Sadie Williams and Marta Jakubowsi Wield A Sucker Punch Of Colour at London Fashion Week

The ‘insta-fashion’ of today lends a kind of high impact then fast fade to fashion imagery – blink and you’ll miss it.  It occurred to me today that the presentations I have seen at fashion week so far on day one are highly condensed, stringently edited and high impact.  Jammed with colour and unwavering in focus, they are a visual sucker punch that makes for great images ripe for social media – saturated colours, bold sets, texture, drape and exaggeration.  They are a distillation of concentrated strong visual ideas rather than a gently rambling or winding journey.  Kind of like the meat of the story, without the preamble or rounding-off.

Sadie Williams presented a glimmering gang in a folk art disco, mixing old and new on the textile front – 70’s glitter vibes set against retro-reflective ‘high viz’ trousers and corduroy accented with crystals by Swarovski – a pioneer in new technologies with an eye on robotic manufacturing, according to a recent interview with Nadja Swarovski for the McKinsey report on the State of fashion report,2017.  The collection was styled with Converse Chuck Taylors and elastic layered tights and socks smattered with holes by Wolford.  This collection was a fun textile and colour mash-up underpinned by textile mastery.

Marta Jakubowski‘s collection was understated and seriously focussed on turning childhood nostalgia into grown-up elegant tailoring.  The colours were rich and deeply attractive.  On the tube on the way home I considered researching the psychological effects of the deep, warm shades of purple and red in the collection to understand how they somehow ‘fill out’ the aesthetics visually – making the sum of the parts (tailoring and colour) so much greater than either individually.  I bet there’s enlightenment to be found, alas the scope of this piece is short given the gazillion words I want to write about all I have seen so far at London Fashion Week.  Suffice to say, it was beautifully elegant and desirable, not unlike Sade, who not doubt provided aesthetic inspiration for the cutaway polo necks and much of the soundtrack in the form of Sweetest Taboo, Chaka Khan and Tina Turner.  Sometimes simple is best.

Below is a list of the people involved in creating and presenting these collections.  I include these credits, which are on the designer’s printed show notes along with the back story of the collection, because the teams and talent required to realise these collections is huge and diverse.  I type these names to recognise their input (we’ve all been there, working behind the scenes and during the months of preparation) and to show the diversity of backgrounds of London’s fashion creatives.   Long may this diversity continue.

Presentation credits Marta Jakubowski:

Set Design: Gary Card; Styling: Tati Cotliar; Casting: Emilie Astrom; Make-up: Lucy Bridge @ Streeters; Hair: Mari @LGA Management usiing Bumble and Bumble; Nails: Imarni Ashman using Elegant Touch; Music, Elton Gron; Press release: Daryoush Haj-Najafi; Shoes: Jimmy Choo.  Special thanks:  NEWGEN Panel, British Fashion Council, Sarah Mower, Ash Smith, Ella Dror, Jade Willson, Laura Fairfax, Gillian Horsup, Vintage Models, Butler & Wilson.   The Marta Jakubowski team is: Zuzanna Szarlata, Alexandra Sipa, Ines Vilas Boas, Ashley Lee, Ellie Carless, Ash Chari and Audra Kreivyte-Krajewska

Marta Jakubowski showroom:  1-7th March, 3Rue Portefoin, Marais, PARIS, 75003

Presentation credits Sadie Williams:

Styling: Poppy Kain at Intrepid; Casting: Frances Odim-Loughlin; Set Design: Sean Thomson assisted by Warwick Turner-Noakes; Hair: Syd Hayes using Babyliss Pro assisted by Paula McCash and Josh Goodwin; Make-up:  Lucy Bridge using Mac Cosmetics; Nails: Pebbles Aikens at the Wall Group using Nailberry assisted by Brigita Backtye and Lyubomira Koukoutar; Soundtrack: Jackson Holmes.  Special thanks:  NEWGEN team, Topship, the BFC, Nadja Swarovski and team, Sarah Mower, Nora Wong, Arabella Williams, Eden Loweth, Francis Williams, Frida Agren, Jackie Lyall, David Lyall, Jess Kerntiff, Joe Williams, Joseph Horton, Justin Mansfield, Rachel Pelly, The team at IPR and all my family and friends, Stephanie Achonwa, Flavia Abbud, Emily Collier, Emily Coveney, Maddie Denman, Jennifer Drouguett, Florence Hutchings, Nadria Khan, Danielle Kidd, Lola Odumosu, Natalia Niclau, Clara Ormieres, Esther Richardson, Justin Rivera, Christina Ryu, Raiesa Salum, Aasia D’Vaz-Sterling, Nick De Vine, Sophia Messina, Dave Olu Ogunnaike, Hetty Mahlich and Eloise Andrews.

Marta Jakubowski and Sadie Williams are recipients of the Topshop NEWGEN award.

Header:  Marta Jakubowski AW17

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Raw Talent, Polished Just So at Central Saint Martins MA Fashion Show

Hello to the dreamers and freaks.  To singular vision, lawless ‘taste’ and committed, distilled design.  For everyone in the room who was once a fashion student, this show probably took them back to that time.  I know it did me.  It’s difficult to comment beyond the point that something about much of the work in this show felt like the work of students with unbridled creativity and devotion to their ideas – almost religious in its nature – and that was what made it moving.  It’s then that I realised what sometimes is lost in the rigour, perfection, slickness and ‘professional’ outcome of some student collections.  

I thought about how sometimes dramatic, oversized swampy shapes perfectly pattern cut can pass without impression, washing over us pleasantly enough but leaving no impression behind.  These collections had a rawness that left a lovely aesthetic and creative grit in their wake.  Enjoy the religious offerings of the MA Fashion Central Saint Martins students, 2017.  As judge Iain R. Webb, Fashion Features Editor-at-Large at Rollacoaster magazine and Professor of Fashion and Design at Kingston School of Art said in his closing remarks before announcing the winners of the L’Oreal Preofessional Creative award, which went to Stefan Cooke and Gabriele Skucas, “these are clothes created by individuals, for individuals”.  Fashion is about self-expression and we all want to be heard.

Students in the MA Fashion Central Saint Martins Show, 2017:

Markus Wernitzig, Robert Wallace, Emma Chopova/Laura Lowena, Li Gong, Johannes Boehl Cronau, Amir Khorasany, Stefan Cooke, Peter Movrin, Joshua Walters, Gabriella Sardeña, Qiying Fang, Gabriele Skucas, Oliver Thame, Tim Guy, Robert Sanders and Joshua Beaty.

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London College of Fashion Womenswear MA Class of 2017 Presents A Bold Textural Landscape

Tonight’s London College of Fashion MA class of 2017 were a group of ten womenswear designers selected from by a panel of judges including Natasha Jacobs, Head of Group Partnerships at Yoox Net-a-Porter; Melanie Rickey; Lucy Norris; Emma Hope Allwood and Susanne Madsen of Dazed Digital, alongside LCF Head of College, Professor Frances Corner and Dean of the School of Fashion Design Technology, Professor Jose Teunissen.

The show was underpinned by the bold and legacy-laden statement on the press release, encapsulating the London College of Fashion‘s position as a world leader in fashion design that has been nurturing creative talent for over a century.  “Students come from over 100 countries and develop fashion skills in many modes, according to the personal pursuit and leanings of each student, be they heritage, craftsmanship, high-tech practice, analytical skills, creative thinking or business acumen, amongst others”.

This show is the final, distilled expression of the students’ fifteen months of intense contemplation and creation in which a handful of pieces are chosen to speak for them as aesthetic storytellers.   The students were Vilu Du, Young Mi Kim, Wendel Heung, Hew Wang, Gergei Erdei, Katrina Wilson, Lorenzo Buzzi, Siyan Meng, Yuqing Lai and Chen.  Broadly speaking, an incredibly rich range of textiles were on show, and texture and colour were used powerfully by dialling them right up to brights and shine or down to nudes and neutrals.  The textiles had me snapping (photographically, rampantly) and it was a tightly edited visual feast that was over too soon.

Lorenzo Buzzi

Wendel Heung

Hew Wang

Gergei Erdei

Katrina Wilson

Siyang Meng

Yuqing Lai

Chen


I spoke to one of the MA students, Chen, after the show, and she talked through her journey from her undergraduate fashion degree in Shanghai, which she enrolled in after ditching an engineering degree just a few months in, only to realise now, in hindsight, that she has a hunger for technology and tools that transcend craft.  Tools that allow robust, commercial design.  Tools that allow complete professional creation and textile invention.  She found this in digital knitting.  She explained why quitting another degree part way through (an MA at Parsons, which she described as very conceptual and philosophical, encouraging social or political perspectives over aesthetics) to join the MA course at LCF was the right path for her.  Chen explained that her experience at LCF allowed her to take a grounded perspective on her design work, and root her point of view in aesthetics and the creation of honest, perfectly conceived and constructed textile 3D forms.


Excerpts: Chen Zhi portfolio

I enjoy hearing Chen’s perspective on design practice, and relate to her rejection of the conceptualisation of design over the celebration of aesthetics.  Why can’t clothing simply look and feel beautiful?  Does it have to have a philosophical leaning to have value, or to be ‘good design’.  “In modern art in the 1950’s, Picasso and others concentrated on form and aesthetics” says Chen.  “Why does current modern art so often overlook aesthetics for the sake of telling a story?”.  She goes on to explain that her work will be shown without the explanation of the design concepts and inspiration, so they must stand up for themselves, alone.  In utter admiration for her energy and verve post-show I bid Chen farewell and look forward to continuing this conversation with her after London Fashion Week.  For now, enjoy Chen’s collection.



In the next five years, LCF are moving to a new, unified home at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, heralding a new future for this historic institution.  As an LCF alumna, I am looking ahead and imagining a new era of  cross-disciplinary fashion practice and leaps forward for fashion tech, in particular.  LCF sits alongside UCL robotic faculty and Loughborough University Sports Science faculty, and will be located near the new Sadler’s Wells and V&A East, which are also setting up in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in the next few years.  These are exciting fashion times.

The work of the MA 17 graduates is on display at the show Found in Translation from 16th -26th February at the House of Vans, London.

Header image of Vilu Du: Techstyler

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Peter Jensen’s Greatest Fashion Hits – At Sweet Sixteen

Peter Jensen opened my London Fashion Week round of presentations, events and shows a day before the schedule kicks off in earnest in a behind-the-scenes invitation to see his lookbook being shot, which culminates the creation of the AW1 7 collection and opens the wholesale business selling season.  Peter told me that this open presentation style takes him back to the birth of his label, mirroring his first ever presentation back in 2000.  Peter set up at the Shacklewell Lane studios, just down the road from where today’s shoot took place and was the first of a number of designers to move in ‘when it still had a Vietnamese sweatshop in the basement’ and ‘you had to step over drug addicts to enter the building’.  Long gone are those days, but it’s surely a business that has solid foundations that is still based in the same studio post- East London gentrification, sixteen years down the line. 

Illustrations: Peter Jensen

Peter talks me through the collection, including a hand-illustrated female muses print, including Jodie Foster, Nina Simone and Shirley Kurata by Julie Verhoeven that adorns shirts and dresses, alongside his favourite corduroy, which he just can’t depart from due to his Scandinavian roots and the nostalgic memories the fabric conjures up.  His strong grasp on the commercial silhouettes that work for his brand, and explanations of the fabric compositions and weights that sell well demonstrate the maturity that comes with sixteen years in the business.  Hence this collection being entitled “Greatest Hits”.

Photos: Amy Gwatkin

This collection marks the Peter Jensen brand‘s sixteenth, and he’s not showing any signs of giving up the playful thread that has run through his collections to date.  I ask if adulthood in two years time will spell a grown-up direction, to which he laughs before introducing me to these pieces designed in collaboration with Nickelodeon to mark another birthday – SpongeBob SquarePants eighteenth.  Peter Jensen’s signature rabbit logo takes centre stage, alongside SpongeBob and his pet Gary.  Nickelodeon collaborated with a number of designers, including Jensen, for the 27 piece range which is part of the SpongeBob Gold brand, launching commercially in May.

Photos: Techstyler

The chance to see the team working on the shoot, the mood-boards informing the styling and photography and the collection details and textiles up close, as explained by Peter, helps to understand the entire commercial and creative aspects of the fashion business.  Fashion week often serves up one without the other, which isn’t bad, it just isn’t whole either.

Photos: Techstyler

Happy sweet sixteen Peter, and many happy returns.

Lookbook Credits

Photographer:  Amy Gwatkin

Stylist:  Alice Goddard

Models:  Maria Loks-Thompson and Sanne Bakker

PR: Village

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SIBLING Plunders Lady Di and Babs Windsor for London Fashion Week Show

Community is a concept generating a huge amount of buzz in digital terms in the fashion and tech industries, where brands and businesses engage customers online and build loyalty with the aim of learning more about them and increasing commercial success.  Another kind of the community is the one that is built by a group of people with shared values, where a dialogue about politics, societal shifts and popular culture in, for example, their geographical location, takes place – where all subjects relevant to the community are on the table and action via collaboration, creativity and inclusion happens at a real life level.  Enter SIBLING.

SIBLING is more than a fashion brand – it’s a physical and digital community.  In fashion as in language, the word Sibling means brother, sister – family and unity – which is what Cozette McCreery and Sid Bryan, designers and heads of the SIBLING squad, represent.   They have an extended family around them and are deeply rooted in the arts, music and fashion scene that began in East London way before it became cool, and even longer before the term ‘hipster’ was born and became attached to their stomping ground.

A SIBLING show is an expression of this extended family and the core values of Cozette and Sid and of Britain.   This season it was expressed by way of nods to Lady Di‘s ruffled collars of the nineties, a hat ‘fit for Babs Windsor at a wedding’, London’s Pearly Kings and Queens and jazzed up football socks by way of bows.  Way beyond aesthetics and stylistic leanings it celebrates diversity and self-expression, embracing the enrichment of British culture by other cultures, including the work of Reggae’s ‘Mad Scientist’, Jamaican Lee Scratch Perry, before side-stepping to that most beloved British holiday destination, Spain (I’m sure Babs Windsor would approve) to grab silhouettes from Toreadors and Gaudi’s Trencadis mosaic techniques to add to the mix.

Top: Lady Diana (source unknown), Centre: London’s Pearly Kings and Queens (source unknown), Above: Lee Scratch Perry, GQ magazine

My passion for knitwear is clear via my design work and I couldn’t get through this article without mentioning the extremely complex process behind designing, developing and creating knitwear, the core of the SIBLING brand.  Knitwear is more complex to create than cut and sew woven and jersey garments as it involves designing and constructing the knitted textile, then creating the garment, as opposed to buying lengths of fabric for cut and sew techniques which bypass the textile design and creation processes altogether.  More complex, time consuming and expensive it may be, but it also allows for a bold and focussed vision, as represented in SIBLING’s use of colour and pattern.

As the current day brunette ‘Lady Di’ strode past I admired the metres of ruffles linked onto the knitted jackets and the lovingly designed details including lurex trims.  The increased time and scope of crafting two combined mens and womens collections rather than four separate collections per year looks to have allowed SIBLING the opportunity to explore print and weaving in addition to knitting, so the Trencadis concept extended beyond the knits to printed sweaters and trousers.

Their shoe collaboration with Freakloset uses their bespoke customisation system, rounding off my review with a foray towards digital design and how technology is shaping the fashion industry across all areas of the supply chain, from design to sales and delivery.

Sibling X Freakloset A/W 2017 Photo: Freakloset

This SIBLING show was a celebration of friendship, collaboration, British values of diversity and inclusion – something we need to shout about in this currently polarising political climate – and gives the audience an insight into what this ‘close-knit’ (sorry, couldn’t resist!) team stands for.  It is fun and moving and it transcends fashion.  Onwards and upwards #SIBLINGsquad

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London Fashion Week Mens Gets Political – Designers Create Fashion Antidotes to Brexit and Trump

I’ve made the claim previously that fashion is most powerful when it has something to say, and London Fashion Week Mens shouted angrily to this end.  

Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as the US president have resonated with a swathe of London-based mens fashion designers, including Liam Hodges and Christopher Shannon, resulting in their angry bid to assert their voices of creativity, diversity and civil rights via fashion.  They channelled the UK’s (and perhaps the world’s) bleak political canvas into a colourful, textural backlash, with Liam Hodges asking where to find a “vocation in the decline of civilisation” (in this sector, fashion tech and materials science?) and an emblazoned sweatshirt with the parental warning “Our following EVENTS have been approved for ALL AUDIENCES by the International campaign for fear and Hysteria… PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned” via his Dystopia Lives! collection.  

The opening pastel-tinged denim of Christopher Shannon’s AW17 show lulled me into a false sense of security (in the form of appreciation of the neat jean) before the flag-laden faces in collaboration with Rottingdean Bazaar and the slogan sweats transforming benign fashion branding into statements on the current political state of affairs – Boss became “Loss” and Timberland became “Tumbleweed” – showed Shannon’s serious and stinging intent, ramping the show up to an outspoken and bold level.

Defiant slogans they might be, but that wasn’t at the expense of wearability and seriously well made clothes.  I won’t venture into critic territory about garment structure, textiles and details, not because I didn’t think they were extremely well constructed, but because fashion is subjective and this is simply commentary and reflection, I’m not a critic, rather a designer, writer and appreciator, and I’d wear the lot.   

Christopher Shannon’s AW17 collection in conjunction with Village, Hi-Tec, Revlon and Topman

Shannon’s show notes cite photographer Oliviero Toscani and art director Tibor Kalman, “founding editor of the pioneering COLORS magazine, which was at the forefront of embracing diversity in fashion” as sources of inspiration.  Judith Joy Ross’s Living with War also influenced the collection. 

          Photography: Oliviero Toscani Studio


Colours Magazine, Editor Tibor Kalman and United Colors of Benetton campaign, featured in Colors

Photograph: Judith Joy Ross. Living With War

I’m thinking back to Ashish’s brave and passionate political show at LFW for Spring Summer 2017 and hoping that this resonates through womens fashion week this coming season, as it has mens.  I contemplate the upcoming New York Fashion Week and wonder whether there will be any similar sentiment shared by designers there facing an era of challenging, nasty politics under the new Trump administration.  Will Putin get a (not so honourable) mention?

It’s brave for a designer to be so gobby, especially with the pressure of commercial sales targets and constant burden of turning a profit and keeping the wheels turning, but Shannon’s line of thoughtful and clever sloganeering is somewhat proven, with his current and previous collections bearing a corruption of Sports Direct as “Lovers Direct” and “Haters Direct”, currently in store at Selfridges.  

Fashion that provokes questioning and contemplation and contributes to social and political discourse gets my vote.  Slogan up! 

Christopher Shannon show credits:

Styling: Max Clark assisted by Julie Velut and Louis Prier
Hair: John Vial at UNIT 30 for Revlon at SALON SLOANE
Makeup: Andrew Gallimore and team at CLM Hair & Makeup
Face: Rottingdean Bazaar
Footwear: Christopher Shannon for Hi-Tec
Soundtrack: Maxwell Sterling
Models: Select
Special Thanks: Laura Davidson at Marks & Spencer

Dedicated to Richard Nicoll

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Fashion as a Tool For Expressing Identity and Sexuality – Art School Gets Personal at London Fashion Week Men

Fashion as a tool for identity and freedom of expression – Art School presented a mesmerising performance-based presentation in collaboration with director Theo Adams and choreographer Masumi Saito that evolved across several scenes with intertwined couples colliding, canoodling and clashing.  Art imitating life.  It felt like a series of tender and queer moments where not just the clothing, but the personal design philosophy of Eden Loweth, a BA Fashion graduate of Ravensbourne and Tom Barratt, an Art Criticism, Communication and Curation graduate of Central Saint Martins who together form Art School, was on show.  Every vantage point showed different unfolding storylines and it was constantly engaging with only a subtle beginning and faint hint of an ending to this rolling presentation.  This was their first presentation under their label Art School, setting the scene for sexual fluidity in their clothing and an art-driven point of view.  

The show notes cited the modernist Bauhaus collective and Diaghalev’s Ballet Russes alongside Derek Jarman’s Chroma as sources of inspiration for form, colour and pattern.  The notes were accompanied by the Art School Manifesto:

Teaming up with Converse and Swarovski and championed by Vogue and Love Magazine the duo look like they are tender heavyweights already.  I can’t wait for the next chapter, but for now, I have edited down to the shots below from hundreds I took as the gorgeous presentation unfolded.

**Thoughts about how this presentation may look in the future woke me up this morning – way too early – after writing this article last night.  It occurs to me that there will be another relationship to consider if art imitates life.  The relationship between humans, bionic humans and humanoid robots.  Casting my mind to advances in artificial intelligence and the film Ex Machina, and even current robot InMoov created by french sculptor Gael Langevin, it is not difficult to imagine that we will develop emotional bonds with robots in the not too distant future.  What will the dynamic of those relationships be?  How will our behaviours change once robots share our work and interact with us socially?  Forward to a brave new world.

Top, Ex Machina, Dir: Alex Garland.  Below, Gael Langevin and InMoov, photo: Gael Langevin

Credits:

Designers: Eden Loweth and Tom Barratt

Art Director:  Siobhan Cait Farrar

Stylist:  Ai Kamoshita

Makeup:  Rebecca Wordingham and the M.A.C PRO team

Hair:  Jonathan De Francesco for Babyliss

Set Design:  Alice Kirkpatrick

Nails:  Kimberley Nkosi using Elegant Touch and Nails Inc.

Muse and Collaborator:  Hannah Hetherington

Couture Underwear and Personal Mentor:  Lyall Hakaraia

Theo Adams company:

Director:  Theo Adams

Musical Director:  Jordan Hunt

Choreographer:  Masumi Saito

and Mariya Mizuno, Anna Lewenhaupht, Sophia Brown

All photos by Techstyler except where othewise noted

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Ravensbourne Students X VF Corporation Collaboration – A Show of Fashion Integrity

Who doesn’t want to be spoilt?  Drawing on inspiration from Traveller culture and a fascination with DIY objects and applications, the Spoilt team crafted an illustrated story of colourful and textured characters.  The collection included a pink paint print oversized duvet coat and and over dyed geometric printed puffa jacket.  The accessories included lace-up denim cuffs embellished with dangling multi-coloured acrylic nails.  Total embellishment abandon and a whole lot of fun.

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-13-03-55screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-13-02-25screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-13-02-01dsc04317The Spoilt team:  Including Jodi Feddon (far right) illustrator and designer

Spoilt were one of a number of teams of Ravensbourne students working on a live brief for VF Corporation, owner of a number of lifestyle brands including Lee, Vans and Wrangler.  The teams, comprising of BA (Hons) Fashion, BA (Hons) Fashion Buying and Brand Management and BA (Hons) Fashion Accessory Design and Prototyping students working in collaboration, were charged with interpreting a design brief set around the concept of the Lee ‘BODY OPTIX’ range which “combines visual science and design to enhance certain body shapes”.  

In pulling together this article, I researched the BODY OPTIX range on the Lee website and was horrified to find this borderline racist, body shaming language used:

“Scientifically designed by vision scientists and Denim designers, BODY OPTIXTMcombines the power of VISUAL SCIENCE and design to create jeans that flatters, enhances and shapes the Asian body. The application of geodesic shaping and precise laser anatomy warping gives you perkier backside and strikingly long legs, granting you a more feminine figure that is ideally proportional and attractive.”

This branding language, product and imagery (which I will not include here, but is on their website) merits a far deeper discussion around western influence on fashion and feminism, but in the scope of this article, I really want to keep the focus on what the Ravensbourne students created and how they succeeded in reinterpreting the brief towards utilising graphics, embellishments and downright visual distractions (acrylic nail fringing) whilst developing the textural interest and surface effects of the denim to elevate the humble jean –  none of which were fitted or body contoured.  In fact many were oversized and unisex.  The Ravensbourne students showed incredible creativity and design integrity, which makes the Lee branding and campaign seem even more dated and uninspired.

Foe took a darker stance than Spoilt, looking to Japanese Samurai and armoury to incorporate rivets and other hardware to hinge together accessories and clothing.  In their brand literature they state that Foe aims to attract a different type of consumer to the VF corporation by taking the female physique and using different silhouettes and style to bring diversity to the company.

dsc04337dsc04341dsc04339dsc04342The Foe Team:  Zahra Khan, Katy Andoh, Polly Tamalia and Mary-Louise Fischer

Oneness lashed at their denim with latex and paint and created clothing and accessories with a craft/skate/patchwork theme.  

dsc04320 dsc04322 dsc04325 dsc04327Bag (and hand) by Toya Mehmet accessories design student

Deflect played with organdie and denim, creating illusionary false and hidden pockets with contrasting bleached denim. 

dsc04285 dsc04287dsc04302Team Deflect are: Ciara Kelly and Holly Lovey (Fashion Buying and Branding), Denisa Mehmeti and Kyra Chang (Fashion Design) and Anna Sabe (Fashion Accessory Design) 

Uniq 2 was represented firstly by a Korean duo who described soju (a kind of ‘Korean Sake’) as a cultural slang term meaning the desire to go wild and rebel as the starting point for the collection.  The design picked up on the current Korean trend for wearing oversized wind-proof protective layers and used the silhouette and seaming details of a traditional denim jacket in the windproof material, adding their own logo branding – quite a literal and believable interpretation not far removed from the way designs are translated quickly on the high street, albeit with less fun and flavour.

dsc04354 dsc04357

Gyal Dem looked to Grime, the music sub-genre drawing on multiple influences including drum and bass and UK Garage, made famous by Wiley and Dizzee Rascal, for stylistic and brand references, adopting a unisex sportswear aesthetic to appeal to their target audience.  A specific target market and design point-of-view led to on-point branding and a strong website including the brand story, look book and a behind the scenes look at how the products were designed and made.  

dsc04268dsc04271dsc04276The Gyal Dem team are:  Celine Polidori and Alexia Amaning (Fashion Design), Raji Bagary, Laura Holloway and Katie Vincent (Fashion Buying and Brand Management)

Analogy created the first luxury brand to utilise biodegradable materials throughout the collection.  They used Algix, an algae and PLA composite 3D printing filament that biodegrades after 50 years, replacing the 100% PLA and ABS alternatives which biodegrade after several hundred years, not unlike the pleather and plastic-based fabrics made as leather alternatives, raising questions over the true sustainability and environmental impact of these alternative materials.  Analogy are posing interesting questions by using this composite filament and replaced a full collection of sample garments with a mixture of life-size printed garment cut-outs alongside denim samples.  Their resin and denim swatches and experimentation with subtracting warp threads leaving weft ‘floats’ as a denim detail added interest to the denim.  With impressive branding and use of Algix sourced (and physically collected) from the US, these students could pass for a professional outfit, pardon the pun.

dsc04260dsc04245dsc04246 dsc04257dsc04249The Analogy team: India Martin (Accessories Design), Eleanor Maylin (Fashion Design) and Elle Morlang and Nicole Keitch (Fashion Buying and Branding)

SoNNE presented an altogether different proposition to all the other teams, using subtle variations in sublimation print to create painterly designs on denim canvases, exploring the colours and textures conjured up by varying their printing technique.  The colours brought a sophisticated palette and softened the denim foundation, until they were subverted again into big, bold, unisex boiler suits.  I’ve got my eye on one and am ready place an order.  I’m not alone, so it looks like fashion design students Isabel Hibbert and Grace Flood have a busy Christmas ahead.

dsc04347 dsc04348 dsc04349 dsc04351

The exhibition serves as a reminder of the diversity and cultural richness design, buying and branding students in London have.  They are tapping a broad range of cultures, languages, subcultures, art movements and belief systems.  Sadly I couldn’t cover the work of all of the teams in this article, but the integrity and creativity of the students featured spanned the other teams too, leaving no doubt in my mind that the ‘Rave’ students have enriched and enlightened the VF Corporation teams they worked with on this collaboration.

Header Image featuring swatches by Oneness

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Techstyler and MoinArt Featured in Wired Magazine ‘Tastemakers’ Issue

A flick through the latest edition of Wired, ‘Tastemakers’ revealed a pic of my hand-painted customised trainers by MoinArt for the Wired Next Generation event, which I wrote a blogpost about here.

Customisation and personalisation are growing consumer fashion trends and an important differentiator in the noisy and crowded fashion retail landscape.  For more info, see @moinrobertsislam on Instagram.

img_3918-copy

image1@moinrobertsislam hand-painted custom kicks in progress

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Our Tech Future According to Wired 2016

Continuing on from my previous article, a major theme of WIRED 2016 was humanitarianism and the refugee crisis.

Roya Mahboob is an Afghani tech entrepreneur who had her eyes opened on a trip to an internet cafe in Herat.  She talked passionately about how the internet offered her a life outside of domesticity via a tech career.  She became the first tech CEO in Afghanistan, hiring female employees (many of whom worked from home) and spoke of the challenges in firstly obtaining clients (due to a lack of confidence in the abilities of women in her country, who are largely deemed fit only for domestic life), and once she did obtain clients, a battle to be paid because her work was not valued as she is a woman.  Tension arose and she and her family received death threats from the Taliban due to her breakout career and creation of local centres to teach girls computing.  She was then forced to leave Kabul, where she had moved to from Herat.  She found an Italian/American investor (via LinkedIn) and is now based in the US and declares herself a “global digital citizen”, sharing a door to the world to women and girls in Afghanistan.  For more information about Roya’s work follow her on Twitter and see the Digital Citizen Fund.

dsc03409dsc03404Roya Mahboob

Regina Catrambone, along with her family, founded the first search and rescue boat for those fleeing danger and persecution to make the journey to southern Italy from neighbouring countries.  So devastated was she that hundreds of children and adults were being left to die on this treacherous passage that she co-founded MOAS – Migrant Offshore Aid Station.   Since 2014 MOAS has saved more than 30,000 people, the youngest being four days old.  Regina says “you cannot stop the might and the will of those looking for a chance to live.  It is impossible.  You can’t stop them.  You have to help them”.  Her speech was incredibly moving and showed how harnessing compassion and empathy can create powerful solutions and implore governments and other agencies to help solve the refugee crisis.

dsc03393Regina Catrambone

Brooklyn-based Jessica O. Matthews presented an ingenious creation – a football that stores energy from kinetic movement which then provides electricity for devices and appliances.  A game changing (I couldn’t help the pun) and simple piece of technology, it allows kids in off-grid areas to kick around a football during the day and then read books at night, continuing their studies and affording them a better chance in life.  Jessica is extending her invention to other objects such as suitcases with wheels, into which you can plug your mobile phone to charge whilst on the go.  See Uncharted Play for more information.

dsc03522Jessica O. Matthews

Psychiatrist and Aviator, Bertrand Piccard, piloted the Solar Impulse aircraft and declared that the “old world and new world are a state of mind”.  Elaborating on this, he gave a thought provoking talk that explained how a boat building company, Alinghi, created an aircraft and how the coming together of teams from diverse disciplines allowed them solve problems never before tackled.  “If you want to innovate you have to get out of the system.  What you know is a handicap”, says Bertrand.  He and his team completed an around the world journey, travelling 40,000 km without fuel, proving that the capabilities of solar power are beyond our current usage.  He provided inspiration, and a challenge, to those dismissing renewable energies and highlighted the current work of Elon Musk in bringing solar power into the transportation industry on a commercial level.

dsc03458Bertrand Piccard

Wired has come to a close, leaving an echo that says I can’t keep doing things the same way.  Knowing what I now know, and looking at how I have done things in the past, it’s time to adjust and apply new ways of thinking and creating.  The talks catalyse new trains of thought and ignite the will to try new technologies, or apply existing ones in new ways.  

Wired joins some of the biggest global moving dots with speakers from all over the world giving us a picture of where we are right now in terms of advancing new medical technologies, solving environmental issues, achieving universally acceptable levels of education, battling the refugee crisis, reaching space commercially, using AI to diagnose diseases, fighting hate, racial discrimination and sexism, and connecting people using VR to solve social issues – and it provides the inspiration to contribute to solving these problems.

I’m going to stop talking and start doing.  The effects of the above paragraph will be revealed over the coming weeks and months on these pages, my Huffington Post blog and in a soon to be launched new venture.

What will you do today?

Watch snippets and read summaries of all the speakers at Wired here

Headline image:  COLLAPSE PROJECT  Photo: Techstyler

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