Tuesday, 14 February 2012

London Fashion Week Sneak Preview

Ada Zanditon Collection
Check out my London Fashion Week Sneak Preview at http://www.thelondonword.com/2012/02/london-fashion-week-sneak-preview/

London Fashion Week: Feb 17-22, 2012

London Fashion Week Sneak Preview

Ever since the house of Alexander McQueen announced that they would model McQ on the London Fashion Week catwalk in February 2012, this too-cool-for-school label has been the talk of the town. Designed for the fashion-savvy young customer, at more affordable prices than McQueen’s kooky couture, McQ is set to trend on Twitter this coming week, as plaid signatures and seaweed-like goth frocks strut down the ramp. Creative Director Sarah Burton promises that the collection, the highlight of the LFW Monday round-up, returns to McQueen roots – street-style with great fabrics and cuts.

This announcement came hot on the heels of Stella McCartney’s promise to feature her Olympics-inspired evening-wear collection at LFW (this Saturday). Having dressed Kate Winslet’s luscious curves in a red Octavia dress (where swimming gear meets Betty Boop) for a Paris film premiere last year, not to mention several A-list celebrities like Liv Tyler and Susan Sarandon, McCartney is planning to set the track on fire this summer as Creative Director for Adidas Team GB.

But these are only two of the names on the fashion hotlist. Daniella Issa Helayel, who finally established herself on the fashion map in 2010 with The Engagement Dress, and whose name popped up in fashion mags second only to Sarah Burton’s last year, brings her slinky wearables and her Ascot-chic to LFW on Saturday. The catwalk event features her Brazilian love for colour and her trademark figure-kissing silhouettes. Does anyone else think that her Sp/Su 2012 Collection looks like it is designed exclusively for Kate and Pippa?

Meanwhile, Mary Katrantzou launches her colourful and girly Longchamp and Topshop lines this month; Henry Holland brings us his House of Holland collection that he says is inspired by a mating of Mork and Mindy with the Tour de France; and Vivienne Westwood goes metallic after featuring all of last year in a Kensington Palace spectacle called Enchanted Palace. Then there are the usual staples: Burberry, Mulberry, John Rocha and Jasper Conran.

Don’t forget to check out LFW off-the-catwalk events. The Good Fashion Show on Saturday brings twenty-five eco-fashion designers and a fair-trade market to London House, while Ada Zanditon’s mating of urban fashion with bio-mimicry and seahorses will be shown on screen at Somerset House on Friday. The British Fashion Council hosts the International Fashion Showcase all month, and The Christian Aid Collective puts together a masala of live graffiti, dance and deconstructed ethical fashion in a mid-month extravaganza at a secret location!

Don’t miss the fashion ton that will undoubtedly grace the front row at LFW – though it is possible you might only see an occasional nostril twitch from this lot, with a surfeit of air kissing and uber-serious note-taking thrown in for good measure.

Look at the full schedule of delights at http://www.londonfashionweek.co.uk/catwalkschedule_AW12.aspx and check The London Word blog and Twitter updates for the latest news, gossip and pictures. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Cabinet of Dreams

Published on London Festival Fringe http://londonfestivalfringe.com/general/post/?p=15361

Is your girlfriend the kind of woman who suppresses a yawn when you hand her a bouquet of red roses on Valentine’s Day? Does a box of chocolate hearts make her smile politely as she chucks them in the back of the fridge? You get her a scarf (yet again – making it a grand total of sixteen so far), or worse, a generic tube of Body Shop body butter, and she stashes them away to re-gift to her girlfriends. In all probability, then, as February 14 approaches, you are starting to look a little red-eyed and twitchy. Fear not. Women’s Aid and advertising giants Grey London may have just the ticket for your tree-hugging, soup-kitchen-loving girlfriend.

Take a walk through Soho and discover a little gem of a concept store on Noel Street. Domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid are giving you the chance this February (until Valentine’s Day) to visit this store front that houses a 3D installation of quaint bell-jars – some chocker-block with chewy sweets (A Portion of Spoilt Rotten, by Suck and Chew), others that house tiny Doll’s House type characters reading a book, enjoying a quiet moment together under a wintery tree and a romantic lantern (Some Old-fashioned Romance, by Marie-Louise Jones).

You can text the number written next to your favourite gift, and donate a little to Women’s Aid. Your girlfriend will receive her virtual gift via a text, telling her that you care about the very real problem of domestic abuse. The shop front includes interpretations and illustrations by London’s top artists, like Rob Rylan, Kyle Bean, Fred Butler, The Last Tuesday Society, and others

One in four women experience some kind of domestic abuse in their lifetime. As Nicola Harwin, Chief Executive for Women’s Aid reminds us, relationships based on abuse can often look perfectly innocent on the surface, but can revolve around a cycle of controlling behaviour and gift-giving. Women’s Aid work tirelessly to change national policy, raise awareness, and give advice and counselling to women in need. Give them a helping hand this February by buying a gift that really matters. 

Cabinet of Dreams
The FrameStore, 9 Noel Street, W1
Until February 14, 2012

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Ethical Designer: Ada Zanditon

If you want to know what a mating of Yohji Yamamoto’s theatrical deconstructions with Biba’s retro-chic would look like, check out Ada Zanditon’s Sp/Su 2012 collection Poseisus. But Zanditon’s collection goes far beyond this improbable mating to bring in the added element of sea horses. Yes, I said sea horses. Odd, elfin creatures called the Short Snouted Seahorse and the Spiny Seahorse that can be found in the Thames give the collection an underwater, mermaid-like feel, and create structures using one of Zanditon’s pet techniques – bio-mimicry.

Bio mimicry creates human-made structures, and aims to find solutions to human-created problems, by mimicking biological processes found in nature. This gives Zanditon’s work an intensely organic feel. The fabrics in Sp/Su 2012 look as if they have a life of their own. As if the print is nestled in the fabric, rather than imprinted on to it. An off-shoulder monochromatic dress with this under-the-sea feel could well be worn to a nightclub, but look again. A white fin flaps down from the waist and deconstructs the Friday-night-on-the-town feel of the dress. In other numbers, splashes of fuchsia bring to life swathes of white chiffon that Aphrodite would happily wear for her emergence from the sea.  

Zanditon is an out and out Londoner. Having trained at the London College of Fashion, she quickly made her way on to London Fashion Week schedules, and is at the moment busy preparing for London Fashion Week in February, 2012. Each of her collections starts with a scientific or architectural concept. The Sp/Su 2011 collection titled Pyramora was inspired by Egyptian pyramids and threatened coral reefs of the Red Sea. Geometric shapes – and we saw a lot of those in 2011 – and bronze pillars create sculptural sheaths, with organic corals sprouting from the shoulders, or growing all the way down the front of the dress. Over a cup of Fairtrade tea, Zanditon’s favourite topics for conversation may well be the bacteria found in Arctic ice and nature’s favourite processes of evolution.

But Zanditon is not just a cerebral chick. She is attempting to put her money where her heart is – in finding sustainable and ethical ways of making her art. She has been awarded the Ethical Fashion Forum Award for her commitment to eco-friendly fashion, and a British Fashion Council eco-fashion mentoring fellowship. She supports charitable causes like The Seahorse Trust and The Bat Conservation Trust, and is a member of the Fairtrade Collective. To take it further, all her consciously-sourced fabrics use dyes that are free of cancer-causing AZO.

Check out her creations at www.adazanditon.com, as Zanditon works hard at creating art while preserving the bio-diversity that is constantly under threat on our planet. 

Article upcoming in The London Word

Ethical Designer: Beyond Skin

Do the words vegan footwear make you clutch your hair in despair? Do nightmares of outrageously comfortable shoes that look exactly like pixie ears pass through your brain? You don’t want to join the banana-skin-eating brigade, you say? Beyond Skin vegan shoes may just change your mind. Maybe you won’t become a raw-food Nazi overnight. And maybe pepperoni pizza will still beckon of a Tuesday evening. But Beyond Skin pumps are more feminine and flirty than Deborah Kerr. And more sexy-assassin than The Bride. (Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration.)

The Beyond Skin story is one of survival. It’s what your grandma used to say about success. Talent is great and all, but perseverance despite setbacks is what will get you there in the end. For Beyond Skin, the vision to produce cute vegan shoes that harm “no humans, animals or small children” began in 2001. The idea was to produce the shoes locally in the U.K, supporting local industry and enterprise and featuring ethical business practices. But it was two years before the small team even found their first factory - which went bust soon after.

Two defunct manufacturers and many demoralizing years later, a family-run factory agreed to produce their shoes, and Natalie Portman took their label to the first step in its long-term vision by wearing Beyond Skins to The Golden Globes and in the film “V for Vendetta.” A boutique line of high-end, designer footwear called Sui Generis was born, but the team quickly realized that in order to offer wholesale, relatively affordable shoes to a wider clientele than Natalie Portman, they would have to consider manufacturing options outside of the U.K. Now their wholesale line is produced in Alicante, Spain, and Beyond Skin is based in Brighton.

Says designer Natalie Dean, part of a small and friendly team of young people, “We do not use any animal products in the creation of our shoes. All our production is in Spain and all our materials are either Spanish or Italian and sourced as close to the factory as possible. Our focused eco fabric is Dinamica, which is made from 100% recycled PET plastics (water bottle lids), is fully sustainable and so durable it is used by Mercedes Benz and Jaguar for their high-end interiors.” Dean, a veteran of the music industry, and Heather Whittle, a graduate from Cordwainers, have run the label together since 2005.

Dean is inspired by Anita Roddick, who shared Dean’s commitment to the environment, and was the founder of the sustainable practices of The Body Shop and a passionate supporter of The Big Issue and other charitable causes. Other inspirations include strong, politically-awake women like Katherine Hemnett, who is famous for her business ethics and her political t-shirts (think Wham!, Wake Me Up Before You Go Go), and Blake Mycoskie who produces Argentinean-inspired TOMS shoes and is known for giving a free pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair that he sells.

Visit www.beyondskin.co.uk for news of Beyond Skin lines, and check out their winter sale that includes Joanie – a ballet slipper in red faux-suede; Vixen – uber-trendy wedge over-knee boots; and lush and sparkly Sirene pumps. Their Spring line is on sale soon, and Beyond Skin are soon taking their ethos into producing other accessories. Don’t miss them at PURE, London, in February, 2012.

Article coming up in The London Word

Designer to Watch: Funlayo Deri

So, what do you get when you mix a Nigerian palette with the minarets of Budapest and the design know-it-all of fashion capital London? An intensely modern collection of women’s wear with kooky cuts and breathtaking simplicity. Funmilayo Csilla Deri was born in Nigeria, and having traipsed her way through Switzerland, Hungary and North Wales, Deri is now a quintessential Londoner – belonging everywhere and nowhere at once.

After leaving behind a prosaic banking career that didn’t curl her toes, Deri, taking a leap of faith, trained at the Istituto Marangoni in London, and started her fashion label Funlayo Deri in March 2011. Her designs show the Marangoni influence in their trendy, melting-pot look, and reveal her startlingly postmodern sensibilities.

In her Sp/Su 2012 collection, a bias-cut silver sheath fits like a glove, and shows just a peak of an indigo animal-print slip underneath – a layering, you might say, of spaceage couture with a little Belle de Jour. Says Deri, “I design for the modern woman; she’s confident, sophisticated, captivating, a woman who loves life, is cultured, and has an individual sense of style. She is not a slave to trends, but is a trendsetter herself.”

Deri seems just as comfortable experimenting with silk, taffeta and crochet, as she is with earthier hemp, and mimicking this juxtaposition, her models, though dressed luxuriously in flyaway purples and chic geometric patterns, are often framed by industrial murk and urban skylines. The Sp/Su 2012 collection is inspired by architectural lines, and is a potpourri of the strident and the sexy. Her collections stem both from her mix of cultural backgrounds, and her mood of the moment. She chooses her themes “based on what is going on around me at the given time, and stirs me towards certain music, people, places, etc.”

Her Au/Wi 2011 collection displayed at Africa Fashion Week in New York, and Sp/Su 2012 at Felicities Presents, during London Fashion Week. Having started designing and sewing with her mother and grandmother, Deri now aspires to design for labels such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci. Her penchant for triangles and trapezoids show a glimpse of Balenciaga 2011 collections, and the influence of the granddaddy of geometric patterns, Yves Saint Laurent. Even from the time of her first collection Labour of Love, which Deri dedicated to the woman who labours, a collection that showed a mere hint of a distinctly personal style, but didn’t quite come into its own, Deri has travelled a long way in just a year, and her designs seem more comfortable in their own skin – a trait that they perhaps share with their dynamic creator. 

Article http://www.thelondonword.com/2012/01/a-designer-to-watch-funlayo-deri/
Check out Funlayo Deri at www.funlayoderi.com