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Drink tea and raise money for Amnesty International UK!

Max Studio Exclusive Interviews



eautiful fabrics, quirky designs and one very large stately home. Vivianne Diep tells us exactly what’s involved when you’re the UK’s senior fashion designer of an international brand… the good… and the bad side [page 2]. This particular brand is also topic of conversation on page 18 with an exclusive account of their store opening celebrations. Its time for a tea party on page 7, that’s an Amnes-tea party. Join us for cake and raise awareness of human rights. Then take a walk in the countryside and back to the city, then back to the countryside again. Loose yourself in our Sylvan City Photo story on page 24.


A Passion for Fashion‌ An interview with Max Studio Designer Vivianne Diep.


When I joined Max Studio at the Easton Neston Estate a year ago, the idea was that the beautiful surroundings would inspire me to create beautiful clothes. Although I appreciate the fantastic space I have to work in – studios in London and LA can be so small and cramped – I don’t think that I am inspired solely by the surroundings. My inspiration comes from experiences, things that I have seen, things that I feel. It has to be something inside of you, somewhere in the stages of your life you build this style and mind. Certain things trigger my ideas, it could be what someone is wearing or even what they say.

Late nights, celebrity garden parties and luxury hotels - is it a life of glitz and glamour for Max Studio’s UK Senior Designer?

I was introduced to fashion as a child, my family owned a tailoring business back in Vietnam making clothes for village people. Watching family members sewing captivated me, so I guess this is where it all started. I’ve been surrounded by the industry my whole life so I wouldn’t say I have been inspired by one particular person, it’s the clothes themselves that inspire me. I am fascinated by the fit of the garment, how it covers the body, how the seams come together - basically the craftsmanship of each piece. Cleaver designs inspire me and I look for the finer details of each designers work. My first break into the fashion industry was a placement with Roland Mouret when I was twenty-two, although I gained some valuable experience I saw a very different side to the industry. My colleagues were stressed out, patronising and false. I found this environment hard to work in, so when I experienced a similar atmosphere at my second placement with Alexander McQueen it only made me want to succeed with my own ideas even more. For me, fashion is purely about the love of clothes, not about earning lots of money. Over everything my dream is to have my own line of clothing. 3

I have a large team, there are two other designers, four pattern cutters and 5 machinists. Our process starts with little details and sketches, we narrow that down to one final design and send it to the pattern cutter, they will produce a pattern for the machinist to make up. Sometimes the design works and this is great, but sometimes they don’t. However mistakes can be a good thing, you can learn from them and create something totally different. Designing is all about the process, you never finish at your initial stage, designs can go on forever and you’re never happy until its perfect.

“For me, fashion is purely about the love of clothes”

I am very lucky that my job enables me to travel to different countries, and it’s nice to visit places I have never been to before, but the trips can be exhausting. I arrive very tired and sometimes get straight to work. My first trip with Max Studio was to Shanghai, we visited textile shows, a good way to get a feel for the company’s style as the fabrics they use tell you a lot. I also got to see the production and manufacture of our clothes. It’s great to know the manufacturing capabilities as you can imply this knowledge to your designs – you know what you can and what you can’t do. It’s also good to see how the company looks after and cares for its employees, I have a high set of moral principles and wouldn’t be happy working for a company who didn’t share my concerns. My most recent trip was to Paris to attend Premier Vision, a textile and trend-forecasting event. You can choose to follow forecasts but we tend to take bits of information from the show and interpret our own. We also shop and visit the local markets to gain inspiration, anything can catch my eye, from what is being sold to what people are wearing. I do have a little time for myself and I managed to pick up a limited edition Mary Katrantzou for Longchamp bag, her prints are so beautiful and the bags were exclusively launched at Collette in Paris during fashion week. I do have to treat myself sometimes. 4

“Mistakes can be good, its all about the process. A design can go on forever�


During our time in Paris we stay at the George V Four Seasons Hotel, everything here is sublime. The thing about France is that the food is so rich and filling, they gave me beautiful cakes but I just couldn’t eat them, I was just too full! As it was Valentines Day we also received beauty treatments, compliments of the hotel – this was definitely a bonus. Paris is a city that really inspires me but I have to say that there is nowhere more inspiring than London, it’s to do with the culture, we are more fashion forward in the UK, people are more daring, tending to be individuals rather than to follow trends. I never make it to the office before 9.30 am, I’m definitely a night bird. I work much better in the evening as there are too many temptations and distractions during the day, especially if it is sunny. No one interrupts me when it’s late. I’ll usually arrive at 9.30 to scan around and see how everyone is doing, then I use the morning for general meetings and emails. Design work begins later in the day. My signature style is fabric manipulation, I can create the most beautiful patterns and shapes from just one piece of material, ethically this is great as we produce much less wastage than traditional designs. I enjoy the challenge and am constantly looking for inspiration, twisting, rouching and plaiting my way to a new design. All my friends think that fashion is so glamorous, they think it’s all about the parties and the free clothes but the reality is quite different. My perfect weekend consists of doing… nothing. I overload myself with work during the week so I have no energy left by Friday, all I want to do is relax, rest my mind and spend quality time with my husband – he doesn’t work in fashion so we talk about something completely different. What I wear at home is completely different to my work clothes. I blame this on my husband, he is not a into fashion at all but this is what I love about him, he takes me out of my ‘mind mess’ and is a welcome break from my working week. Leon Max throws some extravagant parties and I have been invited along to a few. His Garden party at Easton Neston House was fantastic, a number of celebrities were invited and we were entertained by none other than Rosin Murphy and Pixie Geldof. Claridge’s, London was Leon’s venue of choice for Max Studio’s first UK fashion show, it was great to see all the beautiful designs in action and I can’t wait to see my own designs on that stage. This will happen when I’ve been with the company for longer, but I’m already starting to see more of my designs on our website. It’s such a lot to be proud of ’. 6

Amnes-tea? Raising awareness of human rights.

Violence and lies wreck the lives of millions of people around the globe. Men and women are forcibly disappeared or are executed. People who speak or write the truth are thrown in jail. Refugees are treated like criminals. Others are abused, tortured or killed because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, language or beliefs. Must this be the way? Millions of us say no. Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of ordinary people who stand up for human rights and freedom. Put the world to rights over a cup of tea! Our own take on the Amnes-tea party is this photoshoot with model Simren Priestly. Simren is an active member of Amnesty and you could be too. Be inspired, let your imagination run wild and see what you can come up with to raise awareness of human rights. 7


Dress £45 Warehouse; Necklace Vintage; Headband £10 ASOS; Cushion £35 John Lewis; Tea Cup Charity Shop 9


mnesty gives its members and supporters a way of protesting

about human rights abuse - and the means to do something about it that really works.






It doesn’t matter who you are, as an Amnesty member you will make a

It needen’t take much time or money.


Around the world there are nearly

Our Individual efforts may seem small, but

three million Amnesty International

together we make up the worlds biggest &


most trusted human rights organisation.


Top ÂŁ20 Topshop; Necklace Vintage 16

Jumper £55 Topman; Scarf £150 Ralph Lauren; Leggings £15 Topshop; Shoes £65 Ravel 17



There’s Nowhere like Notting Hill… Max Studio makes UK Debut with London Boutique.

This month Luxury label Max Studio launched their flagship store on Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill. This Location couldn’t be more perfect for the US brand, owner Leon Max throws some pretty extravagant parties at his Easton Neston Mansion in Northamptonshire so the shop had a lot to live up to. 20

Store Manager Anna Lice welcomed us with

tells us. It seems that today is the beginning of a

champagne as we entered the store, a vision

big thing, the team has been employed as brand

of colour, head turning shapes and silhouettes.

ambassadors. Their mission? To educate the

Anna is more than pleased with the success of

clientele about the brand, designer and of course

the day and is excited to be a part of a new

to offer an enjoyable shopping experience.

project, “We are the first, not just in London but

Anna has extensive experience in fashion retail

in Europe too. The team is excited and ready

and joined Max Studio in September 2011. She

to introduce Leon Max Designs to the UK� she

worked in the USA for over ten years, managing



brands such as MaxMara, Brooks Brothers and

this is what makes it so special. The designs are

Talbots, and is eager to apply her retail expertise

unique and the materials exclusive, all offered

to make this project a success.

at an affordable price. We’re informed that only

The signature style of the store is encapsulated in

the finest quality yarns are used to create the

the romantic flowing dresses, designed to make

dresses, and they really do fit perfectly within

you feel happy, confident and special. Leon Max

the modern yet glamorous surroundings.

makes clothes that appeal to different women

The sheer size of the place is breathtaking, it

and different shapes, as Anna says “There is

was originally two stores, and you cannot fail to

always one special dress that is perfect for you�.

be impressed by the magnificent custom made

Her particular favourite is a chiffon silk maxi

staircase designed by Leon Max himself. The feel

dress in burnt orange, perfect for holiday beach

of the shop is luxurious, it has its own character

parties and weddings.

with bronze stone tables and hand rails.

Max Studio stands alone in the Westbourne

Anna then goes on to tell us about the local area,

Grove area, it is unlike any other store, and

she has lived here for three years and knows it


well. She is familiar with the local clientele from working here before “The locals are from many different countries, are fashion conscious and know trends well”. During the day, other store managers visit Max Studio to introduce themselves, the staff feel that there is a very friendly atmosphere and that everyone is excited about their new neighbour. Just around the corner is the infamous Portobello market so weekends are very busy, especially during summer. We are particularly excited to visit the Hummingbird Bakery for sugary treats and Anna tells us that 202 café, located opposite to Max Studio, has some excellent food on offer. After a busy day the staff are happy but exhausted. Anna applauds everyone for their efforts but doesn’t plan to go home just yet “We are heading around the corner to Beach Blanket Babylon to celebrate our success’. We may just join them.




Emily wears: Shirt £24 New Look; Jeans £30; Blazer £35 H&M; Bag and Boots Vintage Fair 26



Benny wears: Shirt £35 Topman; Blazer £85 T.M. Lewis; Chinos £30 H&M; Shoes £120 Jones Bootmakers 28







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