Wednesday, 4 November 2009


This week I’ve had the good fortune of being invited to lots of press days in central London and discovered many great brands and designers some of whom were completely new to me. Over the next few days I’ll be posting some of the highlights....

Whilst not at all what I had expected to find at a fashion press day I completely fell in love with the floral installations of Melissa Riva. Located in the entrance of the spacious basement showroom Melissa’s arrangements could have come straight out of a Tim Burton film. Having set up her own brand aged 22 Melissa now literally caters for any occasion and likens her custom-made arrangements to couture fashion as no two bouquets will ever be the same.

A Dutch milliner who caught my eye is Irene Bussemaker whose quirky range of SS10 hats are simply amazing. Absolutely loved her vintage inspired designs from the beautiful multi-colour patterned silk through to the more individual monochrome styles– cleverly showcasing her diversity which she probably attribute to her stint as Phillip Treacy’s apprentice.

Inspired by world travel and the spirituality of Yoga and meditation luxury jewellery brand Satya create items using only sterling silver with some being dipped in gold. Really like all of the gold chains– and love the mannequin’s look of wearing them all together– a trend I might be following next summer if I can source the cash that is.

Another great designer who didn’t disappoint is Qasimi who’s beautifully coloured ancient spiritualism of the Byzantium era inspired collection featured many a big shoulder creating a beautiful line and silhouette embellished to the hilt with Swarovski crystals, studs, stones and antique materials all hand sewn. Drawn was I like a magpie to shiny objects, I’d simply love to play dress up in these show stopping pieces.

A controversial designer whose work I had never seen up close and personal before was Charlie le Mindu. Yikes! is the only apt word that describes his collection. It was amazing to see and examine the detail and quality of his pieces from skirts with poker straight then crimped hair down to his flesh coloured PVC bodysuits.

What was most shocking to me and at the same time most appealing was his travel bag which in addition to human hair featured a pair of antlers as decoration for the handles and the four feet of an animal (perhaps the same deer?) to prop it up. Absolutely an astonishingly amazing design which was clearly painstaking executed to perfection. Whilst I respect the immense skill and innovation of his work I can say with great certainly that I am not Charlie’s ‘target’ consumer. I mean, what would PETA say?

A stand out favourite of the showcase for me was the collection of Omer whose pleating skills are absolutely phenomenal. From the polyester statement piece situated near the entrance made to look like newspaper or the highly wearable and sexy silk dresses, his collection is vibrant and kooky with mass appeal.

What I love most about Omer’s collection is his ability to fuse ideas by juxtaposing features of different periods which is reflected in his elegant shift dresses which feature luxurious silk pleating around the shoulders and Pop Art-esque belts printed with exposed camera film– genius.

Other stand out pieces include the Madonna circa the Immaculate Collection pleated silk corset , which was displayed in its two colourways with a plastic chicken hanging upside down between them. Whilst a tad on the kooky side there was thankfully a very plausible explanation for this; chickens were the inspiration for this collection.

What I admire in Omer’s work is his clear attention to detail and coupled with his neutral colour palette of flesh, cream, grey and black his designs are both classically chic and timeless.
Another designer who caught my eye at the Blow press days was Keko Hainswheeler, whose work I recognised instantly as he was the best model for his wacky embellishments whilst on season three of Project Catwalk. After unfortunately being voted off in the second round Keko has gone from strength to strength producing handmade commissioned pieces for numerous publications such as i-D and Dazed.

What I liked about Keko’s pieces was the fact that they’re so personal to him and reflect his personality. Expect lots of bright acid colours, ethnic beads and stones and plenty of embellishment. Reminds me ever-so-slightly of a young Judy Blame– one of my great fashion icons!

A designer whose sense of humour I absolutely loved was that of Norwegian Fam Irvoll. Her knitwear collection titled ‘I Love Gays' featured lots of cute and flamboyant accessories which included strawberries, bananas and cherries on necklaces, alice-bands and brooches.

Stand out pieces were her beautifully constructed sweaters which had large embellishments around the shoulders keeping in theme with several designers who opted to carry over statement shoulders for another season.

From strawberries to the cutest little mice Fam’s statement shoulders inject some much needed humour and wit making her dramatic garments knitted masterpieces. A personal favourite for me was the white ruffle detail strapless dress which had a large red headed soft doll attached to the front, which pretty much took over the whole dress. Brilliant for those who like to dress with LOTS of personality, but not to be worn by shrinking violets for fear that the doll might take possession of more than just the dress.

For those who like their purchases to be functional yet flamboyant London Undercover is a witty new brand specialising in injecting some life and much needed humour into the old British staple, the umbrella. Designed by British graphic designer and founder Jamie Milestone, this kooky debut collection of umbrella’s come in a variety of shapes and styles including a cafe table cloth with full English breakfast and Fish and Chips wrapped in newspaper.
Having already collaborated with London Underground and acquiring Paul Smith as such a fan that he’s stocking them in his own stores, I believe this is one young London label that is going to be huge! Absolutely love it and can’t wait to get my full English umbrella.

Last and by no means least I would like to introduce you to the work of J Smith Esquire and his eye-catching collection entitled ‘Light’. Comprised of both couture and ready to wear pieces each are made with personal treasures and beachcombed relics which are then woven together using subleached blond threads.

Themed around the idea of Shipwrecks this beautiful collection has an underlying nautical theme using lots of rope and antique lace to create truly unique and iconic statement pieces.
I’d also like to really briefly mention the work of Dean Sidaway who has created some show stopping embellishments for shoulders. Focusing on the strength and vulnerability of the shoulders Dean has redefined their role upon the body by creating innovative organic shoulder-pieces from naturally sourced and inspired materials– such as they keys piece (pictured). Each piece is aimed to serve as a pocket of memory, with romantic wings evoking the nostalgia of the past.

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