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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Sartorial Serendipity at 34 Montagu Square

It’s a story of serendipity.  Beatie Wolfe, singer songwriter and digital pioneer of the NFC-launched album Montagu Square met me at, well, 34 Montagu Square, to discuss a very peculiar and fascinating collaboration.

I say very peculiar for more reasons than one.  34 Montagu square is the home of tailor and Anthony Sinclair Creative Director David Mason.  The very same residence was home to Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Ringo Starr in the 60’s.  It was also the recording place of Eleanor Rigby and a number of other era-defining songs by the Beatles and other seminal artists from the 60’s and 70’s. David tells me that the current owner from whom he leases the property outbid Noel Gallagher.  Imagine the fallout.

unspecifiedDavid Mason and Beatie Wolfe – Image: Stuart Nicholls

8ad5a2a2ab5eeb800bcaba09a1b7c1a026bosboom002654981b82c13139d671a2e56c1c6c4e0Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon and Yoko Ono at 34 Montagu Square

I was greeted at 34 Montagu Square by David Mason who recently acquired the rights to the Mr Fish label – a fashion brand famous in the mid 60’s to 70’s for dressing Mick Jagger, David Bowie, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix and less famous for dressing David Hockney, Pablo Picasso and Princess Margaret.  The role call of clients is astonishing.

12-carnabyTlRy2Gjtumblr_lwvnacdxAO1r95vbyo1_50030B0F57500000578-3422402-image-m-83_1454063635580Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix wearing Mr Fish.  And Mr Michael Fish himself outside his boutique

David is in the midst of relaunching Mr Fish (which we’ll delve into further in a future post) but today we’re talking about a collaboration he has just completed with Beatie and digital weaving pioneer Nadia Anne Ricketts, founder of Beatwoven.

DSC01015Beatie’s Take Me Home Jacket is enabled with NFC technology and when in close range of an NFC-enabled smartphone, plays the song

Beatie bumped into David at the Royal Albert Hall while attending a Michael Caine event commemorating the film Alfie – which Anthony Sinclair tailors created the suits for – and they got talking about 34 Montagu Square.  David invited Beatie over for tea and to experience the fascinating story of the residence.  This led to a discussion about Beatie performing in the flat and recording a track there.  The idea of translating the track into a fabric came about later.  It was the result of  another chance meeting, this time between Beatie and Nadia at a book launch.  Nadia was presenting her ‘Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds’ chair, which caught Beatie’s attention.

ChairPanelNadia’s Beatwoven designs

Beatie and Nadia came up with the idea of weaving a fabric from one of Beatie’s tracks, which would then be crafted into a jacket befitting a rock star, by David and his team of Hackney Wick-based tailors.  David was inspired by the military jackets made popular by Jimi Hendrix and particularly the strength of the shoulder line.  Jimi’s signature collar features too.


Jimi_Hendrix_by_Gered_MankowitzImage: Jimi Hendrix, Mason’s Yard, London, 1967. Photograph by Gered Mankowitz © Bowstir Ltd. 2012/Mankowitz.com

David’s tailoring is steeped in British history and culture, and the weaving of the fabric at a mill in Sudbury in addition to Beatie’s Brit singer-songwriter swagger makes this a very British collaboration from concept to completion.  This collaboration was driven by creativity.  There was no commercial aim, leaving the three collaborators to experiment with fabric selection and even change the garment from a gown to a jacket in the final few weeks of the project.

unspecified-9unspecified-6unspecified-12The weaving of Take Me Home – Images: Stuart Nicholls

unspecified-4Stuart Nicholls 4Design Development and colourway selection – Images: Stuart Nicholls

The unveiling of the collaboration took place at an intimate gig at 34 Montagu Square and was subsequently launched at DLD in Germany, where Beatie spoke about her album and the serendipitous collaboration that arose from her chance meeting with David.

Stuart Nicholls 2Beatie and her pack performing Take Me Home at 34 Montagu Square

Delving a little deeper into the fabric creation, Nadia explained that the resulting fabric is dependent on the frequency and ‘fullness’ of the track.  Electro and synth-driven music leads to intense and densely detailed digital imagery in her customised software, which effectively creates a visual representation of the sound according to frequency and amplitude.  Conversely, classical music, which tends to contain moments of little or no sound, creates sparser digital patterns.  Nadia manipulates the patterns to create graphic visual effects that have a sensibility toward the final design and the inspiration.  It’s a fascinating practice that arose from a passion for sound and dance and evolved from an analogue incarnation into a fully-fledged piece of software, to which she is hoping to add a customising functionality for her private clients.

David explains the process of toileing and fitting that any tailor or pattern-cutter would be familiar with.  The basted and canvas-lined toile remains in the Hackney Wick studio should Beatie request another bespoke jacket any time soon. David’s tailors crafted the jacket from the silk/cashmere/silver jacquard made in a satin twill structure requiring deft hands to control the movement and stability of the fabric.  It’s like liquid gold and my experience tells me it would have been a difficult fabric to work with –  which David confirms.

unspecified-8unspecified-11unspecified-10David Mason’s Anthony Sinclair Tailors creating the Take Me Home Jacket – Images: Stuart Nicholls

DSC01018The Mr Fish ‘Peculiar’ customised label for Beatie Wolfe

The final result is a digi-inspired piece of cultural history.  Inspired by Beatie, translated by Nadia and crafted by David.  It’s a beautiful creation that transcends each of them as individual artists and creatives and tells a story about British craftsmanship and the power of musical culture.  The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston has expressed an interest in exhibiting the piece, which further illustrates the significance of its craftsmanship and powerful storytelling ability.

Beatie_s_Take_Me_Home_Jacket

Rhythmic moments in time distilled into a fabric and crafted into a piece of sartorial history – this is more than fashion, more than music and more than technology.  The sum of these parts is enlightening, inspiring and unexpected.  34 Montagu Square has a magical quality, says Beatie. ” There’s something about this room”.  I tend to agree.

Stuart NichollsThe collaborators: Beatie Wolfe, David Mason and Nadia-Ann Ricketts at 34 Montagu Square – Image: Stuart Nicholls

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David Bowie Gave As Much To Sci-fi And Fashion As He Did To Music

Fucking Cancer.

The man from Brixton (and Mars) whose penchant for reinvention was spurred by a childhood desire to write musicals and create characters, took a turn towards playing those characters himself when his first career choice looked unlikely.  Ziggy Stardust allowed David Bowie to become someone else and therefore feel at ease while performing.  Who hasn’t wanted to be someone else at some point in their lives?  It’s an element of the human condition that we can experience vicariously through David Bowie’s transformations.  The courage, the creativity, the brevity, the showmanship, the beauty.

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Costumes, fashion and dressing up are vehicles of self-expression, storytelling and reinvention.  Costumes and fashion were tools used in a fascinating and inspiring way by Bowie, from his Mr Fish-created frock coats for the Man Who Sold the World album cover, to his suit, dog-collar and stiletto combo for his meeting with Tony Blair;  he was sharing a visual commentary with the world.  That’s what makes fashion so powerful – the evocation brought about when in the hands (and on the body of) such a visionary and intelligent person.

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David Bowie predicted the future (in his interview with Jeremy Paxman) and understood that the internet would bring creatives and their audiences closer together, with the role of the audience becoming more integral.  He saw it as a great demystification of the creator’s practice and as an equally enthralling and terrifying advancement.  That was 15 years ago.  In the interview, Bowie laughingly expressed the Internet as an ‘Alien life-form’ when Jeremy Paxman suggested it might be a strange but somewhat ineffectual tool.  The interview demonstrates a glaring gulf between the fabric of these two men – the unimaginative and businesslike Paxman and the inspired and visionary Bowie.   Watch Bowie predict the future and reveal his support for, and investment in, Internet ventures.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0-51IkWpFE

It’s hard to recall another artist whose work has had such a profound and positive relationship with space than David Bowie.  As explained in his biography in the Sci-Fi Hall of Fame, his breakthrough 1969 single “Space Oddity”, which tells the story of an astronaut’s possibly tragic mission, was broadcast by the BBC during its coverage of the Apollo 11 launch and lunar landing. The song bridged the science-focused world of the space race, rock ‘n’ roll, and popular culture.

apollo-11-launch11

In 2013, Astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded and filmed his own rendition of Space Oddity while on the International Space Station.  He wanted to allow all of us on earth to see ‘where we truly are in space exploration’.  A message to the world from the ISS sent via the words and artistry of David Bowie. Hadfield received David Bowie’s support with rights and publication of the rendition.

Chris-Hadfield-NASA-astronaut-David-Bowie-international-space-station-Condo.ca_Astronaut, Chris Hadfield

David Bowie existed comfortably as a artist within the film genres of sci-fi and fantasy while simultaneously shaping notions of fashion, sexuality and beauty.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GA27aQZCQMk

The message I’m carrying with me from the art and wisdom shared by David Bowie is: you can be whoever you want to be, and his quote “I have no knowledge of who I am, but I am extremely happy”.

I mentioned in my previous post that we’re set to achieve travel to and from outer space in our lifetime.  But before we go Interstellar, let’s cure cancer.

Donate to Cancer Research UK here

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