Burning the midnight oil

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Having both the main line in Opening Ceremony as well as the capsule collection is great,” Lou Dalton beams proudly over the Internet. “Both are very different, each say something different without compromise,” she excitedly exclaims. Joining forces with the rousing retailer, the design talent takes our hands again, leads us across the border once more and we fall for the charms of her imagined rig of Zetland Oil all over again. Through Opening Ceremony’s youthful filter, her autumn/winter 13 collection’s sartorial sharpness softens and becomes that bit more sportier. As with her own collection, the collection’s personal narrative falls seductively from the lips of the designer but here it feels like a fresh tale.
Having first been approached by Opening Ceremony for a series of London based designer capsules around the 2012 Olympics celebrating the store’s arrival in the capital, Dalton chose to explore cycling and intricately incorporated house signatures into the sport whilst making a point of it feeling a little more commercial and easy-to-wear. Unsurprisingly, the collection went down a storm and with this in mind she approached Opening Ceremony earlier this year to do something similar and this latest collection evolved from these speculative conversations.
“I enjoyed creating a fictional Oil Company called “Zetland Oil” for autumn/winter 13. ‘Zetland’ is an old Nordic term for Shetland. Shetland is such an inspiration to me. As you know I met the Haigh there (Justin Haigh, Lou’s fella of 10 years) who just so happens to work for an oil company that has an oil port in Shetland. The other logos used within the designs are all inspired by oil company branding from in around the late 70s mid 80s but re-worked and all carrying reference to Lou Dalton, either the year I was born or Shetland itself.
 
When I first discussed the ideas for the range with Opening Ceremony and the t-shirt prints in particular, we all agreed on the idea of making them take on a sporty mood. I looked at making them appear quite Motor Cross branded. For me, it was integral to incorporate the store’s branding into the capsule as much as my own. As the collection was to be a little easier-to-wear and even more accessible than the Lou Dalton main line, I kept it easy and quite relaxed. However, I did want to give it a strong reference to the Lou Dalton main line and did so by introducing one of the fabrics we had used on the autumn/winter 13 mainline which was a particular favourite of mine, this being a cloth that I refer to as Bobble. This cloth came in a whole ray of colours but for Opening Ceremony, we kept it to a tomato orange, bordeaux and black. Throughout, this collection felt very natural. I always believe that if it feels forced then you should just leave it and move on. Opening Ceremony are so great to work with, they understand and appreciate design and its end use without it becoming to banal.”
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The capsule collection includes caps, t-shirts, jogging bottoms and sweatshirts.
Opening Ceremony’s ever evolving relationship with some of my favourite London design talent, mixing straight main line season buys and really considered capsule collections, the fruits of which manage to balance the aesthetics of everyone involved perfectly, shows the way for other stores to follow. Meanwhile, Lou Dalton is sketching a fine blueprint that other designers can look to for inspiration. Since launching her own line in 2005, Dalton has refined a well crafted reputation for rebellious English sportswear with a keen eye for and attention to detail whilst establishing herself as the real shining starlet of British Menswear. As London menswear has demanded an ever increasing presence at London Fashion Week and respect far beyond the perimeter of the capital, evolving from an afternoon in to three full days of shows, presentations, previews, installations and exhibitions under the umbrella of London Collections: Men, she has matured in the spotlight, built a brand and helped pave the way forward. Long may Lou Dalton continue to strive forward and here’s hoping more follow.

BERTHOLD SS14

Harvesting, fusing and re-constructing references from a myriad of sources, she takes an anything-goes approach to the materials she uses to convey multiple meanings in unexpected ways,” is how the Saatchi Gallery describes the diverse designs of Isa Genzken. “I can certainly relate to that statement,”
Raimund Berthold confesses as we sit in his central London studio, surrounded by his spring/summer 14 collection, a cacophony of concrete, jersey, art and sportswear. “Now, I’ve been aware of Genzken’s work for three years or more, she used to be married to Gerhard Richter who I think is also absolutely amazing, but I hadn’t looked into her own work until I began coming across it at exhibitions and auctions. I always try and go to Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips, it’s a great way to encounter art that is rarely publicised. Having appreciated her work for a while, it was when I saw her work Knocken, meaning bones, that really moved me. The feeling it created from seeing this cement block on a beautiful plinth inspired so many things in my mind, from the material itself to developing this idea of mixing hard and soft.” It is a feeling that BERTHOLD continues to provoke with his own designs.
Removing gender from the opening line above, the statment could easily apply to the bold menswear of Raimund Berthold. Led by inventive design and fit, it echoes Genzken’s totemic sculptures, colourful mirrored panels and lacquered paintings. As for the myriad of sources, mirroring the inspiration of the contemporary artist, we always prepare for the unexpected to adorn the designer’s foil mood boards. “A stunning image of mouldy bread, artfully stuck chewing gum on a wall, a shot of a neglected swimming pool, overgrown palm trees, an old photograph used as a styling piece and a variety of images that I shot myself in and around London, alongside scanned and printed ones from beyond,” are just a few of the image descriptions that fall from the designer’s mouth in between sips of espresso. Seemingly disparate and certainly peculiar, Berthold manages to balance and duly creates beauty from the unexpected. As this season’s silver canvas shimmers to the breeze, a process of assimilation occurs right before my eyes as discordant daydreams come together.
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BERTHOLD’s spring/summer 14 mood board
Mouldy bread, reimagined chewing gum, bruised faces, neglected pools and some snapshots that have been enlarged and manipulated all come together to create one cohesive concept. “As this is a spring/summer collection I wanted to make it sportier, to make it easy,” Berthold states simply. “I introduced more jerseys and t-shirts, it just felt right for now.” The simplicity and quiet modesty of his words fail to mask the depth of proportion play, fabric feuding, eagerness to experiment and desire to develop his label. One facet of growth is the signature of shape being sketched this season. “My natural extinct is to rip everything up and create something entirely new but this isn’t fair on the buyers because they would never know what they were getting to some degree. I worked hard to get two staple shapes, one oversized and one regular, that we could take forward to future seasons. Now, with these two silhouettes in place, we can experiment subtly and push them on.
Subtle and not so subtle experimentation in order to push on, this season. From simple concrete endeavours to complex print processes and 3D printing, Berthold and his team have been busy testing boundaries. In between further sips of an espresso, the designer excitedly elucidates:
We experimented by making cement ourselves which was a lot of fun. I liked how it came out quite brittle, just like a styling piece that could morph into something else. A small piece broke off and it was just perfect. We had it 3D scanned, printed and it became jewellery in resin, plastic and solid stainless steel. I had no idea that you could 3D print metal. I loved the experience, I can’t wait to do more, I just think it is genius.
 
For this season’s print, I wanted to approach it in a different way. I asked Ashley Joiner, a London based visual artist, to create a film which would then be manipulated into designs. He had complete freedom to create something around his interpretation of the brand. I really enjoyed working in this way and I’ll continue this for future seasons with artists that I trust. Ashley filmed himself in all kinds of make-up, very Lady Gaga now actually, from different angles, projected it through clear plastic bags and then took stills from the other side which have ultimately been blown up. Once I saw the print, I decided upon the sizes of it and matched it with the garments and accessories that had already been designed.
Lo and hi tech treatments were used side by side throughout this collection’s playful yet purposeful process. The result is a considered collection that teases and thrills. As I thumbed the tactile treasures, I couldn’t resist snapping my own detail shots but the Willem Jaspert shot, Jason Hughes styled and Aaro Murphy designed look book captures the purposeful promise perfectly. “I’ve known Jason (Hughes) for many years so we have an easy relationship, In terms of styling, I find it extremely interesting to see how he interprets my work. So when I finish a collection it’s exciting to pass it over and see his interpretation. After his initial play, we come together for the shoot and have real fun.” Taste the fruits of their fun here:
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Look book credits: Shot by Willem Jaspert, styled by Jason Hughes designed by Aaro Murphy and modelled by Stefan Lankreijer.
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Mirroring Stefan Lankreijer’s hopeful gaze on the future above, Raimund Berthold is shifting his focus on the next collection and continuing to push BERTHOLD on. “I’m at the research stage of autumn/winter 14. I like to surprise myself, I don’t plan what I’m going to design but the signatures are already there, it’s a case of developing them. I’m actually toying with the idea of a presentation at London Collections: Men and we’re at the early stages of working out just what a BERTHOLD presentation could be.” The designer floats away in his daydreams as he begins to ponder the future.  I, for one, can’t wait to see just what he’ll create next.

Hair Do Salon – Chiba, Japan

Entering the Hair Do hair salon in Chiba, Japan, is a surprising experience. No pink or frilly fake-spa softness, nor overly stark funky or shiny hair salon set-ups, just cool balance.

In this new, two-story building, with the upper-floor interior made to look like an old loft, there’s an overall sense of light and space and breathing room – our definite favorites.

Add to that the monochromatic wood-tone paneling and unpretentious furnishings, and we have a setting with real composure.

What makes this salon even more attractive, is the two-story glass wall that gives the clients something additional to look at than just themselves, and adds natural light as one of the main design components.

Located at the Chiba monorail station, the salon also adds some visual interest to the commuters’ daily routine.

The total area of the high-volume salon is 106 square meters (1,141 sq.ft). The architect and designer of the salon is the 36 year-old Ryo Matsui whose retail, office and residential work often includes wood paneling, monochromatic interiors and rounded edges. – Tuija Seipell

Photographs: Daici Ano

 

The rise of Craig Green

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We always put ourselves under pressure,” Craig Green confesses before his wide smile spreads across his Bethnal Green studio. As we’re sat in a hushed corner, the light filled space is alive with activity, during the supposed festive break, in preparation for his third and final MAN performance. His name glows from the London Collections: Men schedule. In a whirlwind of promise, he has emerged as the crowned prince of the adventurous silhouette, transforming beautiful boys with wearable masterpieces and abstract theatre. The weight of expectation would weigh heavy on the shoulders of most design talents but Green, backed and spurred on by his closely knit team, shrugs the pressures of others off from his broad shoulders whilst floating ever higher powered by the pressure he places on himself.
We try to change it up and push it each season, we don’t want to stick to what we’ve done previously. We don’t want to be just one thing. I think there’s a fear in fashion to move away from what you’re known for but it’s good to feel uncomfortable and scared at times. As with most seasons, I’m scared about autumn/winter 14 but it’s exciting,Green adds, eyes wide, full of focus and enthusiasm.
This fearlessness combined with his undeniable talent and hunger has propelled Craig Green forward and deservedly won him the hearts of the press and pockets of the world’s finest buyers but it can be divisive. The pitchfork wielding tabloids were furious with an incensed Daily Mail dedicating a number of pages to their angst fuelled, confused rants whilst a perfume peddling waxwork mocked the designs live on Alan Carr. “I even received hate mail, directly to me, after the first MAN show. I was so depressed that I began to questions what I was doing. A week later people made me see that it’s good to split opinion at times,” he adds wisely. It is. Having bounced our way across the full spring/summer 14 spectrum, it could easily be described as a season of nice. Banality can be contagious but Green is one of the few designers offering something new, something exciting “For me, it’s important for a show to be a show. It’s really rare now that I look through catwalk photos and dream of being there. There are very few experiences like John Galliano’s couture. any and every Comme show or the recent Rick Owens show. Gareth Pugh was the first ever show that I went to. I rushed from Central Saint Martins to make it and we were the last to get in, it was amazing, my heart was pounding. Shows should make you feel something special and that’s what we strive for.”
His tribe of faceless, psychedelic sculptures emphatically established Green as one of the capital’s brightest stars but pushing continuously, excitement has closely circled Green from the moment his three dimensional, Russian folk robot inspired fantasies floated down the Central Saint Martins BA show catwalk. A collection that bubbled with creativity and craft, seeing him awarded a full MA scholarship. Weeks after presenting his award winning final MA collection, he confirmed his promise at the inaugural London Collections: Men. Offering another glimpse into his world of well crafted whimsy, the emerging talent, with his tonal crinkle washed calico, mohair and muslin cheesecloth creations, was the standout highlight at Fashion East’s Installations.
I’m drawn to making something out of nothing, or very little. You get the cheapest materials and use your skill to make it expensive.” For Green, the real craft is in the textile transformation, in fabric alchemy, elevated do-it-yourself. “That first collection was made out of calico that we washed, tumble dried and put in a salt solution that softened it, before hand painting the edges. It was a cheap collection but that’s an important idea not to lose sight off. Rather than buy silk and make something expensive, we’re interested in using more attainable materials that can be improved, it’s more of a challenge. The cost of producing in London already rises prices so we save where we can.” Green thrives on challenges and constantly introduces them to his work, both out of need and his desire to push it that bit more.
We do textiles in-house. All of the tie dye of spring/summer 14 was worked on here. 450 metres were dyed twice in metre by metre pieces. Twisted, poured, washed, left to dry for three days and then repeated. It was a nightmare process but this season, we’re also working on a nightmare process – we love it really. Everything is hand painted, there’s no digital or screen printing and they are heavily worked. We’re back to handmade textiles and techniques but it’s a different feeling.”
Creating and solving problems each fabric, silhouette and pattern at a time, Craig Green dances, delves and delights in duality. Opposites attract in his studio. His closely knit team of fantastical friends and crafty collaborators, don’t just blur lines or introduce opposing forces but rather, majestically manifest creative collisions. Each garment is the playfight of light and dark, traditional and modern, familiar and fresh, reality and fantasy.
The first collection played with seriousness, the spring/summer 14 was poppy and played with darkness and euphoria. We design by thinking about what we’d be excited to see in a show at that moment. This collection clashes utilitarian and ornateness. function and unfunctional, traditional and new. It’s grounded in tradition because we were conscious of it not being seen as too faddy because there’s a lot of that around. The challenge is always to do something that is not expected.
“Each season starts with the feeling that we’d like to portray, that always sounds a bit poncey but it’s true. ‘What do we want to see now after everything that’s been?’ That’s always the driving force. We never stop talking, driving each other mad. I’m on the phone to Helen at midnight discussing every minute detail, discussion leads everywhere, from the studio to the pub, it’s an ongoing process. This season has shifted and changed. Things get made, are scrapped and we start again. It’s one of the most last minute collections but for the better. 
I never say my, it’s always us and we. Perhaps I need the comfort of others but we do work so closely together. We’re friends that like to make things. Different moments have brought us together, from old boyfriends to house parties to studying together. We all get on. They love doing what they do, they’re not doing it for anything but the love, they are all crafty people and that’s who I’m attracted to. It causes problems in it’s own way because we push each other and can make things more difficult for ourselves but it’s good. We just have a laugh,” he adds before giving into a quiet giggle. Over the course of our hour long chat, Green didn’t deviate from ‘we’ or ‘us.’ There might be one ‘i’ in Craig Green but the design talent is not one to downplay the role of and interplay between, the team of creatives that nestle under his umbrella.
Now, Craig Green could happily and skilfully turn his hand to any creative medium, so why, for now atleast, ground himself in London menswear? “It is one of the very few places that is open to suggestion and not scared of change.” Growing up in a quiet enclave of suburbia in North West London. surrounded by a loving family of craftsmen, Green’s daydreams were filled with aspirations of being a sculptor or painter. “I initially went to Central Saint Martins because I wanted to be a portrait painter but whilst on the foundation course, I met friends who were studying fashion.” Thankfully for us, the impressionable young talent followed suit and fell into fashion, textiles are now his canvas as he shapes a new modern menswear menswear between his hands. Beyond the fabulous fanfare of his MAN shows and as the applause fades, a Craig Green collection continues to captivate with delicious details long after the curtain falls. ‘The beauty is in the details,’ is an oft used phrase in menswear but when Green is concerned, beauty is omnipresent. With sweaters that artfully unravel, garments tie-dyed with a richness that forever teases the eye, a subtlety that envelops any considered viewer and a knowing of touch that excites the heart of all craft enthusiasts.

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Craig Green spring/summer 14, my snapshots from the front row at MAN.

“Spring/Summer 14 was the first season that we’ve really sold.  Previously, we used to work on small scale production after the show, a rush of month from start to finish but this season, production has been in tandem with the design of the new collection. A bit of a strain but it’s exciting to grow. We jumped from three to twelve stores this season. We’re now in Dover Street Market New York and Tokyo, Other-Shop, 10 Corso Como in Milan and  IT in Hong Kong to name just a few.”

Whisked into a whirlwind, the last eighteen months must have whizzed by Craig Green’s eyes in one marvellous blur of surprise and success but as we wave goodbye to 2013 and with the industry at his feet, I ask what the plan is for 2014 and beyond.

“Every couple of months something good seems to happen. I started out just at the beginning of London Collections: Men and I’ve been lucky because I get to sell at the time of everyone else and there’s a real platform and network of support through Fashion East and CFE. It’s exciting to be a part of it. I’d love for it to grow to a point in which I can pay people properly, rely less on favours and to move out of my mum’s house. That would all be lovely but I love it all. I get to work with my friends doing what I love and we have a great time. In that we’re lucky,” he adds with another grin. Enveloped by the craft and smiles of Craig Green, we are all lucky.

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