Edda Gimnes Makes Fantastical Fashion

“I wasn’t exactly top of my class, my techniques were a bit out there.”  Edda Gimnes confirmed what I feared when lecturing recently – that in some institutions, students were being moulded, polished and judged according to a narrow set of guidelines where a certain ‘aesthetic’ prevails and is thought of as ‘good design’ and all else is less than acceptable.  Want to design shiny ballgowns?  Tacky!  Want to scribble on blank canvases then slash and top-stitch them together a la’ paper doll dress?  No way!  Fashion design is almost entirely subjective, but you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise if you listen to some schools of thought in fashion education (no pun intended).


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Edda Gimes AW16 collection and inspiration

What makes a good design?  What makes a great designer?  Does it have anything to do with taste?  Does it matter?  The question I prefer to ask is how does the designer’s work make me feel?  What does it inspire in me?  If the answer is nothing, then subjectively, it’s not for me.  In the case of Edda Gimnes collection it filled me with happiness, excitement and wonder.  I think fashion is largely about magic… and clothes.  Edda’s clothes are sprinkled with a childlike fun that came from her abandon and wit in scrawling across vast sections of cloth with her non-dominant hand in an effort to return to a time when she was learning to draw – to return to being a kid.  The charming naivety leaps off the fabrics which are stiff cotton ‘canvases’ that showcase her monochrome illustrations to great effect.  The jagged seams and raw edges suggest an immediacy of design realisation – it’s like she created the pieces with fervour before their essence could be lost.  She admits to struggling with pattern cutting and finding a way around that limitation by creating cutouts roughly in the shape of a dress sketched flat on a piece of paper.  Rather than being held back by her limitation, it fed into the quick, naive mood of the illustrations and brought them to life in an honest and ‘fitting’ way.

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The slow and at times laborious nature of refinement and re-working in clothing design and creation can mean that all that is human about the design is smoothed away, leaving a perfect but impersonal result.  The ‘hand’ in the creation – the personality – is lost.  Edda’s clothes are theatrical and honest – not unlike her.  Edda’s personality shines boldly throughout the collection and I want to wear it all.  I was in and out of tops and skirts and shoes and lived for a little while in her world.  It was fun, personal and compelling.

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To hear Edda talk about receiving a warm and positive response to her work was a joy.   She was still beaming from meeting Jimmy Choo earlier that day.  He took a huge shine to her and her collection.  He adored her mis-matched and customised high street shoes.  I can’t help but think of Quentin Blake‘s illustrations when I look at her black scribbles atop the pointy toed shoes.  She beams with the recollection of reading Roald Dahl‘s books as a child and initially couldn’t remember where her inspiration for this illustration style came from, until she dug deep into her memories and saw the connection.


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I’m delighted to bring the passion and energy of Edda’s designs to the ‘pages’ of Techstyler.  Her garments are digitally printed and cut and sewn in London and when I spoke to her at Fashion Scout during London Fashion Week she was taking private orders.  Sara Maino from Vogue Italia stopped by and Edda had interest from boutiques in Japan while I was chatting to her, so get your orders in fast, before everyone’s chasing a piece of Edda Gimnes magic.

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Edda Gimnes AW16 Lookbook

When rounding off this post I read a completely unrelated (but brilliant) article and realised that the success of Edda’s collection lies in its authenticity.  It offered this:

“When you’re not trying to hide away the real version of yourself, people will respond’.  When you’re demonstrating authenticity, not some contrived personality, that’s when you find a way to reach out and connect with other human beings”

Onwards and upwards, authentically.

Header Image: Edda Gimnes AW16 Lookbook

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London Fashion Week Delivers Elegance and Mathematical Proportions

In continuation of London Fashion Week‘s Films, Fraying and Frizz, the second instalment of my fashion week roundup starts at with Belstaff, in collaboration with (an elusive) Liv Tyler.

The Belstaff presentation could scarcely have been more different from the others I have experienced.  It occurred to me that a show format would have made it easier to see the clothes.  Being a bigger brand with a larger captive audience, it was in a basement sauna of winter woolies and leathers with a biker-lite /polar vibe and a melee of guests enjoying the wares and fizz.  The show notes stated that the collection was inspired by ‘female pioneers venturing into the earth’s most bleak and hard-to-reach locations in the most challenging of conditions’.  Polar pioneer Christina Franco was named as a special guest, which I only discovered after re-reading the show notes for this article.  I can think of at least a dozen questions about protective clothing and design I’d have fired off in her direction.  I bumped into a couple of old friends and had a chat with Jonathan Saunders (whose mate designed the collection) on the way out, so it was suitably fashion-y and fizzy.

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Belstaff AW16 and projected inspiration imagery

Huishan Zhang offered up the most elegant and serene of presentations at The Connaught in what felt like the coming together of two perfect halves – the romantic decadence of the location and the gently elegant and luxuriously refined clothing.  The clothes screamed, or rather elegantly asserted, a grown-up ladylike appeal and I passed Linda Fargo on my way out, further confirming their level on the elegance stakes.  Look out for Huishan Zang in Bergdorf Goodman next season?

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Huishan Zhang AW16 

Production: Rachel Pelly and Pearl Van Den Ende – Stylist: Maya Zepinic @ LGA Management – PR: Saturday Group, Beatrice Savoretti – Music: Leslie Deere – Shoes: Jimmy Choo – Casting: Shelley Durkan – Show Photographer: Piers Cunliffe – Show Videographer: Jacob Fn Photography – Backstage Photographer: Liam Fuller – Hair: Bianca Tuovi @ CLM – Makeup: Mel Arter @ CLM – Head of Nails: Roxanne Campbell

The highlight of the day came in the form of Sid Neigum‘s mathematics-inspired and mostly monochrome collection.  Chatting to Sid I learned that the starting point for silhouette development for the collection was a measurement of a shoulder line, say 30 cm for example, which was then multiplied by Da Vinci’s golden ratio (1.6), applied rigorously by Le Corbusier and a hallmark of his modulor proportions, to determine the opposite shoulder line length, creating a harmonious set of measurements that formed naturally aesthetically pleasing proportions.

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The best way to describe the experience of seeing the collection is to say that it all felt “right”.  It was at ease.  The lengths, the volumes, the textiles.  Not forced, but lovingly calculated and evolved from a series of applied multiplications, which led Sid to his final silhouettes.  Sid is a patter-cutter who designs in 2D by working back from a 3D ‘mental rendering’ of what he’s imagining he will make.  He rarely sketches his designs, but rather sketches pattern piece shapes which he can mentally assemble before doing so physically.  Brilliant.  I plan to talk in more depth with Sid and bring you a more studied summation of his technique, but until then, enjoy the collection images.

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Sid Neigum AW16. Shots of Sid and I by Moin Islam.

Finally, we dashed to the 100 Club on Oxford Street for a slice of Mary Benson magic, only to discover we’d missed the show and caught the party.  Here are the post show leftovers and gif-ified show images thanks to Village PR:

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Mary Benson AW16

Styling: Louby McLoughlin – Hair: Jose Quijano @ D+V Management using Bumble and Bumble – Makeup: Marie Bruce using Urban Decay – Casting: Aamo – Production: Lizzie Cardwell – Press Release: Ione Gamble – Music: Twin//Venus with backing vocals by Kit Brown – Set Design: Dora Miller – Embroidery Collaboration: Aniela Fidler – Millinery Collaboration: Stephen Jones – Crystals: Swarovski – Jewellery: Sarah McCormack – Shoes: Converse – Headphones: Beats by Dre – Film: Trudy Barry – DJs: Emily Rose England, Matthew Johnson, Jon Beagley, Ben Gregory, Joe Skilton, Jamie Shaw.

I’ll be popping in to see Mary and chat about a very special collaboration she did on a Bruise suit  – cue geek-out technical textiles session.  More Techstyling soon.  Stay tuned.

Header Image: Sid Neigum AW16

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London Fashion Week Serves up Films, Fraying and Fizz

Today’s London Fashion Week opener was a screening at the Curzon Soho by recently launched luxury accessories brand Hill & Friends and it was friends by both name and nature with a gaggle of family and familiar faces flooding in as people caught up and chatted intimately pre-show.  I felt I may have been gatecrashing slightly and sidled over to take dozens of pic’s of the pink popcorn and teaser film playing in the foyer, pre-screening.


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It was all fun, cheeky and very English.  The swag was cute too, with a bag choc (wink) full of pink sweets (aka lunch) thrown in to the (sadly cloth, not the Hill & Friends leather kind made lovingly by hand in Somerset) bag alongside the stickers and look book, which was a vast catalogue of the Autumn Winter Collection of including bag details and prices.  The event served as a brilliant piece of branding and a great sales pitch.  I fizzed on out of there to Brewer Street Carpark contemplating the fashion film format versus the live installation presentation format.  The film was fun, witty and polished.  It had a strong air of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel about it (the show notes cited The Italian Job – hence the Mini – as an influence) and its charm makes it very watchable.  The hand bags replace look in Hill & Friends take on The Italian Job’s bullion. It’s worth noting this is the second direct reference to a Wes Anderson film in the past two days, following Gabriel Vielma’s inspiration from The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou mentioned in yesterday’s post, confirming his already ardent fashion following.

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Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Peter Collinson’s The Italian Job, 1969

Bags don’t necessarily demand a live show or presentation, I guess, and a presenting a film is a chance to carefully control the branding of the erm, brand.  Already stocked at Net-a-porter, Harrods, Selfridges amongst others, I bet they’ll sell bags of bags!

At the Brewer Street Carpark I revisited Susana Bettencourt’s knitwear collection.  Today she presented the collection on a handful of models atop plinths at the Designer Showrooms, which brought her knits to life and showcased the textures. I caught Susana and her team as they were setting up.  Susana is involved in the ‘Rebirth’ of the knitting industry in Portugal, having accepted a lead lecturing role in Knitwear design at two Universities in the Porto area, facilitating the reinstatement of knitwear design courses which had not been offered to students since the mid-nineties.  Portugal is a European hub of knitwear manufacturing (jersey fabrics and knitwear) and supplies some of the luxury fashion houses in Paris.  The Portuguese just aren’t as prone to self-promotion as, say, the Italian knitwear manufacturers are.  It’s an exciting time for knitwear manufacturers who are working directly with the two Universities to support the knitwear design students and provide practical hands-on experience – a must for a design discipline as technical as knitwear.  An in depth interview with Susana will follow this piece, so look out for major knitwear geekery.


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Next stop was the Chelsea College of Arts for Danielle Romeril‘s sixteenth century futuristic sportswear mash-up with graphic tape sets and a killer soundtrack – she had me at Tame Impala.  The show notes were accompanied by a playlist, serving as a reminder that our perception of visual artistry is effected by the sound experienced alongside it.   The presentation format delivered yet again with brilliant access to clothing details and engagement with Danielle’s team.

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I met Susie, Danielle’s pattern cutter; Sarah, Casting Director and Nobuko, Stylist.  We chatted about the presentation briefly and the benefit to the designer of getting instant feedback before Nobuko had to run-off to check on an outfit change.  The models work on rotation and take a five minute break at regular intervals.  Ever tried to stand still(ish) for two hours?  It’s difficult, and sometimes it shows.

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I got totally absorbed in Danielle’s presentation, visiting each of the three rooms twice and finding new clothing details and angles to shoot each time.  It was a relaxed journey of discovery through the collection, picking out details from the show notes and seeking them out in the finished articles.

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Stylist: Nobuko Tannawa at Webber Represents – Set Design: Meriel Hunt at Undercranked – Casting Director: Sarah Bunter at Bunter Casting – Lighting Designer: Jim Agnew – Makeup: Niamh Quinn at LGA Management and the MAC Pro Team – Hair: Mari Ohashi at LGA Management using Bumble and Bumble – PR: Justine Fairgrieve at The Wolves – Graphic Design: Sophie Demay – Music: DJ Tuki

On to Phoebe English‘s desperate and gloomy waiting room.  Housed in a basement theatre at the ICA, the presentation was a sombre affair of models appearing anaesthetised by the boredom of the waiting room scene.  Here, the sound played a hypnotic and maddening part of the presentation in the form of a recorded voice in the vein of ‘hold the line, your call will be answered shortly…’ on a loop.

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An at-arms-length presentation, it was the most theatrical of those I’ve seen with a strongly dark narrative that carried through from the models entering the set and taking a ticket before waiting their turn to be called to a check point before being visually assessed, preened and dispatched by a clip-board wielding quality controller (my summation).

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This presentation saw the models contributing personally to the creation of the piece, like actresses.  The show notes describe Phoebe’s strong focus on textiles, incorporating shredded sequins, knotting, knitting with elastic and a variety of string and silk weaving.  She collaborated with John Smedley on knits and Hereu on shoes.  The sound was by Gabriel Bruce.   I can’t wait to see the collection up close in the Designer Showrooms as the textile and construction details were difficult to capture during the presentation.


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Phoebe English – AW16

Stylist: Ellie Grace Cumming at Streeters  – Make Up: Inge Grognard at Jedroot and using MAC – Hair: Cyndia Harvey at Streeters using Phyto – Manicure: Ama Quashie at CLM Hair – Casting Director: Philip Ellis – Creative Collaborator: Rose Easton – Production: Megan Sharkey – Music: Gabriel Bruce – Set Design: Philip Cooper – Set Realisation: Sam Edkins – Shoes: Phoebe English and Hereu – Press: Spenser Therry at Purple PR

The brilliant presentations I’ve reported on so far show the depth of talent, creativity and skill amongst the teams creating these dynamic installations.  I’ve included a role call of all credited contributors so you can check out their individual work in more detail.

Stand by for the second instalment of Sunday’s shows on Techstyler, but for now I’ll leave you with this anatomical-inspired gem from Phoebe English’s set-making collaborator Sam Edkin‘s homepage.  Go explore:

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Header image: Danielle Romeril AW16

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