a lot of older labour supporters can’t bring themselves to leave. We have the same agenda that Labour did, back when they were good Labour. Only we can add the environmental agenda. We stand up for peace. We stand up for nuclear disarmament, no other party does that. We want public services to stay public. We want to renationalise the railways – the cost of rail tickets hits young people very, very hard. Younger people can see that we are standing up to big businesses, supporting local shops, and standing up for individuals. We have a whole plethora of progressive policies……..
Illustration by Aarron Taylor
And also The Green Party a very media savvy bunch – you are on Facebook, you organise lots of activities….
Absolutely! In fact next week we are going paintballing – ‘Paintballing for Peace’
(Laughs) What other way is there to find peace?
(Laughs), and we are going on a Hackney Greens bike ride down to Brighton, we are organising a summer solstice away down to the coast. And we go on alternative pub-crawls. (Laughs)
Speaking of young people, Matt, you are 30 years old and you are standing for Stoke Newington Council for next May. What prompted this move?
I don’t like politicians – they are all the same, especially with what is going on with news about their expenses at the moment.
Working for the Green Party, and seeing the good that they are doing, I thought, you have to step up. I know that I can do a good job. Labour are failing miserably both in Hackney and in the country. The Conservatives are the same, the Liberal Democrats are no different, and so as a Green, you just have to step up.
What will you do if you won and had the power to implement any idea? What’s the first thing that you would do?
Free insulation! It’s a scheme that stems from European legislation, which states that energy companies are obliged to give a certain percentage to energy efficiency schemes. But the councils have to apply for that. The Green Party in Kirklees is on the local council, so every single person in Kirklees gets free insulation. It drives down energy costs, and drives down the carbon emissions and creates local jobs, so it’s a win win situation. Why every single council on the country is getting on this I don’t know. It saves everyone money, make peoples homes warmer, make them healthier – it stops people going to NHS with colds and flu and also reinvigorates the local economy by producing jobs. It creates a programme of very sustainable jobs. We tried to implement it before, but the Labour Councellors called it ‘daft’, dismissed it out of hand and didn’t give a reason beyond that!
That doesn’t make any sense!
The Labour and Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats are on the wrong side of history, but there is a new movement, and it takes into account the Green Party, Transition Town and Friends Of The Earth…. Amnesty International, trade unions, CND etc and all these community grass routes organisations. This is a wonderful new social movement that can be called green with a small g and is a new paradigm of social and political engagement…. this is what the 21st Century is coming to now, but the three big parties are still clinging onto the coat tails of 20th Century ideology. This whole new multifaceted social movement (of which the Green Party are the political wing) is the new politics of the 21st century.
Illustration by Faye Katirai
Can you tell us the best changes that we can make to our lives to make our world more sustainable?
Number one is vote Green! Although I don’t want to lecture people about being ” eco trendy”. Eco trendiness and eco consumption is not going to sort this mess out. We need strong government action to allow this country to change to a sustainable economy. But back to things that you can do as an individual: don’t use your car as much. Don’t eat as much meat. Cut down, you don’t have to stop eating meat completely, just don’t buy from supermarkets. Stop shopping at supermarkets altogether, because that is killing the environment, and your local towns. Support your local shops instead.
Wise words! Thanks Matt.
While the rest of us spent the winter windblown and wet-toed, viagra knitwear designer Craig Lawrence was dreaming of a resort escape, prostate with all the bells and whistles. And what hard earned sunburn doesn’t deserve to be soothed by an embarrassingly oversized tropical drink with all the tacky accoutrements. And ‘splash’ inspiration is born! Those fanciful toxic colored fishbowls of liquor with their cascading garnishes were all the visual inspiration Craig needed to create his first collection since graduating from St.Martins last July. Knitted up with satin ribbons and swirling metal yarn, the knitwear newcomer’s sugar sweet confections made it to Vauxhall Fashion Scout’s runways and onto the lips of the fashion heavies.
I understand sweets and cocktails were the inspirations for your recent collection. What are some of your favorites?
After my degree collection for St.Martins I needed a bit of time to catch my breath so when I started designing again it was winter…cold and grey. I was eating sweets in my studio and daydreaming of beaches and tropical drinks. Some of my favorite things are peach daiquiris, parma violets. My favorite sweet is probably chewy toffee and favorite drink is that fizzy orange drink irn-bru.
What do you recall as the first piece of knitwear you ever made?
A wooly, salmon colored scarf that I actually lost on the train. That and an awful grey ruched square-shaped polyester thing I had to make for my A levels.
If given the chance to collaborate with anyone who would you have in mind?
I’ve always thought of doing pieces for a more theatrical environment. I would love to work with Slava Snowshow.
You recently worked with stylist Katie Shillingford on a shoot for your recent collection. There’s so much movement in those images which really brings your knits to life, how did you manage to capture that?
I’d wanted dancing and movement but the studios’ ceilings were too low and they were all too expensive. So we brought a 9 ft family size trampoline to a rooftop overlooking the city and had the girls bouncing up and down on it. A bit risky actually as there was really not much there to stop them from going over if we weren’t careful. We did the hair and make up at home with the help of my boyfriend and flatmates, one of which is a model, which definitely helps when you need someone for fittings.
Did you start out interested in knit or did you find your way to it while studying fashion?
Actually, I wanted to do menswear while I was at London College of Fashion, by the time I got to St.Martins they encouraged me to do knit because they saw that all my stuff to that point had been designed in jersey. And I loved the chunky quality of knit.
I hear you managed to do the impossible and actually design 6 seasons of knitwear for Gareth Pugh, while doing your BA, AND working a retail job once a week. How were you able to do that and how many of yourself did you have to clone?
I was in school at the time and had knitted a scarf for a friend who’s flatmate wore it on a date with Gareth, who mentioned he was looking for a knitwear designer. He got in touch and said he needed to have pieces made up in a week. So it was all quite fast. All that while doing my BA degree and working in the stock room at John Lewis on Saturday mornings, sometimes having to be there at 6 am. You get used to not sleeping.
And a year after graduating you were showing at Vauxhall Fashion Scout?
My PR agency BLOW called me up a week before the show and said they had an opening for me, so I made up some accessories and a few pieces to fill out the collection I’d been working on. I was given a team of hair and make up artists and we were off.
Which comes first for you, the yarn or the garment?
Usually the textiles come first for me. I’ve learned alot about them along the way, like for example needing to use a flat knit for tight fitting garments.
Are there any textiles, practical or not that you’re really keen to use?
I’d like to do something with little leather strips or pvc something shiny and bright. Maybe even strips of diamante.
What is one of the more random things you’ve used to knit with?
You know those yellow rubber gloves used for washing up/ i found a guy in Dalston Market selling a gaint roll of it and bought it. I cut it up into tiny little strips and started knitting it up but as a garment it was incredibly heavy and totally unweareble.
Could you give us a peek into the inspirations for your next collection?
At the moment I’m interested in accessories, chenille, and fireworks!
Look out! That is some recipe. Craig Lawrence wants to expand our minds and preconceptions, to push knitwear into places we’d least expect it. Can’t wait to see what Molotov cocktail awaits us next season!
Prepare yourself for copious amounts of black eye liner as this week sees us take an awe-inspiring look at one of London’s fashion firmament Hannah Marshall. A rapidly establishing icon Marshall has been injecting a healthy dose of rock and roll back onto our catwalks since her break through debut in 2007.
I tracked down Hannah to find out more about this talented lady
How are you doing? It’s a lovely sunny day in London; hope your enjoying the sunshine?
I have escaped from London to work from home today in the beautiful Essex countryside; the weather is beautiful here too.
Take me through life since you’re A/W 09 collection showcased at London Fashion Week?
The Autumn/Winter 2009 collection ‘Armour’ was shown at London Fashion Week as part of the New Generation exhibition sponsored by Top Shop. In addition, store I did my first presentation at the On|Off space with Ipso Facto in the Science Museum. The collection was also shown in Paris and New York and there has been a very positive reaction with UK and International press and buyers alike. Since fashion week, ed I have started working on more music collaborations, approved which is really exciting.
Your one of the few designers I have come across that you really get the sense that your personal style plays prominence in your designs, would you agree?
I think it’s important to practice what you preach, and at the end of the day I am designing what I want to wear, that I believe isn’t out there already. I am obsessed with black, shoulder pads and eyebrows. My brand is an extension of me and my aesthetic and vision, which is about empowering women through clothing.
Every girl needs her staple black dress, for me anyway there is a sort of salvation and self-assurance in black clothing, would you agree?
When I design, I design in black. It’s the strongest and most powerful colour there is. Black is the perfect tone to create bold and interesting silhouettes with. For me, the iconic Little Black dress is the epitome of timeless clothing and is the wardrobe staple that is exudes a powerful elegance, authority and quiet confidence. When I launched my label in 2007, I just showed 12 black dresses – for me, a black dress is all you need.
What would you say stimulates you to create your collections?
This season the Hannah Marshall woman wears her own suit of armour. Her body is encased in steel line panels, protected with angular breastplates, concealed with pronounced contours and shielded with moulded hips. This body armour concept allows pieces to offer the illusion of strength and lend the wearer a sense of security.
My design philosophy stems from my continuing obsession with the human form and bodily contours, resulting in carefully orchestrated designs that fit to perfection, inspired insect exoskeletons references such as the beetle’s armoured shell, mimicked through protective interconnecting segments. Black takes the main stage once again, in contrasting and tactile fabrics to create a second skin concealing what lies beneath. The introduction of caviar- look stingray, luxurious stretch velvet and taught elastic is added to my ritual butter soft leathers and lustrous stretch silks
I know it’s a generic question, but which designers out their would you
pinpoint as inspirations?
I am obsessed by Thierry Mugler and the super tailored, sexy designs from the 80′s period. I love the minimalism of Jill Sander in the 90′s and appreciate the sculptural shapes from Japanese designers like Yohji Yamamoto.
You utilise black very heavily within your work, would you say “black is
the new black?’
Always – black is irreplaceable and will always be around throughout each season.
I know you’re enthused by music, you recently used Ipso Facto as muses for you’re A/W 09 collection, which other bands blast out of your headphones?
Ipso Facto of course, as well as The Kills, Iggy Pop, Skunk Anansie, The Black Keys, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Florence & The Machine, Prince, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Nirvana, Siouxie & The Banshees, and more…
If you could work with any iconic figure from the past, who would you choose any why?
Cristobal Balenciaga – pure genius.
Do you have any advice for budding designers eager to break into the fashion sphere?
Believe in yourself, otherwise how can you expect others too. Also, I would advise any young designers to get a mentor and do their ground work.
The more that I delve into the world of Hannah Marshall the further in awe I become. Marshall creates collections that are not merely appreciated as catwalk objects, she creates pieces that tap into every woman’s subconscious. Her Designs follow a distinctive aesthetic, beautifully crafted with architectural precision but with a sensibility that just screams wearability.
I think on a subconscious level we are all black aficionados, when your endlessly trawling the deepest realms of the wardrobe on those bleary eyed mornings, what brings us the utmost in self-assurance and feistiness? Without a doubt it is the quintessential little black dress that consoles all dilemmas. Its been engrained into our sub conscious, think avante garde, think Audrey Hepburn. The back dress prevails time, it still retains the same stylish potency now as ever. Regardless of occasion Its my one true ally admist the abysses of print and colour that can often just make the head spin. Blacks connotates effortless dominance, sexiness and style.
So watch out world we have a new queen of darkness on our hands!
(images supplied by Victor De Mello)
Categories ,Black, ,Fashion, ,Hannah Marshall, ,Interview, ,London Fashion Week, ,Rock and Roll