Yasmina Dexter and I sat in the back of the cinema at The Painting Rooms Presentation hosted by the Royal Society of the Arts at Durham House, as her film in collaboration with photographer Antonio Mingot played on a loop in front of us. Two minutes prior, Justine Fairgrieve of The Wolves London said “You’ve got to meet Yasmina – the art director of the film. She’s part of the Preen DNA”. What ensued was an enlightening and fun chat about fashion, textiles, robots, art direction, travelling and DJ’ing.
Yasmina starting working with the Preen team in 2000, headed by Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi, Yasmina, firstly in the Preen shop in Portobello Road, then on production of the collections, before working on soundtracks for the shows and eventually sales. Fast forward to 2017 and Yasmina is an Art Director working with a number of clients, most recently LN-CC, defining her work through artistic collaborations involving film, music and fashion. Like me, she’s fascinated by robots, so maybe they’ll enter her creative mix at some point too.
She tells me of her reservations about fashion per se, but her “love of products”. She loves everyday clothes that are real and work hard. Clothes that are better than the ones that came before them. We ponder truly ‘innovative fashion’ and discuss technical textiles – agreeing that smart textiles will lead the way, ahead of silhouettes, in ‘new’ fashion of the future. After discussing the huge potential of textiles to revolutionise fashion we segue back into the film which launches the Pre-Fall 17 collection for Preen Line, the fun little sister of Preen by Thornton Bregazzi.
Preen Line Pre-Fall 2017
“Justin’s brief was dance and rave”, said Yasmina. “That was it – an open brief, really” she explains. That allowed her to do what she wanted, relishing the fact that she and Justin know each other so well that he lets her do her own thing. The venue was an industrial space in Dalston and the subject was artist and go-go dancer, . Our conversation diverts to Yasmina DJ’ing at Mona in Tasmania and me sucking up a telling-off for never having been there (I’m Australian).
It’s these kind of collaborations and creative collectives that underpin so much of what is presented at London Fashion Week. The credit sheets are filled with creatives contributing to ambitious and passion-filled teams pulling all-nighters on restricted budgets, making work that punches way above its weight.
Yasmina and Antonio’s film leaves me wanting to boil wash my tracksuit and hit the stairs. How about you? More patient than me? Keep an eye out for the Pre-Fall 17 collection on the Preen Line Store .
I’m off to put on a hot wash.
UH OH HER – PREEN LINE FALL17
BY FEELINGS ARE FACTS, FEATURING MARINA ONTANAYA ART DIRECTOR: YASMINA DEXTERDIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: ANTONIO MINGOTEDITORS: YASMINA DEXTER, ANTONIO MINGOT, COMMANDER FSTYLIST: VINCENT PONSCHROMO TECHNICIAN: JAMIE BULLCASTING: FEELINGS ARE FACTS
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.
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.
Happy sweet sixteen Peter, and many happy returns.
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.
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.
Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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: