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The Youth Issue

Curated by Kim Howells & Rankin Saga Sig Trisha Ward Liam Warwick Kim Jakobsen To Jez Tozer Nicolò Terraneo Lorenzo Dalbosco Max Montgomery

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4 01 · 2013 English

14 € · 16 US$ 2.000 ¥ · 12 £

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S 01 . 2013

01 . 2013 Editorial

Imprint S Magazine A special edition of Leica Fotografie International 3rd year LFI Photographie GmbH Springeltwiete 4, 20095 Hamburg, Germany Phone +49/(0)40/226 21 12 50 Fax +49/(0)40/226 21 12 70 ISSN 2192–8347 Editors in Chief Inas Fayed, Frank P. Lohstöter Creative Direction S Magazine LFI Photographie and Tom Leifer Design Creative Director The Youth Issue Rankin Fashion Director The Youth Issue Kim Howells at The Book Agency Editorial Office Holly Fraser (words), Bernd Luxa Picture Editor S Magazine Edyta Pokrywka (S professional loan pool program coordinator, pokrywka@leica-foto.com) Art Director S Magazine Alessandro Argentato / Tom Leifer Design Art Director The Youth Issue Joseph Carter

The Leica S has an outstanding position in the world of professional photography. According to Rankin: “It is my camera of choice for demanding and sophistcated tasks.”

Contributors Peiran Gong, Alan Taylor, Keely Hunter, Jordan Bowen, Kit Neale, Shao Yen Chen, Bobby Abley, Eilish Macintosh, Ryan Lo Photography Saga Sig, Trisha Ward, Liam Warwick, Kim Jakobsen To, Jez Tozer, Nicolò Terraneo, Lorenzo Dalbosco, Max Montgomery Casting Director Paul Isaac Executive Producer Nina Rassaby-Lewis Producer Alex Steels Fashion Assistants Chelsey Clarke, Melina Kutelas Advertising Sales and Marketing Kirstin Ahrndt-Buchholz, Samira Holtorf Phone +49/(0)40/226 21 12 71 Fax +49/(0)40/226 21 12 70 E-Mail buchholz@lfi-online.de holtorf@lfi-online.de Reader’s services E-mail mail@lfi-online.de Reproduction Alphabeta GmbH, Hamburg, Germany Paper Papier union Tauro, papier union Lumisilk Printer Beisner Druck GmbH & Co. KG, Buchholz in der Nordheide, Germany Editorial and copyright Letters, inquiries, or material for publication are welcome. Heavy mail such as manuscripts and photographs should include an appropriate number of international reply coupons if they are to be returned. We accept no responsibility for unsolicited material and this will only be returned if appropriate postage is included.  All articles and illustrations contained in the magazine are subject to the laws of copyright. Any form of utilisation beyond the narrow limits imposed by the laws of copyright and without the express permission of the publisher is forbidden and will be prosecuted. This applies particularly to reproduction, translation, microfilming, or the storage and processing in electronic media.  Leica—is a registered trademark (91773)

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I used to think growing up in Wales was boring. Now looking back I realise how lucky I was and how all the seeds were naturally planted very early on to lead me to where I am now. My whole childhood involved being creative; I hated maths, was useless at reading and my writing was terrible, but I always loved to draw and make things. My primary school was no more than a glorified shed in a field, with only 60 pupils in total and not yet touched by exams or even a real curriculum. My teacher, Mrs. Jones, loved art and the fact that I loved it too meant we’d draw and paint most days. How idyllic! I guess you could say Mrs. Jones, along with my grandmother (a dress maker who taught me to knit, sew and pattern cut) and my grampy (an artist) were my biggest inspirations. But throughout all the drawing and painting my favourite pastime was to design clothes. While my younger sister read my secondary school reading list to me I would fill sketchbook upon sketchbook with designs. I was set on being a designer at a very young age. Working in fashion had always been my goal, and I don’t really remember ever wanting to do anything else. Through school I continued to design and I remember being so excited to eventually leave Wales and escape into what felt like the big wide world, to study Fashion at Brighton University. Up until this point I’d lived in my own bubble just dreaming of what life in fashion could be like, and now I was making it a reality. Brighton proved to be an inspiring course and opened my eyes to many things, one of which was a work placement at Dazed and Confused where, while assisting the fashion team, I first learnt what styling was all about. The penny dropped. I wanted to be a stylist. Styling allowed me to combine all my ideas and express them in a different way. I loved how diverse styling was, how much freedom you had, the quick turnarounds, the balance of many projects at one time, the buzz this gave me and, just as importantly, how colourful the people were. Not everyone in fashion just wears black you know! It was here that I also first met Rankin, the photographer whose images amplify fashion and styling, and take fashion photography to innovative new levels. Watching him at work inspired me to work hard to realise my goals. Fashion was where I needed to be, but it was styling that was calling me. So I left my designer dream behind and focused on a new one. But having spent a lifetime sketching clothes, designing will always be close to my heart. Within my job as a stylist my soft spot is working with young talented designers—the risk takers, the fresh thinkers. With that in mind this issue was the perfect opportunity to celebrate nine of these designers with back-to-back editorials dedicated solely to some of fashion’s most talented newcomers, selected by Rankin and I. But it’s not just young design talent. We’ve also chosen eight up-and-coming photographers and given them Rankin’s favourite camera to shoot with. How’s that for a dream team? So sit back, stick the kettle on and enjoy mine and Rankin’s pick of AW13’s hottest young designers and photographers. I hope you find them as inspiring as we do. Welcome to The Youth Issue.

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LEICA S

Medium format — reduced to the maximum. The Leica S-System unites the exceptional imaging quality of a medium-format camera with the mobility, speed, and versatility of a 35 mm camera. With its superior technology and sophisticated ergonomics, the Leica S masters every photographic challenge – simply everywhere, on location and in the studio. This is especially due to the unusually fast Leica S-Lenses with focal lengths ranging from 24 to 180 mm – the majority of which are also available on request with a central shutter.

Discover more at www.s.leica-camera.com

Leica Camera AG I Oskar-Barnack-Straße 11 I 35606 SOLMS I GERMANY I www.leica-camera.com


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Contents

The Youth Issue Contents

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When Rankin Met Kim Photographer Rankin and stylist Kim Howells, visionaries behind the Youth Issue, discuss the changing landscape of British fashion.

The Photographers Meet the photographers responsible for bringing fashion to life throughout the issue.

Eyes on You In the first of nine fashion stories, designer Peiran Gong and photographer Saga Sig bring colour and a geometric edge to women’s tailoring.

A.T.+T.W. Irish designer Alan Taylor and photographer Trisha Ward prove to be perfect partners in their romantic menswear story.

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Hers Milliner Keely Hunter and photographer Liam Warwick put a twist on portraiture with haute hats.

His Photographer Liam Warwick and Jordan Bowen team up to merge the eccentric with the classic in this hat story.

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My Girlfriend is a Vegan Menswear designer Kit Neale’s unique vision and quirky sensibilities are brought to life by photographer Kim Jakobsen To.

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Dunebug Jez Tozer goes sea-side to showcase designer Shao Yen Chen’s eclectic use of texture.

After Hours Patent leather and peepholes make Nicolò Terraneo and Eilish Macintosh’s fashion story a lesson in voyeurism.

Fuel Photographer Lorenzo Dalbosco brings an industrial edge to Bobby Abley’s playful AW13 collection.

Uninvited Ryan Lo and Max Montgomery team up to prove that tough girls wear pink.

The Designers Meet the new designers emerging from London’s thriving fashion scene: Peiran Gong, Alan Taylor, Keely Hunter, Jordan Bowen, Kit Neale, Shao Yen Chen, Bobby Abley, Eilish Macintosh and Ryan Lo.

S-League The freshest faces of modelling from Elite Model Look 2013 are shot by a host of up and coming photographers.


Interview

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When Rankin Met Kim

I first met Kim Howells when she was interning at Dazed & Confused. She was assisting Nicola Formichetti on an AnOther Man fashion story in a London townhouse, and I was shooting. It was Christmas time and between shots she chatted animatedly to me about her memories of Christmas days in rural Wales. Her vibrancy and passion was evident then, not many interns had the gall to strike up conversations with their bosses!

I’ve always believed in the importance of championing the new generation, and over the past few years Kim’s leant her innovative take on fashion to some of my fashion films, campaigns and editorials, so when asked who I wanted to create this issue of S–Mag with, hers was the first name to spring to mind. Few in the industry know how much dedication it takes to make it as a newcomer better than her, and over hours of deliberation we managed to whittle down our choices of the next wave of talent to just nine designers and eight photographers that make up The Youth Issue. Rankin: How did you choose the young designers and photographers featured in this issue? Kim: This issue is an excellent chance to celebrate some of the most exciting creative talents emerging in the UK, and we’ve specifically concentrated on designers and photographers, and the results that come from pairing them off. London is packed with innovative designers so I started by shortlisting the ones who really stood out to me to build a current issue that is diverse in style, alive throughout and honest, highlighting both men’s and womenswear. R: What unique qualities did each of them have? And what makes their work stand out above their peers? K: I feel the designers I choose all have big ideas and are celebrating them in an exciting, genuine way whilst having solid brands. Business is an important factor for a young designer in the current climate. Whether it be bold, 3D futuristic digital printing like Peiran Gong, chic, engineered tailoring from Alan Taylor, humorous explosive prints by Kit Neale or cosmic textures by Ryan Lo each designer is having fun and creating something inventive, personal and inspiring. R: How difficult was it pairing them up with a specific photographer, did you have an idea before each shoot about how you wanted them to look? K: Pairing the photographer and designer took a long time. It was important to get styles and attitudes that complimented each other as these editorials were dedicated to the individual brand. In my mind I was able to see how these relationships would

work visually. However, once I made my wish list I met with each photographer and together we created mood boards that would demonstrate our ideas and shape the aesthetic of the magazine. R: Why did you choose this specific set of photographers? K: Like the designers I chose photographers that I respect and believe in. Their work and attitudes inspire me. The photographers I chose all have a strong aesthetics, shooting in their own, personal way and would therefore use Leica very differently—no two shoots are similar. Saga Sig and Kim Jakobsen To usually shoot analogue and were able to achieve this sensibility. Max is confident with colour and although fast was still able to achieve pin-sharp resolution. Lorenzo shoots quickly and energetically so it was a good job the camera was built like a tank, working everywhere, anytime. Jez’s shoot out on the vast dunes was challenging yet allowed us to get sophisticated results. R: Which shoots particularly stand out for you? K: For me personally Saga Sig, Trisha Ward and Jez Tozer’s shoots stand out for very different reasons. I am obsessed with colour, much like Saga, and therefore love the intensity of colour in Peiran’s collection mixed with the quality of Saga’s images. Trisha has a very sensitive hand and captured Alan Taylor’s menswear collection in a very beautiful light, whilst Jez’s shoot celebrates Shao Yen Chen’s collection in such a natural way, embracing the location through a series of thoughtful landscape shots. R: Being involved in the industry yourself, how difficult is it for a young designer to make it in fashion these days? K: This industry is extremely tough. There are so many incredibly talented designers out there but it’s not all about your ability to create. You must be able to balance everything; business, PR, sales, production, there is so much to think about and get right. Talent alone doesn’t cut it. R: Is there enough done to encourage and promote young designers and photographers in the creative industries? K: We do have great platforms to promote young designers

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and photographers, in particular Fashion East, BFC, NEWGEN, CFE, ASVOF, great photographic agencies and innovative magazines but in my opinion there is always room for more. A lot of talent does not get the recognition it deserves. R: So what more could be done? K: Designers need more support financially, more business mentoring and more platforms to get seen and maintain exposure. Fashion East, for example, is such a great non-profit organisation, and has been around for 13 years. It is responsible for launching labels such as Jonathan Saunders, Gareth Pugh, Marios Schwab, Meadham Kirchhoff and so on. MAN then launched in 2005, sponsored by Topman to promote menswear. It would be great to see more of this kind of support. R: Do you think fashion is fair—everyone says it’s who you know, not what you do? K: I feel fashion is no more unfair than other industries. If you’re really talented, hard working and dedicated you can do well. You do need to be seen though so your ideas get recognised. A ballet dancer could be the best in the world but if she only performs at home who is going to know about her? It’s about self promotion as much as utilising contacts. R: Where did your love of fashion begin? K: It was a combination of my grandmother, grampy, mum and a schoolteacher called Mrs. Jones who indulged my love of art from a young age. My grandmother was a dressmaker, my grampy loved to paint and my mum loved playing dress up on me and my younger sister who she treated and styled like twin dolls! Between my mum and grandmother we had new looks designed and made regularly, teamed with ribbons and matching shoes. Neon printed twin sets were a big hit! I think understanding and seeing how you can make your ideas and sketches into wearable clothes did have some impact on my need to work in fashion, even if we looked like something from that Australian TV show Kath and Kim. R: How much did growing up in Wales inspire you? K: It was pretty quiet so I spent most of my time sketching, painting, making clothes, watching music videos and trying to sing karaoke! Growing up in such a peaceful place made me ambitious to actually leave and see the world and be excited by things that were new to my eyes. R: Why styling? Didn’t you ever consider design or photography on a professional level? K: I did originally want to be a womenswear designer. I studied at Brighton where I had the freedom to paint, print my designs and make mini collections. I never knew styling existed until I started assisting at Dazed and Confused, where I first met you too! The more I learnt about styling and consultancy the more I enjoyed it, and realised that it was better suited to me. R: Why is London one of few cities still considered progressive when it comes to fashion? K: I think London breeds freedom thinkers. People seem less shocked in London, which maybe allows designers to take more risks, and be more flamboyant and experimental. With this attitude great things happen. Look at designers such as Galliano, McQueen, Giles Deacon and Christopher Kane who all studied at the famed Central Saint Martins and really pushed the boundaries of what British fashion can be. We are spoilt here. We live in such a multicultural city whereby different cultures live side by side so we are able to learn from each other and constantly be inspired.

We have access to everything. Look at the amount of fashion, music and lifestyle magazines London has, with a multitude of museums, galleries and fashion shows. It’s certainly not boring! And this is all before we go online and read hundreds of dedicated London fashion blogs. I love living in London and being surrounded by all this, it encourages you to think. R: With the appointment of Natalie Massenet as the Head of BFC, do you think this marks a move towards a more business minded British fashion community? K: Yes, totally. Natalie Massenet is a business inspiration and a real risk taker. I think she will be able to offer a great deal of experience and knowledge to build a brighter future for designers. R: How important is it these days to build a brand around yourself in order to ‘make it’? K: I think it’s vital to survive, not just for designers but all creatives. It’s all about ‘brand’ and ‘identity’. People need to know who you are and understand what your brand is about in order to figure out if it suits them. R: When designers do make it big, yet still crumble under the pressure, seen in the likes of McQueen and Galliano, do you think there’s enough done to safeguard their wellbeing? K: In my opinion when anyone launches their own label it’s essential to have a good support network to safeguard their wellbeing. You can’t do this all alone. R: Do you think the pressures in the industry are a deterrent for some young creatives? K: Yes I am sure for many young creatives they are. It’s a lot of pressure and responsibility, especially starting up your own label. Turnaround time is getting quicker and it seems like every season the competition is greater than ever. There is always an element of risk involved in having your own business though, and fashion is no different. I think it’s crucial that designers learn as much as they can about the industry they’re about to enter into and how their brand will work within this—planning and timing is so important. Many designers work with other brands initially to learn and understand the industry before setting up on their own, I think this can be a great learning curve. R: Which direction do you see British fashion heading in? K: I think Britain will always breed ambitious ideas so the excitement won’t stop but I do feel people are ready for a minimal period now. R: So to end on, what is it about fashion that turns you on? K: For me fashion should be about having fun, if you don’t enjoy it, why do it? I like to experiment with style, on myself and on shoots. I am a massive people person so love meeting exciting, creative people who can teach me something new and stimulate me. Inspirations that immediately come to mind are Zandra Rhodes, Andrew Logan, Piers Atkinson, Judy Blame, Fred Butler, Dr NOKI and Julie Verhoeven. I love how they’re so inspiring yet remain so humble. I am lucky that I work in many different areas of the industry— whether I’m styling editorials, music videos, fashion films, advertising campaigns or runway shows, nothing ever becomes repetitive. The people you work with can be so diverse, and this is probably one of the things I love the most. Mix that with the fact that you can create from your own imagination, turn it into reality and the sky’s the limit.


Interview

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The Photographers

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The Photographers

Saga Sig

Jez Tozer

Icelandic-born Saga fell in love with photography through the beauty of nature at a young age. She graduated from LCF two years ago and has since worked with the likes of Nike and Topshop, and been published in Vogue Japan, Dazed & Confused and Harper’s Bazaar Arabia.

One of photographer Jez Tozer’s career highlights so far was shooting the album cover for the Chemical Brothers’ ‘Further’, as well as film collaborations with Aitor Throup, Louise Grey and Bistrotheque. Influenced by emotion, food and clothing he wants to work with progressive thinkers, from fashion designer Iris Van Herpen to chef Nuno Mendes.

www.sagasig.com

www.jeztozer.com

Trisha Ward Nicolò Terraneo

Scottish-born photographer Trisha Ward completed degrees in both Fine Art and Photography at Edinburgh University before moving to London to work full time with Rankin, where she has just been appointed first assistant. Her work, specialising in fashion and portraiture, has previously featured in Vogue, Hunger and Dazed & Confused.

Originally from Biosco in Milan, Nicolò Terraneo is now based in London and works full time at Rankin Photography. While feeling at home shooting fashion, Nicolò believes that he is still discovering his style, which will come with more experience—“I hope to always be intrigued”. www.nicoloterraneo.com

www.trishaward.tumblr.com

Lorenzo Dalbosco Liam Warwick

Living and working between Paris and London, Lorenzo is influenced by everything from David Lynch to his grandma’s tiramisu. Previously featured in i-D and Glamour, he’d love to work with Sofia Coppola and can’t get enough of Leica’s lenses and versatile nature.

After outgrowing his sleepy Lancashire village Liam moved to London to study at LCF, and has been shooting professionally for the last two years. He enjoyed shooting the His and Hers hat stories on a Leica due to the camera’s ergonomics, pin-sharp resolution and ability to shoot seamlessly whether in the studio or outdoors.

www.lorenzodalbosco.com

www.liamwarwick.com Max Montgomery

Norwegian native Kim Jakobsen To is a man of many talents—juggling photography with DJing and performance art. He held his first solo exhibition last year and is currently auctioning a portrait of Yoko Ono for an Ecuadorian charity. Inspired by the people he meets, Kim is a fan of Leica for their lenses and rich brand heritage.

Influenced by his dad, photographer David Montgomery, Helmut Newton and Richard Avedon, Max has been working with Rankin for over four years, and has been his first assistant for two. This month he moves to NYC, with the hope of working with Grace Coddington and Carine Roitfeld in the future. His camera of choice is a Leica S due to their robust and reliable design.

www.kimjakobsento.com

www.montbloggery.tumblr.com

Kim Jakobsen To

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O N S A L E NOW CHIWETEL EJIOFOR | REBEL WILSON D E B B I E H A R RY | B RYA N F E R RY s–league.net

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The Youth Issue

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uoY no seyE

Photographer Designer Stylist Hair Make-up Set Design Model Stylist Assistants Set Design Assistant Camera

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Saga Sig Peiran Gong Kim Howells at The Book Agency Bianca Tuovi at CLM using Bumble and Bumble Yin Lee at ERA Management. Using Chanel Le Weekend and A/W 2013 Thomas Petherick Karolina Waz at Elite London Chelsey Clarke and Melina Kutelas Beatrix Blaise Leica S with Summarit-S 35mm f/2.5 Asph, Summarit-S 70mm f/2.5 Asph

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The Youth Issue

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A.T. + T.W.

Photographer Trisha Ward Designer Alan Taylor Shoes Purified Stylist Kim Howells at The Book Agency Hair Nicole Kahlani at The Book Agency using Bumble and Bumble Make-up Danielle Kahlani at The Book Agency using Laura Mercier and Jurlique Skincare Models Connor Doherty and Jeroen Smits at Elite London Photography Assistants Anna Olszewska and Marcio Serpa Stylist Assistant Chelsey Clarke Camera Leica S with Elmarit-S 30mm f/2.8 Asph, Summarit-S 35mm f/2.5 Asph, Summarit-S 70mm f/2.5 Asph

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The Youth Issue

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Hers

Photographer Milliner Stylist Hair Make-up Nails Model Photography Assistant Stylist Assistant Hair Assistant Make-up Assistant Camera

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Liam Warwick Keely Hunter Kim Howells at The Book Agency Roku Roppongi at Saint Luke Artists using Bumble and Bumble Lucy Bridge at Jed Root. Using Chanel Le Weekend and A/W13 Grace Humphries at LMC Worldwide using Ciate Kate Howat at Elite London Marsy Hild Thorsdottir Will Wyness Yukimi Miyata Maria Vittoria Bortolussi Leica S with Summarit-S 70mm f/2.5 Asph, Apo-Macro-Summarit-S 120mm f/2.5

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Dress

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Natasha Zinko


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Roll-neck (left) Coat

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American Apparel Alexis Housden


Sweater Top (right)

8DIX Tamina Navaei


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His

The Youth Issue

Photographer Milliner Stylist Hair Make-up Nails Model Photography Assistant Stylist Assistant Hair Assistant Make-up Assistant Camera

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Liam Warwick Jordan Bowen Kim Howells at The Book Agency Roku Roppongi at Saint Luke Artists using Bumble and Bumble Lucy Bridge at Jed Root. Using Chanel Le Weekend and A/W13 Grace Humphries at LMC Worldwide using Ciate Matthew Bell at Elite London Marsy Hild Thorsdottir Will Wyness Yukimi Miyata Maria Vittoria Bortolussi Leica S with Summarit-S 70mm f/2.5 Asph, Apo-Macro-Summarit-S 120mm f/2.5

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Coat

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Alexis Housden


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Coat (left) Sweater

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Ben Osborn 8DIX


Top Sweater (right)

Tamina Navaei 8DIX


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The Youth Issue

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My Girlfriend is a Vegan

Photographer Designer Stylist Hair Make-up Set Design Models Photography Assistant Stylist Assistant Hair Assistant Camera

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Kim Jakobsen To Kit Neale Kim Howells at The Book Agency Roku Roppongi at Saint Luke Artists using Bumble and Bumble Yin Lee at ERA Management. Using Chanel Le Weekend and A/W 2013 Tom Ryling Duncan Pyke, Peter Harris, Michael S. and Freddie S. at Elite London Agnieszka Maksimik Anna Peftieva Tomomi Imamura Leica S with Summarit-S 35mm f/2.5 Asph, Summarit-S 70mm f/2.5 Asph, Apo Elmar-S 180mm f/3.5

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The Youth Issue

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Du n e b u

Photographer Designer Stylist Model Photography Assistants Camera

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Jez Tozer Shao Yen Chen Kim Howells at The Book Agency Becca Horn at Elite London Rik Patel and Bridget Schurch Leica S with Summarit-S 35mm f/2.5 Asph

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Photographer Designer Stylist Hair Make-up Model Photography Assistants Camera

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Nicolò Terraneo Eilish Macintosh Nobuko Tannawa Maki Tanaka using Bumble and Bumble Martina Luisetti using M.A.C Hannah Noble at Elite London Cornelius Käss and Fernando Costa Leica S with Summarit-S 70mm f/2.5 Asph, Apo-Macro-Summarit-S 120mm f/2.5

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The Youth Issue

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F U E L Photographer Designer Stylist Hair Make-up Set Design Model Photography Assistant Stylist Assistant Set Design Assistants Camera

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Lorenzo Dalbosco Bobby Abley Kim Howells at The Book Agency Lok Lau at CLM using Bumble and Bumble Jo Frost at CLM using M.A.C George Lewin Branko Maselj at Elite London Maciek Surowiak Chelsey Clarke Poppy Waddilove and Ella McCartney Leica S with Summarit-S 70mm f/2.5 Asph

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The Youth Issue

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Uninvited

Photographer Designer Shoes Stylist Hair Make-up Models Photography Assistants Stylist Assistant Hair Assistant Camera

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Max Montgomery Ryan Lo Vintage unless stated Kim Howells at The Book Agency Louis Ghewy at The Book Agency using Bumble and Bumble Terry Barber at DW Management using M.A.C Nyasha Matonhodze, Alexandra Kivimaki, Leticia Lamb Bayer, Eloisa Pinto Fontes and Nadja Giramata-Mpinganzima at Elite London Nicolò Terraneo, Leo Maclehose and Alex Hersham Ryan Lanji Henry Shinner Leica S with Elmarit-S 30mm f/2.8 Asph, Summarit-S 35mm f/2.5 Asph, Summarit-S 70mm f/2.5 Asph

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Shoes

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Min Wu


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The Designers

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The Designers

Vivienne Westwood presented her first catwalk collection in London in 1981, John Galliano’s came in 1984 while the 90s gave us Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney, and the 00s thrust the likes of Christopher Kane and Jonathan Saunders into the spotlight. It’s incontestable that London’s fashion scene has long been synonymous with innovation in fashion—the freshest new talent touting the brightest ideas. In short, we’re not afraid to go there, we never have been and that’s not going to change any time soon. But now it’s time to meet the new kids on the block.

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Peiran Gong

After graduating from the Academy of Art and Design at Tsinghua University in Beijing, womenswear designer Peiran Gong received her MA at the Royal College of Art in London before setting up her own label. With strong silhouettes, vibrant colours and a futuristic edge the constants in Peiran’s work, we find out why her inspirations lie in sci-fi and why skipping school eventually paid off.

What is your earliest memory of fashion? I remember always having Japanese fashion magazines in our house. I’d pore over them for hours and they had the patterns from the outfits featured in photo shoots at the back of the magazine that fascinated me. We had two old sewing machines at home, my mother and granny made their clothes while I made tiny clothes for Barbies, before making my first item for myself when I was about ten. It was a red and white top with a matching skirt covered in bows. I didn’t know how to put the zips in properly though! What made you choose fashion design as a career? I knew since I was little that this is what I wanted to do. I think it was my grandpa who told me that I should be a fashion designer when I was looking at some pattern cutting guides from a Japanese fashion book. That was actually the first time I had heard the term ‘fashion designer’, I didn’t know there was such a thing before that. Also I wasn’t a very good student at high school; I was the only student in my art class and I dropped other classes a lot and sneaked into drawing studios alone and spent whole mornings or afternoons there without anyone knowing where I was. I don’t remember my teachers being very supportive of what I wanted to do, but I didn’t really care, I had enough determination to see me through. Were your family supportive? Not at first, they always wanted me to be an architect and most of my family have studied either engineering or chemistry. I think I am quite stubborn though and they know it! They’re much more accepting of my choices now, except for my grandma that doesn’t class fashion as a real subject. A huge amount of young Britons go into the creative industries, especially in London. Is there as much push towards these careers in Beijing? Yes, but it’s only really happened in the last ten years, there’s been a dramatic increase. I think it’s all related to the economy; people’s wealth increased and their standard of living became less basic. Desire helps creativity happen. There’s an old saying in China: ‘learn maths, physics and chemistry, and you’ll have

the whole world’. But to me that’s such a conservative view from the generation gone by. People live in a totally different time now, we do what we’re good at, what we want to do. It’s so much more liberating. Beijing is a very cultural city and has very good art colleges. I did my BA in Beijing, because I can’t think of any other city in China that would suit an art student. What’s fashionable in Beijing now, are there any trends that you would never see on the streets of London? I haven’t been to Beijing recently, so I have no idea. But China is different in general, right now young people are addicted to Korean pop, and they follow the styles of their teenage crush. Sometimes I enjoy seeing Chinese kitsch fashion on the street, it’s hilarious that those knock-off designers try to imitate big brands because they come up with a whole different aesthetic that sometimes has moments of genius. London’s fashion courses are extremely difficult to be accepted onto, how competitive was your undergraduate course in Beijing? It is a completely different system. In China, in order to get into art college, you have to take a drawing test. It’s not like London where you apply with a portfolio. It’s more about skills. I had my first drawing lesson at seven and then started Chinese painting, and then realist painting. Because China has such a huge population it’s extremely competitive. This issue of S–Mag is all about the next wave of tastemakers, and you’ve teamed up with photographer Saga Sig, why do you think it’s important for up and coming creatives to support each other? Because if we don’t, who else will! Young creatives understand the circumstances for each other and we all have so much to say. This kind of teaming up is a good lesson in communication and gives our work a chance to interact. It also gives us a chance to see how other people interpret our work, and opens up a whole new perspective and broadens inspiration. It keeps everything fresh. Do you feel that there is a supportive community of young creatives in London? Definitely. I think London has a very creative vibe. London has such a huge variety of young


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creatives with new and interesting ideas. People from all over the world come to London because London has so much to offer, it has the whole package. And being supportive of your peers is part of the package as well.

to challenge it in my work with humour. Do you think we take fashion too seriously? Well, it is a serious business. You have to be so determined and work so hard for it so it has to be serious to an extent. On the other hand, people do take fashion too seriously sometimes, the trends, the critiques, the trademarks. Personally I see fashion as a symbolised fantasy or projected self, the part of fashion that attracts me is its ability to liberate and inspire, it’s not about being stylish. Your clothes have a pop culture feel to them, do you keep up to date with pop culture to help inspire your work? Not intentionally, but I like to update myself with new music, new artists, and new videos, if nothing else so not to miss out on great things. Pop culture defines the current scene, but it’s also the world we live in, and it’s fairly hard to not be influenced by the things around you. At the start of a new season how do you start a new collection—where do the initial ideas come from? I always come up with a story, a narrative. Then I imagine the characters, and play with fabrics that match them. Sometimes it’s more like directing a film than designing a collection! Who would you love to see in your designs? Tilda Swinton. She looks like she is from another planet. Outside of fashion tell us what you do—any hobbies? Sadly, I don’t have a lot of time outside of fashion. I’m just starting up, still learning and adjusting, and it takes all of my time. Whenever I have time, I really enjoy the cinema and the theatre. What’s next for you? I am working on SS14, making patterns, toiles and prints at the same time. I’m preparing a very different story for this season.

You completed an MA at the RCA last year, what was the most valuable lesson you learnt there? My experience at the RCA magnified what was already inside me. The most valuable things I learnt were to take risks, experiment, and never be afraid to let the mistake change the direction of your work. What are the main differences between London and Beijing in terms of fashion? London is very liberated, alternative, youthful and street inspired. In Beijing, fashion is still completely conservative. People stay neutral in terms of fashion. Sometimes I get stared at in Beijing for what I wear but difference is welcomed in London. Londoners embrace fashion and dressing up, but in Beijing, there’s only a very small proportion that care. Talk us through your AW13 collection—what inspired it? I continued the theme from last season’s collection, which was based on a story by science fiction writer Robert Heinlein. Last season, I tried to merge so many elements into a small collection to capture the madness in the story. This time I wanted to stay focused on the trompel’oeil technique, which is a way of using realistic images to make optical illusions, and focused on the Heinlein story All You Zombies. The colours are very contrasting and gradually fade into each other, which came from looking at vintage sci-fi book covers. What do you think defines your aesthetic? I am still on the journey to finding that out. So far I would say it’s fantastical narrative, and futuristic but romantic themes. You always incorporate a sense of humour into your designs—why is this important to you? It wasn’t my intention to put humour in my works originally. But it is important for me now as it helps the fantasy. I always think there are so many absurd juxtapositions in real life and I have

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Peiran Gong is represented by Ella Dror PR

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Alan Taylor

Dublin native Alan Taylor admits that he was a latecomer to fashion, not fully immersing himself until university. After graduation the tailoring enthusiast worked with Simone Rocha for three seasons before setting up his own label in late 2011, garnering press from the likes of Vogue Italia, W Magazine and i-D in the process. Here he tells us why his sister is still pissed off with his career choice and how he found inspiration in Dublin’s chavs.

What’s your earliest memory of fashion? I think my earliest memory of fashion was when I was in fifth year in school, I was about 16 or 17, and we went to a Phillip Treacy exhibition back in Ireland. I didn’t have a clue about fashion and I was told we were going to see an exhibition of hats so I was expecting a load of Nike peaked caps, but when I saw Philip’s hats I was completely blown away by it. It opened my eyes to how creative it can be and plus, being Irish, there was a link. So, you were never into fashion growing up as a kid? No, not really. It wasn’t until I was about 19, when I got onto a fashion course at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin that I started to really appreciate it. We didn’t have the internet, blogging and online magazines growing up, so I just really didn’t have a clue what was going on—which I actually like now because it’s really hard not to get influenced by other people if you’re constantly surrounded by it. So what kind of effect did Dublin have on you creatively? I grew up in Ballintyre, just outside Dublin where you had the travellers and the chavs. At the time I’d be like, ‘I wouldn’t wear that’ but now I look at it and think it’s absolutely amazing—wearing trackie bottoms with a charity shop tailored jacket, it looks so fresh. I love rural Ireland too, it has an old school traditional vibe and a lot of our tweeds are from Magee up in Donegal—six generations have been at the mill. I like the classic idea of people spending a month’s wages on a suit that they wear everyday for three years, I love that longevity. How much inspiration or influence did you draw from Ireland—it does have a very rich history and heritage, does that come through in your work? It absolutely inspires me, I like to take from what’s been done already. I know that people think you should always completely reinvent a style but I don’t think you should completely abandon what’s happened before. So taking something traditional like tailoring and developing it in a contemporary way is what I’m about. I also use a lot of art and book references in my work, last season it was Francis Bacon. Next season is possibly going to be Ulysses.

You went to NCAD, when did you decide to do fashion? I didn’t have to choose because when you do a foundation year in Ireland, at NCAD, it’s not specific like over here. It was a general art and design course so I didn’t have to specify what to study straight away. At first thought I wanted to do graphic design but when I tried out the fashion part of the course I realised how creative and structural you could be with it. And what did your friends and family think? My sister was really jealous because that had been her dream since she was a kid—drawing and making stuff for Barbies. So, I think she was a bit pissed off. My parents were amazingly supportive but I think my gran was the funniest because she saw the stuff I was doing and was like ‘he’s doing alright but when will he get a real job?’ Then I started getting press and she started showing the articles to all the people in her nursing home, so I don’t think she minds now. Tell us about your specific design aesthetic, when do you think you developed that? Not until recently—my AW13. I think it was because it had been developing for a while, and it was almost there for SS13 but I really found out what I wanted to do in AW13. I was always worried about it looking too much like someone else, which everyone always is and I think that was the point where I stopped thinking about it and it became my own style. I don’t feel like I have it down though, I still feel like I’m developing. I think the second you think you’ve absolutely nailed it is when you become stale as a designer. What was the inspiration for AW13, did you have a concept? The concept was actually on the theory of the fourth dimension. The idea that if we were four dimensional beings looking at three dimensional objects we wouldn’t see the objects how we would usually see them. So in my collection there’s jackets growing out the back of jackets, jacket vents coming out of the front of trousers, it’s the idea of meshing design altogether along with asymmetry as well. That’s what I want to do—tailoring in my own way.


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You worked for three season with Simone Rocha, what did that teach you? It was amazing working with

I didn’t know if I actually wanted to do it. Working with Simone taught me that I wanted my own label because as much as I enjoyed it there I didn’t do enough designing and I realised that that’s what I loved. London Collections: Men was just starting so it seemed like the right time. Why menswear? I find it more interesting. It’s more challenging because you have less of a silhouette to work with and you have to be a lot more creative. This will sound like a cliché but I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my collections so it’s all about details and textures and construction rather than Galliano-esque over-the-top dresses. But saying that I definitely want to do womenswear in the future. There’s so much that’s transferable between the two. Why do you think menswear is having a moment now? It’s no longer taboo for men to be interested in fashion, and they’re spending so much more on how they look. I remember when I was growing up the term metrosexual was coined, men started openly admitting to using moisturiser and David Beckham stepped out in a sarong. It’s now completely acceptable for men to care about fashion. I think it still can grow and buyers are taking menswear so much more seriously now. Menswear is a force to be reckoned with. How do you see your label progressing—do you have a plan? I want to let it grow organically. I want to gradually make the collection bigger. I did twenty looks for the last collection and I’ll expand on that each season. And I want to collaborate, I’d love to work with someone like Churches but I’m open to working with non fashion brands too—maybe sculptors and artists in the future. We’ll have to wait and see.

Simone, it’s what they don’t teach you at university. I learnt about the business through going to the showrooms in Paris or sitting in on sales meetings, working out how much fabric you’ll need for a whole collection as opposed to a few pieces on the catwalk. It was a real eye-opener. Do you think you have a similar aesthetic to her? We both use tailoring and deconstruction but I think she’s a bit more minimal in terms of her colour palette and textures whereas I am a bit more surreal, I go for weird textures and more conceptual garments. Is it hard to bring all the divergent strands in your collections together? No not really, luckily it just seems to work, and I think that’s one of my signatures. It’s like how Christopher Kane has so much going on in a collection but it all comes together eventually. Is it important to you to have your collections made in Ireland? It is, I like that it’s worked out that way. I like working with Magee, as it’s such an established brand that’s steeped in history. It’s in line with my own ethos as a designer, taking the old and reworking it in a modern way. You also worked at McQueen, Agi & Sam and David David before setting up your own label. Technically it wasn’t Agi & Sam. It was the collection that Agi did before he met Sam that I worked on—Agi minus Sam. I met him at McQueen as we were both interning at the same time and he asked me to give him a hand with his collection, so it was assisting a friend more than anything. What did you learn from the others? At David David it was all about colour. I was used to working with black and grey so that opened my eyes up to how colour can change a collection. And at McQueen it was all about intricate construction. I was in menswear and I think I learnt more in three weeks there than I did in three years at university. Was having your own label always the goal? It was potentially the goal. I always had an interest in it but

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Alan Taylor is represented by Sane Communications

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Keely Hunter

Fascinated with the head from an early age, it seems fitting that Keely Hunter turned to millinery. Inspired by architecture and engineering, the one time assistant of Fred Butler tells us why, this season, she’s all about Russian opulence.

Tell us how your fascination with hats began. It was from a very early age. My mum was a hairdresser and I had my first perm at about the age of five, so the fascination with the head started young. I was always very used to watching the head being dressed, and when I came of age and discovered makeup and fashion it was amplified. When I was in my late teens I used to make hats for friends so in terms of clothing I suppose I’ve always been drawn to the head. I never wanted to be a hairdresser like my mum so a milliner seems like the more elaborate choice. What was the first hat that you ever made? It would have been from a costume when I was younger for a fancy dress party around the age of 14. Whenever I had to wear fancy dress I’d always make a hat to go with my outfit. Ironically my GCSE final art piece was also a hat. You did a short course at Central Saint Martins— how did that further your love of millinery? Saint Martins was my introduction to millinery, which was more of a taster. It was the first time I really saw millinery for what it was, and I felt like I could work within that world. You then studied at Kensington and Chelsea College of Art—how much did you learn there? The teachers there are incredible and very specific with their skill set so that allowed me to explore the different areas of millinery, even though I didn’t necessarily want to be a very theatrical milliner. I studied everything from couture to theatre and performance while developing my style, which was invaluable in terms of my own work. Fashion courses are notoriously tough, how was your millinery course? Millinery is a really nice world. Everyone is very close and helps each other out. Of course it has very close links to fashion but it is also embedded in craft and tradition so there’s a lot of history there. I’ve had my fair share of old ladies teaching me how to sew perfectly. Do you think in that case then that the world of millinery is less competitive than fashion? Perhaps. I think the reach of millinery is smaller though. Hats are huge in the UK

and places like Belgium and Australia strangely enough, but there are challenges to the hat market. Fashion is more global, definitely. But then I like that, the hat world seems in reach. What are some of the challenges of being a milliner these days? Changing people’s attitudes to hats is the biggest challenge. I think it’s really important to contextualise hats back into the accessories realm. For example, someone will buy a beautiful belt or an incredible handbag to go with an outfit but they won’t necessarily buy a hat. Over the years hats have become more for function than fashion and I think that the challenge is to bring them back into a place of luxury. People need to not be afraid to wear hats. Why do you think people are afraid to wear hats? Well, afraid maybe isn’t the right word but I think that people can be a bit intimidated by wearing a hat. It’s very close to the face and demands attention, which not everyone wants. You worked with Fred Butler, what did that teach you? I went to work with Fred once I’d finished my course at Kensington and Chelsea. She has a real love for accessories and I thought that it would be the right place to work to bring hats back into the accessories market. I’m extremely attracted to shape and concept so working with Fred allowed me to explore that. She’s a huge inspiration and has always been very supportive of my work. I’d never worked a season at Fashion Week before starting with Fred. Did working with Fred help you define your own aesthetic? No I don’t think so. We work differently in terms of materials we use. How would you describe your aesthetic? I’d describe it as modern, even though I hate that word, and I like to convey a feeling of the future. I want to contribute to the industry with my work, and I want it to have a really clear direction. Shape is hugely important to me and I draw a lot of inspiration from the natural landscape—architecture and engineering. I’m constantly trying to push millinery forward. Talk me through your AW13 collection, what was the inspiration behind it? The collection was called Shapka,


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which is Russian for hat. Because it’s a winter collection I’ve used fur and fur felt. The inspiration is Russian opulence mixed

talk to somebody wearing a hat and not notice is. It’s not like a belt, or a bag. You can’t miss it. Who do you think is the ultimate hat wearer? Who do you want to see wearing your creations? Gosh that’s a hard question. I bet everyone says Lady Gaga. Don’t get me wrong she is rather amazing and a hat pioneer. It’s incredible to see any celebrity wearing my hats but what I love more than anything is seeing my hats on members of the public. The other day my friend texted me a said she saw someone walking through Soho wearing one of my beanies. I think if I was to walk through Somerset House at Fashion Week and see a fashion editor wearing one of my hats that would be a special moment. Do you have any main influences, or someone whose career trajectory you’d like to follow? Yes I do actually. The greats—Stephen Jones and Philip Treacy—are incredible but I also think it’s important to try and carve out your own niche and that’s what I’m trying to do with my aesthetic. Stephen Jones in particular is very supportive of new talent and that keeps millinery thriving. If you could only wear one style of hat for the rest of your life—what would it be? Wow, that’s really hard. I think I’d have to go with a turban. There’s a lot of options with them. What’s the goal for the future? Well I’ve just got Selfridges Bright Young Things, which launched at the end of August so I have a window in the store, which is incredible. In the long term I really want to show at London Fashion Week and do more designer collaborations. I’ve got my eye on a few young London designers at the moment…

with modernist design that came out of the Soviet Union, so there’s a feeling of richness to it. Why Russia? Well actually the collection started with pictures of big furry animals. I always build a mood board in front of me with hundreds of pictures and then try and figure out from those images what direction my collection is going in. The images of animals mixed with Soviet architecture inspired me this time round. How do you choose new materials at the start of a new collection? Going back to the idea of always trying to push millinery forward, I always use plastic in my collections. It’s an amazingly versatile material that I think more people are coming around to now; you can mould it, it’s light and it keeps the shape of the hat so I always seek out the latest methods of working with plastic. Your hats are very wearable—how important is being accessible? I think Shapka was very wearable, and being a winter collection probably helped that. There needed to be an element of practicality in the shape. In the summer you don’t need a hat to be quite as practical so you can get away with wearing something smaller and more daring on your head. But I do take commerciality into account when I design as I want my hats to be wearable. It’s important for my product to be out there and if people aren’t wearing it, no one will see it. Your hats were featured in Vogue—how did it feel to see that for the first time? It’s so great seeing my work in any magazine because it’s all recognition. I love seeing how stylists and fashion editors have interpreted my work and ultimately all the editorial pieces further my career. It’s nice to think that someone might be looking through the pages with a cup of coffee and may find style inspiration from a shoot that has my hat in it. Your hats have also been worn at Ascot—the ultimate hat day out—why do you think they’re the ultimate standout accessory? Because they’re on your head. You can’t

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Jordan Bowen

Jordan Bowen fell into his craft almost by accident, training with family friend Stephen Jones as a stopgap move before deciding to embark on a full time career in millinery. A part time model also known for wearing his own creations around East London, we find out how he’s putting Stephen’s advice to good use.

Tell me what the first hat was that you fell in love with? My aunt is a stylist and she went to university with Stephen Jones in the early eighties—she was basically his muse and best friend. Because she lived in LA there was a shrine to her in my grandma’s house, and I remember looking at pictures of her and Stephen in hats. I’d gaze at them and find them really fascinating. Was your aunt an influence on you from an early age? She lived in Los Angeles and she’s quite bossy and domineering but in a really fabulous way! She really introduced me to the idea of style and she challenged me. I remember being in LA at about 17 when she gave me the book Buffalo: The Style and Fashion of Ray Petri, and said, ‘you need to read this, it’s part of your education’ What drew you to hats specifically? I was at a crossroads in my life, I was about 19 and I’d just finished my A-Levels, and wasn’t sure what to do with myself. I was planning to go to university and become a writer but my aunt said to me, ‘why don’t you just go and work at Stephen’s for a couple of weeks and see if you like it’, and I did. I remember painting plant pots with shoe polish for about a week! I left for a bit and went travelling, and then I came back to Stephen’s studio and it just felt right, I felt at home there. Why did you feel the need to go to Kensington and Chelsea College? I was working with Stephen for about four years before I made the decision to go to university so up to that point I’d picked up a lot, but when I started college I’d never actually made a hat from start to finish. I suppose I began to get frustrated. I was watching Stephen being so creative, working with Dior, Jasper Conran and Galliano making all these amazing hats. I was very envious of what Stephen was doing but looking back now it was inspiration, so in 2010 I thought, ‘fuck it, I’ll apply for college’. What do you feel you learnt at college that you couldn’t learn with Stephen? To make a hat for a start! At Stephen’s I just learnt the basics—how to do a bow and all these little bits but at college I learnt how to actually construct

a hat from a flat piece of fabric. But I’ve always been quite rebellious and I really rebelled at college. I retaliated against what they wanted me to do and started doing menswear instead of traditional women’s hats. I thought if nothing else I’d leave with a collection of hats that I could wear. But in retrospect I am very grateful for all the skills they taught me. Where do you find your inspiration at the start of a new collection? The inspiration for my shapes actually came from looking at a book of Botero, he’s an artist who basically repaints everything but fat—fat Jesus, fat Mona Lisa. I really love his aesthetic, I love his curves and my inspiration for shape comes from him. But apart from him, I’m inspired by books. My first collection, was based on Orwell’s 1984 because I was reading that at the time. How much of your own personality is reflected in your designs? They are me, completely. Now that I’ve started designing more commercially I take wearability into account but I hate the word compromise so I think it’s important not to compromise too much. You wear your own hats out often, what’s the purpose of that? There should always be a purpose. At London Fashion Week I always get asked why I wear my own designs, but I just like it. They reflect my personality because, from start to finish, they reflect how I feel. Do you consider yourself an extrovert? I suppose so. I love the fact the hats get attention. When I wear something I get so much more satisfaction from the fact that the hat is beautifully made, it’s embroidered, it’s a beautiful colour, and it’s something new that you don’t see everyone wearing. I used to model, and I still do a few campaigns but I’ve tried to put a lot of work into hats to try and really affirm the fact I am a milliner first and foremost. What has been your most eccentric design so far? My first hat had a nail going through it and a feather on it, and it got a lot of attention and still does, but I think my most interesting design is a red bowler hat with an arrow through it. I incorporated what I picked up from Stephen, which was


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learning to bridge the gap between something that is fun, something that is edgy and something that has a sense of humour to it. For me that’s more interesting than doing hats with porn on them, which I love by the way, but being clever and commercial at the same time is what counts. Not as many people wear hats as much as they did in past decades—do you think that hats intimidate people? Yes I do but I don’t think they intimidate people as much as they did. I think Stephen is one of the few people that has managed to bring hats back into public consciousness. He’s got an OBE, he did the V&A exhibition, and has refreshed the idea of hats. His legacy is huge. But in terms of people wearing hats every day, my bread and butter is still black bowler hats so I think it’s sad to say that yes, the majority of people are intimidated. So with that in mind how important is colour to your work? Colour is really important. I work very much in a comic way, even though they don’t sell as well. For example, the last collection I designed, AW13, didn’t have one black piece in it. Even my business card is green and red. Do you think fashion is a bit too safe? There’s no denying that black makes you look slim and it covers a multitude of sins, but I don’t see it as boring anymore, it’s something very sexy. At the moment I’m developing a collection based purely on black. It’s the first time I’ve felt ready to work without colour whatsoever. How progressive do you think the London millinery scene is? The millinery scene in London is fascinating, and in fact London is one of the reasons that I could never leave. As a city it’s progressive. There isn’t anyone within millinery doing the same thing, even the class I was in in college all had completely different styles. Obviously in London you have the frontrunners—Stephen and Philip [Treacy]—but the younger generation—Fred Butler, Keely Hunter and myself to an extent—are all pushing the boundaries. Would your hats work outside of London, could

you work anywhere else? I’ve often thought about this and I think that London is represented in my work, so for my career I don’t think I can leave. It’s almost a curse, I can’t go anywhere! My work is about using art and humour and draws from post punk, it’s really a mixture of cultural influences which is essentially what London represents—a minestrone of culture. What’s the ultimate goal—where do you want to take your career? It’s just to do more of the same, I can’t imagine what else I could do now. In the last year I’ve made more than 50 hats. I do have plans to sell in New York and Paris in the future, maybe move into Asian markets. I’d love to collaborate with designers, I really respect Comme des Garçons, Vivienne Westwood and Watanabe as well as young London designers. I’ve recently been working with 8DIX, a street-style skater brand that I created an entire collection for. It’s important to work this way as the brand is focused on responding to what people are wearing. Mixing creativity with commerciality will always be the key.

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Kit Neale

With internships at Gareth Pugh, Tom Scott and Duckie Brown under his belt, as well as three years at Ravensbourne College, it was only a matter of time before Kit Neale set up his own label. Founded in early 2012, Kit Neale has since emerged as one of the most exciting new prospects in menswear. We catch up with the South London native to talk print, prom outfits and the pros and cons of university.

You grew up in Peckham—how did the area inspire you creatively? Peckham is mental! It is a vibrant, eclectic place that is full of adventure with an extremely diverse mix of people and different cultures living side by side. I try to bring this to Kit Neale and create a style that is unmistakably British with a multitude of references. You often reference Peckham in your designs, is it important to you to remember your roots? No, but it’s what I know. I can’t reference Egypt if I ain’t been there! Do you remember the first item of clothing you made? The earliest item of clothing I remember making was my prom outfit. It was in blue taffeta and needs no further explanation. It was not cool… Where did your love of print stem from? I wanted to be an artist when I was younger and I guess print is like painting a canvas. Maybe it’s that. Does it take a strong character to wear head to toe Kit Neale? Yeah I guess it does. But that is just how we style it, our collections can be dissected and paired up with other block colours or other simple pieces and it’s less in your face. It becomes just a nice shirt or jacket that stands out more than other pieces. Last time we spoke you thought there was too much emphasis placed on going to university prior to starting a career in design, stating that you learn more from first hand experience, do you think that’s still the case? Yes definitely. Don’t get me wrong, I am so privileged to have had the opportunity to go to university. I learnt loads while I there and had three years to explore myself, which is incredible. But university does not teach you how to run a business or how the industry works. I could not be doing what I am doing now had I not had the experience of working in the industry prior to, and throughout, my time at uni. And even with that I am still learning, but that is exciting and we (being myself, my business partner Caspar and the small team we have) are slowly building the brand, bringing together a wealth of different skills and knowledge to help grow our brand and

business. In my opinion getting as much experience of the industry as possible is invaluable. Tell us about your time working with Gareth Pugh—what did he teach you about design and the fashion industry? I was very young when I worked with Gareth Pugh, about 16 or 17, and it was one of my first internships. I was very nervous and very naive but I had bundles of energy and was keen. He had just started out and was slaving away every hour of the day, he worked about 20 hours. It is amazing to see where he has taken what he started, and without sounding naff, really inspiring. I learnt to be nice to your team and work bloody hard. I realise that sounds cheesy! And what about Tom Scott and Duckie Brown, did they give you any advice? Working in New York was incredible. The market over there is very different to Europe. I find it very commercially driven, yet Tom and the Duckie guys showed me how you can mix creativity with commerciality and still create a success out of what you are doing without losing what you are about. I think the success of London menswear at the moment owes itself a lot to this. Talk us through the concept for the AW13 collection, which we shot for this issue. AW13 was originally inspired by a film that Michael Clarke did with Leigh Bowery called Hail The New Puritan. It’s a fake documentary, a mix of narrative, performance and fantasy. The vivid colours of the film really inspired the prints for this season. There is one particular scene where they are in a typical British, slightly run down pub and the contrast and clash between colourful characters and their surroundings was something that really intrigued me. My design references are always a clash and this season was no exception. How important is colour to your work? I love colour and think men need to wear more of it. In fact the Duckie guys made me understand my fascination with colour. Colour in menswear has been reserved for sports for a long time. I suppose men feel a sense of security wearing colour in the most masculine of occasions. We like to believe you


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can still carry your manhood in whatever occasion and whatever colour. How do you start working at the beginning of a new season, where does the inspiration come from? Our team always starts with a broad outlook. Visiting galleries, watching movies, going on road trips, lots of first hand research. This is really important to us. We tend to start work on the prints and the garment styles simultaneously so that they work hand in hand. We like to think of it as an organic process and it always develops out of this. We experiment and play with ideas, edit out those that don’t work and add new ideas we think might. Eventually we have a collection, even if we usually run out of time! Do you ever suffer from mind blocks, or struggle to make a piece work? Always, who doesn’t! I don’t make as much these days so that that’s not usually a problem but when we’re busy with paper work in the summer it is a struggle to stay focused, but again it is the same for everyone I’m sure. How do you stay motivated in such a tough industry? Although it is a tough industry, it is that drive and competition that keeps us motivated. If it was all easy-peasy I think we would become complacent. It is a very competitive industry and while we are always excited to check out everyone’s collections we are focused on our own goals and achieving our own missions. How difficult is it to balance the commercial and the creative? Honestly it is quite a tough one, especially when you are starting out. We are very business focused because, at the end of the day, we are here to make a living. We do place great emphasis on the creative side of the business; this really comes through in our prints. We find that when we become a little too business focused we have to remind ourselves of what we really love, and on the other hand, when creativity seems to take over everything else, we have keep our feet firmly on the floor to make the process actually viable. Who do you design for: yourself or your customer? We always ask ourselves if we would wear it, but it

doesn’t stop us if not. How do you see the label emerging, any plans for womenswear? For sure, let’s just wait and see shall we! I’m not going to give away too much for now. For this issue you’ve been teamed up with photographer Kim Jakobsen To, who else would you like to collaborate with in the future? We’re always thinking of people and brands we’d like to collaborate with. I think working with people is a great challenge to help develop your working processes and introduce new ideas to your own vision. I would really love to collaborate with the Royal Ballet. Random I know, but I love the ballet. I think teaming Kit Neale with the Royal Ballet would be an enormous but exciting challenge to merge what seems on the surface, to be two completely different styles. Where do you see the Kit Neale brand in 5, 10 or even 20 years time, do you have a grand plan or ultimate goal? As Victoria Beckham once said: “as famous as Persil Automatic!” maybe? I don’t know—it’s never an easy answer. On a personal level we would just like to still be in business— hopefully making profit and keeping our staff employed and our customers happy. Our ambition is big though and we are not shy to say that we here to grow Kit Neale in to a global multi-platform brand. I am not in this for my ego or as a hobby, and while that might sound strange seeing that fashion is a creative field, when it comes to it I talk firstly of business—which is for me about making a living for me and my partner.

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Kit Neale is represented by Village Press


Shao Yen Chen

Taiwanese designer Shao Yen Chen founded his own womenswear label in 2010 after graduating from MA Fashion Knitwear at CSM, and since then has been part of Selfridges ‘Bright Young Things’ and worked with the likes of Nicola Formichetti and Björk.

When did you realise that you wanted to be a fashion designer? When I was in high school I didn’t know anything about fashion. I began to notice Japanese designers getting big in Paris in the 90s and when I saw the works of Yohji Yamamoto or Commes des Garçons on TV it changed my way of thinking and looking at fashion. I saw how creative fashion could be, it wasn’t just about clothing. I was inspired, it made me want to study fashion design. I had studied metalwork and made jewellery in school but that was no longer enough, I felt the need to explore more. How big was the fashion industry in Taiwan when you were growing up? At the time there were a few fashion designers but there wasn’t really up and coming native designers. We had the big brands, Chanel, Dior and the likes of them, but the market was too small for young designers to make it. It’s hard for local designers to make a living. Only very recently has Taiwan as a country started to appreciate fashion. How did growing up in Taiwan inspire you creatively? I grew up in a small town with a lot of natural, picturesque scenery so I think I found inspiration in nature early on. My MA collection was inspired by a seascape from my hometown. As I studied knitwear I’ve also always found inspiration in texture, which is obviously a huge part of nature. You moved to London ten years ago, how different did you find the city? When I was in Taiwan I really didn’t understand fashion, even though as I grew older I thought I did. But moving to London opened my eyes, it’s when my education really began. It was inspiring just walking down the street. In London you don’t need to look for fashion, it’s everywhere. You studied at Central Saint Martins, what was the most important lesson you learnt there? At the time of my move to London I really admired McQueen and Hussein Chalayan, and so I suppose I wanted to follow in their footsteps by going to Saint Martins. I found that there wasn’t much hands on teaching, it was more about the experience

and exploring your creativity, so the most important thing I learnt was how to push myself by using my own initiative. I had to stay motivated which is a useful trait to have in an industry that demands focus. Did the course prepare you for the fashion industry? No not really. In terms of the industry I learnt more from doing internships. Saint Martins was more about developing my ideas and the way I thought about fashion. You worked at McQueen and Hussein Chalayan before setting up your own label—how did each experience differ? McQueen was much bigger, there were so many departments so I specialised in textiles there. I experimented with fabric as opposed to actually designing anything and unfortunately never got to work with Lee. At Chalayan I worked full time for two seasons so I gained an understanding into how a collection was put together, and it made me realise just how difficult it is to run a business. Even big, established designers have to deal with daily challenges. After university what lead you to start your own label, Shao Yen? I felt like I had so much to give. I had ideas in my head constantly and I felt like I could offer something to the fashion industry. It felt like a natural progression. You set up your label several years ago when times were different in the industry, at least economically. How do you think the fashion industry has changed since you started out? These days it seems like there are more platforms for young designers, and due to blogging and social media it’s easier to get attention. But it is definitely harder to survive in the industry, there’s less funding and it’s getting harder and harder to make a living from fashion. What do you think defines your aesthetic as a designer? It has to be texture. My work is a lot about texture, form and layers. Texture can make fashion so much more visual. For my MA collection I used plastic to make a pair of cheerleader like pom-poms that were very sculptural. I like to use contrasting materials in my work, fur paired with plastic. Do you try to push boundaries? I’m not sure if


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I’d say I push boundaries. With each collection I design I try to develop new ideas and new styles of working, but that’s more pushing myself than any boundaries. Your work is very theatrical, is wearability important to you? In the beginning I was more about showpieces and new ideas but now I am trying to change. I need to find a balance and become more commercial with what I’m doing in order to survive, but that is more difficult for me as it doesn’t come as naturally. I love creating showpieces, but obviously they don’t sell so I’ve started doing more collaborations in order to still fuel my creativity. For this issue we shot your AW13 collection. What was the concept there? I started watching surrealist films by the likes of Salvador Dali and that inspired me to try and keep all my creative elements in one piece of work. Surrealism never has to have too much intent, and I found that idea an interesting one to work with. You’ve been showing at London Fashion Week for three years, do you have any plans to move to Paris or New York in the future? No I want to stay in London, I’m applying for my visa so I can’t go anywhere yet! But I would like to go back to Taiwan in a year or two and start to establish myself as a designer there. I miss home! I’d like to spend more time with my family while still being able to pursue fashion. These days the media and the internet ensures that fashion is global so I don’t feel the need to be based in London forever. Has the Asian fashion scene moved on much in the ten years that you’ve been in London? Yes, hugely. I’d like to branch into China, the market there is so huge. I think they’ll like the fact that I have a London edge. Plus it’s close to home. In the past you’ve worked with Björk and created a dress for her, how did that come about? She was on the cover of Another Magazine a few years ago and some of my pieces were borrowed for the shoot. She didn’t end up wearing it for the cover shoot but she did remember the piece and got in touch with me to make a dress for her inspired by her album at the time. She’s very clear about what she likes,

but our ideas worked together. Björk loves texture too! Who else would you love to dress? Tilda Swinton. She’s the first person that comes to mind. What matters most to you as a designer? Having passion. If you don’t have that in this industry it’s very hard to keep going. Passion and self-belief will get you far. Do you think moving back to Taiwan will change the way you design, or affect your aesthetic? I don’t think it will change the way I design but the inspiration definitely won’t be the same because the culture and fashion scene are so different. My friend kept telling me I shouldn’t go back because it will kill my creativity. But I think if I know what I want, no matter where I am, I can always find a way to work and find inspirations. We’ll see how it goes. Which other designers do you admire for their theatrics? Designers like McQueen and Chalayan inspired me a lot. Their shows and designs show great creativity and possibility, especially in the 90s and early 00s. They had a great influence on my work, but I’m more into designers like Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons right now. I also have been looking forward to Marc Jacobs’ last few seasons. They’ve incorporated art and culture in their works, with a modern take. Do you look at costume design in film for inspiration for showpieces? If so, which costume designers and films have inspired you? I do get inspired by films but I haven’t really drawn any inspirations from the costumes before. I can only remember taking reference from Marlene Dietrich’s gorilla suit in Blonde Venus, for my MA collection. I thought it was really fun and glamorous. Most of Alfred Hitchcock’s and Wong Kar-wai’s films are very stylish too. Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette is also amazing. The use of fabric and colour are really modern and interesting. When I watch films, I think more about the whole visual art and story, rather than just the costumes. That’s also why I like to make fashion films for each of my collections.

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Shao Yen Chen is represented by Dyelog PR


Bobby Abley

Enchanted by Disneyland, and with a penchant for fusing cartoons and bondage, Bobby Abley is certainly an enigma in menswear. Already endorsed by both Vivienne Westwood and Lulu Kennedy the young Ravensbourne graduate launched his first collection for MAN earlier this year and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Tell me when your fascination with fashion began. My mum was always really into fashion. She wasn’t creative in the way a designer is but she was still really expressive, especially for someone living in Scarborough! She had her own thing going on and she would take me shopping and I started to really appreciate clothes through what she was wearing, I particularly remember a Givenchy outfit she had. My grandma was also good with a sewing machine and used to make me clothes, which piqued my interest in the actual process of designing. Lots of your work now contains cartoon elements, Mickey Mouse and bears, why have they had such a profound influence on your work? First of all I love Ariel from The Little Mermaid, she’s my ideal woman, I watched that film on repeat with my sister so many times. I also think it’s nice to remember being a kid, and so things like Mickey Mouse or Disney, remind people of more carefree times, and I like that to come through in my work. I’m not a very morbid designer, I like to keep it light. And Disneyland is also a big influence on your creative side? Last year I went nine times. I actually think one of the staff members recognised me on the fifth visit. I genuinely go because it does help me come up with ideas for designs, just because everything is so make-believe; the trees are square, there’s a big pink castle and you’re just removed from reality so can create something completely unique. Being in Disneyland, because it’s just so unreal, makes me forget about the real world. You’re from Scarborough, do you think it has a different aesthetic to the South? It’s very black and white up there, and that’s the nicest way I can put it. My family is there but it’s not a good place to be creative. That’s why as soon as I got the chance I moved. What made you pursue fashion as a career? It’s difficult to say because I can paint and draw, and thought I was going to try and be an artist originally. I got a sewing machine and was doing embroidery on it, just for art

purposes. But when those twisted Levi’s came out I really wanted a pair and so I just studied how they were made, taught myself to sew, and made a pair. There was no turning back from there. You went to Ravensbourne, why choose there over other fashion colleges? I think Saint Martin’s is amazing but I think it rides a lot on its name and the people that were there twenty years ago, like McQueen and Galliano, and that’s still how they sell it. I was probably just being really stubborn at the time and thought ‘I’m not going to go there’. And it was good? It was until about the third year when I avoided the tutors for a year because I was really specific about how I wanted my final collection to look and they said ‘if you want to be in the fashion industry, you need to change your idea’, which I didn’t agree with. Vivienne Westwood praised your final collection though, how did that make you feel? Straight after the graduate show she came backstage, and she was just like ‘amazing show, well done’. She said she really appreciated the strong visual impact. It was like seeing the Queen. She kind of is the Queen in fashion terms. You have a very personal vision, how else would you describe what you do? It’s definitely how I’m feeling at the time, and I try to keep it honest but not too overly conceptual. I always think about what I would like to wear, so I guess that makes me quite a selfish designer. My clothes aren’t for everybody, I know that. Who is your design icon then? It’s funny because I don’t look at a lot of fashion, and I don’t look at design for inspiration. But I think the designers that I appreciate are definitely Jeremy Scott, and I used to like what Jean Charles de Castelbajac was doing a few seasons ago. He was really into cartoons and his shows were massive productions. Tell us what the concept of the AW13 collection was. I’ve always been obsessed with The Twilight Zone and they released it on DVD last year, so I watched it solidly for a month and took inspiration from that. It also happens to be


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one of my favourite rides at Disneyland. On top of that

realise that I need to build a brand. It’s not enough anymore to just make great clothes, you have to sell them. I would’ve been fucked without them. How do you keep motivated when it’s all going wrong? Swimming really helps me to relax. And when I’m working and I’m stressed out I have cartoons on. Old episodes of Looney Tunes and Penelope Pitstop all the way. You are now on the Fashion East MAN line-up— tell me how that came about? I did one Fashion East installation, and I think the spaceship I did for that installation generated a lot of attention. I know Lulu said to GQ that she knows that I’m ready for the catwalk, and she knew I would bring the fun to it. It must be reassuring having someone like Lulu Kennedy believing in your work. She launched Gareth Pugh and she basically created LCM alongside the BFC. I think what she’s doing for new designers is so inspirational. It’s a non-profit organisation and 90% of those designers that show at LCM come through Lulu’s nurturing. She’s definitely got a good eye for talent. Who should we be watching out for next in fashion? You won’t know him yet but Alan Crocetti who made the jewellery for my SS14 collection is going to be big. They were a hit in the showroom in Paris with buyers. I think we’re going to work together next season on a little something— I almost told you what it was then, I need to learn to watch my mouth…

I started watching The Jetsons and vintage cartoons. The Twilight Zone was really black and white and weird, so to balance it out I put in colours from the cartoons, and my signature bear that’s in every collection. Where does the bear symbol come from? My Mum was bought a bear when she was born, and it was always by her bed for as long as I can remember. When I moved to London she let me take it and I knew how much it meant to her, so to show her how much it meant to me I turned the silhouette of it into my logo. So the bear is my Mum in a way. Your collections display a dark sense of humour, is that something you actively try and include in each collection? I think it just happens. I don’t know where it comes from so it’s hard to explain. I like to mix cartoons with bondage, I think it makes my design more interesting, a bit tongue-in-cheek. But it’s become more subtle now because I know my stockists won’t buy into a crazy harness. Instead I tightly strapped the teddy bears to the rucksack, and a few bits of press picked up that it was a bit bondage inspired. In menswear right now, who do you think is getting it right? After June’s LCM I thought Christopher Shannon’s collection was really good, and Astrid Andersen is great. She does crazy sportswear—weirdly sexual, which I like. I think everyone is repping London well, and really showing that London is the main force of creativity in Europe. Why do you think that is? Designers aren’t afraid to push the boundaries. And the city itself helps, you forget how ancient London is, but also how crazy and futuristic it looks – and the mix of the city shows in London fashion. London is so good at embracing the new. Fashion is notoriously a difficult industry, has there ever been times when you’ve wanted to give up? Oh yes! It’s definitely not easy and anyone that thinks it is is mistaken. Luckily, my PR is my life because they’ve helped me to understand the business side, and have made me

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Bobby Abley is represented by Ella Dror PR

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Eilish Macintosh

Scottish designer Eilish Macintosh has given us reason to be excited. The young designer showed two collections in her MA graduate show—one bound in rope and another of patent leather—that has already won her an award, as well as universal praise from fashion’s elite. Now working in womenswear at Lanvin in Paris we talk tough tutors, tartan and childhood party dresses.

What was the first item of clothing you really remember loving? The first thing that comes into my head is a gold and black party dress—I liked to stand out! I’m sure I bullied my Mum into getting it for me and tried to wear it all the time. I was about six and I’m sure it was probably hideous but I still haven’t forgotten it. What made you want to pursue fashion as a career? As a creative form, I think it’s just a very open and immediate form of design that can be really personal to lots of different people, and that’s quite exciting. As a career choice, even if I had a rubbish job in fashion, I would still enjoy it more than most other jobs. And also, I always liked to look at the collections and just loved fashion design, I’d spend hours reading Vogue. You went to Central Saint Martins, what made you want to go there? Just from reading magazines. It seemed like this name kept popping up again and again. It seemed exciting and I thought that I had to go there. Also, I really loved London. When I was a child I thought it was just so cool—going to Camden Market and seeing all these amazing weird clothes I could buy. Why did you choose to study textiles and design course as opposed to womenswear? I think my interest was in pattern and textiles before fashion. I feel like that part of it came more naturally to me, it was easier to sit and draw than to make garments. I wasn’t one of those people that stayed up all night making clothes. What made you want to go from the BA onto the MA, was that something you always planned or did it happen naturally? No, it wasn’t something I’d planned at all. I’d finished the BA and had my portfolio sitting in the exhibition and basically one of my tutors suggested it, and some of my classmates were applying as well, so it felt like, ‘oh well, my portfolio’s here, I’m here, when am I going to get the chance to have this interview again?’. Already being at Saint Martins, it was an easy path. Once you actually got onto the MA course, how

tough was it to please Louise Wilson? She’s very tough to please, certainly—I don’t think anyone would say otherwise. Did you find it difficult having her as a tutor or did she give you good advice? She really knows what she wants from the students. Although it is very open, and you can be creative, she gave more of an input than I had been used to. She is certainly very demanding and I hope that reflects in the quality of the work. If you respect her opinion and work hard then that’s all you can do. You ended up showing two collections in your final show, what was the reason for that? Well, I started off with the first collection, which was black with big body jewellery pieces and ceramic elements. When you do the MA as a textiles student it’s normal for you to get paired up with a first year MA womenswear or menswear student who then do the pattern cutting for you and help with the garment design. Some of the textile students come from a purely textiles background, fashion isn’t something they are particularly interested in. But, for me, because I’d done a fashion degree to start with, I was a bit advanced in that I’d done pattern cutting, so I wanted to propose another project and get the first year team to help. Louise had arranged the sponsorship for the patent leather, which the second collection was made of, and when I saw this leather I thought, ‘wow, I really want to get my hands on that’, so I proposed the project and that became the second collection. Did people think you were mad for doing two collections? They didn’t say it to my face if they did—but maybe they were saying it behind my back. You used rope in both collections, which has connotations to bondage, did you want this level of irreverence? Yeah, I did. Hopefully it has a bit of a sense of humour. It’s not like I said, ‘I’m going to make this collection and it’s going to be quite extreme—bondage looking and with nipple rings’, but just through the process you end up there even though it’s not something I planned. Of course, every decision you make is leading in that direction, refining it down


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to those simple elements.

sure why that should be. The Scots do seem to be doing well and there were certainly a disproportionately large number of Scottish people on the MA in my year. And I have a lot of Scottish friends working in fashion in London as well. I don’t know, maybe we’re just cool or something! Are you very patriotic then? Do you keep any of that in your design? It’s not something I consciously set out to do but it does influence your perspective, based on your experience. I’m not going to be putting tartan into any work that I do but it probably does have an influence. So what’s the plan now that you’ve graduated— whereabouts are you working now? I’m working at Lanvin in Paris in the womenswear studio doing textiles based womenswear and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve learnt so much, it’s very different to being a student or an intern. Have you got any plans for your own label in the future? For now, it’s not something I’m working towards, I’m just really happy to be working in the industry. It’s such a big choice to start your own label and you really need to have that as your life ambition. For me, I don’t feel like I’m there yet. What’s the ultimate dream for you? I think this is it—to have a job in fashion. Just working and being creative, and enjoying life in Paris. How’s your French? It’s not there yet either!

Your two collections, whilst they did have similarities, were different in material and both show a different side to your design aesthetic; do you think that you’ve found your style yet? I don’t think I would say that I’ve found my style, and I also don’t think that’s something I’m necessarily aiming to achieve—especially as a working designer. I think it’s important to be able to work to a brief and not just decide, ‘this is my vision and I’m going to work in that way no matter what’. After your MA show you won the L’Oreal Professional Creative Award, were you expecting it? I still can’t believe it. I found out that I won quite close to the show and everyone was still totally exhausted and stressed, and still trying to finish off collections. I was just hoping that none of the models tripped over the ropes, and then at the end they pushed me out on the stage to collect an award. Do you think that winning the award has opened many doors for you? It’s hard to say—It’s still early days. I think the work is probably more important than the award and I’m not sure how much attention people in industry would pay to that kind of award. It was presented to you by fellow Scot Christopher Kane, are you a big fan of his work? A huge fan, I think he’s one of the best young London designers and I can’t praise him highly enough. Every season it’s the one show I look forward to most. Talking of being a Scottish designer, what do you think of the idea to hold this year’s Scottish Fashion Awards in London? I wasn’t aware of that. I think it’s a bit of a shame for Glasgow. I suppose it’s understandable because there are so many amazing Scottish designers working in London but I don’t know—it’s a bit strange. How do you think Scottish fashion has progressed in the last ten years or so? It’s a funny situation because, as we mentioned, all of these amazing Scottish designers are coming through London but I’m not exactly

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Ryan Lo

Known for his use of colour and a love of romance and the femme fatale, Hong Kong born designer Ryan Lo moved to London at 16 to pursue a career in fashion. Here the designer, and recent entry to the elite Fashion East gang tells us why his final university days were akin to a Britney Spears meltdown.

When did you first become aware of, and start to take an interest in, fashion? I can’t remember exactly. I always liked clothes and the idea of styling. I had some Barbies and Blythe dolls that I used to design clothes for but I started to take a proper interest when I hit my teenage years. I started collecting Hong Kong’s New Monday Magazines, and others like MILK, YES! and Idol just to look at the fashion pages. Before I developed my knowledge I pronounced Chanel as ‘Channel’ and thought Zara was couture! What inspired your creative side growing up in Hong Kong? Hong Kong is a city of mixed culture, so there are a lot of different things going on. I was inspired by Saniro, the Japanese cartoon mega figure company as I am a massive fan of Japanese anime. I also watched lots of Disney cartoons, Sleeping Beauty is my favourite, I was obsessed with her pink dress. My first Fashion East collection installation was partly inspired by Hong Kong’s red light district, the neon lights of the cheap Mong Kok nightclubs and prostitutes. You originally wanted to be an opera singer, what happened to stop you? Not exactly an opera singer, although I always had a thing for Phantom of the Opera. I wanted to be a singer, like Julie Andrews! I planned on following it as a career but my voice changed when I was 14 almost overnight. I remember I just stopped singing suddenly, I even started talking less and had to find a new dream. Why did you choose fashion as a backup option? Actually my mum choose it for me. When I finished my GCSEs at 16 in Hong Kong I wasn’t qualified to move on to do A-Levels, so my mum suggested that I do fashion design. I had a choice between Hong Kong and London, so I choose London. The decision was quick and within weeks, I moved to London and started learning pattern cutting from YouTube videos. And that was the start of my eight years in London as a lonely Chinese person! Why choose London College of Fashion? Did you consider any other colleges? I considered many other colleges, especially Central Saint Martins, but I was too young for their

foundation course. I started on LCF’s Fashion Portfolio course, even though I should have been 17 they let me in. A year later when I was 18, I applied for Central Saint Martin’s BA Womenswear, but they rejected me and LCF welcomed me, so I went with them. How different was London to Hong Kong—what did you miss, did you experience culture shock? I found everything in London quite slow compared to Asian cities. Hong Kong never sleeps, if I am hungry at 3am I can just go out on the street and find any number of restaurants open. Asian cities seem more ruthless and competitive, I am still having a really hard time understanding how most British people can be so laid back in comparison. You did an internship with Charles Anastace while studying—how did that help you and what did you learn? Honestly it showed me the ugly side of the industry. Behind the scenes of fashion is so unglamorous; it’s all coffee runs, late hours and sleepless nights. Fashion designers work really, really hard for very little pay. I think a lot of fashion students these days think it’s like The Devil Wears Prada but it honestly isn’t. Charles and I are still really good friends, though. Did you prefer learning on the job as opposed to in the classroom? Was it more fulfilling? At that time, learning on the job was much more fulfilling, fun and exciting. I think all interns have high hope when they do their first placement. But looking back now, I do think both classroom learning and working on the job are equally important. The classroom learning taught me technicalities but in the real business you have to adjust and even cut corners to meet deadlines. I think to be successful, you need both experiences. Your collection wasn’t shown in the LCF BA show, was that disappointing? Yes very disappointing! It was the darkest, saddest, loneliest, most cynical day of my career. I made a t-shirt saying ‘Fuck You All!’ and I wore it to college the next day. At that time, a very famous MA course rejected me too, so I shaved my head. I was just like Britney Spears when she had her meltdown!


The Designers

Your collections are hugely bright and colourful— why is colour so important to you? I do like dark colours too but my collections are not just bright colours, it’s as much about shape, texture, patterns, music, the attitude of the girls. I need all of that for a collection to come together. What’s your favourite colour to work with? Pink! Pink is Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette, Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, Barbie, Hello Kitty, Sex and the City and Mövenpick strawberry ice-cream! Explain your AW13 to us? Every collection starts with a fictional love letter. For AW13, it’s winter, it’s snowing, and feels cold and lonely, so I channelled Ally McBeal, Miranda Hobbs from Sex and the City and even Bridget Jones. I envisioned a career woman who is looking and waiting for love. She wears a suit to work in a men’s world, but she needs to feel sexy, so that’s why I had the teddy bear mohair furs for day and see through pussybow blouses. The second section was about staying at home, think Bridget Jones wearing her slip and pyjamas with a blanket like coat while singing ‘All By Myself’. And the last section, was about being all dressed up with nowhere to go; Christmas party gowns, tinsels and glittery lurex dresses waiting for someone to ask her out. Your work is described as sexy and arrogant— would you agree? I agree. I think it’s very important to have a bit of personality. I like strong women, and there are lots of different ways to be strong and sexy. Women can wear suits and power dress to compete in the men’s world or they can wear sexy slip dresses, it’s really up to them. Women should be allowed to do what they want and still remain beautiful. Your designs seem rooted in pop culture—does this inspire you? Yes! I’m addicted to TV, and obsessed with The Simpsons, I can’t help it. How did you come to be part of Fashion East? I always wanted to apply for Fashion East, it was my mission after completing my BA. But when it came to applying they changed the deadline dates and I missed them. So I started working on a much stronger collection to apply for the

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following season, but I couldn’t finish that in time either! So it wasn’t until I applied in early 2012 for the SS13 collection that I actually got in. I got an email from Lulu saying that I got a place, and I knew that I’d been really lucky. They picked me from a BA, rather than an MA, which is something quite unusual for them too. Who is the typical Ryan Lo woman? Do you have a muse? I honestly don’t have a muse, except for maybe myself. I try not to design things that I wouldn’t wear personally. Do you think you’ve fully established your style yet? I think I’ve established my style and aesthetic but I don’t yet have a signature look. I am focusing on building a strong look in my SS14 collection. I can’t wait to show the world. Do you think you’ll ever tire of colour and glitter? I hate glitter already, it’s so dated. I like individual colours but I don’t like to mix them in pieces. Life is not a rainbow. What do you think London has that other cities don’t when it comes to fashion? Good art schools. And hundreds of international students, and more importantly, their money! What do you hope to achieve with your work as a designer? I just want to be happy in my career, that’s all I need. Ryan Lo is represented by Ryan Lo Studio

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S-League

Every good designer needs an inspiring model to act as their muse. And that goes double for photographers. This issue, S-League features the newest faces of the modelling world, including some fresh from the Elite Model Look, shot by a host of up and coming photographers intent on snapping at the heels of the industry’s aficionados.

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Model Jasper Harvey Camera Leica S2 with Summarit-­S 70mm f/2.5 Asph, Apo-Macro-Summarit-S 120mm f/2.5

Samuel Hearn


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Model Camera

Nadine Martin Leica S2 with Summarit-­S 70mm f/2.5 Asph

Takanori Okuwaki


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Aiden Ledward at Elite Model Look Leica S with Summarit-S 70mm f/2.5 Asph

Eva Pentel


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Arle Uus Leica S with Summarit-S 35mm f/2.5 Asph, Summarit-S 70mm f/2.5 Asph

Sasha Hitchcock


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Matt Booth at Elite Model Look Leica S with Summarit-S 35mm f/2.5 Asph, Vario-Elmar-S 30–90mm f/3.5–5.6 Asph

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Rob Swinton Leica S2 with Summarit-S 70mm f/2.5 Asph, Apo-Elmar-S 180mm f/3.5

Agnieszka Maksimik


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Models Camera

May Bell and Ruth Bell at Elite Model Look Leica S2 with Summarit-S 70mm f/2.5 Asph, Apo-Macro�Summarit-S 120mm f/2.5

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Cheyenne Carty at Elite Model Look Leica S with Summarit-­S 70mm f/2.5 Asph

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Takanori Okuwaki S 01 . 2013

Sasha Hitchcock

Eva Pentel

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Ash Kingston

Benjamin Madgwick

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Profile for LFI – Leica Fotografie International

Leica S Magazine No. 4  

The Youth Issue curated by Kim Howells & Rankin

Leica S Magazine No. 4  

The Youth Issue curated by Kim Howells & Rankin