beauty is where someone forgot it
Victoria Loomes chats to Maria Francesca Pepe and discovers that… Now I’m not usually one to adhere to stereotypes or employ too-often used clichés, as they are all too regularly irrelevant - I mean when was the last time you saw a burglar wearing a stripy top and holding a Swag bag? But these hackneyed, out of date phrases persist within languages, and clearly originate from somewhere.
Text VICKI LOOMES Illustration LLOYD PEEK
An interview with Italian-born Maria Francesca Pepe proved one stereotype, whilst simultaneously undermining another. She confirmed the accepted notion that Italians are outgoing, are (very!) talkative and gregarious, but was not a/the typical too cool-for-school designer, disinterested in a coherent interview. Maria was happy to talk about anything and everything, including living in Fulham with the boy -‘when I go east it means I can see things more clearly’. She finds it difficult to define herself (fashion designer? jewellery designer?), and just does ‘whatever she feels inspired to do’; her designs feature interchangeable clothing and jewellery creating a ‘new luxury ideal’. This idea was initially developed during her MA collection at Central Saint Martin’s, where the clothing itself almost became an accessory and backless coats and dress were created to wear over and with other garments. Capitalising on the success of her AW09 show (as part of Fashion East) she has collaborated with high-profile designers, including Roksanda Illinic (for three seasons) and Emilio de la Moreno, and this season lent jewellery to Amanda Wakely. She was featured on the official LFW schedule and took her collection to Paris in conjunction with London Showrooms (an initiative that coincided with the 25th anniversary of LFW); her star is firmly in its ascent. Fashion East, one of the best showcases for new talent at London Fashion Week, was something of a last minute affair (her participation was confirmed less than two months before the show), but forced her to take the next step, and seize the opportunity. ‘You should live in the present’, she advises, ‘take the chances you are offered, but be aware of what you are ready for’. Lulu Kennedy saw her potential, and following the Fashion East show she was lauded by many as one of the names to watch in London.
‘Bathing Beauties,’ the SS10 collection evolved from AW09’s ‘Les-C’, and provided Maria with the opportunity to improve on the strongest points of her previous designs. Shapes remain clean, sharp and defined; designs are executed in softer, lightweight fabrics, including draped jersey, that explore lightness and vulnerability. However the wet look of the fabrics adds a tougher edge, avoiding a frivolous, over-girly aesthetic. ‘The main inspiration has been exploring the lightness of the woman’ she explains. ‘I need sometimes to feel free from restrictions and that’s why I have been looking to creatures from the sea and fashion creations from the twenties, I’ve been through a lot of Erte’. The vintage glamour of Ester William’s 1940’s film ‘Bathing Beauty’ inspired much more than the title - the properties of water also extend to the jewellery, which appears to be encrusted with diamonds but have been hammered to create delicate wave patterns. Joining the ranks of many designers this season - including Gareth Pugh, Raf Simons and Richard Nicoll - Maria embraced digital technology, presenting her collection alongside a short film, directed by New York based photographer KT Auleta. When questioned about the film Maria admitted that ‘as a designer you are always aiming for a show…all the fuss’, but the film enabled her to put the collection in its environment and really ‘take care of all the details’. This attention to detail is at the heart of everything Maria does - from her choice of manufacturer and fabrics, through to the high quality, impeccably finished garments she produces. I suspect this has roots in her Italian heritage (am I stereotyping again?). Born in Foggia, she first studied Literature and Philosophy (an experience which allowed her to ‘build up an awareness about life and herself’) and then womenswear, at the Marangoni Institute in Milan, before finally completing her MA in London.
‘everyone has disillusions as well as success, when I am disillusioned I always try to find a way to make it work... life is incredible, it can give you a lot of gratification’
She is patriotic, in every best way, proud of the level of craftsmanship that exists within Italy ‘in terms of manufacture they are still the very best…it’s something they excel at’. Her emphasis on teamwork, ‘it’s not a solo art…’ and her acknowledgement of the role of skilled artisans in completing a collection is certainly refreshing. Most inspiring of all though, is her infectious enthusiasm, she describes herself as a ‘gatherer’, always looking at, and memorising details, ‘creating analogies’. It’s not ‘a nine to five job but an approach to life. Sometimes I find myself designing while I’m cooking…it could become an obsession!’ and her ability to remain upbeat in any situation, trying to make the best from, and learning the value of things that go wrong. She wryly observes - ‘everyone has disillusions as well as success, when I am disillusioned I always try to find a way to make it work... life is incredible, it can give you a lot of gratification’. Maria Francesca Pepe will be showing her A/W 2010 Collection at London Fashion Week on Saturday 20th February 2010 in The Portico Rooms of Somerset House.
twitter: reality bytes back
Weâ€™re travelling at the speed of light. Our accelerated culture connects us to endless channels of communication, movement and circulation onto which all social codes, knowledge and capital are distributed. Text IMRAN JAVAID BUTT Illustration KERRY LEMON
This is the territory onto which all life occurs for this is the space of our habitation, our mode of production, our sense of reality. Such channels are in fact military circuits, for territory of such significance must be defended, invaded and colonised. We are in the middle of a war. Speed is everything for we all know the geo-strategic equation; whoever controls speed controls movement then territory then power then the war. From nation state territory we now move to a technological territory used for technocratic domination. Reality itself has now become the demiurge of technocrats in the form of mass media, propaganda and disinformation. They launched the information bomb that hit us. However there is hope for humanity. The advancement of any technology necessarily also conjures up its own double - invention is always accompanied by its integral accident. With the invention of the train came derailment thus with the construction of designed reality came cyber-reality. Twitter marks the absolute moment when the channels of the super-fast information highway meet its own integral otherness in cyberspace. Advertisers generally attempt to brand Twitter in one of two ways. The first version sees Twitter as a social network that substitutes normal communication processes for faster ones. Now the same communication runs along the same channels at the speed of light. We can organise an entire music event using nothing but a Twitter enabled mobile phone. This speed machine offers us a glimpse of our social future. However, donâ€™t such networks also enforce us further into the symbolic structures and prescribed channels of communication that make up our reality? Moving so fast, the potential for political intervention that had always allowed us to maintain a critical distance from what we saw and what we believe now closes around us with suffocating affects as we are left with little time to interrupt, examine and deliberate information. A network where events like the hot balloon hoax Twittered around the world demonstrates how truth and knowledge can so easily turn into disinformation and even propaganda.
The second version sees Twitter as a social network that simulates reality. It removes all channels via its virtual act of transcending humanity and possessing its users with the worldâ€™s sheer volume, its energies and the masses of its bodies that makes up our collective constellation. Here our souls/avatars travel to the places where other spirits have gathered in a singular time-space to sing and dance in one heightened unified state from which we derive our vicarious ecstasy. We come to believe that our computers are sentient organisms capable of interaction, bestowing states of illumination like some new age technoshaman. However do we not also lose the object of ocular perception, the displacement of the dimension of direct observation and the loss of the materiality and concreteness of the objects in lived experience? So Twitter becomes a locus where information is reduced to some abstract and enigmatic truth one distant from the material world? Our bodies lose their specificity. Our cities lose their specificity and urban life gives way to technological dwellings. As our spirits travel faster our real bodies begin to move slower and slower until we stop moving at all, frozen at our desks detesting our physical bodies for its limitations as we mourn the loss of our own existence! So Twitter acts either as a substitution for reality or as a simulation for a new reality. This will not do. I do not want to live with some fictional substitution of reality or to experience some simulated temporal quasi-religious experience. How does Twitter relate with the reality that we have right now, the one that constitutes us? What I want is to see how Twitter can shatter the channels that make up our reality and by doing so seeks to undermine the control it has over us. Did we not see this happen in late 2008 in the Mumbai Siege where Indian civilians used Twitter to radically create a new series of emergency protocols in the face of terrorist attacks or during the post-Iranian election in mid 2009 where Iranian civilians used Twitter to expose the corruption of its government? They did this through developing their own channels of communication by hijacking the regular pathways re-routing them to create
new social networks. In such moments, civilians, accounted for the violence and injustice around them by placing Twitter at the centre of their narratives so as to explore such events from multiple points of view - perpetrator, victim, witness, survivor, investigator. Did this not allow Twitter users to view reality from many perspectives rather than just the controlled linear channels that make up our limited positions? Does this not constitute a collective clinical moment of working through the unfathomable, the most traumatic and the most unexpected like an oversized support group? And more importantly does this coming together of multiple narratives not suspend our given perception of reality; pushing it aside as only one of the possible, often even not the most desired, outcomes of an open situation?
Twitter can thus expose the very real notion that other possible outcomes, such as the opponents of President Ahmadinejad, are not simply cancelled out of reality by control societies but continue to haunt its reality as a spectre of what might have happened. By providing some small services, Twitter contributes to the task of plugging the gaps of our social bonds making visible those made invisible, audible those made silent. In a world moving too quickly to wait for political deliberation Twitter issues us the chance of political intervention through the simultaneous discussions over what could happen and is happening. This notion that multiplicities, multiuniverses and alter-realities continue to co-exist offering us glimpses and reminders of different possibilities is what Twitter can proudly offer us.
derek lawlor wonderland It’s mid morning October 28th 2009, and the Sketchbook TV crew, armed with cameras and notebooks at the ready, are walking down the long and never ending Kingsland Road in Dalston. Text EMETE YARICI Photography ED SALTER
At the end of the road, Derek Lawlor and his team of interns wait nervously; what would they think of the stampede of camera guys and girls about to make their way through the door? Much to their relief, four casual, yet stylishly dressed members of the Sketchbook team enter what I can only describe as the ‘Derek Lawlor Wonderland’ - Cue the ‘Oohs’ and ‘Ahhs’. The open plan warehouse space in which Derek works and sometimes (not as much as he would like however) plays, is something worth any creative’s weight in gold. It is the perfect mix of industrial heaters, toilet door signs, old TVs and soft pussycat rugs. The ground floor is a platform for interns to stitch, knit and sew Derek’s incredible creations, then up some steep wooden steps lies the second floor, a small and slightly nostalgic haven in which to relax and escape the strenuous lifestyle expected of a talented, hard-working and up-and-coming fashion designer. Despite being very hard to heat in the winter, Derek says he couldn’t ask for a more inspiring and spacious studio to work from, to which we all nod and slightly enviously agree, notwithstanding of course, the fact that the beloved Studio 3 on Kensington Park Road lies dearly in our hearts! Derek is somewhat shy and is quick to inform us he was especially nervous at the concept of being interviewed and filmed at the same time we were all very flattered at this idea, it’s not everyday you get perceived as being big and powerful reporters like those at Conde Nast. But after the ‘How have you been’, ‘This is such an amazing space’ and ‘Oh these latest pieces are amazing’ comments, Derek and Rufus are now at ease with us and we can get down to discussing and exploring what has brought Derek to where he is today and how he looks to the future of his career. (Let’s pause here; I feel an introduction is needed. Rufus is a very furry, fluffy pedigree cat also known as the inspiration and beacon light in Derek’s life! All jokes aside we all become slightly obsessed with the cat... ok, back to the interview) Since graduating from Central St Martins, the Derek Lawlor name has been on the lips of some of
the most influential people in fashion. After being picked up by Vogue.com, V magazine, Harpers Bazaar, and Dazed Digital, he was even chosen for an interview with the Alexander McQueen design team after his MA show at London Fashion Week ’08. Lawlor has since progressed onto designing a spring summer range, which will be a development on from his much admired MA collection. So Derek, you grew up in Sussex, not really a fashion city right? What made you want to study fashion? Did you realise this at a young age? I suppose, I did the art and design route through college in sixth form, so with that I went on to study a foundation at Brighton. I know Brighton isn’t considered a fashion city, but it is very cosmopolitan and there is an interest in fashion
there. And it was through studying art there that I really got interested in textiles and fashion. I didn’t really know whether I was a textile designer or a fashion designer, but decided to go down the textile route and developing the fabrics, and that’s when I got my place at St Martins on the textile design course. It was through that course that I really knew I loved developing the fabrics but I knew I wanted to push it further. I didn’t want it to be a flat piece of work or produce it for someone else, I wanted to be the one to take it further. I specialised in knitwear and it was there that I really got into the fashion side of things and it was all quite self taught; then getting onto the MA was such a big achievement for me and really kind of pushed me towards the fashion direction. What was it like for you being at St Martin’s? They have quite an admired reputation, there must have been quite a bit of pressure on you... Well, yeah I think it’s quite strange because you heard of St Martin’s, and you heard that most people wanted to go there and it was the place to be. Naively I really didn’t think I was going to come to London, I mean I applied all over the UK and getting into the MA there was very accidental. It wasn’t until I got there that I could really appreciate what going to St Martin’s means - I was given a lot of support and although textiles design may have been the wrong route to take for other people, for me coming from that background into the MA Knitwear really helped me when understanding fabrics and how they work. But it was the best thing I could have done, in helping me understand fabrics and developed my skills, so I went from probably a tamer textile course where everyone was quite sweet to something a bit more rough, but I mean it was definitely the best thing I could have done. And what did you feel the move to London gave you? Yeah London is the fashion capital, and the designers and colleges here you are exposed to a lot more and you get to observe it, and it’s a much bigger place. For me it was great to be able to experience fashion not only through college, but also through exhibitions. I mean there is always something going on, and for my creativity it’s great as that’s the way I work, taking things from what I see and experience from day to day.
Your designs are very unique and unlike any others designers’ work of today. How did you develop this style? Do you take inspiration from other designers? I suppose that was always the whole textile thing, and I love couture and Christian and when I was growing up, Lacroix’s embellished designs and embroidery (I have always loved embroidery). I was also looking at designers like Thierry Mugler and Claude Montana and the shapes and silhouette element of their designs and I guess it kind of spiralled over. I didn’t just look at one person, I took elements from each as inspiration, and it wasn’t about copying someone or producing the same thing, I wanted to create something new. With knitwear it was kind of accidental but it gave me something totally new, I mean the cord embellishment happened quite accidentally but I have been working and developing the knitwear for
a long time. I have always been trying to do things differently than following a trend, but taking it back to couture and Paris and the glamorous - these people are pushing it so why can’t I? I think the MA show for me gave me the platform to push my work as much as I could. I thought to myself this could be the only show I do so why not do it to extreme? And it worked! (Laughs) Yeah I guess so! Well something happened! So you said that you worked on your current collection and the techniques behind it for a while. Here at Sketchbook we love to see behind the scenes and into a designer’s thought processes; how did you work through your ideas turning them into designs? Do you have a sketchbook? Yes definitely. Research and sketchbooks are the way I work, and as a knitwear designer I’m constantly sketching and it’s all quite mathematical, I am always sketching and developing ideas into designs. I also have my diary that I scribble in all the time! But I mean at college it was very much all about research, and sometimes it was quite painful, as you’re constantly trying to find one thing that will influence you. I guess now that that’s over I was able to take all that research from my art routes and architecture and it has all helped me and developed on now, and for me it’s not about a new thing every season I would much rather develop on the story. We said earlier that on your MA you went for it, and as we all know you received quite a lot of press attention from that, what was that whole experience like for you? (Sighs) Oh God, those eighteen months were probably the hardest months of my life! I don’t think I will ever experience anything like that again. I mean they were equally the best as well as being stressful and nerve racking. I threw myself into this course and felt like a bit of a faker… (at this point I laugh! Derek and fake are definitely two words that never come to mind together!) …and I had a lot of fashion friends, but I was alone in putting myself forward as a textiles designer in fashion, it’s quite scary as you have to prove yourself. The MA wasn’t a taught course either; your mentors are there but it was all very self directed and those 18 months were hard but also very satisfying. Louise Wilson was the director on the course, she was a massive help and I have so much respect for her. I was lucky enough to have her support and her belief in me really helped me push myself and develop. Leading up to the show I think in the first year I was really developing, and it was only in the last 5 months that I started to enjoy it and seeing it all come together, especially at London Fashion Week which was the highest, and it was really professional. We all had so much support even down to the hair and make-up, it was great and amazing even though you’re stressed and crazy! As a designer I was only seeing it from backstage, it was only after when I saw the pictures that I saw it in a whole different light. When you’ve been there through the fittings and the tears and stress, and
then suddenly you have this polished image, it shows what the last few months have all been for. After the show a lot of the articles that were written about you emphasise the Japanese samurai influence on your collection but you have also mentioned architecture, couture etc. Was the emphasis on that particular element intentional? That was one interview after the show that kind of got taken out of proportion, it was part of my research but only one element of it. But I think there were LOADS of different things I looked at like I said before: architecture, paintings, even furniture design! I looked at upholstery, as I really like looking at the techniques behind it; I’m starting to sound weird now aren’t I?! But yes even things like braiding too. It was only when I started looking at things like costume design, which is where the whole Japanese element came in, and I touched on the samurai subject and so yeah….that was that! (At this point Rufus-the cat- has dunked his head in a pint glass of water by my feet and as interested as we all are in the interview, we can’t help but all burst out laughing - including the camera crew!)… a while after the incessant giggling has stopped and Joseph, the camera man, is beyond finding mine and Derek’s lack of concentration amusing… So Derek, after discovering the processes and ideas behind your collection lets talk about it as it stands now. Your collection is made up of very sculptural pieces, let’s say items you would most likely wear to quite formal events right? Is there a chance that you will design a more prêt-a-porter collection? Something people can bring into their everyday wardrobe perhaps… Yeah well the MA collection was extreme but that was exactly what I wanted to do, as I said before it was all about pushing my designs to the limit. Now with the spring summer collection I have filtered it down and thinking about what would the collection look like if it were to be more ‘wearable’? I do want to produce clothes that women wear and the technique is likely to evolve into a more commercial style, but still you know with the ‘Derek’ style, I don’t want to lose that. You seemed to hesitate before describing your clothes as wearable…is this something you are reluctant to do? Or is your definition of wearable slightly different from what most people perceive it to be? (Laughs) no it’s not that, I just launched myself as bespoke so I don’t think I will ever become high-street. I don’t consider myself mainstream, but then again sometimes I don’t consider myself a fashion designer; I see myself more as an artist, but hey never say never. I don’t know, maybe the wearable thing does scare me a bit, I don’t want to lose what I really enjoy doing, and that’s the heavy embellishment and the more bespoke technique. I don’t know how it’s going to evolve; it could go in ten different ways. There are so many different projects going on at the moment as well as
stocking in couture lab which has more wearable items, even though to look at them you can see they are really embellished. So I guess that means people see them as quite couture bespoke pieces that they wear so that means they are already wearable right? Talking about evolving and different projects, your collection is quite masculine, although sexy and elegant, it is very bold. Would that ever translate through to men’s wear? I’d love it, and bringing back the samurai/ amour elements is definitely something I would like to do, I guess it would mean I could start wearing my own stuff too which would be a bonus! As I have never worn a dress yet... well I can’t lie, a skirt maybe! It becomes quite apparent that there’s an increased use of knitwear on the catwalk and other designers have really only just started to have fun with it, what’s your take on this? I suppose knitwear is always apparent in my collections, and for me I didn’t realise you could be a ‘knitwear designer’. If you look at designers such as Mark Fast and Louise Goldin who also build a whole collection from knitwear you begin to see the possibilities. Similarly I don’t see knitwear as something that just sits within a main collection, which up until now is how it hass been used by most designers, I see it as an overall fabric and you can do a lot with it. Because of the variety of yarns, weights and colours there are so many possibilities that it can be a collection on its own. I think it shows through now because there are a lot of designers that have pushed it and proved that it doesn’t have to be your bog standard cable knit jumper.
Talking of bog standard cable knits, it’s not easy for designers to come up with more complimentary silhouettes and shapes. With knitwear which you seem to do even though your main shapes are quite bold and sculptural, how did you achieve this? The pieces themselves, although they seem quite complicated, are quite simple and the more figure hugging and slim-line cashmere knit base acts as a kind of canvas if you like, to the bolder cord which produces the shape and emphasis on the more daring parts of the pieces. So on a less technical note what’s next for the Derek Lawlor brand? Well I’m currently working on a collaboration for a company that I can’t really say much about yet, but the collection will be under the Derek Lawlor name and will see the range in a totally different light and aesthetic. That’s coming out for A/W, but at the same time I am working my own collection for autumn winter also that will show at London Fashion Week. Are you excited to be entering into LFW again? Yeah definitely! I feel it’s all kind of happening really quickly. I’ve done quite a lot but for me that’s the best way! I love to be busy, and with London Fashion Week more people are seeing it and I get to do what I love everyday, which is fantastic. So what is your day to day routine, if we were to follow you around for a day –which we won’t! Don’t worry (I add quickly after Derek laughs nervously). Erm….well it’s pretty much just all work and no play! No no, not really. Well I get into the studio early, I say early but I mean 10am! I have my lovely interns and pattern cutter so we usually go through what we are doing for the day, I then usually spend
3 hours checking and responding to emails! (We all know this part of the routine all too well at Sketchbook!) Then it’s straight into the work and usually this can go on till a lot later into the day and that’s our bog-standard day. Of course I do try and socialise when I get the chance! It’s pretty manic at the moment, but it’s cool. I enjoy it, I have a lot of great people working for me and the collection demands a very hands on routine which is great, you can do it all as a team. It makes it a great process! So my final question to you is; if you could design for any fashion house/brand who would it be and why? To this question Derek responds with a small … ah that’s a good question…hmm, I suppose... Givenchy or Balenciaga … And why...? I have grown up observing them and I think they are credible fashion houses. It would be a pleasure! It would be great to develop some pieces of knitwear for them.
We will let them know! After a dip into Derek’s sketchbook, the Sketchbook team reluctantly say our goodbyes, and farewells. It is around this moment that I look down to find Rufus has logged his paws into my cardigan! (Here’s an awkward moment...will it rip? Won’t it? It was a testing time for Topshop quality control!) We finally leave, all in one piece, and with smiles on our faces! Another successful day out for the Sketchbook Team… Thanks Derek! Derek Lawlor will be showing his A/W 2010 collection as part of ON/OFF Presents during London Fashion Week on Friday 19th February 2010.
Photography OLIVIA MORRISON
Photography MARTINA OLSSON Stylist LINDA PORTMAN SAGUM Prop Stylist PHOEBE EASON Make-up ANDREW GALLIMORE using LAURA MERCIER/CLM Make-up Assistant MELANIE RICE Hair LUCA/NAKED ARTIST Models BEATA GRABOWSKA JULIA HARE SARAH SPICKERNELL Fashion Assistant RACHEL BEAGLEY Thanks to James House
behind the scenes at london fashion week
To an interested outsider London Fashion Week, must look like an impossibly glamorous whirl of shows, parties, high-heels and celebrities. But fashion can be a cruel world and, of course, the reality is much different. I think it’s fair to say that anyone connected with the Week and its accompanying fanfare, love and hate it in almost equal parts. Moments of incredible beauty and breathtaking innovation just about counterbalance the hours of not-so-patient waiting, ridiculously early starts and countless dinners from Pret’s or Café Nero, or in more extreme circumstances, Burger King. But this is fashion dahlings, so I’ll gloss over that at super speed. Text VICKI LOOMES Illustration LLOYD PEEK
The Build-Up In an ideal world the week leading up to London Fashion Week would have been filled with researching new designers, reminding myself of previous seasons (so I could write insightful, accurate and analytical copy at the speed of light), allocating tickets, whilst organising my wardrobe, obviously. But in the real world complicated spreadsheets were being created - thankfully not by yours truly, Excel has never been a strength - detailing who needed to be where, and with whom. This was an intricate document of epic proportions, filled with coloured rectangles that made no sense to anyone except the creator, resulting in mass panic on the first day. Meanwhile, I was requesting show tickets from already aggravated P.R’s, who themselves were frantically deciding who got to sit next to the esteemed Ms Wintour, whilst simultaneously planning and organising three shoots that were in no way related to The Event. The first day became tomorrow far too quickly, and all I had to wear was one pair of super-uncomfortable heels with a broken zip. However, a sartorial crisis was cleverly averted thanks to organised flat mates.
Friday, DAY 1 Thanks to the chaotic build up, I neglected to remember that this season saw one important change - the venue. In honor of the 25th anniversary of London Fashion Week, the event has moved to a more convenient location, and first impressions of Somerset House were favourableeasy to access by public transport, a suitably dramatic entrance…and the most treacherous cobbles you have ever had the misfortune to walk on. What was this, mass fashion massacre? So five minutes in, street-style photographers lurking at every corner, and I had already tripped. Twice. An excellent start to proceedings, I must say. Inside the venue the enormity of fashion week is apparent - an enormous tent, housing the BFC tent fills the courtyard, whilst a selection of NEWGEN sponsored designers and exhibitors occupy most of the ground floor. In fact there are so many exhibitors, there’s another venue just down the road: at 180 The Strand…I’m exhausted already! Following the acquisition of a press pass (why does everything have to be so complicated? This isn’t immigration…), it’s onwards and upwards to the press lounge, where there’s a special section reserved for the proper journosHilary, Colin, Suzy et al- and some benches for the rest of us. Something to aim for, I guess. On the plus side, the champagne is already flowing. I get stuck in. Well it would be rude not to, surely? Following Boris Johnson’s characteristically bumbling speech, London Fashion Week is officially declared open. Open and raring to go. The atmosphere is full of anticipation as several designers, including Matthew Williamson, Temperly, Pringle and the inimitable Burberry
with Christopher Bailey at the helm are returning to show at LFW this season, and these shows are sure to inject a touch of glamour to proceedings - something London is not usually famed for. Eun Jeong gets the week off to a good start - the first show I see at the BFC tent, and it starts (almost) on time. Is London to follow Mr Jacobs’ NY lead? The new venue has a real catwalk feel, the perfect setting in which to celebrate a 25th birthday? Following the show it’s straight back into the press lounge (this quickly comes to feel like my second home over LFW) to type copy as fast as my fingers can…but of course never as fast as is necessary. Next to me Hilary Alexander has already finished a show report. No, I wasn’t looking over her shoulder, I just happened to notice.
Saturday, DAY 2 Gossip centres around the JCDC party, I don’t join in because I wasn’t able to attend. Because I had been dispatched to Bora Aksu and then Sass & Bide (the gold sparkly trousers went straight to the top of my wish list!) and had to return home to write reports. Drama. Myself and Miss D, realising we had somehow managed to miss both breakfast AND lunch two days running, escape the press lounge for a quick coffee in the square outside- but linger for a couple of seconds too long- as the fashionable folk begin to turn up for a show, and the border-line militant security guards refuse to let us back into the venue, despite desperate pleas that EVERYTHING we own is inside. They refuse to budge, so we check out the exhibition area, and chat to a few designers. Networking, I think that’s called. I head over to the Topshop venue, located near Baker Street (watch out for the tourists queuing for Madame Tussauds), where Danielle Scutt’s show runs almost an hour late. Thanks to a timely postal strike my ticket didn’t arrive in time. ‘You’re on the list’, the PR informed me. And I’m not. A little persuasion and politeness goes a long way at the door, and I end up in the second row. Bonus! The precariously towering buns were worth it though, but must remember to pack my emergency flats. By midday the new and ever-so-fabulous Topshop heels are crippling. I continue to smile through gritted teeth…a smile that appears more like a grimace when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
Sunday, DAY 3 Technically halfway through the week. I’m missing several things- notably hot food, sleep and my door-keys. Topshop Unique (never a fan of the 70’s but I leave coveting an afgan coat, Unique really can do strange things to you), and the fabulous Mr Nicoll revive me temporarily. Oh, and my ultimate fashion week tip? Wear wedges- you can walk for miles. Who cares if they’re not ‘in’? One thing that becomes glaringly obvious during any fashion week is just how small the world of fashion is, as you see familiar faces season after season. Whilst this can be reassuring it also serves as a reminder that the fashion industry retains an edge of elitism (not always a bad thing), and that all too regularly it’s far more important Who, rather than What, you know. But subtle shifts, visible most obviously for the first time this season suggest that this mindset is changing, albeit slowly. The hallowed front row is no longer reserved exclusively for the most established and influential press, and key buyers, but for a new breed of fashion influencers - Stefan Seigel of Not Just A Label, Susie Lau of Style Bubble, Bryan Boy, Scott Schuman of the Sartorialist and Jak and Jil’s Tommy Ton.
Tuesday, DAY 5 The end is in sight. I have mixed feelings about this. It will be nice to see the boy, sleep in past 7am, and not have to plan every last detail of my outfit. But I will miss the buzz, the excitement, the inspiration and anticipation, and all the little fashion week perks that I have come to take for granted- my morning Rubbish, free lunch, goodie bags. On the bus (glamorous!) back to the BFC (following Peter Pilotto’s beautiful show- Anna Wintour alert!), myself and Miss D are surprised to discover that the ‘real’ world continues outside of fashion week. Her bare legs and sky-scraper heels, combined with my hotpink lipstick and enormous flower corsage, appear to attract considerable attention. I’m not sure why. Burberry Prorsum returns to LFW, and close proceedings in the expected spectacular manner. The show is a veritable celeb-fest. Victoria Beckham,
Emma Watson, Agyness Deyn, Matthew Williamson, the Olsen’s, Freida Pinto and Dev Patel…to name just a few. The custom-built venue, is breathtaking, the attention to detail astounding. The same can be said of the aftershow party - computer access (Burberry know the value of a blogger), the HQ, divine cocktails and canapés, the Kooks, playing live, and outside the most luxurious cream carpet I have ever seen, which was cut out around the lampposts. Yes, someone took the time to do that. One rather embarrassing event occurs just as we are leaving. Hiding in the carpark to remove painfully towering shoes, the Kooks leave their hotel, catching me in a rather ungainly pose, crouched on the floor. I really do know how to create a good first impression.
Wednesday, DAY 6 MAN day. Also the most hectic day of the week. The inimitable Mr R and I appear to be singlehandedly attending all the shows. A stress free, wind down then? But it’s worth it - the menswear continues to go from strength to strength, and some of the designers Satyenkumar and Jaiden rVa James- are some of the nicest I have met all week. The award for the most perfect venue of the week has to go to a Child Of The Jago, whose show in the crumbling decadence of Wilton’s Music Hall provided a welcome change…just a shame it was almost in the middle of nowhere and I HAD to trek all the way back to Kettners for the b-store magazine launch party. I was so tired I almost fell asleep on the chaise lounge. Or maybe it was the increasingly strong cocktails….
The Aftermath If budgets permitted there would be time to reflect on London, and re-adjust to the normal world (yes it’s a little disconcerting to discover that the world has continued to exist despite my six day absence), before hopping on the Eurostar to Paris. But budgets do not fall in my favour, and just two weeks later I find myself attempting to cover Paris fashion shows in the same depth via twitter feeds, testing my journalistic skills to the limit. London Fashion Week A/W 2010 will be held at Somerset House from 19th–23rd February 2010. www.londonfashionweek.co.uk
danielle scutt: fashion tips Illustration JACK TEAGLE
house of holland: henry holland
Entering the HOH offices I’m immediately drawn to the small sentiments lying around; the vibrant rolls of fabrics, the stacks of age old magazines and most of all the cheerful “HI!” I get from Henry who walks over to introduce himself. “Do you want a cuppa tea?” is the first question he asks me. I’m trying not to glance around but everything from the HOH Barbie dolls sitting happily next to his shoes to the crowded mood-board which is covered with sketches, photos and anything that inspires him makes me as excited as a fashionista at a Louboutin sample sale. Henry is just as you’d expect, animated, sweet and when we get chatting, hilarious too!
Text VANESSA LEE Photography KATRE LAAN
What was the inspiration for this season at HOH? The inspiration was weddings and the idea of sending our customer to a certain event and how she might dress for it. It was bit more preppy, like pretty woman going to the polo. You recently twittered that you ‘started off your business as a joke!’ Can you talk us through how you ended up creating HOH? Well I started out making t-shirts as a joke between me and my friends, it’s silly to say but I thought ‘I can do that, it’ll be fun’. In fact it has benefited me because I’ve never had that traditional training so I’ve never been told what I can and can’t do, it’s trial and error. Did you always want to go into design? Well I studied journalism and did a degree for 3 years, and wrote about fashion. It was and still is my obsession, I was happy doing my last job which I never wanted to give up but due to the success of HOH, I did.
You were working in magazines before, do you prefer designing or fashion journalism? Definitely designing, but there are so many different aspects of that question. I am getting to do my own thing but I always said I’d never do it because both my parents own their businesses. What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most? The traveling, variety of things you end up doing every day, the people you meet and work with, it’s so different every day which I love. Describe a typical day at HOH? A lot of meetings. I come into the office and do some work, go through the boards, talk about the collection, where it’s going! You’ve just expanded into designing for Debenhams, can you tell us more about the line? It’s a collaboration and a diffusion line, actually just a diffusion line. We are going in store February 8th, and the line is aimed for a younger customer, a girl who might just buy our t-shirts but not
the mainline. We’re doing it for 3 years which is really exciting. For example at the press launch last week, seeing the line up there was great. Overnight I get over 80 shops, my own shops which is kind of intense but big step in one sense though it’s a different brand, it’s H for Henry Holland. What was the inspiration for this season at HOH? It’s tricky to answer without sounding like a knob! It’s very varied; it could be someone in the street or anything, a girl in a long skirt walking past me even. I look at a lot of early 90s which is my favourite era. How would you describe the HOH girl? She’s quite loud, fun, has her own style and knows how to dress herself. The kind of girl I would want to hang out with, not a shy retiring wallflower! Would you like to expand into menswear or accessories in the future?
I’d like to build on accessories. I’d like to have our own retail presence in person or online. I definitely want to work on an online project. What are the plans for HOH in the next few years? Alexander Mcqueen, Gareth Pugh are just a few British designers who have taken their brands global. Are you hoping to go down the same path? We’d love to go global, definitely. Our biggest market is Asia so that would be great. We also have really good stores such as stocking in Barneys in America. What designers would you say have inspired/influenced you? Definitely Paul Smith. It’s the way he has developed and grown his brand because it’s so quintessentially British, the way his wife taught him how to make clothes, the way his shops are his own retail concepts, I love that. I once interviewed
him for Vogue, and he showed me around the floors of his offices, and he knew every single person by name and even complimented a intern, he is such an inspiration. I am also influenced by Vivienne Westwood for the same kind of reasons. Apart from fashion, what inspires you? Well I’m obsessed with magazines, Vogue, The Face, Nylon, Wonderland, W etc love them, they inspire me. You’re very experimental in your designs, what are your personal favourite fashion moments in the last decade? My favourite moment was the 1991 Versace show. When they all came out together all the supermodels, I wish I was older and involved. If I worked with them I’d probably just faint, it would have been great to be involved.
A lot of aspiring designers, journalists, stylists look up to you and what you’ve built in a short period of time, what advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry? Do work experience and learn on the job, it’s the best way. What would you say was the most valuable to you, internships or education? Personally I knew I was doing the wrong degree after 3 days studying journalism at London College of Printing. I tried to apply for fashion but they told me to apply next year, but I was too impatient to wait a year, so I did a lot of internships including Fair Child Publications, Teen magazines, one of which called me up after I left 2 weeks later and offered me a job.
Would you ever go back into writing if a suitable opportunity arose? I really enjoy writing so I think I would, though I find it harder now because I haven’t done it for a while, but I do like it.
Illustration DONYA TODD
house of holland
the education of emilio de la morena
Marissa Baxter explores the ideas, designs and inspirations of London Fashion Week designer Emilio De La Morena.
Text MARISSA BAXTER Illustration LAURA CALLAGHAN
London Fashion Week is here. You can feel it in the air; the preparation, the imagination, the excitement. The blood, sweat and tears of the designers that create the silhouettes, colours and patterns storming down the catwalks of the Spring/Summer 2010 shows. One designer who is caught up in the buzz on the 25th anniversary of the British fashion event is Spanish designer Emilio De La Morena. British fashion has welcomed De La Morena with open arms and it is here that he has, for now, made his fashion home. While staying true to his Spanish roots (his career highlight to date is having one of his dresses bought and displayed in a permanent exhibition at the Museu Tèxtil i d’Indumentària in Barcelona), Emilio first developed his fashion craft studying at both Central St Martin’s and the London College of Fashion. In fact, it was while visiting a portfolio exhibition at Central St Martin’s that he was inspired by the designs and creativity to make the move from his job in consultancy at the time and enter the world of fashion. Following his time at St Martins Emilio’s British education continued when he went on to work for Scottish print designer Jonathan Saunders. This was a union that benefited both teacher and student as Saunders was still a relatively small company and Emilio was able to bring his marketing and sales skills to the forefront; working with buyers and helping to put the collections together. In return Emilio found himself inspired by a design process that was purely print- based, with concepts tested on canvas, a technique that Jonathon Saunders is famed for today. As the hype surrounding London Fashion week continues it is De La Morena that is famed as he now shares the stage with one-time mentor Saunders. Collection by collection Emilio is becoming known for his ‘Sculptural chic’ designs that are born from his fine art roots. Initially wanting to be a sculptor himself (he cites British sculptor Henri Moore as the reason he wanted
to sculpt) Emilio later realised he was destined to travel a different creative path and brought his sculptural influences along for the ride. His creative process begins by exploring sculptures, shapes and volumes and as his work evolves each collection can be attributed to the inspiration of a different artist or sculptor. De La Morena’s Spring/Summer 09 collection, contrasting softly draped designs against embellished, tightly sculpted dresses referenced the work of the late Scottish-Italian sculptor and artist Eduardo Paolozzi (whose creations can be seen as part of the Tate Collection). Taking inspiration from Paolozzi’s cutting techniques and print formations Emilio was fascinated by the sculptor’s metal work and used this in the structure of his knitwear pieces while Paolozzi’s print work was transcended onto Emilio’s eveningwear pieces. Although he studied menswear in his final year at St Martins, De La Morena’s heart lies in womenswear. Emilio already had a strong eye for the female form that is drawn from his love of Henri Moore’s sculptures that were so often famed for their abstract depictions of the female body. For Emilio, the De LaMorena woman is ‘strong and modern. She knows her own mind and is not afraid to stand out; nor is she scared of expressing herself in a vibrant and bold way.’ This idea of woman is clearly expressed in Emilio’s Autumn/Winter 09 collection. Inspired by a juxtaposition of De La Morena’s Spanish and British influences the collection is bright, bold and strong with modern lines. This collection lends influences from the work of epic Spanish sculptor Eduardo Chillida. Sharp 3D lines are brought to life by the phenomenon of British pop art influences and bold colours of reds and yellows, wrapped up in body-con dresses with enveloping sculptural shoulders and collars. Emilio’s Scottish influence holds its’ own here in his use of pixilated houndstooth print cut into lean city shorts and capes. It is an exciting, futuristic collection that is a piece of art in itself.
Emilio’s designs are the true visions of an artist for whom fashion is his life and love. He has managed to combine his two passions of fashion and sculpture creating truly original pieces that are representative of himself, his influences, his past and present. As he presents his Spring/ Summer 2010 collection at London Fashion Week it is clear Emilio has made his way into the heart of the British fashion world, and as he grows as a designer in his inspiration and craft, long may he continue into the future. Emilio De La Morena shows his A/W 2010 ready to wear collection at London Fashion Week on Saturday 20th February 2010. www.emiliodelamorena.com UK Stockists: Browns
charlie le mindu
Super Super hair-director Charlie Le Mindu has become a big name in the fashion and hair industry, working with the likes of Lady Gaga, MGMT and Florence & The Machine. Natalie Miller sat down with him in his shoreditchbased studio where he told her about his barbie days, his upcoming wig-line and his love for animals, dead or alive.
Text NATALIE MILLER Illustration LLOYD PEEK
At the young age of 13, thanks to his love for Barbie, French born hair director CHARLIE LE MINDU began his career in hairdressing. Despite growing up in the traditional, glamorous country of France, Charlie never found presenting his creative, avant-garde artistic work difficult. “It was never really a challenge; I have always made things different. I never look at other people’s work, I don’t have any inspiration.” Sat in his East London flat, I am intrigued by the shelves upon shelves of collectables he has accumulated, which he tells me are presents, mainly from clients and collaborators, but it is not the ornaments and magazines that have my attention. It’s the dead animals mounted on the walls. Charlie explains to me that this in fact is the art of taxidermy, “I live here with my boyfriend and we love taxidermy; I love animals, dead or alive. It does fascinate me; a woman called Adele Moses makes these for us, and they are really good.” I worriedly ask him if the cat sitting with us on the couch is real! He assures me she is!
Charlie uses the tactility of hair, while still adding another dimension to the full silhouette, outfit and theme a designer aims to capture. Previously described as an avant-garde designer, it is clear that Charlie is far from the conventional hair stylist, in more ways than some, redefining what hairdressing means at this moment in time. This intrigues me to want to really get into his mind, find out what he perceives his style to be and whom he sees as visionaries to collaborate with. “I don’t want to be called a designer because I’m mainly doing hair, but lots of designers use hair so I want to make a wig line, using casual wigs. I would like to make more collections and work with major designers like Gaultier and Givenchy”. Charlie has already worked with a number of big name artists including the likes of Lady Gaga and Peaches Geldof. In relation to the design process, Charlie’s care for involving and understanding his client is full-on, depending on the artist in question of course, “I think it depends, like with Peaches for example she is one of my good friends so we can start and decide on everything together. But when I work with people like Lady Gaga and MGMT, I usually just like them to like my collection!”
Despite his long list of impressive clientele, Charlie tells me he would still love to get involved with even more stylistic icons in the music industry, namely Beyonce and Cher. “I would love to work with them because they’re always wearing wigs. I would also love to work with Tim Burton - I’m not too much into working with boys, but I think my stuff would work really well with his.” With his contextual view on work and how he adds that to the art of fashion, it’s clear that Charlie’s designs
are no simple feat. With a team of ten girls working alongside him, a collection takes approximately 6 months to create, “The first two weeks is when I decide on the design, then Laura, my assistant, draws it and we spend about 4 months making it.” So with all that in mind, it seems that Charlie has hit the big time – and, might I add, making it with a very laid-back approach of waking up at 12pm. But Charlie disagrees there, “I think I’ve made it when maybe I’m 70 and on an island with lots of cats!”
Illustration DONYA TODD
the brainchildren of ross and bute
cut grass Photography OLIVIA MORRISON
the bunker Photography JOE PATTERSON
luxirare sincerely yours
We have become people whom prosperity harms. Is this not what the recent recession has taught us? Are we not coaxed to believe that in this poor, miserable, hampered and despicable reality, work is an ideal for opulence? This principle is engraved in us all, demanding that we keep producing even if it’s a pitiful infinitesimal fraction of a product. Are we in effect not just continually performing the rituals of hiding our eternal soul and presenting the temporal, authoritarian humanised-animal to the world? Text IMRAN JAVAID BUTT Photography JI KIM
After all conventional morality, polity and class distinctions are all linked to what we eat and how we dress. Through their consumption we symbolically invest in ourselves with the values of our society. This process is never-ending. I am so very tired. It is an exhaustion that borders on spiritual paralysis that finds no relief in this dull unimaginative practise. Call it a malaise, nostalgia for my own existence, which has now become hollow, splintered and bound by this hedonist sensory life. We live in mundane times where everything including the mysterious, the mystical, and the apparently unreasonable is reduced to the senses of possibility rather than the dances of spirits. Love is thus rendered impossible. Should we just forget it? Of course not, we need it now more then ever! So we are left with a paradox; if love is impossible then for it to occur, the impossible must somehow happen. Visiting Ji Kim’s brainchild website Luxirare is tantamount to finding someone’s journal and secretly reading it. Her blog entries are a symposium of food and fashion, which serve as a series of intimate love letters. Her site is split between a cliché free fashion anthology including a memorabilia infused fashion homage to the late great Michael Jackson whilst her molecular gastronomy takes on fast food favourites like pies, chips, bento boxes, pizza and diner dasher deserts like parfait. Her creations are the work of a victim suffering from some innate and incurable disorder unable to cope with whatever unnamed force has possessed her at that very moment. There is no reference to seasons, to locale, to style or social habit - there is only an incessant urge to communicate. Luxirare thus departs from the alienating process of production and consumption through giving up any attempt at authenticity. Instead it frames such restrictive processes,
from various cooking rituals to design dogmas, in order to transcend or radically renew them as a way of changing the social co-ordinates of our situation. The point is to renounce those connections to food and clothing that attaches us to a given social reality. The value of such separation is to disturb the balance by throwing the universe off its rails, wiping the slate clean as the condition for a new beginning. Ji Kim does not depend on hybridisation or juxtaposition of various genres to create e.g. her Pie Pops, literally pie popsicles, but rather focuses on an ethnographic rewriting of the classic genre of food that serves as her inspiration, using one strategy or another, to recover a lost purity in her objects. The switch from a mode of endless temporal production to the finite joining of elements in the present marks a holistic feel to her objects. These holistic objects become the basis of all her communication. Such recovery reveals the dramaturgy of her work. Drama occurs precisely when social frames slip and slide and something unexpected ruptures through its gaps, something dramatic - drama = dramatic. For here we do not find satisfaction in her objects, rather we find it in the discrepancy between what we see and what we get. What we get is always the impossible and ridiculous object that slips through our visual field. Consider her MJ homage. Is this not the impossible object of love; an affirmation of a jewel-encrusted glove reduced now to a pathetic meaningless leftover residue held in all its banal bareness? For all Ji Kim’s inner doubts and spiritual grief are unutterable and this homage becomes a way of expressing in the most indirect, allusive, and tenuous manner the ineffable anguish of her soul. To experience Ji Kim’s work is not to be taken in by its sublime nature but to take in this ridiculous banal aspect as well. The banal
and sublime perceived simultaneously on the same level. As such, her objects appear opaque; they appear dumb, naive, dazed, simple-minded, earnest and heroic but never cynical or ironic. These holistic irreducible objects leave a binding impression on us observers for they do not put us into another context; they are simply right here in its original form – they don’t refer to something else, they are what they are. They are thus brutally honest. Yet our theistic insight are not lost in such honesty e.g. we did not react to Michael Jackson’s death with horror or voyeuristic curiosity, but rather with sacral sympathy. This is our relation to Luxirare; this is the domain of love as an awe that radiates as a force within everything making visible all the traces witnessing to a shared humanity. In a way, we are in the same situation as Ji Kim: we feel the
presence of an epoch whose contours are just barely visible and in which we can perceive only simplicity, a pathos for love, sentimentality and maximising fun. We live a hybrid existence held equally as sublime and banal whereby life is no longer metaphysical or ironic but simply mindboggling. Perhaps we too are all pie pops! Isn’t this the New Sincerity or postmillennialism that is being described as THE scene in the US today? The age of post-postmodernism where cognitive dissonance is now regarded as a literary genre? Through viewing Ji Kim’s work does not the viewer enunciate their own nostalgia, punctuate their own bizarre appetites from an equally bizarre living habit all the while coming face-to-face with their own posh-lost status which they have come to accept with the greatest of sincerity?!
colourful women in fashion
Illustration BRYONY LLOYD Text SUSAN KEYS
It’s a cold Wednesday afternoon and after a morning of interviewing, I have run out of battery on my dictaphone. As I’m running - in 4 inch heels might I add - to find a shop that will sell these tiny batteries, I get a text from Gala; she has just got on the bus at Chelsea and will be with me in 15 minutes.
Text EMETE YARICI Illustration KELLY JACKSON
After Gala has arrived, and we find a café and sit outside, somehow it just seems more intimate. We begin by talking about Pelayo and the interview we had done with him previously, as we all know Prince Pelayo and Gala are not only two of the greatest bloggers around, they are also inseparable best friends! Most interview situations include me asking questions to a personality or creative with very little in common with me. However being of a similar age and also a student at the London College of Fashion, Gala has a lot of similar deadlines, dilemmas and tasks in her day to day life as I do. The thing that separates us though is the fact that since 2007 she has one of the most visited blogs from around the globe, and is somewhat of a style icon! Here she talks about her love for her Spanish roots, the sea and the never-ending love story that is Gala and the Cinema… Gala, at just 23 you have become somewhat of a fashion icon and since the launch of your blog, a celebrity in the fashion world. Tell us a bit about your life before the blog; were you always into fashion? What made you decide to start a blog? When I was back in Spain, at that time there was a site called photolog.com, and it was where people uploaded pictures of themselves, which I used to do and it become quite popular. It was also a great way to keep in touch with friends; as you know when you move for university you need a base to talk and catch up. It was there people started focusing on the way I dressed and commented on how they liked what I was wearing, then I realised that there were people actually blogging about outfits and fashion. Then I thought “Ok, I’m going to give it a go”, which is 2007. Well, actually it was 2006 when I opened the blog, but I didn’t pay it too much attention and it was not until 2007 when I really got into it and created “Look of The Day”.
I try not to blog too much about inspiration and designers’ collections as I think there’s so much of that reproduced and if you wanted to see collections you can go to Style.com and get up-to-date pictures and info. So it was more about putting together an outfit and saying “Ok, if fur is going to be hot this season, this is how I’m going to wear it”. And I think that’s mainly my way of communicating to people, but I always did it for myself and it was very flattering to find that the English readers liked my style as I think it’s quite hard, especially in London. There are so many bloggers and to get so much positive feedback is always great. I tend to try not to follow the same pattern all the time though; my style might be different from one day to the other. Like I said before I do it for me, and I tend to put up outfits I like the most rather than ones that will be popular. I think it’s funny when you see comments on outfits that are a bit different; people tend to have a lot more to say when I dress a bit more daringly. But then I think that London allows you to dress like that. You are originally from Spain, tell me a bit more about your time there? What do you love most about it? I came here when I was 17 (This gets a big wow from me, brave and young were two words that I would place here!) to do the last year of my A-levels. I mean back in Spain when you’re young and have a group of friends all you want to do is fit in and wear what they are wearing. I think that coming here gave me the opportunity to realise who I was and gave me the platform to think more about my style and fashion. I love Spain because my roots are there and it’s such a chilled lifestyle. It’s a place I can go to forget about everything and get away from stresses of daily life. But when I want the rush, it’s London. Well it’s England in general… Really… where in England have you travelled and do you like?
I have recently been to Wales and I loved it! And Scotland of course I love the accent, (she laughs, as we both nod our heads and agree on this point. Well it’s more of a fact really, no?) I have two friends from there and I love the way they talk; and of course places like Manchester, which are a bit more industrial. If I had to choose one place though it would be somewhere more south, like Brighton as it’s by the sea-side and my hometown is by the sea. It’s nice to bring that element into my life here. So you mentioned earlier that you came here to do your final year of A-levels, what did you specialise in? Was it in Spain that you realised fashion was an
industry you wanted to peruse or did you discover this once in London? Well in Spain it’s slightly different: you do ten subjects, I actually had Maths and Economics as well as other subjects, and I always wanted to choose something in between, not anything specialised on art or fashion. As my family has always been in fashion my initial reaction was to try and escape from that, because I knew that if you followed on from what your family do, people just think, “Oh well there’s another one following the family!” So I decided to try something different which led me to journalism.
just thought how bizarre. I can remember he had a t-shirt with buttons on it, and I was like “You had that t-shirt on right?” It was so strange to see someone a whole year later in a different country. So yeah, that’s how we started our friendship, and we are now very close, people sometimes think we are boyfriend and girlfriend which is funny! So do you think you will ever do a collaboration together or start a business together after university? Yes, of course I am open for whatever. We design in two different ways, which I don’t think is a bad thing at all, it’s more a strength because it compliments very well. He designs for women in a very glamorous way, you know it’s more “Wow”, whereas I’m more real and more simple, and I think that could work well together! I mean look at the t-shirt he has made, which is just huge (I don’t think an explanation is needed here, safety pins and a cross ring any bells??!!) and when he told me ‘I’m going to design a t-shirt’ I didn’t think it would ever be as successful as it has been which is great. He was just talking to me today about how well things are going and I’m just so proud! There has been a lot of talk about fashion blogs taking over from print media, what is your opinion on this? Well blogging has been going on since 2003 and I mean people still buy magazines such as Vogue, so I doubt that will happen. I think it also depends on technology; maybe videos will overtake written and picture blogs, it can go either way. It is expected that blogging will become boring for some people, it’s like natural selection I guess, some things stay and some things go. You are known for your unique style and your outfits are often made up of high street/ vintage and designer fashion, where are your shopping hotspots? How do you go about deciding what to wear on a daily basis?
I went back to Barcelona to study that, but while I was there I realised that I had a love for fashion. So for me it wasn’t like thinking, “It’s really cool to do fashion, I should do it”, it took me a while to figure out that was what I really wanted. So I came back here when I was 19 and did my foundation at St Martins and now I’m in my last year at the London College of Fashion! (The interview pauses here for a quick gossip about being students at the London College of Fashion, chasing deadlines and the lack of weekly lectures! Gala is studying at the Curtain Road campus doing Fashion technology and design.) You have a very close relationship with Prince Pelayo, he often refers to you as his ‘muse’. Tell us the history
behind your friendship? What’s the story behind the MTV Interview? Wow, yeah that was back in 2003, my friends were doing a programme for Spanish MTV. It was kind of a laugh, we had to do some filming and I spotted Pelayo and I was saying, “Look there’s a cute guy, let’s go and interview him”. I can’t even remember what it was that I actually asked him! It wasn’t until a year later, when we were at something to do with St Martins that I saw him, I actually thought he was Italian to which he was like “NO I’m Spanish thank you very much!” Anyway I had a sticker of the programme on my phone and he turned and said to me “I got interviewed for that programme!” and I was like “I did the interview, which was followed by where, when, how, you know…and I
I don’t tend to plan what I’m going to wear, obviously I have the basics like today – outfit for today is a big knit jumper, skinny jeans and black boots - which I think works for every occasion. The thing is because London is such a busy and rough city, you can wake up at 8 in the morning work all day and then go for drinks at 8 in the evening. You never know what’s going to happen, so I tend to wear things that will work for every occasion. I tend to mix and match everything in a way that if I need to I can pull out my heels from my bag and it will still work. But I like keeping things simple, I don’t like too many things going on, although I do like layering! I also tend to wear British colours I think, like red, green, black, blue, grey, you will never see me wearing neon bright for instance! When I go shopping there is always a look that I will look for. At the moment it’s the skinny bottom and a baggy top, I think its just about working styles that suit you; if you have nice legs you’ll try and dress for that and if you have boobs then you’re going to want to show them off! It’s all about doing your body justice, and I think that’s why blogs have become so successful. I mean if you’re a stick anything you wear will look good on you but that’s not reality and it’s not what life is about. It’s the bloggers who have curves and shape and still look great that so many people can relate to and you see clothes working for real. I like vintage stores in Canada, it’s just crazy there! They are really cheap compared to here and America! They are huge with clothes, shoes and belts it’s endless! For designers: Hong Kong; they’ve got amazing malls with every single designer you can think of, and then of course London! I’m not into Paris that much, it’s a little too practical for me and also very classic; although London is also classic, it’s done in a modern and edgy way, which I love. It’s great that in England you can take that risk. And then, of course I love the high street main shops like Zara, Topshop, Shoreditch…etc.
So you work, play and live in London. If you could choose any city to work from would it still be London? It would definitely! I love living here, and I love immersing myself in British history and learning about how London has become what it is today, which is very important in fashion. For example if you put on Barbour and say “Yeah it looks nice” that’s not enough for me. You should want to know why it is so popular and what has made it an iconic piece of clothing. Where and what do you see yourself doing in 5-10 years time? HERE! Well I am thinking that maybe I will go to New York or Japan for an internship, just to be able to see what’s going on outside of the city as well because of course that is important to refresh your mind and your ideas, but yeah I love London, -So you’re living the dream!- Yeah I am! I enjoy my time here! Will you still blog from whichever destination you decide to intern in? Yeah I mean, I don’t blog everyday because for me it’s about putting up pieces of quality. I would rather blog less and it’s stronger than blog rubbish everyday. Although I don’t really understand why people come to my blog! I’m really flattered but still it’s strange. I started it for friends and myself so it’s strange how it’s grown from day one. I still see it as something quite personal; I forget how many people read it! Also I don’t like how a lot of people use blogs as a place to criticize, for example with Rumi’s blog, she has a certain style and when you go there you know what you’re going to see. If that style isn’t for you then don’t go there. There’s also a lot of bloggers who don’t have model looks and bodies and people criticize them on their look and body when it’s not right. As a blogger you expose yourself and share your view and your style. If you could have anybody’s job in fashion whose would it be and why? I admire Tom Ford, and what he has done at Gucci. He has such power but also has talent, I think also like most people I think why not? Who wouldn’t want to be Chief-editor of vogue? The most important thing for me about work is it doesn’t matter about status, it’s whether it makes you happy. I was talking about this with Pelayo the other day; we were saying that nowadays you don’t know what’s going to happen in 5 years time or even today or tomorrow, so you try to enjoy your life as much as you can, a lot of people forget about that. So bearing all this in mind, what will you set out doing when you graduate in June (as I ask this question I feel the sudden scare of that fact that I too will have to answer this big question! But at the same
time listening intently to Gala, of course) Well now I’ve launched my collection for the Spanish brand Adolfo Dominguez. I really would like to spend more time on that, travelling to Spain more often and seeing how things go from there. I will try different things in the fashion industry but I’m sure my main focus will be designing my own line. At Sketchbook we love to look at the thoughts and ideas of the designers and creatives we interview, especially through mediums such as notebooks, sketchbooks and mood boards. Do you have a place that you write/draw/doodle your ideas on? Well I have one for uni of course, but to me it’s sometimes a bit of a pain. There is that need to fill it with things, because they ask you to, but sometimes I feel I don’t even need that. I personally have an agenda which I carry everywhere with me, so I can remember things I see that inspire, it’s full of phone numbers, appointments, notes, lists, sketches, everything really, and I like to keep them. I find it’s nice to look back through them and see what I was doing at that time. You said you take an agenda with you everyday, wherever you go…what is your usual daily routine? Tell us about a typical day with Gala Gonzalez… Well I wake up, go to uni, but not every day – laughs, we both find it funny that lectures are only 2 or 3 days a week and yet we all seem to pass! I then tend to hang around Soho, or Shoreditch, I am usually shopping as well, not always buying though! As a design student I make it my business to know new shops and brands, and then of course exhibitions and galleries, for information and inspiration, you need to know what other creatives are doing. I tend to spend the evenings with friends around Shoreditch in the bar or the pub and I like going to the cinema as well. Cinema! In a previous interview you have spoken about your passion for going. Can you tell me more about this love for the pictures? Where did it start? I think it’s from my mum, she used to really be into the cinema and films, and when I was a kid she always used to say to me “Films and books are a way of culture”. She had these huge collections of films, that date back to ages ago, which is amazing, and I guess it was from there that I got into it and now if there is a new film by my favourite directors I always want to go and see it. I like the independent cinema like The Curzon, and watching foreign films. I think it’s a great way to see what other people are doing and their point of view, it’s more about watching and taking it in rather than criticizing it. I sometimes even go even if the film isn’t so good, just to go and see what’s new, it relaxes me as well.
Who are your favourite directors? I think it would have to be David Lynch and Ken Loach, they are total opposites of each other. David is all about distorted reality and quite shocking films, which aren’t always about understanding his point of view it’s more about just watching and taking it in. Ken does the opposite; it’s all about reality and social issues, and I love the two opposites, which I think is something I always like. I never like being on one side or the other, I like to see things from in-between. And your favourite all time film? Ermm… (with a grin) well I think its Blade Runner (followed by a quick) I know it sounds bad. Someone once said to me in England that Blade Runner is a really cheesy film, but I don’t know, it inspires me. Especially the costumes and the way the women dress, it’s the type of clothing I’d like to design. ….It’s ok Gala we will let you off this once!
burberry novaâ€™s wonder journey Illustration VIVIENNE WLEE
“We shall begin with a search for art, show that art gives culture and that culture is the antidote to propaganda.” Vivienne Westwood, Active Resistance to Propaganda Manifesto, p.1 On Sunday night, it was back to school for Lefties and lovers of Anglomania at Notting Hill’s Tabernacle-Westwood Style. The Dame together with a cast of local children from the Young Stars Academy delivered a rousing rendition of her manifesto, “Active Resistance to Propaganda.”
Text KRISTIN KNOX Illustration LUCIA MANUELA CURZI
The manifesto, which she wrote two years ago, is a part Socratic-style dramatization, part philosophical musing on the concept of what is art, who are its determiners and why does any of it matter. Basically, the foundational concepts and questions underlying good old literary theory (a field in which the burning question is “what is literature”; and even more so, what is good literature?”). So it’s no surprise that in the oration Miss Westwood brings to life a slew of literary figures ranging from Carlodi’s Pinocchio and Lewis’ Alice to the founding father of the elusive literary pursuit itself, the one and only Aristotle (three cheers, Viv, for drudging up the Poetics). Westwood marinates on the quintessential Victorian tension between art and progress-i.e. the idea that “progress” has stifled society’s creativity but, ironically, there can be no “progress,” or forward movement, without creativity and the influx of new ideas. She then hones in on what I, through all my years of burning the midnight oil at the library amongst other wannabe literary academic, have always believed to be the correct answer, the crux of it all. She writes (taking my old chum and partial topic of my undergraduate dissertation as her especially apropos case in point):
“Chaucer’s characters are as alive to us today as when he first invented them: Timelessoutside of time, they speak to us of the human genius,--what it is to be human. Each detail illuminates the type and is what we call the universal in the particular--’someone like ourselves.’ When we recognize this we are being objective--through putting ourselves in the place of another--we leave our ego behind” (9). And she is absolutely correct. This is precisely the reason I pursued Latin to a graduate degree-reading about Vergil’s Dido and Aeneas’ fight in Aeneid 4 and recognizing an almost exact reenactment from a scene in my own personal life: the dynamics between men and women have not changed in 2000 bloody years! This basic sense of connection underlies the human propensity towards artistic pursuits, and Sunday night was the first time I’ve thought about this basic theoretical insight within a fashion or artistic context--at least, non-literary specific. And it is precisely this identification of the ego, of that connection with the self that produces this sense of timelessness, as Vivienne says herself, which we should seek out from literature, life and, most importantly, fashion. She writes, “We do have a fixed standardtimeless, universal, recognisable. We refer to it as Representative Human Nature (RHN). It is the key to this manifesto...art must be representational – for it is in imitation that objectivity lies. In practice, through his medium of RHN the artist gains direct imaginative insight into the general nature of things’ his view extends from the model” (9-10).
‘We do have a fixed standard – timeless, universal, recognisable. We refer to it as Representative Human Nature (RHN). It is the key to this manifesto... art must be representational – for it is in imitation that objectivity lies. In practice, through his medium of RHN the artist gains direct imaginative insight into the general nature of things’
But at the heart of her manifesto is a message which, despite being steeped in well-versed learning, is a message straight from the fashion industry: it’s all about living in the moment, today and tomorrow- what can you do now? Active Resistance, the name of her manifesto, is a message about getting out and being a part of the solution to an array of global problems from climate change to education. This is the lesson learned by protagonists Alice and Pinocchio come to the end of their Westwoodian bildungsroman: true progress comes from within and we ourselves are the authors and implementers of its action. Thus Westwood ends her manifesto: “Human beings have a choice: we can cultivate the human genius and build a great civilization on earth. Through art we see the future. It holds up a mirror of our human potential; or, as victims of our mere cleverness we will remain the destructive animal”. “Imagination is the driving force in human nature. But it is likely to run wild and escape into the chaos of endless desire, unfulfilled longing and alienation”. “Happiness is the true end of human existence. In practice this means to realise individual potentialities to their limits and in the best way possible. I think we would all agree”. Talking Cricket: “Pinocchio, you know that there are two sides to people, the donkey and the boy, the self who wants to live in Toyland versus the self who wants to grow up. It is the inner struggle between doing what you want and being true to your Best Self, that humanizes a puppet”.
showstudio: the internet revolution
SHOWstudio is the vision of fashion photographer Nick Knight. He launched the site in 2000 as a way to challenge and explore the creative process and to experiment with the latest technologies in film, video and the internet. It is this quest to keep pushing the creative process that has thrust it into the forefront of the fashion world. In fact, it has pushed it even beyond that because it allows anyone to participate and interact with the site.
Text SHARMON LUCHUCK Illustration LUCIA EMANUELA CURZI
I think this year, the fashion world well and truly caught up with the vision of SHOWstudio. Perhaps the economic climate was an influencing factor in pushing people to take seriously the internet’s relevance and the impact of e-commerce sites, fashion bloggers and fashion film on the industry. Suddenly, there is a forum where anyone can see the ‘behind the scenes’ of fashion. Instead of access to fashion only being for a select few, it is now open to all. The site champions the idea of allowing you to explore the creative process, instead of just seeing the end result. It engages you to participate so that you have a voice and can interact with the programming, thus pulling focus on the notion of collaboration. It also emphasises the concept of the ‘live performance’ which includes the photographer, designer, stylist and model. Also keen to Knight’s vision is the ‘spirit of independence’ and the internet is a perfect platform as it allows you to create what you want without the confines of commercial pressures – money, space and time. When you enter the site, the banner at the top of the page highlights the latest projects interviews, fashion shows, fashion film and performances. I found the imagery dynamic and evocative which makes you want to click on it to find out more. The rest of the home page scrolls down to cover the various menu pages but I think in some ways the site would benefit from having a separate main home page, as it is a bit visually overloaded. To the left the Site Menu provides links to for: the Blog, Current, Forums, Archive, Contributors, Viewers, Studio, Links and Agency and also a link to the Fashion Revolution exhibition at Somerset House. With the endless choice of material to view, it is easy to see that Knight is interested in the fact that fashion and technology are constantly moving forward and so by exploring
the new and collaborating with others, he is able to produce work that explores these visual journeys. His long-standing collaborations with Yohji Yamamoto, John Galliano and Alexander McQueen are testament to this. Knight is also interested in the idea of ‘a designer as a personality’ and he explores this through interviews and live performances. I watched an interview with Alexander McQueen and now know his voice, his influences, his creative processes and his concept for his S/S 2010 show ‘Plato’s Atlantis’. So when I watched the show, I understood the collection and could see the end result of his vision and concept. I also watched an interview with Richard Nicoll and now also have the same insight into what type of designer he is and what influences him. Probably the most important concept of 2009 was that of the Fashion Film. Knight has been the pioneer in this medium and over the last few years, together with Ruth Hogben; his former photo assistant, they have created plenty for SHOWstudio and for specific designers. Originally, Ruth started out filming shoots and editing the footage. The process evolved and they started adding music and creating more concepts. Some of the end results were revealed in Gareth Pugh’s S/S 2010 show trailer that was shown prior to his Paris show to set the mood for the collection and in Portent, where Knight, Hogben, stylists and makeup artists collaborated for the arrival of a women’s wear collection for the e-commerce site, thecorner.com Perhaps inevitably though, this ‘all access’ concept has similarities to the way artists like Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami have merged art with commerce and celebrity. So you now can see the designer creating outside of the studio’s confines, check out Gareth Pugh design a dress live or watch photo shoots live in the studio as part of the Fashion Revolution exhibit at Somerset House.
The ‘Blog’ and ‘Current’ sections is where you can see current and recent projects and add your own comments, allowing you to communicate with other viewers and with the designer. The New Lady Gaga Collaboration invites fans to submit videos that will be played throughout her tour. The works will be edited into a montage and constantly re-edited along the way with new submissions. You can also view Celine S/S 2010 fashion show featuring Phoebe Philo’s first collection for the label; Alexander McQueen’s Plato’s Atlantis, Fashion films – ‘Clown’ features Carmen Kass and Gareth Pugh’s S/S 2010 preview for Paris Fashion Week. Again, paramount to of all the works, is the theme of collaboration. The other pages such as the ‘Forum’, the ‘Contributor’s’ page and the ‘Viewers’ page all allow viewers to participate in the process of the site by communicating with and inspiring others and thus forming an ‘online home’ for like - minded people. The website is an invaluable tool that keeps changing the landscape of the fashion, film, art and media worlds; except this time, you can change it too.
Orly Genger and Jaclyn Mayer are making their mark on the fashion and jewellery industry. Already firm favourites of those in the fashion know, including the team at Vogue, we asked the designers to take out some time to let us get to know them better.
Text HARDEEP KAUR Illustrations VIVIENNE WLEE
Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves - how did you meet and what made you decide to launch this brand? JACLYN: Orly and I met 5 or 6 years ago when I was working at the gallery which represented her at the time, but we actually didn’t become friends until about a year later. We came up with the idea for the jewelry one day when I was over at her studio just playing around with some of her rope. She had asked me to make her something for an opening she was going to and the rest came naturally. We saw the possibilities which lay before us and decided to go for it. The first few months of us working together was actually done across the Atlantic as I was living in London and Orly in NY. We worked together on iChat a lot and via photographs. It’s much easier now that we are living in the same city!
You both have quite diverse educational backgrounds in fine arts, photography and art history. How has this influenced your work? JACLYN: Having strong backgrounds in art history gives us an unending source of inspiration and the work is strongly influenced by art, though primarily Orly’s art. We look at so many different things when we design, everything from antique body armour to Japanese weavings to circus clowns. ORLY: I studied fine art so I don’t really have as diverse a background as Jaclyn’s. Although I did intern for a congressman one summer when I thought I might get into politics (right before I realied I wasn’t going to be an investment banker). It’s been pretty clear to me for a while that art is all I’m really decent at (and now jewellery). Since I’ve been so focused on making art,
fashion world is new for me. I was surprised to see how many similarities there are in the way the work is made, and thought about. What is the concept behind your designs? JACLYN: The original concept was to see how Orly’s artwork could translate into jewellery, though that has evolved as we continue to grow the line. The jewellery is all made by hand without hooks or needles. The pieces juxtapose the industrial ropes from Orly’s art with my design aesthetic. The result is jewellery that is delicate in the detailing yet powerful and strong when worn. ORLY: We want to make pieces that are memorable. Every piece has its own strong personality but still belongs to the “family.” We are interested in the visual elements of strength contrasted with the delicacy of fragility. How did this concept come about? JACLYN: It came about very organically. The work is very process based so a lot of what we do happens as we play with the materials. What other influences would you say affected you in your designs?
ORLY: We are influenced by a wide range of things, from circus elephants to tribal wear to music. We draw from an endless amount of inspiration. Most predominantly at the moment it would be from the fine arts. Each piece in our upcoming SS’10 collection is named after a female artist. You’ve received quite a lot of press for your unique designs. What was the moment you realized you’ve made it in the fashion design industry? JACLYN: (laughs) I don’t know if we’ve made it yet, but hopefully someday soon. It is all very exciting and every piece of press we get helps us move a little forward. But being on Vogue.com and Style.com was amazing. ORLY: Made it? Who? Us? What in your perspective makes jewellery design different or unique from other fields of design? JACLYN: I like jewellery design because I feel like more people are a little more bold or adventurous when they wear jewellery than clothing. This gives us more freedom to go crazy
and still make something that can sell. I also really like the personal connection people make with jewellery. Pieces become very precious to their owners, almost like another limb. Who would you like to collaborate with in future projects? JACLYN: We’d love to do something for another brand and play with someone else’s aesthetic. Marc Jacobs? Stella McCartney? We’re aiming high! And finally, do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to update our readers about? JACLYN: We’ve just done a collaboration with VPL by Victoria Bartlett and will have large body pieces in her runway show in September at New York Fashion Week. We are very excited. Orly will also have a large sculpture in the middle of the catwalk. ORLY: In addition we will be producing a very special limited edition line that will be influenced by my upcoming installation at Mass MoCA.
The interview with Genger&Mayer was conducted prior to New York Fashion Week S/S 2010 with rave reviews following their runway collaboration.
The hyped and long awaited second issue of leading fashion illustration magazine, Sketchbook, is now at your fingertips. After an exciting F...