Monday, 23 June 2014

Abstraction

I'm quietly obsessed with abstract shape and prints. It's been a case of actively searching them out and a Baader-Meinhof -esque situation where I've been happening to see them everywhere I look, drinking them in, appreciating every line and shape. 

Joe Cruz has been a favourite of mine for a few years; his bold, energetic style makes for striking work. Whereas Joe tends to work into photographic images, Emily Tilzey takes away from them, cutting and chopping to create beautiful, organic, abstract works. A more recent discovery is American artist Dorothy Hafner's 'Flash' range for Rosenthal Studio Line, an innovative tableware line which was released in 1984. Hafner looked beyond function to design angular pieces with curves, tilts and corners, all of which complement the bright, almost comic-like prints which grace the ceramic.

Joe Cruz

Emily Tilzey

Dorothy Hafner 'Flash' range for Rosenthal Studio Line

So, with all this abstract appreciation going on, it was bound to find its way into my wardrobe. First up, the vintage skirt, which is a dream. The print couldn't have been any more perfect for me if I'd designed it myself. There are dots, splodges, squiggles, zig zags, guitars, ladies with rainbow tresses, everything you could possibly want! Also, the tie waist means it's super versatile. Once I've put some sneaky popper fastenings down the split (I'm cheating with safety pins here) it can be worn closed as a skirt, or more open to layer over trousers. Unfortunately it's too big. Again, I'm cheating here as it's clipped at the back, but I am loathe to put a seam down it and break up the flow of the print. However, I suppose I can sacrifice 20cm of fabric for something that I am undoubtedly going to wear all the time.

The second abstract addition to my life is the neoprene clutch from Jen Cheema. I styled and produced Jen's SS14 lookbook and she was one of the easiest clients to read I've ever had, simply because we seem to have exactly the same taste in everything. 

Jen initially posted a teaser image of her new range of clutch bags on her Instagram, so when she told me they were up in her shop, I had to order one with immediate effect! 'The bag is part of a collection that has been inspired by crystals, puffy stickers and our favourite 90s girl bands. Jen's original 'Hyper Rainbow' design is digitally printed onto 3.5mm thick neoprene, cut out by hand and backed with glitter fabric'. It also features a contrasting lime green back and silky ocean blue lining. 

Since graduating in 2013, Jen has launched a jewellery and accessories line which builds upon her graduate collection, and has been featured by the likes of Ballad Of, HUNGER TV, and ASOS Magazine. She has also been working hard in order to facilitate heading back to London to undertake her masters and I can't wait to see how her style and brand develops. I'm determined that one day I'll be able to dress head to toe in Jen Cheema!

T-shirt (customised) and skirt: COW Vintage, Clutch: Jen Cheema,
Sandals: Nike



Friday, 20 June 2014

MA-n

I love colour. A lot. My wardrobe is a veritable rainbow. But without good design, colour means nothing, and this was the premise behind The Black Project, recently undertaken by the class of 2015 MA Menswear students at London College of Fashion (LCF). 

This particular group of students have decided that it's not enough to simply be studying, even on a prestigious MA course. Using The Black Project as a starting point, the students have collaboratively produced a lookbook to showcase the outcome, entitled MA-MAN15. It features each look from each student and has been distributed throughout members of the industry in an effort to 'promote their work as individuals and the course as a whole'. It acts as part of a larger project entitled MA-n which serves as a platform from which the students can communicate their work to the industry they're working to become a part of.

Austin Perry (all round lovely person and incredible designer) spearheaded the idea:

"The Black Project was used as a unit for our tutor to understand how we each worked as a designer, understanding the different techniques people utilised. We could use any fabric we wanted but it had to be relevant to our design methodologies. So mine, for example, is about removing the sexualised connotations behind the idea of wearing latex, and who wears latex. 

"Each designer's outfit tells a different story, underpinning their design methodology. The lookbook itself was part of an idea I came up with about creating a sort of brand within the course. It's become more of a platform for promotion and the whole class is behind the idea. We're hopeful to think that people in the industry will look at this so we're currently sending it out to different editors and publications because, of course, we would all love to have a job waiting for us after we graduate. It's really about the bigger picture, and creating an online legacy that future year groups at LCF MA Menswear can adopt; almost like beginning a new history book."




The lookbook explains that the ‘fabric first’ method was the direction for this work to explore silhouette and volume in the absence of colour. The students have taken notably diverse approaches. Xuefei Wang, Xue Feng, Shimo Zhou, and Yu Ding, are amongst those who have taken the opportunity to play with form and precision; perfecting their tailoring and working with more traditional silhouettes, tweaking and working into those staples that are synonymous with menswear - the suit jacket and trousers. Others, such as Neale Duncan and Xiaoli Su, have redefined the silhouettes with bold shapes and creative pattern cutting.



At the other end of the spectrum are those who have experimented with fabric and texture - lace, laser cutting, PVC, fur, and latex all feature. All still in the uniform black or white but all with their own identity. Whilst Austin Perry's offering references the traditional tuxedo, the use of latex, the flared legline, chain detailing, and luxurious fur far remove it from the realms of the norm. 

Jamie Elwood has eschewed any ties to the traditional with his sheer, laser cut faux leather dress, and Kitty Ng has taken texture to the max with her huge 'Organic Raincoat'. David Cabra and Thientrang Bui have both approached transparency from very different angles. Cabra's sportswear inspired look utilises PVC, whereas Bui makes use of lace and chiffon - a more traditional fabric choice in general perhaps, but not so in terms of menswear.


Some might wonder how any restrictions in design can be freeing, but against the uniformity of the black and white, ideas, form, and innovation can take centre stage. MA-MAN15 is just the beginning of what we'll see from this group of students, they're letting us in to watch them develop and hone their skills and visions as designers. Many students wait until their final show for that huge wave of appreciation and exposure but this lot are taking no chances, striking whilst the iron is hot, and carving out their own inimitable path.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

All The Honeys

Today's post is all about independent women designers. I'm never exaggerating when I say I love independent designers and labels. It's a serious big time love. We're thinking of moving in together. I spend hours trawling the internet finding new ones or swooning over the ones I already know. Often a one man (or woman in this case) show, they're out there constantly creating and making, without restrictions of any predetermined expectations or brand history. This isn't to say, of course, that they don't have a style, each label certainly carves out an identity, it's more a case of being able to design without the idea of 'representing the brand', and this allows fresh ideas to flow freely.

TOOFARCHAR is a brand run by Charlotte Matthews (whose graduate collection I featured in 'New Generation' for Hope Street). Whilst her graduate collection was bursting with texture (suede, leather, sequins, and more, all with a sportswear edge) Charlotte has drawn on the other stand out element of it - print - to design a range of beautiful, high quality t-shirts. All artwork is produced by Charlotte; she utilises painting, hand drawing, photography and CAD to create her prints. Even though the t-shirts are only £25 (this means you should buy one immediately), they feel super expensive. The heavy weight polyester hangs perfectly and doesn't crease which is the best thing ever for anyone who hates ironing. Charlotte worked hard to keep the momentum going after graduating, and it shows her ability to design on both a high end and a commercial level.

Next up is Somewhere Nowhere. I may have cheated a little bit on this one. Somewhere Nowhere is run by Rex Lo and Elly Cheng, but for the sake of the Destiny's Child title, Rex can be an honorary independent woman just this once. I've wanted this dress for what feels like an age, so when they finally re-stocked I had to snap it up. It then sold out again almost immediately. I featured a Q&A with the brand in September last year and since then they've continued to produce more fluffy, shiny wonders and I can't get enough of it. Clearly, I'm not alone. They've racked up over 65,000 followers on Instagram and have customers worldwide.


T-shirt: TOOFARCHAR, Dress: Somewhere Nowhere,
Earrings: Ciara Clark worn with H&M cycling shorts and
Topshop shoes and socks

Jacket: Chantelle Richardson

Top and trousers: Chantelle Richardson, Earrings: Ciara Clark
worn with Nike slides

Chantelle Richardson is a graduate of De Montfort University. Her graduate collection is a riot of colour, print and embellishment. Unfortunately for me and my wardrobe, her pieces aren't actually in production; the pieces I'm wearing are ones I've pulled for shoots. Should she launch her own line, however, I'll be her first customer! The eye and hand print crop top is my absolute dream top. The print and bold colour palette is divine, and what you can't see here is all the hand beading and embellishment that only serves to add to the rich texture. Chantelle has had seen her print work hit the rails in River Island but I would just love to see her create her own range. Eye print crops for everyone!


Close up of Ciara Clark earrings. Fake sparkles may vary.

And finally, Ciara Clark. I first featured Ciara's pieces in 'Tropicana' for Novembre Magazine and have used them a number of times since (and will continue to do so!). Ciara works predominantly with acrylic, and whilst the holographic, iridescent pieces are certainly what she's known for, her style and skills stretch far beyond this and she's recently been working on a new collection, experimenting with materials such as corian and cork. The beautiful heart earrings get compliments every time I wear them, which is essentially all the time, and I can't wait to see what Ciara's new collection brings when it launches along with her new website next season.

These are the kind of beauties you can find if you turn away from the high street and go straight to the source. There are so many independent labels out there putting out amazing collections and product, who deserve your attention and, if I'm going to be blunt, your money. Spending £30 on a mass produced t-shirt, is just spending £30 on a mass produced t-shirt, but spending £30 on, for example, a print tee or a pair of earrings, is investing in a creative process and prolonging the life of a label that is there to excite people, not just sell to them.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Editorial: Eden [published by Hunger TV]

'Eden' was published in April by Hunger TV alongside an interview with photographer Lucie Crewdson and I...

What inspired your shoot and what did you hope to achieve?
Our idea was based on the juxtaposition between masculinity and femininity. We wanted to use the structure of the garments and combine this with the feminine touches of the glitter eyeshadow, hair extensions and flowers. We were inspired by the new incarnation of the modern man and how overt masculinity can be underlined with a streak of vanity.




Did it turn out how you expected?
The feel of the shoot changed quite a lot from our original plan, but we kept the styling aesthetic we wanted from the start. The use of collage was a later decision, we liked the idea of adding a very obvious feminine attribute in the form of oversized flowers.

Have you worked with the team before?
We work together a lot as we have a very similar outlook on the type of fashion imagery we want to create. Jacob is a great creative make up artist and hair stylist who we have started working with more recently!




What was the most challenging aspect of the shoot?
Getting the right balance between the masculine and feminine elements.

What are you hungry for?
Pizza, always! And also to become a successful duo and build on creating our own distinct directional style.

You can view the full editorial on my website and the full feature on Hunger Young Blood. The team was:

Photographer: Lucie Crewdson
Styling: Sophie Benson
Hair + Make-up: Jacob James
Models: Jacob @ Boss/Established, Sam @ Nemesis
Collage: Sophie Benson/Lucie Crewdson