Here at Planet Notion we think it’s important to recognise independent fashion designers working their socks off in the city we love… London.
A few weeks ago I interviewed 5 womenswear designers and used pieces from their current SS12 collections to create a fashion story. And here’s how it turned out…
Catsuit by Anar, Shoes by Charkviani
Born in Kazakhstan, Anar Mensiitova has seen just how differently women and their role within society are perceived. Now based in South West London she came to the UK in 2004 to follow her dream and study fashion design.
Where did you study when you arrived in London?
First I completed a foundation in Art & Design at Cambridge and then a BA in Design in London. I actually went back to study after my internships and time working in the industry as I felt that I hadn’t been taught one of the most important things in fashion… branding.
Who were your internships with?
Giles and Roksanda Ilincic
Amazing! Where do you draw inspiration from for your collections?
I’m inspired by people I know personally that surround me. Women. Their emotions, aspirations and dreams. I think if you say yes to more things, you will be able to discover and express the true you.
What’s is your favourite city?
Paris and Almaty in Kazakhstan but I want to see more!
What can we find you doing when you are not designing?
I do yoga, draw, sing and practice Martial Arts. I like to watch historical movies and am learning Flamenco at the moment, which is fun!
WOW that’s a lot to fit in! What’s your highlight so far?
Working with celebrity stylists
Dress by Jennifer Morris, Shoes by Camilla Skovgaard
Australian born, Scottish raised and Asia travelled, Jennifer Morris has seen most parts of the world. This explains the theme for her SS12 collection titled ‘Chimera Nahual’ which draws on the idea that a new exotic species has evolved.
What inspires you towards your finished collections?
A lot of my work draws on imagery from both the natural world and elements, and looks a lot at mythology throughout different cultures.
I tend to look at subjects which really interest me and can spend weeks with my head in a book reading up on some ancient cultures mythologies and beliefs. I draw on influences gained through travel and an innate interest in Nature and Mythology to inspire bold choices in colour and texture.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m in the studio preparing for SS13, which I am really excited about! I am working with a young print designer and most of the patterns are nearly finished. So that collection (you are the first to hear this!) is entitled ‘The Beloved’ and will be launched during LFW in September so be on the look out for another colour explosion!
Describe a normal day…
I’m not sure I have a normal day…which is why I love what I do so much! I work from my studio in Bow, most of the time working on my own collection. But I also do freelance work pattern cutting and sewing.
Highlight so far?
A massive highlight for me was being selected to exhibit with Vauxhall Fashion Scout with my debut collection in February. And then also I was nominated for Young Scottish Designer of the Year at the Scottish Fashion Awards which was amazing.
Dress by Emma Box, Shoes by Jean-Pierre Braganza
Hailing from Leicestershire, 23-year-old Emma Box was always labelled a ‘creative type’ and studying fashion at UCA Rochester just felt natural to her. Since graduating in 2010 the designer has been finding her feet.
What happened after graduation?
After showing my collection at GFW I was invited over to Vienna’s Quartier21 to participate in an exhibition called ‘Fish and Chips Twice Please?!’ curated by Emma Bell and Polona Dolzan. I then developed the collection even further to show at Vienna Fashion Week. Since then I’ve been working on developing my style, experimenting and just really taking the time to decide on the right direction I want to go in. I think its really important to get the balance of creative freedom and commerce right in order to have a successful brand so this is something I have been trying to perfect.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by all sorts of things really mainly music, art and popular culture. I go through phases so my work normally reflects what I’m into at that particular time.
Highlight so far?
I think my career highlight would have to be meeting the artist Tilman Kaiser who I had used as part of the Inspiration for my Graduate collection after seeing his exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London. It turned out that he was from Vienna and he got in contact with me after hearing about my work from a friend. He came to my show and I got to have a chat to him after which was a really nice end to finishing the collection.
Dress by Gene Style, Leggings and Crop Top by Nike, Shoes by Malene Oddershede Bach
Founder and designer at GENE Style Lora Nikolaev, 30 has made it her mission to take the brand global. She started off in her home country of Bulgaria and her designs, which have a soft and classical approach to clean cut tailoring are already being sold in Shoreditch, East London.
Did you always know you wanted to work in fashion?
Fashion yes, but it took me a while to find that my talents lay in design. I started off as a model in Sofia when I was 15, which first led me to discover this world. I then turned my hand to make-up when I was in New York and worked as a successful make-up artist. Through doing this I was asked to style a few shoots and eventually ended up designing outfits for these shoots, which got me here today!
Where is the label currently based?
All over! We have a showroom in Sofia in Bulgaria, one in Manhattan and are looking to stretch to London next year.
Do you design the entire collection yourself?
I design the high end and the ready to wear collections and the basic collection is done by my co-designer Nass. He is 24 and very much my right arm! I have about 10 people at the studio in Sofia and the overall GENE team is now up to about 45!
Describe a normal day…
Well quite busy to be honest. I wake up around 8 and have my coffee before I catch up on my emails until around 10. Sometimes I hold staff meetings, sometimes I draw and I approve samples. Depends really on where I am. London is much more crazy because I have about 10 meetings a day. But I love it all and have been doing it for 3 years now.
Finally, what does 2012 hold for you?
Good things! Already this year we stepped on the US market with a wonderful representative in Manhattan. We also opened shops in Tel Aviv and Moscow. But I still believe the year has much more to offer!
Coat by Hobbs, Shoes by Georgie Bee
Hackney based Cordwainers College graduate Georgia Blackmore is the brains and talent behind shoe label Georgie Bee. Originally from Bristol she creates shoes like some taken from Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. I used the Pom Pom Mary Janes taken from her Neomagpie collection .
How did you learn to create such magical looking shoes?
In my final two years of university I worked as the only assistant to bespoke shoe designer Natascha Marro so that really helped! I worked with her assisting on creations for Grayson Perry, Pam Hogg, Daphne Guinness and Lady Gaga to name a few.
What do you have planned next for the label?
It is very much my own long-term project that I will be doing in my own time. I do not work towards seasons or deadlines. I am however, hoping to fit in some design collaborations.
Then what can we find you doing when not designing?
I customise Blythe dolls, work for Oxfam as a volunteer, and I can be found waist deep in the grubbiest house clearance at my local waste market…I love a bargain. Also I live in Kontiki Studios, a 1930’s gothic retro warehouse conversion that gets hired out for editorial, film and music videos! I love living in my own personal dreamland!
Words and Styling: Danielle Webber
Photography: Lee Northam
Model: Amanda @ Sapphires
Hair: Sam Burnett @ Rush
Make-up: Bianca Pereira
Fashion Assistant: Sharaye Thomas
Photographers Assistant: James Davey