Friday 29 July 2011

Brand Of The Week: United Nude

Last week I was invited down to the soft launch of a new footwear store to hit the heart of Covent Garden, United Nude. Tucked neatly around the corner from the tube station on Floral Street, this vibrant new concept store opened its doors on 20th July. A brand founded by Rem D Koolhaas and seventh generation shoemaker Galahad Clark (yes, I do mean of high street footwear store Clarks fame), United Nude was launched in 2003.
Deftly fusing the spheres of architecture, design and fashion; United Nude work tirelessly to drive the footwear industry forward. From injection moulded shoes to high-end carbon fibre heels, the brand focuses on conceptual design (that at times appears to defy gravity), elegance and innovation. Signature characteristics of the brand that are akin to DNA are evident throughout the expansive range of shoes, linking directly to the interior and concept of the stores, all devised by architect and creative director, Rem.
Whilst visiting this first stand alone store in the UK I was lucky enough to get a personal tour from Rem himself, who was bursting with passion for his brand and product, excitedly talking me through the range, which even includes moulded carbon fibre chairs, based on a classic Eames design. As a trained architect, Rem is as equally passionate about the construction and aesthetics of the stores as he is the intrinsic design and integrity of the products.
Mirroring their Amsterdam flagship store and the 2010 New York and Shanghai openings, each outlet follows the brand’s ‘dark shop’ concept, which means the store is completely dark in all areas other than where the product is displayed. Literally highlighting and illuminating shoes in their trademarked Wall of Light, the brand have devised unique technology that consists of a computer controlled installation that displays each product as a work of art encapsulated in a geometric frame.
With several metres of the store (from the entrance to the rear), taken up by a curved Wall of Light, and full-length mirrors wherever possible, the space is stark, minimalist and feels cavernous. So much so that one can imagine it’d be a pleasure to visit even on Saturday lunchtimes when other stores would feel rammed. A beautifully orchestrated design, I can imagine this innovative space doubling up as a great events location.
Having met Rem in person, the story of how the brand was formed begins to make a little more sense, as I saw firsthand how infectious his passion is. Almost a decade ago Rem was heartbroken and attempted to win back a girl by downsizing architecture to its smallest and most vulnerable scale, that of a woman’s foot. In working on this project, Rem created what was later to be named as the ‘Möbius’ shoe, which would go on to be nominated for a Rotterdam Design Award.
When Rem and Galahad first met, Galahad saw the ‘Möbius’ shoe design, and he was instantly convinced that a new brand had to be formed. Then came the name. United Nude derived from the fact that products evolve from international teams in an open way with direct recognition.
Since the‘Möbius’ shoe’s release in 2003, United Nude has established itself as an iconic brand at the intersection between design and fashion, creating dozens of new lines each season. Specifically for SS11 United Nude has launched a menswear collection, which even to my eye is just as tantalising as the women’s. Continually pushing the boundaries and creating new constructions and styles such as Abstract: a vertiginous heel with a platform base. Comprised of wooden blocks to form the heel, the construction is rustic and well altogether Abstract.
Unsurprisingly the pairs of shoes that most caught my eye both taking pride of place in the window and in store were those created in collaboration with Iris Van Herpen for SS11. Available as a sculptural high-heeled platform ankle boot adorned with a complex weave of leather lace detailing or elegantly draped with thin chains, the intricacy and precision of these beautiful shoes are testament to the fact that they are 100% hand crafted. With only 100 limited edition pairs, these are sure to sell like hotcakes.
Of the collaboration Rem says: Working with Iris and being an admirer of her work has been a real pleasure. The result of our collaboration this season is truly about facilitating her captivating work in fashion. In the process the shoe that we created together is a product that stands on its own and gets attention for all the right reasons.
My favourite products in the store were the 'Elastic Tango Hi' shoes below, the ones I was thrilled to be offered to take away with me (the 'Universal Lo', above), and the 'Stealth' hat – very cool indeed!
Currently sold in over 40 countries worldwide, there is no stopping United Nude.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Art-iculate: John Rose - Water MMXI

Early Summer. Warming. Wind and scudding clouds allow blue to break dark lines through canopy by John Rose. Images courtesy of Paget Baker
A good few weeks ago I visited Gallery 27 in the heart of Mayfair to check out the stunning new exhibition by John Rose titled Water MMXI. Comprised of a selection of contemporary photographic based works, this groundbreaking series of work centres around themes of fluidity, texture and the tranquillity of water, exploring in particular, the fleeting moments of moving water. Looking in particular at how seasons affect the appearance of water, Rose brings a perceptive originality, documenting the variety of colour, pattern and texture visible in different seasons.
Spring Bright
Strongly against the trend to manipulate modern photographs, Rose favours ‘untouched’ moments that depict his subject as he saw it then. Rose is particularly interested in the unaffected spontaneity of an instant; stating that “these influences, such as... water speed, particles suspended, temperature, wind, cloud cover, seasonal and emotional circumstances, provide a boundless palette for exploration.”
Spring. Cool waters running over lush green weed
The transience of water is central to his work; the artist presents images that are indicative of the passing of time, capturing ephemeral moments, which he flawlessly translates into print.
Rose's work also appears in Quintessentially Living 2011, along with information about his bespoke luxury design company, Charlie York who celebrate the complex beauty of the familiar.

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Kipling and Silver Spoon Attire at Selfridges

On Saturday I was invited to Selfridges to have a sneak peek at the Kipling and Silver Spoon Attire customising event, which will be taking place in Manchester, Birmingham and London again over the next few weekends.
At each event, Kipling commandeer an area of a department store and set up a customising booth where anyone who purchases a bag from the Kipling Back To College range in-store on the specified day will be able to customise if free of charge.
Comprising of a brief consultation with the Silver Spoon Attire team - who have worked with the likes of Eliza Doolittle, Rhianna and Tinie Tempah - shoppers will be able to personalise their bag with a variety or pom-poms, tassels, pins, badges and varsity style lettering, all arranged by the team in any way you desire.
Check back in next week when I’ll post a picture of my very own customised rucksack!

30th July – Selfridges, Old Trafford Centre
6th August – Selfridges, Birmingham Bullring
13th August – John Lewis, Oxford Street, London
17th September, John Lewis, Stratford, London

Monday 25 July 2011

Hussein Chalayan at the V+A

Images throughout courtesy of Hussein Chalayan
On Tuesday evening I went to hear esteemed fashion designer Hussein Chalayan discuss his illustrious career thus far with The Sunday Times Style Fashion Features Director Claudia Croft. Held in the V+A, to mark the entry of some of Chalayan’s most iconic garments to the main fashion collection, the Q+A discussed all aspects of Chalayan's brand from his design aesthetic and cultural influences to consultation work and his view that ‘fashion is teamwork’.
A designer I have always respected and have been keen to learn more about, Chalayan is for me a bit of an enigma. There's no denying his innate ability to combine beautiful clothes with risk, something he cites as a trademark of his generation. "There's no one left from my generation, Lee [McQueen] was one of the last. We were all at Saint Martins around the same time and were incredibly ambitious and confident, having been accepted into such a renowned school. Brit Art was big business at the time and empowered us."

"I look at my designs and sometimes I can't believe I had the audacity to put stuff out there." Describing himself as an 'outsider', the designer views his work as a catalyst to learn about the world, taking advantage of his position and ability to travel and research. A self described ‘cultural animal’, Chalayan is often described as a minimalist and a conceptualist. Croft asked if these labels meant anything to him, and endearingly he said “No, it’s all rubbish really, it’s just language journalists use to categorise your work...” He feels he has created his own niche. A great orator, in a short space of time the audience really got to know the real Chalayan, giving brutally honest answers to both Croft and the audience's probing questions.
Although proud of his Turkish Cypriot heritage, which is a constant source of inspiration and is what gave him such a strong work ethic, Chalayan considers himself a Londoner, although he is quick to state that that does not make him English per say. Remarking that London is the most diverse cultural hub in the world, Chalayan finds it interesting that cultures are so apparent and isolated in London, offering Tottenham, Brixton and Chinatown as examples, and places where you can go to absorb a completely foreign culture, right in the centre of the capital.
When asked why he no longer chooses to show in London Chalayan cites but one reason: "some press go straight from New York to Milan, bypassing London altogether. The first season I showed in Paris sales rose dramatically... It was a simple case of numbers."

With an approach to fashion that hints at a new form of world science, Chalayan cites science as an inspiration, however argues that his work is 'not strictly science', instead evolving from the heritage of arts and crafts, creating garments that are 'good ideas, that are resolved well'.

When asked how he finds inspiration for collections Chalayan confessed that now that he has such an expansive archive he “likes to swim in his repertoire, rather than give birth to an entirely new collection.” He attempts to create collections that have feelings, which transfer to and empower the wearer. When asked by a member of the audience whether he has any intention to expand and widen the accessibility of his brand, Chalayan agreed that he needs to cater to a younger market with a lower disposable income, and unveiled plans for a diffusion line that ‘echoes the mainline collection launching in January’.

When discussing his garments becoming part of the V+A’s collection Chalayan commented that; ‘when you exhibit in a museum or gallery you are allowing yourself to be scrutinised in a much scarier way. When producing a fashion show, the designer gets to choose how long the audience get to look at each garment, but in an exhibition there are no rules’. Indeed Chalayan is a man who makes his own rules!

Friday 22 July 2011

Brand Of The Week: Vanessa G

Imagery courtesy of Goodley PR
A new brand on my radar Vanessa G, fuses the fields of fine art and fashion so well that each garment transports the wearer to a faraway and tranquil land.

Utilising the work of South African visual artists to stunning effect, a limited run of each exclusive range will be produced and sold along with a print of the original art work, enabling customers to not only buy their favourite pieces from the collection, but to get some new artwork too.

Launching in early 2011, this luxury label produces a variety of garments (suits, skirts, dresses and trousers), each with a unique landscape print.

Above are my two favourite garments from the SS11 collection which make me think of holidays and discovering new and exotic lands. Coupled with a superior cut and intuitive draping, each design is a winner.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

LCF Presents Catalytic Clothing (written for SIX Magazine)

Erin O'Connor in a still from Catalytic Clothing Film. Image by Adam Mufti, courtesy of LCF
Last week SIX Magazine was invited down to the headquarters of the London College of Fashion for the launch of their latest innovation; Catalytic Clothing.
Created in partnership with University of Sheffield and University for the Arts London, Catalytic Clothing is a collaboration that brings together the spheres of fashion and science, to explore how textiles and nanotechnology can be used to form a catalytic surface to purify the air in our environment.

Catalytic Clothing’s aim is to harness the power of a photocatalyst to break down airborne pollutants such as industrial pollutants and car exhaust fumes. Catalytic Clothing materials reorder the electrons in the constituent atoms of the fabrics to create a more reactive surface. These outer electrons then react with the water molecules in the air breaking them into two radicals (extremely reactive molecules). These radicals then react with the pollutants creating non-harmful chemicals as an end product.

Read the rest of the article here.

Art-iculate: Tracey Emin - Love Is What You Want

Love is What You Want, 2011, ©Tracey Emin, Photo: Kerry Ryan. Blinding, 2000, © Tracey Emin, Photo: Stephen White
A couple of weeks ago I popped down to the Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery to check out the Tracey Emin exhibition, Love Is what You Want. Supported by Louis Vuitton (whom Emin has collaborated previously), Love Is what You Want is on show until 29 August 2011, and is a highlight of the Southbank Centre’s celebration of the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Festival of Britain (with MasterCard).
 Series of appliquéd blankets (various dates) © Tracey Emin, photo: David Levene
The first major retrospective in London of perhaps the UK’s most prolific contemporary artist, I was extremely excited to return to the Hayward Gallery, and of course to step into Tracey Emin’s playfully ironic world. A feminist icon (whose work investigates issues such as violence against women, female sexuality and the use/ creation of ‘womanly’ crafts, most recognisable in her quilts), Emin’s work spans many mediums, all united for the first time (printing, drawing, painting, photography, film, sculpture, writing, neon texts and textiles), drawing together many of the artist’s more obscure works, mostly unknown due to their lack of coverage in the UK press for their supposedly ‘shocking’ content.
Series of neons (various dates) © Tracey Emin photo: David Levene
Using her own life and drawing upon personal experiences as the starting points for her work, Emin is a natural storyteller. Comprised of 13 parts (Neon, Film, Family and Friends, Early Work and Menphis to name but a few, split over five rooms), the exhibition starts with a letter by Mr Emin (Tracey’s dad) framed, and sitting alongside it her response. With Emin senior discussing his four vices: gambling, smoking, sex and alcohol, in what is a frank and in places painful letter, in the wider context of this exhibition the words seem even more poignant, and when compared with Tracey’s letter, it becomes very apparent that they are indeed father and daughter, with the apple evidentially not falling far from the proverbial tree. With both letters punctuated by poor spelling and words of longing, it becomes clear the inherited way of life that Tracey has been fighting since youth.
Salem © 2005Tracey Emin, photo: David Levene, White Rose, 2007 © Tracey Emin, photo: David Levene
Whether intended to be shocking and thought provoking, I am still not sure, however Emin has always been famed for her textual themed works, peppered with cute spelling errors such as ‘betraye’, ‘envey’, ‘beleave’ and ‘everythig’. Whilst funny and instantly apparent to many of the visitors on first glance, the spelling errors in themselves are rather beside the point, as there is a deeper message that resonates with the reader on a much less superficial level.
Hotel International, 1993, © Tracey Emin
The largest ever presentation of her most famous appliquéd Blankets, 12 are double hung in, including Hotel International (1993) and Psyco Slut (1999). Perhaps comprising Emin’s most personal works, the Blankets examine themes of love and desire, faith and trust, rather famously documenting her sexual misadventures. With signature phrases such as ‘Planet Thanet’ and Psycho Sluts’ featuring heavily, and imagery of fluffy white sperm attacking the Union Jack, for me the Blankets some up Emin at her most iconographic.
Knowing My Enemy, 2002 © Tracey Emin, photo: David Levene
With the Blankets and quilts displayed alongside Knowing My Enemy (2002), a partially-collapsed wooden pier that rears above visitors as they enter the exhibition - which proved to be a stark reminder that Emin grew up in Margate, Kent during the 1960-70s - it becomes apparent that like many of her fellow YBAs, Emin is most expressive and on point when working in large scale. Weather-beaten, precarious and essentially decaying Knowing My Enemy seems to be a very symbolic sculpture, although I could not quite place why. With reclaimed timber featuring heavily throughout Emin’s sculpture works and display plinths, there was an element of youth and cobbling together found objects that I feel really came through, showing a simplicity that was in stark contrast to other works displayed in this vast exhibition.
Black Cat, 2008, ©Tracey Emin, Photo: Todd -White Art Photography
With much of her work focussing on the darker aspects of life, Emin has been at the forefront of the British art scene since graduating from the RCA in the late 1980s. Whilst an exceptionally hard choice, I think my favourite works were those that featured towards the end of the exhibition, where Emin uses sculpture, writing and film to discuss her relationship with children. In the room titled Trauma, Emin had preserved tampons she used in the months after she had her second abortion. In some ways referencing themes Emin is most famous for, this room was very dark and to a certain degree made me feel uneasy as there was such a strong sense of unhappiness pouring from every piece of work. Perpetuating themes of isolation and desolation, sculptures such as two Little Coffins (2002), and The First Time I Was Pregnant I Started To Crochet The Baby A Shawl (1998-2004), really hit home. Most thought provoking was the 1996 film How It Feels, which was comprised of an interview after visiting the site of her second abortion years earlier. Perhaps hitting home for me, it was filmed in the courtyard of my secondary school, St. Marylebone. With themes of being unprepared and failure, the film made me imagine what I’d have done if I’d got pregnant at school and how different my own life might be as a consequence of whatever actions I took.

Coming in at a close second, I loved the Neon room which featured a series of phrases written in Emin’s hand, illuminated like something from the casino strip in Las Vegas – including a couple of pastel coloured silhouettes of the female form. Also reminiscent of a morose funfair, with poignant messages such as ‘I whisper to my past, do I have another choice’ emblazoned across a black wall, in some ways I felt that these were among Emin’s most personal works, seeing the artist take shelter behind strong, confident statements. Other works I had never seen before were in amongst Emin’s provocative drawings, mostly created as mono-prints, which all centred around the theme of female masturbation. What caught my eye were a series of embroidered white bed sheets which contained some of Emin’s most explicit language in white cotton, making the coarse subject matter not instantly visible to the viewer.

Littered with hard-hitting statements, humorous expressions and direct responses which explore the traumatic in life, Emin’s back catalogue (which begins in 1993, when she ran ‘The Shop’ in East London with friend and fellow YBA Sarah Lucas), expresses a deep longing for acceptance and to belong, which we see evident in her work throughout the decades, with the common theme of self-validation sought through sex offering a primitive and at the same time intellectual cornerstone of inspiration throughout her dynamic career.

Drawing upon a wealth of heartbreaking personal experiences, that some would choose to bury deep down, Emin’s work evokes something different with each piece. For me this groundbreaking exhibition sheds light on the new Tracey Emin, saying goodbye to her demons and chasing happiness.
It is of course very hard not to mention Charles Saatchi when contemplating Emin’s unprecedented rise to notoriety. Not taking any credit away from the artist herself, whose entrepreneurial spirit is outlined from the outset of this sprawling exhibit; visitors get to see a variety of intimate, irreverent and confrontational masterpieces that Emin financed uncompromisingly by inviting friends, collectors, and dealers to ‘invest’ in her creative potential by buying block- printed bonds. Shown for the first time in a series, Emin’s bonds – one of which was a small monoprint drawing complete with authentication stamps – helped her to fund what was to become The Tracey Emin Museum (1995-98), on London’s Waterloo Road.

In sum, this exhibition is one of the best retrospectives I’ve seen in years (since Richard Hamilton last year at the Serpentine Gallery), and perfectly proves why Emin is one of the highest earning and most prolific artists of her generation. Unfairly getting a lot of stick by the media in the past, this is Emin’s opportunity to hit back and explain in great detail the ethos and working practices behind her work, displaying the critical artists eye and unparalleled intelligence, guts and bravery to put her life out there so undisguised in her works, in some ways sacrificing herself for her art. A true inspiration for all women, Emin is the ultimate feminist artist we have practising in the UK, proving that no-matter where you come from and what you’ve done in the past, you can find inner strength to fuel a drive and a desire for success.
“I think all experiences add to make the person, but I could have done without the traumas in my life. What I’ve done is used my experiences to my advantage, turning the negative around to a positive. That’s one of the greatest things that trauma can teach.”
The ultimate exploration of self and spirituality, this exhibition left me doing some soul searching of my own, disarming my notions of what it is to be a modern woman, and what we can all achieve if we allow ourselves to explore the good and the bad life has to offer.

Monday 18 July 2011

SIX minutes WITH Kirsty Ward (written for SIX Magazine)

Image courtesy of Kirsty Ward
First entering the consciousness of fashion editors throughout London with her beautiful monochromatic Saint Martins MA collection back in 2008, Kirsty Ward has gone from strength to strength, honing her signature aesthetic for combining oversized jewellery with bold structure. Working with a plethora of contrasting fabrics from waxed cotton to streams of silk, complimented by hinge and rivet detailing, Ward is certainly not your average designer, earning her place as one of the most exciting young designers working in London today. SIX Magazine caught up with the busy designer to get a glimpse into her world.
Congratulations on the successful launch of your eponymous brand. Founded just last year, you’ve already been lauded as ‘one to watch’ and ‘a rising star’ by fashion heavyweights such as Elle, and Selfridges. Has this incredible response to your work taken you by surprise?
The support I have received so far has been great, there’s still so much more to achieve though. In terms of compromise, there’s always a balance you need to get right so your label can still be directional, yet sellable. This is something I’m trying to fine tune each season!
Read the rest of the interview here.

Thursday 14 July 2011

Hollywood Legends

Viewing the preview of the NPG Glamour of the Gods: Hollywood Portraits exhibition last week got me thinking about my favourite actors and actresses:
Rita Hayworth by Robert Coburn, 1946
Jean Harlow by George Hurrell, 1935
 Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan by Ruth Harriet Louise, 1921
 Marilyn Monroe by Ernest A. Bachrach, 1952
 Buster Keaton by Ruth Harriet Louise, 1929
 Ginger Rodgers and Fred Astaire by Robert Coburn
 Joan Crawford by George Hurrell, 1934
Veronica Lake by George Hurrell, 1942

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Art-iculate: Glamour of the Gods - Hollywood Portraits

Marlon Brando for Streetcar Named Desire, 1950 by John Engstead © John Kobal Foundation, 2011
Last Wednesday I went down to the National Portrait Gallery to view the iconic new exhibition, Glamour of the Gods: Hollywood Portraits. As a massive fan of the Golden Age of cinema (as I’m sure I’ve mentioned countless times), this exhibition is an amazing catalogue in who’s who of Hollywood heavyweights, and featured all of my favourite legends; from the smouldering Rita Hayworth as Gilda (1946), Marlon Brando for Streetcar Named Desire (1950, pictured above), Joan Crawford for Grand Hotel (1932), and Charlie Chaplin for The Kid (1921).
Louise Brooks, 1929 by Eugene Robert Richee © John Kobal Foundation, 2011
All taken from the John Kobal Foundation, this breathtaking exhibition features over 70 vintage photographs (mainly in black and white), spanning over 40 years (roughly 1920-60). With nearly 40 photographers work on display (mainly that of studio photographers), including Clarence Sinclair Bull, Laszlo Willinger, Bob Coburn and Ruth Harriet Louise, the most iconic images to my eye included glossy portraits of screen sirens; Norma Shearer, Veronica Lake, Jean Harlow and Joan Crawford all by the master, George Hurrell.
Marlene Dietrich on the set of Manpower, 1941 by Laszlo Willinger © John Kobal Foundation, 2011
The exhibition shows both iconic and previously unseen studio portraits of legends such as Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich, Vivien Leigh, Loretta Young, and Carole Lombard among others. These portraits are shown alongside film scene stills (often used for posters and lobby cards), including Lillian Gish for The Wind, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers for Swing Time and James Dean for Rebel without a Cause. The most controversial images I saw were of a relatively unknown Marilyn Monroe circa 1949; whose nudes shot by Tom Kelly made it into the inaugural issue of Playboy in 1953, causing much outrage, for the now famous Hollywood startlet.
Clark Gable and Joan Crawford for Dancing Lady, 1933 by George Hurrell © John Kobal Foundation, 2011
The film studios in Hollywood between 1920 and 1960 exercised an extraordinary level of control over the imagery of the stars they represented. The portraits they released to the public and press depicted the actors as glamorous and inaccessible, imbuing them with mystique, perpetuating the myth of screen gods and goddesses. These archive images depict a time before paparazzi, and these photographs distributed by the studios were the only vehicle of connection between stars and fans. Thousands of photographs would be sent out worldwide by the studios both to fans and to the best-selling publications.
John Kobal (1940-1991 – whose foundation provided all of the images on display) was a collector and author who methodically sought to understand the role of photography in the making of a Hollywood legend. He began collecting film photographs in the 1950s, visiting Los Angeles frequently when many of the major studios were being bought by corporations who cared little for preserving the history of the film industry.

At first his interest was solely in the stars and their films but his interest began to shift to the photographers behind the portraits, many of whom were still alive and accessible at this time. Kobal tracked down the surviving members of the circle of great Hollywood photographers and through a series of major exhibitions and books sought to attain for them the recognition they deserved. As a result, the significance of the Hollywood photographers is now widely acknowledged for their contribution to both the film industry and twentieth century photographic portraiture.
Glamour of the Gods: Hollywood Portraits is showing until 23 October.

Monday 11 July 2011

Fashion Brand of the Month: Yan To (written for SIX Magazine)

Image of Yan To, courtesy of Sian To
Beautifully unique in every way, Yan To is a true designer’s designer. Having converted from a career in corporate advertising to one in fashion design, To debuted his eponymous label in February 2010 with the landmark collection, One. A range primarily comprised of chic dresses with halter-necks and open backs, it featured the amazing ‘20 Marlboro Lite’ series which saw To experiment by burning holes in several dresses, after ‘attacking’ them with spray paint, displaying a unique and unrivaled resourcefulness and investigatorial approach to design.

A true risk taker, whose integrity is paramount to his brand, To is a rare breed in fashion actively promoting the concept of anti-fashion, opting not to work with a PR and to steer clear of celebrity endorsement, instead seeking to subvert what is expected at every turn. With an unprecedented respect for his customer base, To believes that gifting garments to celebrities is disrespectful to the people who buy his clothes, offering them garments to enhance their mood, but not dictate it.
Read the full article here.

Friday 8 July 2011

Brand Of The Week: Yingzhi Luo

Images courtesy of LCF and Yingzhi Luo
The last designer on my list of those to rave about from the LCF Loves show over a month ago is Yingzhi Luo or Chi Chi. Once again a nomadic theme shone through with a kaleidoscope of colour creating beautiful movements as the models sashayed down the catwalk. With acute attention to detail, and a plethora of plaits and beads featuring heavily; guests were excited (and scared in equal measures) by a variety of white pleated tribal masks, complete with beaded hair.
One of the most exciting designers to graduate from the Womenswear Technology BA course, Chi Chi is a finalist of of the WGSN Global Fashion Awards 2011 in the category of ‘Most Creative Student Collection’, a finalist of Nina De York Fashion Illustration Competition 2011, and has even been named as one of the ‘best fashion graduates of 2011′ by UK Vogue.
With an enthralling SS11 collection inspired by a trip to Tibet and China in 2010, Chi Chi based her colour palette on photographs, taken throughout her journey. The resulting colours are bright, vivid, and exude energy, which is symbolic of Tibetan people's kindness, boldness, faith and passion for their religion.
Utilising a variety of hand-dying techniques, frayed fabrics, plaits and beading embellishments, silhouettes are loose and breathable, reflecting the traditional shapes of Tibetan dress. With luxurious draped fabrics such as silk chiffon and silk jersey, layers have never looked so cool and casual.
Also inspired by Tibetan women's braided hair, Chic Chi translated this idea on to her clothing by developing complicated handcraft techniques such as macramé and knotting, finishing the macramé with coloured wooden beads, which symbolise the beautiful Buddha prayer beadhes.

Thursday 7 July 2011

PACHACUTI for the prize (written for SIX Magazine)

Image courtesy of Pachacuti
Accessories brand add trophy to their collection
A few weeks back one of SIX's favourite accessories brands, Pachacuti took home the (greatly deserved) prize in the fashion and accessories category at the 6th annual Observer Ethical Awards - dubbed the UK’s ‘Green Oscars’ - held on June 9th at London’s Victoria + Albert Museum.

The awards recognise the work of individuals and organisations across 12 S+E categories covering everything from fashion to businesses, blogs and campaigners. One of the most hotly contested awards, the fashion and accessories category sponsored by Vogue featured some pioneering designers and this year's other finalists were Christopher Raeburn, who deftly recycles re-appropriates parachute silk into catwalk couture and French company Veja, who make beautiful shoes from organic cotton and tree-tap rubber.
Read the full article here.