Sustainability, Made in Italy and Women on The Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: A conversation with Marco Rambaldi

25.09.2019 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Images courtesy of Giacomo Cabrini

Marco Rambaldi is nervous. He is jittering with emotion. We’re sitting backstage moments before the debut of his latest Spring Summer 2020 collection and we’re sipping on champagne, a bubbly remedy which seems to calm his nerves down. 

Marco Rambaldi is nervous just like the women who inspired his latest collection, women on the verge of a nervous breakdown. 

He explains: “We took a different approach to this collection in respect to the others. Whilst before we would always start by looking at a specific time period or a person who would inspire us, this collection was born out of a more abstract idea, a social consideration of the society around us.”

This isn’t the first time that the Bolognese but Milan based designer has made a reflection which veers on the political throughout his clothing. His past collections include references to Italy’s emergence of feminism in the 70s and the socialist student revolts of the late sixties. 

However, this collection, titled ‘Lapse’, is a reflection on the now. It’s a reflection on the broken nature of today’s society and how it is already affecting us currently. 

The IUAV graduate and winner of Camera Della Moda’s Next Generation competition wanted for this theme of broken beauty to be extremely visible throughout the collection, like holes, gatherings are left unmended; whilst straps at a certain point stop and turn into pieces of rope. Knits feature a series of jumping points, designed specifically to create floating threads as if the mesh were broken; the sole of the shoes is designed in a way which doesn’t follow exactly the upper of the shoe, so it seems like it is composed of different pieces of separate shoes. The stitching on the suits is wrong, even though it is evidently handmade as if following the silhouette of another garment. The same thing can be seen in the patterns: flowers from different bouquets are grouped together, whilst pieces of destroyed neo-classical statues float around as if left behind. 

This season is also the first season Rambaldi, who auto-produces his collections, has ventured into accessory, shoe design and production. Yet, the designer doesn’t have plans on expanding his menswear offering yet.

“Not at the moment, but definitely in the future, for now, I want to focus on letting my womenswear collection grow slowly,” he says. 

And the importance of slow production is something which has been stressed quite a lot lately, and of which Rambaldi is very aware of. Being Italian and very proud of his roots (although not of his government – who can blame him!) he is trying to grow his brand slowly until he finds the right distributor who will support his way of thinking and working. 

“I believe young brands like mine can stand out over brands who focus on marketing only if they manage to follow the slow production path, focusing on the importance of Made in Italy and the crafts which are slowly dying because of mass production,” he states. 

Indeed and unfortunately, the death of original craftsmanship is upon us. 

Yet Rambaldi has hope for the future: “I believe that if we’ll manage to teach the importance of going back to the roots to the younger generations, then they’ll understand that they won’t have to follow trends in order to build a successful brand. They must understand that it is crucial they work with what is available to them, developing new ways to work with most often are scraps of materials.”

Well, if these are part of his plans for the future, we can’t wait to see what this young designer has in store for us next. 

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Edeline Lee’s Collage of Everyday Life

18.09.2019 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Images courtesy of Simon Melber

The world is a scary place at the moment. And this season, fashion has taken notice. Designers have been either making open political statements through their clothing or indulging in an escapist mode by presenting bold garments which express their need to run away to distant lands. British-Canadian designer Edeline Lee is very aware of it, and that’s exactly why her Spring Summer 2020 collection was a light, brightly coloured burst of joy. 

This season, the designer wanted to inject a bit of optimism in her clothing, as past season’s fall-winter 2019 presentation had such a tough subject matter (she had been inspired by professor Mary Beard’s feminist manifesto, Women & Power, where Lee made the case for the runway as soapbox). 

“I feel like we need a bit of optimism right now and so I felt like I needed something light which could contrast the darkness of everything that’s been going on at the moment,” she said. 

Following up from her experiential presentation of last season, this time Lee collaborated with Sharon Horgan, the Irish actress and writer who starred and co-wrote Catastrophe and created HBO’s Divorce, for a presentation which verged on the line between theatre and runway. 

“Sharon and I are friends but not only that. I am such a big fan of her work, her voice and the way she talks about the human condition is so acute and real and to the skin,” she says.

And the clothes she presented exuded exactly the same vibe, they were real clothes for real women, which featured simple silhouettes – ranging from a series of white shirts and brightly coloured midi dresses in a palette of greens, blues and reds, to a series of brightly coloured striped numbers, to finally, a series of dresses made in her signature jacquard.

“In the show in a way what we’re trying to do is juxtapose the lightness of the clothes to these real-life moments which are acted out by a series of actresses, who sort of stop and get distracted by real-life passing by and then they stop and go back to their intimate realities,” she says. “It’s sort of like a play on a juxtaposition of these different versions of life.”

Sitting in one spot over the course of 15 minutes you would be able to experience every skit presented by the actresses almost as if eavesdropping on conversations of everyday life. 

Lee’s collaboration was a refreshing take on a runway experience – and it definitely helped her in trying to represent who her woman really is and making people understand who she’s making her clothes for and the audience she’s making it for. Collaborations like these are a fun way to get the point across and are also more memorable experiences in a month where editors see an enormous quantity of shows.

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London Fashion Week Day 3: Natasha Zinko, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, Margaret Howell, Osman

16.09.2019 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Cover Image:  Preen by Thornton Bregazzi SS20 by Tom Warabida

Urban sustainability at Natasha Zinko x DUO

Images by Tom Warabida

At last, it seems like fashion has finally taken notice of its toll on the planet. Indeed, the theme of sustainability is finally being embraced in every fashion city and is a big theme at the core of this season’s spirit.

For SS20, Ukranian-born but London based designer Natasha Zinko brings forth her efforts of working to reduce the companies wastage footprint by re-using and repurposing all the textiles, including vintage pieces, presented in her new collection. This season, the designer has also created pieces crafted from old aluminium cans, sourced from the Alutrade Recycling Centre who has donated 500lbs of aluminium.

This season’s collection was co-ed and the was show was presented in a private street in central London. The collection was boldly maximalist and featured a number of urban-inspired looks which gave away 90s vibes. Oversized jumpsuits were covered in floral prints, whilst pyjama inspired looks were given a bolder edge through the use of a palette of neon tones ranging from greens, yellows, pinks and purples. Patch-worked paisley bandanas in different colours were sewn together to create mini-dresses, bras and oversized trousers, whilst a number of black, tougher looks were also present. 

Preen by Thornton Bregazzi’s Harajuku girls

Images by Tom Warabida

The duo at Preen always loves to start a show by presenting the audience with the books stacked on their bedside table, a list of references which inspire and influence the collection from start to finish.

Citing books such as The Promised Neverland and cult films such as Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill and Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, this season was all about Japan.

Punkish Manga girls covered sweaters, hoodies and t-shirts and were paired with the brand’s signature floral printed skirts. Quilted coats and trousers also featured heavily this season and were a refreshing addition to the roster of looks. However, like Natasha Zinko, the duo also presented a collection whose focus was to use re-use and repurpose all past materials.

And this could certainly be seen through the collection’s standout looks, which were a number of asymmetric ruffled dresses featuring cut-out panels and mismatched layers of floral prints, which gave away an air of romanticism and which will for sure be seen all over Instagram by next season.

In order to add a bit of toughness to the overall romantic vibe of the collection, the looks were paired with men’s combat boots, leather shoes and satin lace-up ballerinas.

Refined Elegance at Osman

Images by Tom Warabida

Bold and romantic body wear, a myriad journey of sorbet hues across a candy sky, poisonous gypsum like polka dots, in ying-yang circles, splattered across ruffle tiers. This was the introductory phrase of the show notes, which had been carefully placed across the seats of Osman’s private presentation.

This season the designer showcased his SS20 collection in a private salon manner just like in the 1950s and presented a limited number of elegant and well-made looks inspired by the elegance of women always on the go.

There was an option for every woman in the crowd, ranging from soft suiting in pale tones of yellow and green to African inspired coats and jackets and mini dresses in a myriad of ruffled layers of tulle. The protagonists of the collection were a series of mini dresses featuring poet-looking balloon sleeves in a chinoiserie-like Parisian wallpaper print.

However, a mini dress in black ruffled organza which resembled a dark flower in bloom stole the show. Barely-there sandals and a series of brightly coloured rococo mules accompanied the looks.

British Boyish Minimalism at Margaret Howell

Minimalists rejoice! If you were thinking Margaret Howell was going to steer away from her signature style, then you are very wrong. Once again, Margaret Howell delivered a beautifully made collection returning to the Rambert Dance Company Showspace.

Yet again, the designer presented a co-ed collection which riffed on Britishness and exuded an air of boyish chicness. Fans of perfectly tailored trouser suits and high-waisted trousers will exult in delight this season, as the collection featured a number of chocolate-coloured pieces that won’t disappoint. 

Stick of butter fans will also rejoice, as the designer presented a series of crisp, midi dresses and shirts in a delicate buttery yellow palette. Stand out pieces of the collection included an antique pink blouse with a ruffle-y collar paired with over-the-knee shorts, teal pleated skirts and taut shirts in linen and a series of olive-coloured looks worn by male and female models alike.

The looks were paired with a series of studded clogs in chocolaty tones, as well as leather sandals worn with socks. 

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London Fashion Week Day 2: Ports 1961, Marques Almeida, Toga & Rixo

15.09.2019 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Karl Temper’s debut at Ports 1961

London Fashion Week Day 2 started with a bang as Ports 1961 set their newly re-launched and re-designed brand with a fantastic show at Tate Modern. The brand, renown for its minimalistic heritage has now been rebranded, from logo to collection, under the watchful eye of newly appointed artistic director Karl Temper. Breaking away from its previous minimalistic codes, Temper introduced us to a bold, maximalist collection. Tribal prints with slight nods to Matisse, covered pleated dresses, skirts and trousers, whilst triple-stitched trouser suits were presented in a varied palette of baby blue, terracotta and mustard, an interesting power alternative to the usual day-to-day workwear. Standout looks included a cue to a budding trend to come as a very cool mix of zebra and cow print covered a series of coats, trousers, a knitted two-piece set and a silky dress. Chinoiserie floral patterns covered silk panels on coats and shirts, adding a touch of etherealness and femininity. Chunky jewellery and bi-colour studded sandals accentuated the overall eccentric art-mom vibe of the collection. Definitely a great start for a first-time stylist turned designer. 

The power of community at Marques Almeida

Images by Tom Warabida

Multiple screens welcomed the guests at the Marques Almeida show. “If you had a daughter, what would you want her to know?” This was one of the questions posed by the designers to the M’A girls, the diverse group of young women featured in the video installations screened before the show started. “If I had a daughter I would want her to know that it’s ok to be who you are and to be super unapologetic about it,” said one of the girls. And indeed it was this empowering message that inspired the collection and wants to push the designers to create a strong community which aims at inspiring the youth. This season, the designer duo was inspired by a mix of rebellious icons, from slightly 50s freakish Hollywood actor shots to Riot Grrl zines and Bikini Kill. This duality of sensitivity, femininity and toughness was evident as different materials and colours were contrasted throughout the collection. Floral printed tight tops were styled with oversized denim frayed trousers, whilst oversized taffeta dresses in pink, acid green and blue were styled with a series of bold accessories, either tough or feminine, ranging from latex gloves to feathery kitten-heeled shoes. 

Fashion as an indulgence at Toga

Images by Tom Warabida

Set at London’s iconic Royal Institute of British Architects, the Toga show was a play of artistic temperaments. Every season, Yasuko Furuta, the designer behind Toga, defines her collection in three words, and this season these three words were “wrapping, re-development and efficiency,” words which she said connoted an ambience of not prioritising productivity in a world that does. Yet, how do you do that in this world which seems to be moving at an ever-changing and faster pace way of living? Slow down and indulge in the unnecessary details. This was the overall message conveyed by the collection as a range of romantic details accentuated the looks: big vinyl flower brooches accessorised perfectly tailored business suits, whilst urban items such as the now-very-popular bike shorts were updated in bold floral brocades. Beach sandals were re-interpreted for the city and paired with long, flowing formal dresses, whilst highlights of the collection were for sure the bold overcoats which gave an edge to the more minimal looks. 

60s psychedelia at Rixo

It seems like this season 16Arlington wasn’t the only brand who took inspiration from the 60s and its free, fun, atmosphere. Rixo, the British brand famous for its printed silk dresses and midi skirts popularised by Instagram’s it girl community, staged its SS20 presentation in a relaxed garden where models of all ages lounged on the grass, blowing bubbles and dancing around to a rock and roll soundtrack. Taking inspiration from Joni Mitchell’s style and featuring her vocals as the soundtrack to the presentation, the collection featured soft sixties silhouettes, psychedelic prints and florals featured on maxi dresses and mini dresses, and silky feel good flares perfect from morning to night. 

The collection will also be available to buy the moment it debuts at the Rixo store at 94 Kings Road. 

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London Fashion Week Day 1: 16Arlington and the power of Italian Groove

13.09.2019 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Images courtesy of Giovanni Rombaldoni

In the flamboyant yet conservative heyday that was 1960s Italy, a young woman with a short blonde bob shocked the Italian audiences by singing and dancing to songs that are still considered to be part of today’s pop culture patrimony. 

For this season’s SS20 presentation, British Luxury brand 16Arlington decided to celebrate and take inspiration from this still-iconic woman, pop legend Raffaella Carrà. 

Delving into the funky imagery that accompanied all of Carrà’s music videos, performances and more, the British-Italian duo produced a fun collection full of sewn struzzo dip-dyed feathers, hand-dyed chiffon draping, jazzy fringing and groovy beading. 

The duo presented a collection that was definitely fun to watch and will be fun for anyone to wear, as it encapsulated the spirit of the 1960s party girl. Delicate chiffons were juxtaposed with an ombre coloured palette, whilst gunmetal leather hot pats contrasted bold optical printed patterns. Psychedelic prints inspired by the 1960s king of prints himself, Emilio Pucci, appeared on a lame 3 piece trousered suits, perfect the maximalist working girl who wants to get her groove on. 

Original 1960s sunglasses from Oliver Goldsmith and shoes by British brand Dorateymeur complemented the styling and world created by the designers.

Who wouldn’t want to dance the night away wearing these clothes? 

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Art meets Fashion: A Chat with Designer Pauline De Blonay

10.09.2019 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

Images shot by Pablo di Prima

Young designers merging the borders between art and fashion are rare birds waiting to be found and are indeed not easy to find. 

Pauline De Blonay, a recent runner up of the prestigious L’Oreal Pro Young Talent Award, and a Central Saint Martins graduate, seems to be one of them. The Swiss-born designer had been dreaming of going to London’s infamous hub of creativity since the age of fourteen years old, yet her way into fashion wasn’t a regular one, like you would expect. 

“Initially I thought I would study Fine Art and started by doing a foundation year in Jewellery design, however when I realized that I wanted to work on a bigger scale and to combine fashion, fine art and jewellery, I applied for the BA in Fashion Design in order to work this way,” she says. 

Art had and has been influencing her work since she was a little kid, paintings in particular, as her art tutor would make her and her peers replicate paintings that they loved, and hers included a lot of harlequins from Picasso and some dreamy spaces and characters from Edward Hopper. With time she kept on being inspired by painters, such as Modigliani and Egon Schiele. 

This multi-faceted approach towards visual thinking is what intrigued her and pushed her towards working with different combinations of various different techniques and materials, from jewellery to painting. 

“It was important to me to combine every skill or knowledge I possess in order to realize the looks I design,” she says. “It was essential for me to be in control of every detail of the collection I wanted to create, such as the metalwork, which took me a while to figure out my own way of casting metal in my own flat, the prints for the garments and accessories, the shoes, the make up, etc,”

And indeed it is polyhedric approach of hers to design which makes her clothing so intriguing and interesting. 

Her first collection, showcased during Central Saint Martin’s final year fashion show, was an exploration of her identity and the notions of masculine and feminine. She wanted to create a duel between masculine and feminine images and merge them together. A suit and a cast of her breasts, feathers locked in metal, dresses that you can mould that look powerful and strong but which are fragile at the same time because you can change their shape. In addition to that she created many portraits of the people who surround her and included them as patterns to some of her dresses. 

“My idea was that I was extending myself onto other people’s body by giving them casted parts of my body in metal and all these drawing of people that are important for me are represented too. They are an important part of my identity,” she explains. In a sense, it was a way for her of reuniting all of her relationships, by featuring on her garments. It was like a rendez-vous of the people that she deeply cares about.

Yet, after being the runner up to the L’Oreal Pro Young Talent Award, which brought her attention and visibility, what has the future in store for her? Will London still be the center of her world?

“I spent five years of my life evolving in the creative heart of London, being at CSM,” she says. “I have made the most amazing and creative friends who inspire me every day. Being in London and especially at Central Saint Martins, supported by amazing tutors gave me the strength and possibility to create and concretise a collection which represents me at best. I needed that time in London to evolve the way I did to get all the tools necessary to make my first collection happen.”

For now, an itinerant move to another city isn’t in the works, yet, wherever she’ll be, be it in London or another international city, she has in store of extending her collection and keep on making magical garments. 

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