Category Archives: Eco Friendly

An Interview With ByNina

East meets West this week on my blog as my guest is Nina Paul who grew up in India but has spent her adult life in England.  Nina is founder and director of ByNina, a fabulous clothing and jewellery range with Indian influence but tailored to western trends.  I caught up with Nina recently to find out more….hi Nina!

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Hi! I’m Nina .. and I have just launched a luxury, ethical clothing and jewellery range. My aim is to provide “pieces of art” that shows off the beauty and craftsmanship that can come for materials produced and made out of India.

What inspired you to set up your brand, ByNina?

I’ve been working in the corporate space for over 15 years but despite launching several innovative products, I lacked a sense of satisfaction. I was helping myself, but really.. was I making a difference to the world? NO. So when I went back to India and realised that my one true love,which is handmade fashion, was declining rapidly, it became my mission and goal to help revitalise this and give people back their faith.

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Have you always had a passion for fashion, or did you have other career aspirations when you were younger?

To be honest ..fashion is what you make it. My passion as always been about finding pieces that mean something. Of course I love looking at all the amazing shoes, clothes and jewellery out there, but recently I’ve come to realise these are just material things. When you buy something that has an impact (no matter how small) on helping an entire economy and combined with the fact that it it is a piece of art.. no matter how small or big the art is, it just makes you feel all the more precious. Every piece in my collection comes from loving hands and made with pride and care.

I love the Peach Flower Dress, the Sheer chiffon kaftan dress & the Silk Chiffon contrast kaftan dress! The colours of all the items in your clothing collection are gorgeous. Have you got a favourite item from your collection?

My favourite from the collection is the sunshine dress… but I love them all. We worked so hard to create each piece it would be like picking your favourite from your own kids, Impossible! The best part is seeing the artisans go from “What is a cuff??” to actually coming up with their own designs.. it doesn’t matter how weird or wonderful, they each have a special place in my heart as I know the care that has gone in to them, and the fact that it is bringing back FAITH and HOPE.

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Although you love travelling, India is your 2nd home as well as being the place you spent your childhood in. What is it particularly about India that has captured your heart?

India is a land of colour. I was inspired by this but also by the hospitality of the people. When you first land to when you leave, you will realise you can’t forget India 🙂 There are people that either love or hate it, but hey. that’s fashion right?

Apart from fashion, you also design some exquisite jewellery using gemstones sourced from mines all over India & crafted by artisans in the “city of gems”, Jaipur. Do you have a favourite personal gemstone? What gemstone is popular at the moment amongst your customers?

As I said .. that would be like asking to pick a favourite child. I love them all, but I would have to say the sapphire range and the sunshine dress are my babies. The sunshine dress was the hardest to create as it was one of the first in my range and we went through several versions, till they finally got it right. You truly do feel like a princess. The sapphire range.. well sapphires stand for themselves, beauty, strength, purity, sparkle, colour. And a whole lot of people involved in every piece 🙂

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Your company is based in England – are your designs available to purchase worldwide?

Everywhere, and everyone. The more you buy the more I can keep the artisans at work. But it’s not just me, you only have to visit India and find out for youselves.

When designing outfits/jewellery to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional styles or bits of all those?

Well… shy as they may be, my artisans have a mind of their own, While I did take in to account what I liked, I also let them run riot. Why not… let creativity flow 🙂

Your outfits have been tailored to western tastes for ready-to-wear looks. When discussing your ideas & designs with the artisans, was it easy to get your ideas across? Is there an east/west fashion taste difference?

Well.. yes, the funny part now looking back, although it definitely was not funny at the time, was teaching them that short is OK, see-through is OK, frills NOT ok:) So many stories and adventures, I hope one day I can put them all down in writing. For now I am storing them in my memories.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I LOVE clothes, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE shoes even more. But, then again I’ve had time to reflect.. now that I have put everything in to the business, I actually wear my own stuff ..not so much to show off but it just reminds me of the care that went in and how proud I am of the people behind each piece.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

Everlane, people tree, independent boutiques round London (So many it’s hard to pick!)

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

My wishlist .. I “wish” … that will be a long time to come. My next list is to have a jewellery range that is based around star signs and birthstones, but I’m going to let the artisans come up with their own ideas and name each piece after them.

Boots or Shoes? 

Both.. boots for walking, and shoes (in my world these are slippers or heels) for flaunting 🙂

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about ByNina.

https://www.instagram.com/byninadesigns/
https://www.facebook.com/byninadesigns/
https://twitter.com/ninasdesigns

It was great to chat to you Nina and I hope you do put a book together detailing the many stories and adventures involved in setting up your fashion business. It is fascinating how different cultures approach fashion, eg the Indians liking frills, the French smart dress sense etc Dear readers, have you ever bought an outfit from a different country than your own?  What differences in style did you find? Do tell, I’d love to know,

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission from ByNina/Nina Paul

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An Interview With Durga Universe

Hailing from Amsterdam, new designer brand, Durga Universe, created by Dorit Kozlovski, brings a spiritual edge to contemporary fashion. The collection is a delicious mix of eccentricity, extravagance and colour – all underpinned by the brand’s motto of “reuse, reduce & recycle”.  This is daring fashion at its very best and not one for shrinking violets!  I caught up with Dorit to discover what makes her tick and what actually lurks in her closet…..

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Hello lovely Boots Shoes and Fashion readers! I’m happy to contribute to this wonderful blog. I am Dorit, the creator and designer of Durga Universe. As the name Universe suggests – it is where everyone and everything exists. The fire Goddess Durga is my highest self / deity according to an Indian magi astrologist. (Goddess Durga symbolizes the divine forces (positive energy) known as divine feminine energy/ power that is used against the negative forces of evil and wickedness. Durga slays negative traits and is the joy in the cosmic dance of life.) These powerful names give me complete freedom to create sustainable fashion, music, art, shows and involve amazing artists of all areas! My mission is not only to create, but shed the light on a love based economy, where mass-production, greed and exploitation of people and resources have no room! I promote conscious consumerism.

What inspired you to launch Durga Universe?

I’ve always loved creativity. Living in Amsterdam for 10 years, I realized that creativity was a way to distract the mind from the desires that Amsterdam offers. This was really important for myself and  my friends around me, who were all captured by an unhealthy lifestyle, yet at the same time so inspired by Amsterdam and the deep exploration of the almighty consciousness. In my darkest times, Durga was always the light at the end of the tunnel. The more I’ve been diving into the creativity, the happier I feel.

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Have you always had a passion for fashion?

I’ve always had passion for beauty and fashion by expressing through colours and mismatching styles, mainly rebelling against the political constraints or people’s mindset. Many other reasons, for example: growing up in the Soviet Union, within the grey dullness; my father having been sentenced for 4 years in prison for secretly exporting vintage clothes to Estonia for “capitalist” activity; people wearing certain clothing in what was considered to be “appropriate” for the style of music or group setting –  got me to express myself passionately. My dear friend,  Manchester born Zoe Edge, says it well in a song we produced together “Be a lion,not a sheep”. I think that has also become the motto of Durga.

The collection is eccentric, extravagant, and brimming with a kaleidoscope of edgy colours – I do so love colour- what was the inspiration for the vibrant collection?

Durga is all about colour. To liven up the streets from being dominated by grey, black and blue shades, that seem to be absorbed by the masses. To awaken to oneself as a God/ Goddess and realise that we are all responsible for how we live our life and how we live/think/feel/perceive each day. Durga creations emphasize the uniqueness of each and every one of us, therefore, they are one of a kind designs that I try not to define as a “collection”.  A collection to me is the notion of time and season, whilst Durga is about creating timeless designs not constrained by specific year or season.

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I totally love the “Durga Psychadelic Metamorphosis Butterfly Dress” and the  “Extravagant Eccentric Vibrant Purple Faux Fur Coat”. What outfits have proved popular so far this season? Have you got a personal favourite?

Thank you very much. I can’t define the popularity of Durga designs in a particular season. When I checked the favourites that people have chosen in the Durga Universe Etsy shop, the most attention has been given to the up-cycled art coats/ jackets for men by graffiti artist Cian Muggler and my crochet blended colorful scarf dresses.

My personal favourite is the Ethnic Eccentric Faux Fur coat, it reminds me of Mongolian shamanism, Asian spirituality, accentuated with glam rock faux fur. The coat combines so many different elements, even pieces of my sons’ red vintage jeans…

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All your photo shoots feature local talent and locations that showcase the allure of Amsterdam. It certainly is a fantastic city and really epitomises your motto – daring fashion for urban gods and goddesses. Have you got any favourite locations in Amsterdam?  Where was the most oddest/most daring photoshoot spot?

Amsterdam is truly the playground for magic and creativity. The oddest shooting was in my favourite bar, the Blarney Stone. After 2 attempts of filming a bar scene for the video “Forgiveness”, after getting the whole crew together – firstly, there was a problem with camera; second time,the light.  On the third attempt, the gathering of people for our shoot disappeared and our leading man Tom could not stay.  However, we found a Welsh rugby team enjoying a stag party in the bar. I asked them all to get involved in the set: as security for holding  back the crowds passing by during the filming and of course, the stag himself playing the actor part. It was getting very dangerous as the shoot was going on a long time… some team members got a bit messy and the expensive equipment was in jeopardy! It really tested the patience of Xander productions and Visual Susana. As crazy as it was with all the mad energy in and outside of the Blarney; it surely was the most odd and funniest experience so far during the set.

Which famous lady and gent would you love to see as the “faces” of Durga Universe?

A Durga bearer can be anyone appreciating a bit of magic, daring, perhaps in the path of reconnecting with one’s true nature. I do admire free spirits, those not afraid to express themselves. It would be an honour if Roisin Murphy would wear Durga. My new project – 100% hemp coats representing Goddesses/ Gods painted by different artists should be completed by the end of Spring 2016. I would love to ask Sinead O’ Connor to wear one of the coats (perhaps the “Tree of Life”), to remind her how significant her music and poetry has been in raising awareness about paganism, showing true emotions, standing up against injustice. She was such an inspiration to me as a teenager. Perhaps I could regain her faith in herself and humanity. I could imagine Ian Brown from Stone Roses wearing the Fireface jacket painted by artist Cian Muggler.

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You have travelled far and wide and Durga’s textile inventory includes ethnic handwoven textiles handmade by local Laos artisans, luxurious Indian silks, rare faux fur and vintage fabrics. What do you look for when choosing your textiles? What place/country impresses you most with its array of textiles?

Fabrics that are inspiring, colourful and have some sort of emotional value are unique and sustainable. I mostly go with the feeling and a lot of times, I get an idea when I see a certain fabric. Some fabrics are gifts from friends or family that later evolve into ideas. For example, the Long Classic Peacock Dress is made from  sari material given to me by my mother years ago when she visited India and I just recently got an idea to make it into an open back dress with a longer back flair.

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As you are based in Amsterdam, are your clothes available to overseas customers?

Absolutely. I have an online webshop and I also sell via Etsy.com, shipping worldwide. I intend to open my own atelier shop in Amsterdam soon.

Being well travelled, where is the most unusual place you’ve visited? What’s your favourite location? What country/place is currently number one on your travel bucket list?

Travelling is truly important in my life and such a contribution to my happiness. I think I’ve always travelled whether physically, in my imagination or within my consciousness. The most fascinating has always been travelling within myself. Regarding the physical travels, the most humbling and extreme was the Amazonian jungle in Ecuador, with massive spiders, huge paralyzing ants, big beautiful slow-motion colourful butterflies, birds and the dangers of anacondas etc. Closest to my heart is the ashram of my spiritual teacher, the hugging mother AMMA India. Number one on my bucket list is a Columbian jungle trip, visiting 11 shamanic tribes.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I am a huge fan of spontaneous vintage shopping. Most of the outfits I wear are vintage designs found from all parts of the globe. I also shop consciously in alternative stores. For example, Alien boots from Cyberdog in Camden.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love Etsy.com, where artisans from all over the world sell unique clothing. Vintage shops and markets everywhere. I do not support global corporations and corporate brands based on a greedy economy, pollution and slavery.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I am grateful of everything I have and not in need of anything particular. I do admire inspiring artists and recycling, which I gladly support.

Boots or Shoes?

Depending on the environment… definitely boots in the Netherlands, very practical due to the weather conditions; sandals in any warm country and barefoot whenever I can.


Links you would like to share:

Durga Universe social media links and shops:
Twitter https://twitter.com/durgauniverse
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DurgaUniverse/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/durgauniverse/
Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/DurgaUniverse/
Webshop www.durgauniverse.com
Etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/DurgaUniverse

Wow, Dorit, you are one interesting and sassy lady!  Your clothes are very vibrant and I love your use of textiles too. I must say, your bucket list number 1 trip sounds very adventurous – if you do manage to go, I’d love to hear all about it! Dear readers, are you vintage/textile fans? Are you brave enough to wear bright colours?  Are you adventurous?  Do let me know how adventurous you are ! 

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Dorit at Durga Universe.  The photographers are: Xander Productions, Elena San Francisco Photography, Luca Chiapatti Photography.  The models are: Sasha Kalashnikova, Marta, Sonia Lawicka, Ramona.

 

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An Interview With Vault Couture

Continue reading An Interview With Vault Couture

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An Interview With Messina Hembry Clothing

If you enjoy hunting for vintage clothing and preloved designer garments on websites such as Ebay and ASOS marketplace, then my guest this week would be a familiar name to you.  Messina Hembry is eBay’s largest retailer of secondhand branded clothing and is one of the top 10 boutiques on ASOS marketplace. They have now launched their own new stand-alone e-boutique to compliment their existing outlets and I caught up with founder Zac Hembry to find out more. Hi Zac…image

Hi there! I’m Zac Hembry the founder here at Messina Hembry Clothing.

What inspired you to launch Messina Hembry?

I always had a desire to start my own business once I had left university. I wanted to create something which could offer people real savings and doing it in the most environmentally friendly way possible. I always had a keen interest in buying and selling second hand designer clothing on eBay which lead to the creation of Messina Hembry.

Have you always had a passion for fashion?

I have always loved designer brands but I found the new price tags really limiting. I always had to shop smart on places like eBay or etsy. There is something really satisfying knowing that someone has already paid 4-5 times the price for the same item. My passion for fashion definitely came from the savings from buying second hand pieces.

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When choosing outfits to represent Messina Hembry, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, your own preferences, the uniqueness, the brand or bits of all those?

We always try to choose our most exclusive pieces when picking out styles for Messina Hembry. We want really want to show off the pieces which people can’t get hold of anymore. Some of the more difficult stuff we like to show off include any Moschino, Versace and YSL are always winners!

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My favourite items from your website are the collection of Diesel jeans – timeless pieces! What outfits/brands are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

We’ve always got a high demand for any Ralph Lauren and Lacoste. I think we because we offer such great savings on these brands it’s really pushed the demand forward. Whenever we can get hold of the more expensive brands like Burberry, Armani and D&G they always go really fast as well!

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Your company is the largest retailer of secondhand branded clothing on eBay and one of the top 10 boutiques on the ASOS marketplace as well as having your new standalone e-boutique. What do you feel was the hardest part of getting your company launched? What advice would you give to others who aspire to see their passions materialise into reality?

The hardest part has definitely been building the inventory up. As every individual item has to be photographed, measured and listed online we had months of really hard work to ensure our stock levels were large enough to give our customers a lot of choice. There was a lot to learn in a short space of time so I would advise anyone with a similar idea to ensure they’ve done their homework and make sure you are familiar with the rules and regulations on any marketplaces you’re thinking of selling on.

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Which famous lady or man would you love to see as the “face” of Messina Hembry?

It’s a long shot but we’d really love to see someone like Leonardo DiCaprio representing the brand. He loves his designer clothing whilst having a keen interest in the environment and I really think that’s the way I want to push the company forward. We want people to understand not only are there great savings in second hand clothing but the environmental benefits are astounding as well.

As you are based in the UK, is your clothing range available overseas too?

We currently ship worldwide on our eBay store & ASOS marketplace boutique. On our website we only currently ship to the EU, Australia and USA.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Normally it has to be a Ralph Lauren shirt, Diesel  jeans, Nike trainers and Barbour jacket. All of course from Messina Hembry.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?(apart from your own!)

There are some really good online thrift stores in America like Twice or Poshmark which we tried to use to as guidance for the business. We also really like Etsy for unique designer vintage clothing.

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Messina Hembry

www.messinahembry.com
https://www.facebook.com/messinahembryclothing
https://twitter.com/messinahembry
https://instagram.com/messinahembry/

Thanks for chatting to us today Zac and I wish your business every success. Dear readers, what has been your best vintage/preloved fashion item that you’ve bought?  I once picked up a fab dotty Next dress that still had the tag in it from a local jumble sale about 12 years ago for the princely sum of 50p – I was really chuffed with it as the tag marked it up around the £50 mark! It saw me through quite a few social events & parties that year!

Linda x

Photos have been published with kind permission of Zac Hembry

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Spotlight on East Shopping Centre

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Saturday 14th March 2015 sees the grand opening of not only London’s latest shopping centre but it is Europe’s first purpose-built boutique Asian shopping centre, East Shopping Centre, based in Green Street, London E7 – not far from West Ham’s football ground and Newham’s other recently built shopping centre, Westfield Stratford. Following its successful soft launch on January 24th 2015, East Shopping Centre has generated around 200 jobs for the local area as well as injecting much needed enthusiasm for shopping locally. Built on the one acre site of the former bus depot, the centre has retained its original facade but has incorporated the latest eco friendly touches such as solar panels, water flow restrictors, and carefully resourced building materials – protecting resources and saving money too. Green Street has always had an important trade and cultural heritage – my own mother bought her wedding dress from a Green Street dressmaker back in 1962 – and East Shopping Centre hope to build upon and become part of that heritage too.

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So, what’s inside the shopping centre? Major Asian fashion outlets are represented including Zarkan of London, Andaaz Fashion, Memsaab, Imaani London…plus other non fashion companies including Urban Chocolatier and Coffee Republic too. There is a “souk” comprising of smaller, local stores selling everything from costume jewellery to mobile phones – menswear, shoes, bags…

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Overlooking the shopping centre is a spectacular food court where you’ll find food delights such as Piri Piri Chicken from the Roosters chain, desserts and mocktails galore from Lost Asia, American-style burgers from Brioche Burgers… getting hungry?

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Being indoors, the centre is ideal as an all year round shopping venue and with its late night closing time, your shopping pleasure is not hurried.

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So, as I was saying, Saturday 14th March is the official opening day and from 12pm West Ham MP Lyn Brown will be cutting the ribbon. There will be lots going on – the centre will be creating a mela atmosphere with music, dhol players, face painting and much more. East Shopping Centre is also offering raffle tickets giving one lucky winner the chance to win a luxury weekend holiday for two in Dubai, £1000 gift voucher to spend at East Shopping Centre and two iPad Mini 3’s. The first 100 people to arrive on Saturday will receive vouchers to the food court worth £10. All proceeds raised from the raffle will be donated to Masoom, a locally based charity that supports vulnerable women and children around the world.

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East Shopping Centre can be found at 232-236 Green Street, London E7 8LE.

For more information, you can follow East Shopping Centre via their website – www.eastshoppingcentre.com – or via Twitter @EastShopping; Facebook: East Shopping Centre; Instagram: EastShopping

Hope to see you all there! Happy Shopping!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Puja Vedi

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An Interview With n-1 Couture

From Argentina last week to Italy this week, my guest this week is the independent fashion company for women whose outfits are hand tailored in Italy, offering a look and lifestyle based upon beauty and sensuality in harmony with our being and the natural world around us.  Watching the cycle race, Giro D’Italia , at the moment and seeing the gorgeous scenery that is Italy,  you can not help but to embrace the natural earthy colours and florals that comprise the n-1 Couture’s collection.  Without further ado, welcome Darren …image

Hello my name is Darren Eryou and together with Paola Morandi we form the core of (n-1) couture. We have backgrounds in such diversified fields as fashion, art, architecture, graphic design and photography, which makes us slightly schizophrenic but also provides us with different perspectives and approaches on the way we do things. We live in a small town in northern Italy called Cremona and we have a firm and steady belief in local production and have always been convinced that small scale “artisan” designers and workers will continue to have a relevant role in the fashion industry. Empiricists by nature, we like to participate in every level of what we do. This means that we don’t just have an idea or draft up a drawing of a design and have it sent off to be made – we make it ourselves. Sourcing fabrics for us means seeking out local textiles, visiting them, touching the fabrics, discussing with the producer how they were made, etc. We want to know as much about it as we can before deciding to work with it. This kind of approach can at times be exhausting, but it’s the way we work and is ultimately rewarding. There is no stitch or hem in any garment that we have made that doesn’t reside in some part of our minds.

imageWhat inspired the founding of n-1 couture?

We had been working in the field of what we could call “couture” for some time – making unique, custom designed outfits for dance performances, video productions, historical reproductions ecc. We have always been passionate about what we call the “plastic arts” – a very open concept – but something that could be defined as the moulding of colour and form, like with painting, sculpture or film. The step to founding (n-1) couture was a big one – because running a brand is not quite the same thing as creating individual couture pieces, for obvious reasons. As contradictory as it might sound – one of our goals with (n-1) couture is to maintain that spirit of artisian uniqueness while being a brand at the same time.

imageWhat’s behind the brand name, n-1 couture pronounced ENNE MENO UNO (or N minus 1 in English)? Was it difficult to find a name that really sums up your ideals?

In our case, our brand name preceeded us. Given that we still don’t have aperfect grasp on the meaning of (n-1) one could say that from a traditional brandind point of view we are a bit unorthodox. In any case – (n-1) is an ideal or philosophy which guides us. The further we go down our path, the more we begin to understand the meaning of our brand name. It may seem paradoxical, but (n-1) is an ideal that we understand by creating, constructing.
In a technical sense, (n-1) means subtracting the “transcendental” aspect of something, and discovering that “something” as it is in itself, without any form of prejudice. In a simple sense, (n-1) means discovering a kind of newness in things themselves by finding new ways to look at things in themselves. This is praxis for great painters. Take Paul Cézanne and his paintings of apples. Apples can be a seemingly banal subject – but Cézanne discovered new ways of looking at such a seemingly banal subject – an in the act transformed the art of painting itself. It is an approach that doesn’t explicitly attempt to create something radically new, such as with cubism – or by extension – “avant-garde” fashion circles. It’s a form of patient discovery, a labour of love – trying to see things are they are in themselves. Slowly, day by day. With Cézanne we see the same thing with his paintings of Mont Saint-Victoire. Cèzanne wants to see the Saint-Victoire mountain in an (n-1) kind of way – not as a landscape or a postcard or as a pretty picture but as a thing in itself stripped of all prejudice. The mountain becomes a kind of living mass of sensations – majestic, violent, burning hot, ice cold, etc. So that’s what (n-1) means to us. “n minus 1” or “enne meno uno” in Italian. Hope that makes sense
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imageMy favourites from your Spring collection are the Matisse drop waist A-line Spring Dress in floral Liberty cotton; Sand Feather A-line lace dress; and the Fluo tailored shift dress. What outfits are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Our Liberty 2014 collection, of which the Matisse, Renoir, Seurat and Degas dresses are a part of has done very well. We are very passionate about Liberty so this has been gratifying – we wanted to engage the floral trend but in our own way – and that’s where Liberty Art fabrics came into play. The Sand Feather dress has gone over well, as lace seems to have become a constant trend and that has also been the case with the Fluo dress – flourescent colours seem to be in the spotlight this season. Our line of tunics continue to be a success and one of our big present and future challenges is tranforming our line of tunics into a line made solely out of GOTS certified organic cotton. We want to be as sustainable and responsable as possible but trying to convince consumers that they should be as well is not an easy task. We still have alot of ground to cover.

imageOut of all the outfits in your collection,what is your favourite?

It’s difficult to pick out just one item – we tend to think less and less in terms of finished “items” or “objects” and more in terms of concepts. “Liberty” is a concept we really like – some dresses have been more successful than others in terms of what we sought to accomplish – but we see the Liberty concept as kind of having its own organic being that pulls us into new and often unexpected directions. At present we are releasing a series of clutch handbags made in Liberty Art cotton fabrics which is something that we had never planned to do but just kind of “happened.” Such are the pleaures of being small and flexible. “Sustainable is Beautiful” is another concept born from our desire to put sustainablity at the forefront of our thinking and we are quite fond of the designs and the packaging as well – the idea of making the consumer a producer through packaging the garments in planters together with a bunch of seeds to plant and grow is a small step for us in attempting to propose a more multi-faceted notion of fashion that can enable us to expand the meaning of fashion and its role in the world at large. So in the broadest sense possible – “Liberty” and “Sustainable is Beautiful” are concepts which we feel very much a part of and hope to develop in new and unexpected ways in the future.

imageApart from your passion for sewing, you have a passion for keeping the Italian artisan spirit alive – by using materials, tailoring and packaging in Italy. what place in Italy has most inspired your designs?

(n-1) couture has a longstanding love affair with the island of Sardinia. We could list so many reasons as to why we are so fascinated with this island but I think what intrigues us most is this kind of spirit of austure beauty which kind of overwhelms you. The history of Sardinia and its unique maritime position have given Sardinia a very rich heritage which somehow never overcomes the sometimes savage beauty of the island itself. Sardinia has been colonized by different Mediterranean cultures since the prehistoric period – yet at the same time it has always resisted colonization. Each culture has let a series of traces – but they remain just that – traces, as if they were small zones of intense ornamentation and articulation which are knots on a tapestry which is the island itself. It has been crosses upon by the Greeks, Romans, Phoenician, Saracens, Byzantines, Catalans, Genovese and more. But more often than not these cultural traces are expressed as tiny fragments in local tradition, customs and festivals. If we imagined Sardinia as a garment, it would be an enormous, austere flowing sheet of fabric adorned sparsely with small but functional exquisite ornamentations: a gilded byzantine decoration here, a phoenician decoration there. The ornamentations are signs and would never be central to the garment itself – and they are always in a kind of reasonation with one another.

imageWhich famous lady would you love to see as the “face” of n-1 couture?

We have mentioned elsewhere that our “ideal” customers would be either Monica Vitti in Michelangelo Antonioni’s film “The Adventure” or Anna Karina in Jean-Luc Godard’s film “Pierrot le Fou.” And this is because they are women who are forced to reinvent themselves and the world around them – they must reinvent “love, language and themselves.” So those are two examples of possible ideal “faces” for (n-1) couture. In terms of a real, present day faces or a famous lady we really don’t have a single answer. Nowadays the very notion of the “icon” or “face” is in crisis – it’s kind of dissolving in the high speed rapid rotation of contemporary media culture and it’s rapid rotation. If we were to choose someone who could still represent a traditional face it could be Laura Morante. We love her work in theater and as an actress and above all her courage. If we wanted to choose amongst the faces that represent the new kind of icons of our changing contemporary culture it could be Lorella Zanardo – a writer and activist or Annalisa Leone – a colorist or illustrator. These are also talented women changing the world we live in.

imageYour collection is full of colours of every hue – what colour(s) are you personally leaning towards this season?

We are becoming increasingly interested in colour relations as compared to just colours in the strict sense. Pastels are definitely a trend this season and we have followed suit with our Liberty collection – but what we increasingly like to do is propose a complementary item, often worn in layering, which creates a far richer dynamic in terms of colour. For each of our Liberty dresses – Matisse, Renoir, Seurat and Degas – we propose pairing a colored semi-transparent top which creates a distinct colour relation with the pastel dress. From a simple white chiffon top to a subdued gold-green organza top to a more flourescent fuchsia-organza gradient silk top – the idea is that through layering the perceived “sum” of the colours creates a sensation which is greater than the simple addition of colours. This was something discovered in colour theory or in pointillist painting in the 19th century called “colour contrast” – two colours, juxtaposed or overlapping – have the effect of a third colour when seen from a distance. We can call these colours something like “colours of the eye and mind” – if we juxtapose two primary colours we will peceive a third colour which has an intensity much greater than the sum of the two primary colours alone. So these kinds of colour relations interest us more and more. We are currently working on some flourescent designs but what interests us most is finding a way to increase the perceived intensity of the colours through “complementary” items with varying colours.

imageLooking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2014 – what styles/colours do you hope to see being worn?

We will be moving forward with our Liberty 2014 and Sustainable is Beautiful collections with neutral and soft tones for autumn. The so called “street style” or “luxe sport” is something that we have begun working on with our “Inuit” hoodies in boiled wool and is a style we are developing in our own individual way – the idea of mixing couture with wearable and athletic sihlouettes is something destined to grow as the line between haute couture and everyday life continues to blur. Layering is also a trend we will be following up on. And, of course, knitwear. Which will be a big step for us.

imagePersonal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Argh! This is a question we want might to skip. We put everything including all of our energy into what we make – what we wear boils down to what is most comfortable to work in. A pair of supergas, jeans, linen smocks. Essential and extremely practical.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (apart from your own!)

One online store which has always stood out for us is Nastygal. Beyond the whole issue of content driven e-commerce which Nastygal does so well, there is an underlying sense of style and “essentialness” which make it stand out from the others. It’s chic but there’s something so fun and elegant about it at the same time. And that takes talent – so it’s a well earned success.

What’s next on your clothes/shoes wish list?

As far as shoes go – anything by Charline de Luca will definitely go into the wish list. For clothing – Antonio Marras.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes, shoes, shoes…It’s not that we don’t like boots – quite the contrary, it’s just that we weren’t genetically constructed for them.

Any links you would like to share so that readers can find out more about n-1 couture

Our website is www.nmeno1.com and drop by and visit us at:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/nmenouno.couture.3
Twitter: www.twitter.com/nmeno1_couture
Instagram: www.instagram.com/nmeno1
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/nmeno1
Google+: www.plus.google.com/b/109586194278781359290/+Nmeno1

Thank you very much for talking to me tonight, the essence of Italy has certainly captured me and I’m sure that many blog readers will feel just as inspired….

Linda x

Photo Credits: All photos have been published with the kind permission of n-1 Couture

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An Interview With Wear Eponymous

Hailing from Glasgow,  new fashion brand Wear Eponymous have introduced a fresh and fun approach  by strongly championing emerging designers and showcasing exciting limited edition lines as well as believing the fact that everybody should embrace their individuality.  So this week I’m chatting to the lovely three founders – Elaine, Laura and Alan, to find out more …welcome…image

ALAN: Hi! Wear Eponymous is a new fashion brand with a fresh and fun approach to the industry we know, love and as individuals have worked in for many years. We think everyone should embrace their individuality and eponymous means uniquely you. Shopping with us you’re choosing to dress for yourself, to follow key trends without following the crowd and, most importantly, be your own story.

You’ve all got good vast knowledge of the fashion industry from the photographic, MUA, and technical knowhow. What inspired the founding of Wear Eponymous?

We wanted to create a sustainable future for ourselves after many years working as freelancers but we have key goals to achieve that align ethically with our own sustainability plans. As many creatives will tell you, there is very much a ‘working for free’ attitude that has crept in to the creative industries (and others) over the last few years and we want to address this. We feel that providing quality products at affordable prices will allow us to achieve our goals of sustainability and in return will allow us to pay creatives and give something back to people in the industry.

imageYour idea is that everyone should embrace their individuality and the word “eponymous” means “uniquely you”. So who thought up the brand name? Was it difficult to find a name that really sums up your ideals?

We wanted to create a sustainable future for ourselves after many years working as freelancers but we have key goals to achieve that align ethically with our own sustainability plans. As many creatives will tell you, there is very much a ‘working for free’ attitude that has crept in to the creative industries (and others) over the last few years and we want to address this. We feel that providing quality products at affordable prices will allow us to achieve our goals of sustainability and in return will allow us to pay creatives and give something back to people in the industry.

imageYou’re a new fashion brand with a fresh & fun approach to fashion and you also feel strongly about championing emerging designers, such as your first guest emerging designer, fellow Scot, Laura Sherriffs. So, when designing or choosing outfits to represent your brand, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, your own preferences or bits of all those?

LAURA: As a team, we have an extensive background working within the fashion and beauty industries and as a result, working at the likes of London Fashion Week helped to educate us in trend forecasting and observe the process of runway collections translating into high-street everyday looks. When choosing collections to represent our brand, we’re always mindful of our customer base and combine their thoughts with trend forecasting to deliver an affordable but high-quality product. When it comes to selecting our emerging designers, we use a criteria of exceptional talent and originality of design.

My favourites from your collection are the turquoise checkered shirt and the black classic clutch bag. What outfits are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

The dress collection in particular has been very popular and we have seen a sellout in our classic black bag.

imageOut of all the outfits in your collection, what is your favourite?

I’m torn between the contrast collar dress and the high-waisted faux-leather skirt! The great thing is our products are designed to be extremely flattering on the body and as a petite but curvy lady, the struggle to find dresses and skirts that don’t swamp my figure up is over! The contrast collar dress is completely timeless, but with the collar, it adds that little element of personality other little black dresses are missing. As for the high-waisted faux-leather skirt – being a fan of leatherette textures, it’s perfect for helping the transition into spring/summer – black faux-leather is too harsh for summer! It teams up perfectly with pastels.

Wear Eponymous aims to prioritise good ethics in everything you do from chosen suppliers through to product packaging and model casting. How important is it to you and your designers that your models promote a positive body image?

ELAINE: We think it’s so important to promote a healthy image as life is tough enough without scrutinising your body and focusing on what you don’t like or wish was different. No-one is perfect and we don’t want to promote an unachievable image. We want everyone to embrace our tagline of ‘be your own story’ and encourage our customers to dress for themselves.

imageWhich famous lady would you love to see as the “face” of Wear Eponymous?

We love and admire anyone who has fun with fashion and dresses for themselves. From a fun point of view, someone like Paloma Faith clearly epitomises ‘be your own story’ and injects so much of her personality into her outfit choices and we love that! We select pieces that fit with trends but are also timeless too so a classic beauty such as Jourdan Dunn fits our eponymous ethos; you instantly know her style.

Your collection is full of cutesy pastels and striking monochrome – What colour(s) are you personally leaning towards this season?

Always a fan of pastels, I’m really channelling baby blue and pink! The blue hues seen in our pastel skinny jeans and pastel blazers are so fresh and bright – just what we need after what seems a very long and miserable winter. I’m always a champion of monochrome as it really is seasonless – it will never go out of fashion, but as always, in summer I lean more towards white, and in winter towards Black. The third trend I’m really tapping into this season is “Geo” – which is the trend based off of an earthy palette. Nudes and earthy tones are very underrated and used, but incredibly complimentary to all skin tones – the trick is to select the right hue for you. I’m personally in love with the W.E. Classic trench coat in beige – the toning is so rich and unusual for a trench coat.

imageLooking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2014 – what styles/ colours / era do you hope to see being worn?

There is a fair emphasis on a neutral colour palette predicted – a lot of grey, black and nude tones present on the A/W 2014/15 runways. That being said, there’s also hints at colour bursting through, particularly in tones of burgundy, purple and burnt orange, as well as a touch of deep blue. In terms of shape, we’re definitely moving away from skin-tight clothing and heading towards traditional feminine silhouettes, as well as boxy oversized tailoring.

imagePersonal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I love classic pieces that are comfortable to wear and allow me to go about my varied working day knowing that I won’t be held back by an uncomfortable heel or super tight skirt! When I’m working on shoots or rushing between meetings I opt for a tailored trouser, classic shirt and a ballet pump or boot. I love dresses for events and will definitely opt for a heel then but at 5ft 9” it’s never too high!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?(apart from your own!)

I always like to visit House of Fraser as they have a great selection of brands (personal favourites being Biba and Mary Portas). Warehouse has always been a go-to for classic pieces and you can’t beat New Look for some fast fashion.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

We’re already looking towards our autumn/winter collection, but for spring/summer we’re hoping to bring in some more pastel palettes in our shirts and dresses and we love the monochrome trend, in particular we have spied the most stunning dogtooth heels which may have to make a debut before the change of season!

Boots or Shoes?

This is hard! I’m always a sucker for a great court heel – get the right pair and you can wear them with anything! However, if I were to base it on trends, it has to be the cut-out boot – black for winter, tan for summer! They have a great versatility and I just adore how clunky and grunge-like they look with any outfit. Other classics include a Chelsea boot for a great 60’s mod vibe and a pair of tan Oxford brogues – comfort, androgyny and sophistication all in one shoe!

Links you would like to share:

http://www.weareponymous.com

http://fashion.weareponymous.com

http://www.twitter.com/weareponymous

http://www.facebook.com/WearEponymous

It’s been great chatting to you and learning about what Wear Eponymous is all about.  You have a great future in front of you and I’m sure you’ve gained some new customers/fans amongst my readers!

Linda x

Photo credits:  All photos have been published with kind permission from Wear Eponymous.

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