Friday, 7 October 2011
For three nights during London's Design Festival, Franklin Till curated 'Secret Sensory Suppers', a series of culinary events designed to push the senses for an eating experience with an unexpected twist. The evenings were hosted at east London Hotel Andaz (Liverpool Street) and took on three themes: 'A Visionary Feast For the Senses', 'A Sensual Night of Taste and Touch' and 'Masonic Supper'. Each evening was an individual collaboration that transformed the hotel into an experimental space, involving everything from string quartets, film, scenting, blindfolding, ice sculptures and secret societies. Franklin Till worked with Bompass & Parr, Caroline Hobkinson and Silent Studios to invent the varying themes which involved such feats as suspending bread rolls in mid air from helium balloons as seen here....... all finished off with specially designed black and white table wear inspired by the dining room Freemason's checkered floor by Rian Crabtree.
This time last week I took a train from one end of the country to the other, up to Newcastle to take part in an evening workshop event at Shipley Art Gallery to discuss accessories alonside the genius artist Nora Fok. This kind of organised community get-together is such a lovely way to discover new approaches to creative thinking by engaging in learning skills and simply interacting with like minded locals.
The beautiful gallery of design and contemporary craft currently has a retrospective show of the jeweller Nora Fok who's work is breathtakingly inconceivable in its intricacy and other-worldly tactile quality. We have a similar practise of using unexpected lowly materials to create our work and parallel preoccupations with natural form and structures. We also both make one-off art works that are constructed to be worn or displayed as decorative items in their own right. However, Nora's back catalog of work is entirely unique and like nothing else I have ever seen before. You must head over to her site to see a little taster of some of these bizarre and beautiful objects inspired by such sweet things as bubblebath recreated in woven nylon micro-filament. Here you can see her demonstrating a rainbow slinky necklace which Ive mirrored with a snapshot of the new Gateshead Millennium bridge which blinks in colours across the Tyne River near the gallery.
Nora brought these examples of her accessories to the workshop for the attendees to get their hands on and have a go at wearing in different ways ......... but to see the delicate and epic complex larger constructions like "Condensation" you really need to go to the actual exhibition to see for yourself ............ Cloud Nylon Exhibition ........
Thursday, 6 October 2011
We sleep together tight, you and me,
like the two figures of my age –
and if one in his sleep turns
the other immediately fits in –
the two threes;
it’s one week now that you’ve turned thirty
and got yourself a three, not followed by a number
but the roundness of your womb
(and still, the roundness of our stupor)
where someone has been living for three months,
we are three
(Thanks so my friend Vanni for sharing one of his poems with us for National Poetry Day. Here is a photo of the other two that make up the three)
Ever since I became aware of Walter Hugo's photographic work and insanely inventive self taught technique, I have been a big fan and fond of following his progress. Known for his pin hole camera portraits exposed on glass plates "Reflecting The Bright Lights", this new show takes a different direction in the physical process of developing the imagery. This time Sean has painted solution directly onto the emulsion surface of the wall, turning the gallery into a darkroom as a site specific show initially having used the space to shoot the fresco. The remainder of the collection are slices of another wall ............ his old studio which he took apart with a jigsaw to cut out the renaissance inspired nudes. Instead of being defeated and disheartened when served notice on his space due to a demolition sentence on his East London block - he switched the set-back into a positive purpose. To withhold memories from his chapter at the self constructed studio / gallery he came up with the "Developing Shadows" concept and used his surroundings as the material for the final pieces. You can watch this documentary clip to find out more...........
To see the show of portraits of his artist friends, head to The Cob Gallery NW1 6-29th Oct
To see his work for SHOWstuido "Practice to Deceive: Smoke & Mirrors in Fashion, Fine Art and Film" go here
Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Thanks to Robb Young for including my work in his feature about the burgeoning millinery movement of the moment. Its incredibly exciting to be mentioned in the International Herald Tribune and especially amazing to be included with all the designers which Robb has researched to make up the deeply astute investigation. Here is the copy of his interview with me, and to read the final piece head over to the paper's online version here.
Q: You are one of a new wave of about a dozen young, innovative hat-makers around the world who all seemed to have appeared around the same time and who are gaining notoriety. Why do you think this is happening now?
A: I think there is a combination of factors for women wearing more edgy accessories ............. due to diminished disposable income its easier to create a new look by simply adding an accessory to old clothes. In the same way that lipstick sales rise in times of financial depression, I think that accessories equally get a resurgence. Trend setters and style icons in the public eye have also been brave and experimental in recent times, which has given inspiration and reassurance that this direction is easily achievable with great results.
Q: Do you know many other hat-makers in your generation – is there a sense of camaraderie or being part of a creative club (as well as probably a feeling of healthy competition of course) among some of you?
A: In London, most of us know each other from the social aspect of going to the same parties. That could sound very clique but its actually quite natural, fluid and in the tradition of the citiy’s creatives coming together at nightclubs (sic Stephen Jones & Boy George). I have great respect for Nasir Mazhar and have been going to his shows since the very first one, which is always a personal highlight of the fashion week schedule. I also adore Noel Stewart’s collaborations on numerous catwalks and I blog his brilliant backstage snaps which he takes behind the scenes. I’m also friends with Piers Atkinson who I share both PR, stylist and interns. He is hilarious, genuinely lovely and extremely supportive so we have a very special bond and friendship.
I think that generally speaking, milliners are typically curious and funny characters by the nature of being attracted to that quirky discipline. It makes sense that they get on because they see life through a perculiarily silly sensibility. For example Charlie Le Mindu cracks me up with both his outlandish, unpredictable designs and conversation.
Q: The boundaries of hat-making haven’t been stretched this far for decades – not since the emergence of milliners like Stephen Jones and Philip Treacy. With their notable exception, most other milliners have been catering to customers who simply want a hat to blend into the rest of their outfit. Why have you gone the route of statement-making pieces?
A: My collections are wearable sculptures which can hang on the wall in your house as a decoration or slung on your body when you want to accessorize a look. A few of these styles are made for the head because the shape of the design lends itself to fitting on that part of the body. In the beginning of my design process when I’m experimenting with techniques in 3D macquettes and prototypes, I hold them up to a head and they invariably look like exciting fascinators just in that early developed state
Q: Famous fashion industry faces like the late Isabella Blow and Anna Piaggi have long been great fans of inventive hats. Who are their younger contemporaries now? Anna della Russo or Daphne Guinness, for example, perhaps? Or are there even younger fashionistas or fashion bloggers devoted to wearing hats who have serious influence?
A: Those two most definately have influence on fashion followers as they have the funds to afford exquisite hats and keep aquiring them to build a collection with a high turnover of new pieces to wear to to premiers and private views. For the younger audience I think its all about the pop stars and musicians who have built a persona on wearing hats, such as Paloma Faith, Shingai Shinowa in the UK and Nicki Minaj & Lady Gaga in the US. As for bloggers ………. I’ll never forget that overblown saga of Tavi Tulle getting told off for wearing a large hat to a show and blocking the view of the audience behind her front row placement.
Q: Do you agree that the wearing of hats is generally enjoying a renaissance among the fashion insiders and tastemakers in recent years? If so, why do you think this is?
A: If you can pull off wearing a hat well it looks sensational. Therefore I think certain stylists choose to wear a hat to stand out against their contemporaries of inordinately well dressed and groomed individuals. A hat instantly eminates a subconcious no-mess message of strength–in the way that air hostesses have caps to command authority and receive respect. If you have a killer pair of sunglasses and a stunning fedora, the world of air-kissing and transitory introductions is probably an easier exchange for fleeting fashionistas!
Q: Do you agree that, among mainstream consumers, the craft of millinery itself is undergoing an image “make-over” of sorts? From something considered to be only for your old auntie, eccentrics, or only at very formal occasions to something now that can be used by younger people in a relevant way and that is something perhaps even cool?
A: Yes, the market is shifting which can be seen in store such as Selfridges re-designing and dedicating a new space specifically to hats. Most highstreet shops have hairbands and fascinators in with their accessories carousels now – its great! Is cheap to produce a simple buckrum headband but looks really desirable on display.
Q: What role does the new generation of pop stars and celebrities who are more daring, avant-garde and extravagant dressers (and avid wearers of hats in music videos or red carpet appearances) play in terms of generating more real demand for hats at retail? Any specific examples of these famous faces and your products which helped yield concrete PR or sales results in any way?
A: For me, its absolutely been about the Telephone Hat for Lady Gaga which is always a fascination and draw for prospective clients. She is a definite key figure in forging headwear as a trend for forward thinking dressers with a strong fashion sense.
Q: Do you think that with so many royal weddings this year and also the attention paid to the other formal appearances by the Duchess of Cambridge (wearing hats) have also helped put the spotlight on millinery and hats again?
A: Yes, the front cover of this week’s issue of Hello! Is a montage of photos of the different hats she has been wearing at recent personal appearances – that is the news story!!! Lady Gaga never wears the same thing twice, so I wonder if that has had an effect on the royal stylists to keep up with this standard set by an American pop star.
Q: Which icons and what era inspires you most in terms of the hats worn?
A: I never look at straight forward sources for reference or inspiration. I’m more interested in the structure and form of the piece rather than the fact that its fulfilling a function on the head.
Q:What is it about the hat that can elicit such strong negative or positive feelings?
A: Its down to whether its being worn with ease and conviction or as an affectation. There is no room for mistake in this area! Either a hat looks sensational or terrible which is really down to the wearer and if they are enjoying the experience! There is nothing worse than a jaunty trilby – a quote I got from Simon Foxton once in answer to his idea of a fashion faux pas.
Tuesday, 4 October 2011
When Rose Blake asked me to put together a playlist for her site Studio Music FM I was in the middle of a hectic deadline ......... but I managed to find the time to do it because its the most fun thing Ive been asked to do!! I LOVE music and the prospect of compiling my favourite sounds to fill studios from the tunes of my own was an exciting challenge. I thought of tonnes of anthems that formulate the soundtrack to my working day and managed to edit it down to a neat top 10 selection which was a perfect and fitting collection to launch yesterday in the glorious sun .......... head over to the site to listen to the mix ......... (See also Tracy Emin, Peter Blake, Rob Ryan, James Long, Anthony Burrill, US etc.)
1) Sister Nancy - Bam Bam
Reminds me of when I first left home to live with friends ………. Freedom and free time at art school………. Good times!
2) Gil Scott Heron – The Bottle
This is what I learnt to dance to when I frequented the “Acid Jazz” nights at Colchester Arts Centre when I was a youngster. Totally timeless and cosmic…..
3) Bjork – I Go Humble
Always motivational to remind myself of what inspired me when I was growing up - to creatie uplifting work …………
4) Storm Queen - Look Right Thru
Recommended to me by the magnificent T.E.E.D ………. this track gets stuck on repeat a lot. The story behind the song is also amazing – the vocalist was discovered singing on the sidewalk in NY ……….. listen to the lyrics and it all becomes apparent……….. a little sentiment to have a reality check.
5) Janelle Monae – Wonderland
An incredible live act full of energy and fun – she’s genuinely having a blast which is contageous. I listen to the whole album from beginning to end ………. It’s a perfect journey ………… but this is the stand out ethereal tune.
6) Malcolm McLaren – Deep In Vogue
Ive only just found out about this incredible classic so I keep playing it to catch up on lost time………… I also like to have a little laugh at the career Im doing instead of getting caught up in the ridiculous stress. I much prefer to fantasise about the aspirationl dreams of “executive realness” from Harlem Vogue balls than the current commerce of the industry.
7) Wamdue Project – King Of My Castle
Always need a daily dose of garage. Between 11-12 we listen to Kisstory ……… it’s a shared passion of a genre with my studio mate Kim Howells. Sometimes we have video battles …….. taking it in turns to play a tune on youtube and out do each other on finding the funniest dance floor filler from back in the day …….
8) Les Rita Mitsouko – Andy
Im addicted to Radio 6. One Christmas I was so lonely working on my own in the studio that the only voices I heard from day to day were the djs. I rang in to be Steve Lamacq’s guest to have someone to talk to! This was the track I chose for my good day / bad day choice.
9) ODB – Shimmy Shimmy ya
This is the song that comes on at the end of the week when its time to put down the paintbrush and pick up a Red Stripe………
10) Massive Attatck – Hym of the Big Wheel
This just puts everything into perspective and sends a shiver down my spine .
Photo of my studio wall from Susie Bubble's preview of my S/S12 collection "Under The Colourful Sea"
Monday, 3 October 2011
Maarten Van der Horst
Fannie, Craig and Colin
More captions and treats captured by Piers Atkinson from The London Showrooms ........ I particularly love this Maarten Van der Horst collection!!
Sunday, 2 October 2011
Craig and Colin
James Long and Craig is blown away by beading
Sister by Sibling
Louise and her laptop
Mini kiwi fruit eat whole. We love them
Thanks so much to Piers Atkinson for snapping, compiling and sending this portraits of the designers in the London Show Rooms currently in Paris for sales during fashion week. Its Piers first time in the showroom and it looks like they are all having a great time getting to know each other!! If you are in the city and would like to preview his collection alongside the others and meet the designers, here is the full list and details of venue and contact:
Christopher Raeburn, Craig Lawrence, David Koma, Dominic Jones, Fannie Schiavoni, Felicity Brown, Holly Fulton, J.JS Lee, Jordan Askill, KTZ, Louise Gray, Mark Fast, Mary Katrantzou, Michael van der Ham, Nasir Mazhar, Palmer//Harding, Piers Atkinson, Simone Rocha, Sister by Sibling, Tim Soar,Todd Lynn,Yang Du, Fashion East: Elliot Atkinson, James Long, Maarten Van der Horst, Marques'Almeida
Spring/Summer 2012: Thursday 29th September - Thursday 6th October 2011 | 9am - 7pm
Le Loft – Off rue Saint Antoine 28, Impasse Guéménée, 3 Cour Bérard , 75004 Paris (4eme), Metro Saint Paul
General information on LONDON show ROOMS and buyers please contact:
Barbara Grispini, British Fashion Council, firstname.lastname@example.org