Thursday, April 16, 2009

Our Five With: Iekeliene Stange and Victor De Bie

Model Iekeliene Stange and artist Victor De Bie, both of Dutch heritage, chose a German word to title their latest exhibition: Umfeld. “The closest translation is probably ‘surroundings’" says De Bie. Appropriately, their well edited selection of paintings and Polaroids shown at London’s Horse Hospital this month paid tribute to everything from boyfriends to new babies to ageing park graffiti.

De Bie, a former modelling agency scout turned pro painter, provides a great match for Stange, the face of ad campaigns like Sonia Rykiel and an aspiring photojournalist who’s just as legit behind the camera as in front of it. Look for more of their exhibitions later, but for now, let them tell you how it all came together.

How did this partnership come about?
Victor De Bie: I guess you could say she’s my muse. That’s how we met. After graduation I worked for a modelling agency in Paris and in Brussels, and I was a talent scout. One day I was shopping at a market and I saw Iekeliene. I had to talk to her…Now, a lot of the characters have her features.

How do you get the ideas for your work?
VDB: I think that maybe no one will remember a story, so I have to make a painting out of it. I switch something off. I’m not there anymore. I painted my nephew, but I’m not going to think, “I’m going to paint my nephew.” I knew he was born, and I was so happy. I had never seen him before the painting, and then it looks exactly like him. My brother was like, “That’s him, that’s him.” All the pictures you’ll see [from my paintings and Iekeliene’s photos] are friends and family, all in different situations. It’s a story of our surroundings, our lives, our homes, Holland.

How did you choose the Horse Hospital as your venue?
Iekeliene Stange: We wanted to be quite cosy. This is different from the usual gallery. It has a lot more character. It was a lot of work putting everything together. I was modeling last month and back in January. We went location scouting when Victor was here…and we just looked at the images over email. Skype helped a lot.

Iekeliene, you’ve already had a well-received photo exhibition, I like ponies, in Berlin. Do you think you’ll ever compile a book of your images?
IS: That’s something I would consider. I’m hoping to have more time in the future. At the moment, modelling is a sure thing. I don’t have anything to complain about…I just want to show people these different cultures. I think it’s really interesting. I love that every country that you go to, even in Europe, every country is so diverse and has so much history and culture and so many traditions.

Any plans for another London exhibition?
VDB: I’m addicted to London now. I thought maybe I could do something in October, or otherwise next April. I’m just discovering London, and now Iekeliene’s bringing me to all these cool places. I’ll come back more, definitely.

For more about the exhibit, visit

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Our Five With: Betty Jackson

Internationally renowned fashion designer Betty Jackson has an impressive resume. When she was chief designer at the fashion collective Quorum, in the '70s, she worked with legends like Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell. Second, her work in fashion earned her an MBE. And finally, she delivered a knockout runway collection this season, with the Telegraph's Hilary Alexander gushing backstage that she'd 'redefined feminism'.

Now, she talks to LondonNet about how it all came together, and where fashion is going now.

What was the jump-off point for your latest collection?
We always start with colour and fabric, and we wanted to be quite optimistic. One of the main fabrics is mohair, which is the lightest fabric in the world. It looks bulky but really isn't. And then we wanted to mix all the prints up.

Besides some bright prints - anemone-print, wood-grain - you have some darker influences. What was that about?
It was a bit more to do with Tim Burton and all his animations, and sort of more surreal. We wanted to pull all of these odd elements together.

How do you think the economy will impact the fashion community?
I think everybody's spirit is different. I think we will get through it. It's going to be a hard time, no question, because it's probably going to be deeper than anything we've had before, but it just means you have to work harder. You have to concentrate and do what you do best. We're fairly upbeat.

Who are some of your favourite up-and-coming designers?
I think there's a lot of great talent. I love what Richard Nicoll is doing, I love what Danielle Scutt is doing. Christopher Kane is already established and does beautiful, beautiful things. What Giles has achieved in a very short amount of time, it's fantastic.

People tend to be really uninhibited here, don't they?
Well, yes. There's also all the music and theatre, and wherever you want to go, it's an inspirational place.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Sophie Gittins Builds Her Business

When you see a flash of red on the sole of a heel, you think Louboutin. When you see a bumblebee, you should think Sophie Gittins. The designer's ladylike shoes won the favour of Vogue before her first fashion week - but all that training at Chloe and a strong sense of business savvy probably helped.

A month after London took down its fashion-week catwalks, the up-and-coming designer tells us what she's been up to and why Thandie Newton should come calling.

What type of woman wears Sophie Gittins shoes? What celebrity or fashion icon could you see in them?
The shoes are classically feminine with an edge, and so they tend to appeal to women who are not necessarily doggedly trend led but who are always current. I would love to see Thandie Newton in them as she’s able to veer between cutting edge and classic elegance whilst maintaining a strong sense of femininity, which is a chameleon quality I admire.

What was a typical day like during fashion week?
Much of my time was spent at the main tents exploring all the other stands. Obviously from a design point of view, it’s interesting to see what trends are emerging and how your collection sits amongst the others, but it’s also fun to build an extended mental ‘wish list’ for the forthcoming season!

What type of response have you been getting?
As I was showing my first collection it was very much an unknown quantity what reaction would be, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s given me the opportunity to gain advice from so many respected people that I can take forward and apply entering my second season, so I really couldn’t ask for more.

Did you do anything to celebrate your first fashion week?
I moved house and studio just before fashion week so I invited my friends over for a grand unveiling. It was lovely and low key and just what the doctor ordered after the chaos of fashion week!

Post-fashion week, what have you been doing?
The momentum has really kept up since fashion week, which of course is fantastic, but I’m starting to focus on Spring/Summer 2010 now. My favourite part of the whole cycle is the research, so I’m looking forward to things easing off so I can concentrate fully on that in the coming weeks.

As a young designer, what's been surprising you about the business side of having your own line?
I’ve always understood the importance of not neglecting the business side in favour of the creative side if you want the company to progress, but it’s surprised me how much help there is available with that side of things if you seek it out. In London especially, there’s a real sense of priority given to nurturing young designers in the early stages of business. I think perhaps this has been heightened by the tough economic times, as there is an understanding that fewer people are likely to strike out on their own, and so those who do need direction and support wherever possible.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Afshin Feiz Likes Rumi, Hates Being Interrupted

Afshin Feiz is a thinker. Not just any designer turns mythology and Persian poetry into fashion, but maybe that gives the British style star something to talk about with rocker Bryan Adams - one of Afshin's friends who's been known to do photo shoots for his line.

Training with John Galliano, Thierry Mugler, Nina Ricci and Christian Lacroix Haute Couture has helped shape the designer's sexy but restrained line. (Fans like Elizabeth Hurley and Halle Berry seem impressed.) Here, Afshin shares his thoughts on impressing the masses in China, birdhouse dresses and what ruins his holidays.

What gets the creative process going for you?
My lastest collection was inspired by a passage I read in a book called A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle - there is a passage that talks about Buddha's silent sermon. Generally, I am inspired by anything to do with love and renewal of oneself. I have been very inspired in the past by the Persian poet Rumi.

What's one of your favourite garments for the upcoming season? What type of woman do you see in these clothes?
I would say it would be my opening look for my show, the pastel green short dress with the mini ruffles and cut-outs and the embroidered chains in the ruffles. It's a confident and sexy woman, but more flirtatiously sexy than overtly.

Describe the first garment you ever made.
Oh God, it was at school and I thought I was being so avant-garde. It was a green jersey catsuit with appliqued birdhouses and actual bird looking toys sticking out of it. Quite humourous though!

Did you always know you'd be a designer? And if you couldn't do this, what would you do?
Yes, I always knew. It took a while before my father warmed up to the idea, but he supports me now fully. If I didn't do this I would always be in some creative industry - artist or photographer or filmmaker.

Could you talk a little more about your Chinese brand?
It is called Reves De Fleurs, which means Dreams of Flowers. The Chinese love cutesy names like that so it works over there, and it is high-end but more cute and wearable than directional. It has quickly been adopted by all of the major Chinese movie stars and singers and we are about to open a new boutique in Beijing.

What trend should die already?

What's one of your favourite garments from another designer?
The whole collection of autumn/winter 2004 - I think it was Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent.

Which movie character wins your best-dressed title?
There are undoubtedly many, but off the top of my head I would say Sean Young in Blade Runner.

What's your biggest vice?

Name your favourite band on your iPod.
The Kills

What's your favourite vacation spot?
Anywhere where I'm not harassed by people trying to sell me things.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Little Gisele with Your Turkey?

Gisele. Photo Credit: Louisa Lampton. C.C. License.Happy Thanksgiving! Supermodels Gisele Bundchen and Cindy Crawford are getting into the holiday spirit by serving up traditional holiday fare to those less fortunate. Have you planned any festivities for the American holiday?

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Save Your Eley Kash-imoto

Holiday gifts. Photo credit: Randy Son of Robert. C.C. License.Looking for a few holiday gifts? Unimpressed upon realising the VAT cut won't actually save you much cash? Eley Kishimoto are here to help.

The print-loving brand is having a sample sale this Thursday and Friday from 10.30 am to 7 pm. Show up at The Smokehouse, 44-46 St John Street, EC1M for gifts starting at £5 apiece. Credit cards and cheques are both fine.

You can get clothes, you can get accessories, you can get shoes. But the adorable Westie at left won't be included.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wake up in Kate Moss Territory

Kate Moss. Copyright LondonNet. All Rights Reserved.Please don't email us if this extensively piques your interest because it's kind of creepy, but Kate Moss' old bed is for sale, and it's already generating plenty of interest.

Granted, the supermodel hasn't slept on the recently price-tagged furniture for four years. A pre-Christmas auction tomorrow will take bids on the pine double that was in the master bedroom of a Cotswold cottage she rented from 2001 to 2004.

But a spokesman for auctioneer
Moore Allen & Innocent admitted the not-so-innocent motivations that many potential buyers have in mind. He told the Press Association: "Any hot-blooded male whose seasonal fantasy involves no more than waking up in Kate Moss' bed on Christmas morn - or any morn, for that matter - can now have that fantasy fulfilled from as little as £200."

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