Twin meets the Designer of KARA in exploration of her ongoing project “KARA You Be You”

“Now more than ever people are really looking for something that feels personal and feels human”

KARA is a brand with a human spirit at the core. Founded by Sarah Law as a reactive medium to explore her own personal identity quest, KARA – the name borne from Karaoke which in turn is Japanese for empty orchestra – looked to connect with a global community through self expression and artistic freedom. Formulating her You Be You campaign on this premise, KARA has collaborated with creatives from all over the world, from Fish Zhang in Beijing to Richie Shazam in New York to Masha Reiva in Kiev. 

“I am really trying to show all these different points of view, together”, Sarah Law states, discussing over the phone in her New York apartment the reasoning behind the breadth of talent commissioned for this 4 year photography series. Commissioning creatives from a global network, Sarah has posited her fascination with expressions of identity into her brand and subsequently in the hands of these international artists, asking them to interpret her brand and present it in their own unique way in a series of images. 

“A huge sentiment behind the brand is this aspect of community – I think it is about really trying to find people who sometimes don’t have a massive platform but have amazing work, and trying to feature them. We have commissioned different people to create pieces working from home, which has proven to be a really fun project to connect with people and learn more about them in this time.”

As COVID19 brings through isolation and subsequent yearnings for deeper connection, does KARA think that a sense of vulnerability has befallen humanity in this time?

“I think finally because of COVID19 there is more compassion – people connecting with people to see how they are doing.”

“In a world under such an intense pressure to move forward with the internet getting faster, brands are pushed to produce so much content and so many collections, we are losing sight of people’s humanness. It is interesting as in this time, I am finding people are friendlier right now, as there is this acknowledgement of what we are all going through, something that we are all experiencing.”

Delving into the four year project KARA You Be You, the breadth of talent collaborated is as wonderful as it is varied. With the initial desire to explore her own experience of being both Chinese and American at the core of the commencement of KARA, Sarah has embarked on a deep dive into our own cultivations of self, how we express ourselves, and what we choose to take from our past to define ourselves in our futures.

As the world comes to learn new ways of communicating, those with authentic voices and unique, purposeful visions will be coming out stronger; putting the creative in the hands of the people means KARA is carrying a refreshing approach through our new navigations of normal life. 

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Twin Talks: Robert Wun – the Designer sculpting the silhouettes for the power women of tomorrow

There are many up and coming young fashion brands out there who are still in the process of navigating to find their brand voices within the industry. Some have found solace in RTW, others in menswear , streetwear etc. London based Designer Robert Wun, has already made himself into somewhat of a prodigy, having found his design knack for futuristic silhouettes and natural forms.

The LCF graduate who launched his namesake brand in 2013, offers a very fresh approach to the genre of womenswear by sculpting each piece with intention and attention to detail, using bold cuts and strong shapes to contrast with bright colours as a statement of feminine power. Each of his pieces hold a story, not just as an entire look, but rather every shoe, every hat , every blouse, razor cut skirt, every double stitch, all separately tell tales of a mystical futuristic world that leaves its audience so desperately yearning for more. His collections are a sight for sore eyes that makes one seriously lust and ponder over his vast creative capacity. Twin recently caught up with the man behind the grand desirable sculptures to discuss his process, SS20 collection and quarantine routines. 

What was the inspiration behind your SS20 collection?  Does the collection have a title ? 

The SS20 collection is named “ Orchid Mantis “

I continue to draw inspiration from the infamous female warrior Mulan, which I first introduced in the SS19 collection, the collection pays homage to the full spectrum of qualities celebrated about this legendary character who has paved the way for feminists of the modern day. Hua Mulan, her name 花木蘭 meaning flower, wood and orchid.

I decided to further explore the potential of the orchid as an inspiration in the SS20 collection, studying one of my favourite animals , the Orchid Mantis’ on  it forms its shape . a beautiful yet deadly camouflage. I have transformed that petal shape throughout the collection with a technique which allows the seams to reverse and extend out as the shape of flower petals, which is one of the main highlights of the collection.

What’s your design process like ? 

I normally will start with an image or a sketch of rough visuals from my mind, then illustrate the garments to be able to move forward technically, it always starts with the idea into one garment first.

Then afterwards it’s just hours and hours of placing different fabrics and swatches next to that illustration until I feel right. Pushing the range and transforming that first design into a full range of garments and into different looks. Lastly would be the execution in pattern, testing of fabrication and techniques. Once that first piece is physically done, I will get a clearer picture for the rest of the collection.

Your futuristic approach to silhouettes is really quite interesting , what is it that influences this ? Do you have a knack for architecture ?

I am actually more inspired by nature versus artificial architecture, at the end nature is somewhat of an architect too! 

My admiration towards nature will always be the core of my creative process, and I always believe nothing can be more original and timeless when it’s inspired by something so real and far from artificial, and nature offers a kind of beauty that humbles and motivates you, and something as raw and genuine as nature, everyone could interpret it differently.

Do you imagine that this type of eccentric silhouette is where womenswear will be heading in the future?

I like to believe the future of womenswear is a celebration of individuality, where designers can be celebrated by doing what they want and who they are and what they do best. I am always inspired by unapologetic individuals who embrace femininity in a bold and provocative way, never thought of on a mass market scale or creating an influential trend, just trying to pursue what I love and grateful for the audiences, no matter the size who supports it.

What’s your favourite fabric to work with ?

Not any in particular, as different fabrics and materials serve for different ideas and effects so it depends on the design. Although a good sturdy bonded fabric, or crease proof materials are something I always work with, as I tend to create things with a futuristic touch on finishing and sculpted silhouettes.

What’s been the most difficult part of your journey as a young designer? 

I was not fully aware of the business side of fashion at all when I first started, which makes pricing and the production side difficult to navigate, also completely oblivious to the marketing and sales side of the industry. 

Through time I have started to understand the need to learn it as a business, and the importance of asking for help and advice. I eventually got an investor two months after the Joyce launch of my graduate collection,  who helped me set up a proper business support, since then I have learned from every season as I carry on, 4 years ago I decided to become independent to look for better future partners to take this to the new level.

What’s been the most gratifying experience as a young designer?

To be able to have 100% creative control and being afforded the freedom to make mistakes. Also being able to define your own equation to navigate through the industry! I didn’t get a lot of sponsorships or awards as most emerging brands got when they first started, and those titles had become an essential to show the industry you are promising and have an “authorised” future. 

I learned that it is ok to not have a sponsored show and to carry on after being told no, and I’ve also learnt not to invest in expensive showcases which you can’t afford, but just focus on good work and good photography and let them speak for themselves, and I have been doing that ever since. Something we can easily forget as designers nowadays, is to just focus on delivering good designs and well made garments and let them speak for themselves.

I am quite grateful now when I look back that I didn’t get these opportunities, from my graduation to many programs that I also didn’t get selected at the beginning of my career, as they made me more focused on pushing creatively as a designer, and more ready as a business person too on building a solid foundation for longevity.

If you had to choose a woman in the public eye or a movie character who embodies the Robert Wun aesthetic , who would it be ?  

Dream character would be a sci-fiction character by the Wachowskis siblings or Ridley Scott, as Trinity from the matrix and Ripley from Aliens are some characters that have inspired me deeply. Or even if there was a modern day or futuristic interpretation of Mulan that would be great to design for!

I’d also love to dress a Bae Donna, Bjork, Lizzo, Yalitza Aparicio, Kelly Marie Tran, Noomi Rapace, Tilda Swinton, Rooney Mara and Rihanna etc in the future. Women who are authentic and shaping the future.

If you use a movie, a song, or a poem to define your work , what would it be ?

A movie would be Princess Mononoke by Studio Ghibli Hayao Miyazaki

A song would be Taro by Alt J

How’ve you been handling the quarantine? 

Keep sketching and draping and watching movies! It’s hard to stop even at home, especially considering that most business errands have to be put aside now, focusing on the positive note as it could be a brand new start for the SS21 collection in September, with hope that the pandemic will have passed by then.

Is there anything you’re hoping will change in the fashion system post COVID-19?  

Buying better on the consumer side and for the industry to put less pressure on creatives and allow them to design less product orientated collections. Which ultimately means what everyone’s been talking about; slowing down and having less collections=less waste and healthier mentality for the industry.

How / Where can one purchase/order your pieces ?

We will have a brand new distribution of stockists at the end of this year starting from SS21 collection.

Currently you can order directly from us [email protected] and the E-commerce will be live later this year as well on www.robertwun.com

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Charles & Keith x Cecile Bahnsen Launch Capsule Collection

This week footwear brand Charles & Keith joined forces with designer Cecile Bahnsen for  an exciting collaboration of a shoe line inspired by traditional school-wear. The collection features some of the most classic Charles & Keith shapes and silhouettes which are reinterpreted by Cecile and finished with her signature brooch. Four various styles are featured including three Mary Jane designs and a distinctive mule. The general palette of the collection sees a neutral scheme of black and white that’s garnished with a touch of colour with the lemon yellow Camelia mule. 

In line with Bahnsen’s commitment to sustainability, the collection revisits two of her favourite fabrics being a recycled satin and a unique patchwork that are given new life. It also includes the use of dust bags stitched from leftover cuts from previous season. For more information about the collection visit Charleskeith.co.uk 

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“We Make You Feel Exactly What You Want To Feel,” Twin Meets Danish Eyewear Brand FLATLIST

FLATLIST is cool. Their shapes are fresh, the circle of supporters are creative, the imagery that naturally has grown around the brand doesn’t stink of hours in a daylight studio – it smells of real life living. 

Talking to the brand and taking a closer look at the provenance of this funk factor, we talk about the importance of the school of life lessons, trusting your inner feelings, and the acceptability of sunglasses indoors during lockdown. 

Tell Us How FLATLIST Came About .

The “Feeling”: Well, FLATLIST was founded way before the actual launch of any products. When we started our agency 8-years ago, we also started a global tour of socialising and networking. Working with international sales in the fashion industry, you often find yourself at trade shows, fashion shows, showrooms, launches, parties and dinners. And with 150 travel days a year in cities like Paris, Milano, London, New York, Berlin, Amsterdam you meet a lot of people that like to talk about fashion. You end up in endless of uninspired conversations and meetings. 

To avoid this, we started hosting dinners ourselves 3-4 years ago after too many nights spend on “free dinner and drinks” that didn’t give us anything beside hangovers.  We invited people we felt connected to, (that felt the same as us) and where the conversations and mutual mindset led to some unforgettable evenings, long nights and pictures. People were mentally present. Real but charming. 

It was here FLATLIST was born. We “FLATLISTED” people. It means to be yourself and feel fucking great about it. It was in this period the actual brand and products started to take form. 

We both love shades, and we both had design ideas, so the dream of running an eyewear brand was pretty mutual since day one. We didn’t have any personality or visual concept to go with it. The “Flatlisted” feeling was all we needed. We used that feeling when we started to create our brand and visual material and then we used our private collection of shades for design inspiration. Quality over quantity and eyewear designs and colour combos we thought were great and that we couldn’t find in the market at that time. No “trend analysis” but simply a look in the mirror and thumbs up to your partner when trying on our first prototype set of samples. 

The “Business Plan” :We wanted to create affordable luxury frames that we thought were excellent and that we would wear ourselves. Not trend-driven at all, but based only on personal preferences. We wanted to be the brand priced below the big fashion brands while offering a quality just as good, if not better. 

How Has It Grown Since Its Inception? 

We have had a very strict distribution strategy since day one, choosing to work only with a handful of global retailers. Not just based on their name but also if they were a good match when it came to selling our brand and products, such as Need Supply, KITH, Totokaelo, Luisa via Roma, Hybebeast, END,  Smets, LN-CC, Liberty, Matches Fashion etc.  Furthermore, our e-commerce is really starting to pick up!

How Do Your Sunglasses Differ From Others?

There are many things to be said. Whether it is our uniquely designed straight side temples for a better all-round fit and grip on the head (fits all, kinda), our carefully sourced 90’s deadstock Italian acetate or our unique colour combinations and designs. Every style and colour also has its unique style code written in gold on the outside of the left temple. Our little trademark. And maybe the fact that our collection is pretty retro-inspired. 

What Do You Think Sunglasses Impart In The Wearer? A Sense Of Mystery, Intrigue? Sexiness?

That is a very difficult question to answer – obviously some kind of Hank Moody coolness but, ultimately, we hope our eyewear makes our consumer fell exactly what he or she wants to feel. This can be a lot of things, but mainly we want them to feel themselves. 

What Changes In The Fashion Landscape Do You See Ahead?

A LOT, but it’s difficult to predict at the moment. You see quite some self-proclaimed experts trying to predict the future at the moment, but the truth is that we don’t know other than our industry needs to slow down. 

FLATLIST is cool. Their shapes are fresh, the circle of supporters are creative, the imagery that naturally has grown around the brand doesn’t stink of hours in a daylight studio – it smells of real life living.

How Do You Feel FLATLIST Will Be Adapting To These Changes? 

No need to adapt as our aim has always been to make long-lasting products instead of having to reinvent ourselves on a seasonal basis. We feel that we already created styles that have the potential of becoming icons of tomorrow (Hanky, Tishkoff, Le Bucheron, Bricktop). When we think it’s needed, we add some newness here and thereby adding new acetate colours and lenses, but that’s it. 

Your Sunglasses Have A Certain Understated Grunge Elegance About Them… Would You Agree?

Yes! But also the absolute 70’s freedom of expression vibe as well as the 90’s minimalism. 

Finally, Is It Acceptable To Wear Sunglasses Inside During Lockdown?

Of course – why not? Go for our Le Bucheron style with blue lenses if you want to add some colour to the wall you’ve been staring at for the last month or try Tishkoff with yellow lenses if you’re behind on your D-vitamins.

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Reimagine, Reinvent, Rebuild: Twin Talks to Carcel Founder Veronica D’Souza as they launch their new brand model.

Carcel is proposing a new model, new methodology, and new mindset in fashion. One free from broken matrixes, the disjoint of seasons, and the hysteria of discounting.

Launched in Copenhagen in 2016, Carcel is a brand of forward thinking change. While their raised issues are nothing new to the verbalised battles currently gaining ground under the buckling pressures of the luxury fashion industry, they are set apart in that they have chosen to action what others so far have only dared to digress.

Carcel was founded on the principle of working with incarcerated women, working with the best natural fabrics, and working outside the fashion model. Carcel founder Veronica D’Souza’s decision to work with incarcerated women stemmed from her personal experiences of visiting women’s prisons in high-poverty countries and the strain on dignity, emotion, finance and family that came from the struggles these incarcerated women faced:

“The main cause of incarceration for women globally is poverty. It’s predominantly non-violent crimes that women are incarcerated for, and it’s non-violent crimes such as drug trafficking, prostitution, theft, and the main cause is most of them want to provide for their families. When they are incarcerated they have to give up their children, either to an orphanage, or if they’re lucky enough relatives, and when released they are poorer than they were before. It’s also a very big social stigma, to be a criminal or ex-criminal and particularly if you’re female, so it’s very difficult to get a job. In the prisons, all the women were all knitting, sewing, crocheting and making small crafty things, but they didn’t have access to good materials, and they didn’t have anywhere really to sell that product. You could buy a few of them in the visitor store for very little money, so it ended up being more like vocational training or a way to spend your time, but they didn’t make any money.”

Exploring these activities the women were undergoing, the thought of offering a fairly paid opportunity to these women by providing high-quality fabrications and job security felt like there could be a chance for a fashion brand to hold more than sartorial affectations at its core:

“I thought that if you could cover those three things: good materials, education, and also a market to create proper salaries, these women could keep on providing for their children, who are small when they are incarcerated so they still need a provider, save up for when they get out, and also learn new skills. This came back to the lesson I have learnt about making things desirable: if you want to create something that has a market and is sustainable, how can you make something that’s really good quality.”

A business model was emerging, that took the form of a firm new approach. “I made a challenge for myself about what could a supply chain look like if it was rethought. I made a map of the world of the countries that have the highest rates of poverty with crime for women, so where I felt there was a lot impact to be made, but also countries that have natural materials that are the best in the world and a tradition for craftsmanship amongst women. Peru was number one of that list on my map.”  

A woman’s prison in Cusco was her first partner in the launch of Carcel, with a kickstarter campaign allowing for the first knitting machines to be purchased and provided for the women who would be the fair-paid producers of the brand. “We have merged production so it can have a social impact and just harnesses natural materials from the region where we produce.”

Speaking to Veronica on the phone, the energy of her dedication twangs off every word as she rollers through the history and foundations of Carcel. When you can almost see the passion in someone’s mission just through a phone call, you can tell this is more than a business – this is a call to action.

Veronica’s background is not an expected answer for someone leading a luxury fashion label, but that is part of what makes Carcel so exciting. 

“Firstly, I think it’s important to say for me that I don’t have a background in fashion- at all. I’m really passionate about finding solutions to problems in society, but through business. And making those solutions desirable. So I think for too long we’ve had a split between like the old capitalism, that basically messes up the world, the planet, and then like a lot of do-good, which is not necessarily with the consumer in mind. Money comes through the product, or the service, or whatever is created. So, I guess that’s where my passion really lies.”

What was it about fashion that demanded her decision to create a whole new way of working?

“It doesn’t really make sense to create a fashion label that just feeds into the same way as what’s wrong with the industry today. So from the beginning I tried to write down dogmas for creating our own value chain.”

And the result of these new tenets of design practice? “We don’t have any collections or any seasons, we don’t have sales, and we are trying to rethink how to not waste anything. It goes back to Danish design tradition, to create something that is good quality, and that can last and that can stand the test of time, and just not be done with: I think that’s the main core of how we operate today.’

The way Veronica breaks down and draws comparisons with the industry and social strictures is somewhat compelling; her views of the fashion industry as we know it has certainly .

“In some ways fashion is incredibly  old-school in its thinking and the industry model. I don’t really understand, because in my mind it is divided into two very separate parts, like the body and soul. The soul is really cool – that is the identity and aspiration. It is progressive, and is a way of expressing yourself. The body of fashion, the industry, is so broken, and badly treated and rotten. I think that’s extremely regressive, because I think at the same time there’s still this tendency just to put it on a pedestal.” 

What is the purpose of a brand does she feel?

“You need to say something, how to become a story teller as a brand, what do different brands do and to think of different reactions. I think some are doing really well that really half a year ago didn’t have anything to say. So I think there’s a journey happening now which is hopefully interesting, and it also needs to happen because if not, fashion just becomes extremely irrelevant. If it’s not creative and expressive then what is it? It’s not that we need more clothes.”

And how do visuals interplay with Carcel’s brand message and purpose? With the launch of their new model further reinstating Carcel’s principles, the visual message must be as arresting as the purpose is crystalline; walking down the street, a wall of fly posters presenting a passerby with the wonderful words ’No Seasons’ and ‘Carcel’, a young man smiles as he squints through the sunshine at the camera. The images are modern, elegant, neither shouty nor shy. How important is the imagery for Veronica, and in turn Carcel?

“A lot. We’ve also been on quite a journey. So in the beginning it was very much focused on our production, but also focused on the branding element- creating a cool brand. That’s been really important for us in the beginning to like say this is not just for people who want a bit of world, and talk about fair wages, and female empowerment, and natural materials, it’s also about a relevant brand vision too. We’ve done collaborations with artists, and explored new avenues off our core narrative all the time.”

Of course, COVID19 enters our conversation, as surely it’s impossible for it to not be discussed; How does Veronica hope brands will react post COVID19?

“The whole seasonal wheel makes it impossible to create something that has value and maintains value, and that is properly made – from how people are getting paid to what’s put into the product. You need to be able to communicate on a digital platform, and say more than just ‘this is my clothes’, for more people to be interested in your brand. So that will hopefully be more of an incentive to look beyond what’s on the catwalk and what’s on the model, to what’s behind the process. I see a lot of collaborations coming up, people helping each other out. In general I see a lot of positive things happening, and I think the desire in society for solidarity, and for value beyond empty consumption I think is on the increase.”

Looping back to her analogy on the body and soul, Veronica contemplates the need for both aspects of our being to work together, to collaborate: “for the soul, we need a driving force. We need culture, we need inspiration, we need arts, you know, that part of fashion as well to create those visions and dreams of what beauty looks like in a post-consumerist society. That’s something that occupies me a lot. So I hope that this break has freed some energy to spend time on that. “

Reimagine, reinvent and rebuild are the lasting words plucked out in bold from Carcel’s relaunch – the most concise words that surmise their focus to disrupt a system that is creaking on its foundations. 

Here’s to Carcel, taking a stand, putting forth action, and allowing us all to take a leap of faith in fashion’s ability to move forward and beyond the boundaries we had previously set. 

Reimagine, reinvent and rebuild. 

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FENDI Peekaboo’s Savoir Faire

A key part of Fendi’s SS20 collection were the several versions of their Peekaboo bag that appeared on the runway. This week the brand is highlighting the savour faire of a few of those bags with video showing the workmanship techniques such as the “Laser Cut” , “Intrecciato” and the “Intarsio” known as inlay. With 3D technology , the results are featured in both male and female versions such as the Peekaboo X-Lite for Men’s which showcases the laser cut, The Peekaboo for men’s where Selleria stitching meets the Intarsio fur workmanship and the Women’s Peekaboo and it’s mini version which boasts the intricacy of the “Intrecciato” workmanship.

The video is a detailed look of the brand’s iconic techniques of the Roman Maison which gives us an a peak of the amount of work that goes into building these must-have pieces. For more info on the Peekaboo bag, visit FENDI.COM 

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Alexander McQueen – The Tread Slick

Cover image: Black Tread Slick by Lea Colombo

 One of the best aspects of Alexander McQueen’s menswear collections are the shoes. Usually they all seem to take on an entire character within themselves, proposing interesting yet sturdy new shapes, blends and colours within the genre of menswear. A particular favourite is the Tread Slick, which first appeared in the house’s SS20 pre-collection. A lighter successor of the Tread Boot from the FW18 collection , the Tread Slick features an oversized rubber sole with a canvas upper in an array of season colours .

The house recently commissioned a selection of photographers around the world to capture the iconic shoe in their current environments. Some of which included Adama Jalloh, Lea Colombo, Eddie Wrey, Alice Schillaci, Luis Alberto Rodriguez and Julia Noni. With locations ranging from Peckham to Berlin, each shot features unique styles of imagery which captures the shoes’ detailing in somewhat of a poetic manner. For more on the Tread Slick visit Alexander McQueen

Low White Tread Slick by Wing Shya
Low B&W Tread Slick by Ethan James Green

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Alexander McQueen SS20 – Endangered Flowers

Every small attribute of Sarah Burton’s Alexander McQueen collections are created with some type of story. Each piece from the share to them hems to the embroidery is built with some type of intention. A special detail from the house’s SS20 RTW collection was the implementation of endangered flowers. For the collection, a selection of endangered flowers were hand-embroidered on ivory irish linen dresses with cocoon backs and exploded sleeves and cotton silk tailoring.

The Alexander McQueen team were who contributed with drawings sketched in glass houses and filled with rare blooms which were all transformed into embroidery artworks. The process included lots of research into engendered and extinct flowers, and required an operation of several steps including painting and silk threading using several thread techniques. For more info on the SS20 collection visit Alexander McQueen.

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Marni Home Market

As a part of Milan Design Week last year, Marni presented a line of bags furniture and designs objects under what they dubbed their online Folk Market. This year, regardless of the absence of design week as a result of COVD-19, the Italian brand returns with another collection entitled MARNI HOME MARKET. The collection reflects Marni’s multifaceted universe with an exploration of colours and forms. It features a range of bags including playful hammock bags, retro-inspired crochet bags, small striped shopping bags, natural canapa bags and crochet fish bags.

Each piece from the collection is specially  handmade by Colombian artisans who have been collaborating with the brand for several years. With respect for local traditions, each item is made according to meticulous artisanal processes that require close attention to detail. The collection will is currently available for pre-order online Marni.com 

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Catching up with Parisian Jewellery brand Sisi Joía

As a solution to our quarantine woes, Twin recently caught up with Cécile Wallon creator behind Parisian glass jewels and beads label Sis Joía. The handmade jewellery brand has been known for its special personal touch, pieced together with glass, quartz and crystal beads collected over time on elastic wires . During these difficult times, small gestures like these matter more than anything. Keeping in mind the importance of noticing what surrounds us and how things evolves. Which is why our contributor Amanda Ballerini engaged her dear friend Wallon in conversation discussing inspiration, quarantine finds, habit and much more.

Tell me a bit about you and your Sisi Joía. How did it all begin?

So I’m 29, and after a few years in the fashion retail industry, I had a baby and suddenly a lot of time (well the first few months) to think about what I wanted for the next few years. A question that was a little to big, so the first answer was: I would like to have something beautiful to gather my curtains. I knew this lady who was selling antique beads at the flea market near my house, so I went, in search of some supplies to start making beautiful curtain tiebacks. I never made those, instead I crafted a few elastic bracelets that were easy to take on and off (with a baby…) and showed it to my friends. They were so enthusiastic with the result it convinced me to start making a small jewellery line. And here we are!

Did you ever think of creating something like this in the past?

I’ve always been keen on crafts and handmade things, but more things for the home. However, I’ve been nourished and fed by all the beautiful things and costume jewellery I was selling at my previous job at Vanessa Seward’s. She was especially good at this , from working for numerous years as an accessories designer at Chanel.

Tell me a bit about the connection you developed with the glass maker/blower. How did it happen?

Well I used to live in the neighbourhood of this old store that was never open. One day, they finally had sort of like a Christmas sale, and I bought so many beautiful things for my home. For several years, I didn’t think of it, and then I found one of their glass drops at the flea market. It fit perfectly with the necklaces I was developing, so I started to look for more… and after 2 months of calling the shop and passing by every week, I finally got in touch with Youssef, the owner.

He’s Syrian, and moved to Germany, then France, some 20 years ago. Now he works with a partner, a lady who goes every couple of month to Damascus to select the works of their glass blower (who collects glass debris and recycle it in a traditional brick oven) and have them transported back by boat to their workshop, where they assemble the pieces to make lamps and other beautiful things. They are very discreet but their lamps sell all over the world. Now they allow me to purchase some glass drops, glass blowers and beads to make my pieces.

How’s the everyday life of a creative Parisian mum like you are? Do you have some kind of daily schedule you follow?

It’s busy, as my schedule revolves around my son’s hours: daycare, going to the library, the park, etc. But I get to work following my own schedule during the day, until around 4 when I pick him up. Then the day stops and we focus on being with him. Then, at night, as soon as he’s asleep, my second day begins and I work packing my orders and crafting the pieces.

Where would you ideally be living, if it weren’t Paris?

Actually we’re in the process of moving a little further from Paris, in a suburban town near a bigger park, with more nature and a “greener” municipal area, which is super important to us.

What do you do when something makes you sad?

I try to change my mind and create anything, a little bowl with auto-hardening clay, tie dye a vintage panty .

Keep up with Cécile and her Sisi Joia ventures @sisijoia .

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Alexander McQueen SS20 ft. Dancing Girls & Mini Bags

During the creation of Alexander McQueen’s SS20 collection last year, the house enlisted a handful of students from Central Saint Martin’s MA course to join them in a life drawing class at the educational space of their London flagship store. The results of this class were what resulted in the dancing girls embroideries included in the house’s SS20 collection. During the process, The Stitch School —  a group which reconnects communities through the art of embroidery — provided special tables and looms, both in London as well as in Paris so that the entire McQueen team were also able to get involved in the hand embroidery of the ivory linen dress that was worn by British model Stella Tennant on the runway.  The team effort that was put into the dress is a symbolic commitment of Sarah Burton and the house of McQueen in their efforts of passing on valuable knowledge and honing young talents and also in regards to creating a wider sense of community. 

Another fundamental part of the SS20 collection, were also the minimalistic yet glamorous mini bags. The two main styles included in the collection were the Mini Jewelled Satchel and the Mini Skull Lock Bag. Each one carries its own story, that of the Mini Jewelled Satchel being characterised by the signature jewelled handle with the Alexander McQueen skull, which can be worn cross body or as a clutch. The Mini Skull Lock bag however carries its own skull clasp and can be hand.held using the top handle , or worn with a removable leather cross body strap . The bags are available in a range of various colours which can be discovered on AlexanderMcQueen.com

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The New Intimacy with Designer Nensi Dojaka

Designer Nensi Dojaka’s vision is strictly about the modern woman – and that means embracing her in all her polarities. AW20 marks the designer’s first season with Fashion East, and already it’s clear her message is as powerful as the designs it informs. A recent Central Saint Martins MA graduate, it’s her BA in Lingerie Design that serves as the underpinnings of a delicate interplay, where strength and vulnerability are held together by the finest thread, or just-concealed among collaged layers of sheer silk. Talking to Twin about subverting sensuality with a female-first mindset, the Albanian-born creative tells us just why empowerment is shaping her approach to femininity. 

How did your label begin?

After finishing my MA, SSENSE contacted me about buying the MA collection, and their trust and support pushed me towards working on my own brand. I followed with another capsule for SS20, and now AW20 with Fashion East, and things started to evolve naturally.

Where do you find inspiration?

At the beginning of each collection, I always have a ‘mood’ I want to convey. My woman is out there to stun, but she does it discreetly and this gives her a flavour of danger and fun. After that, I start to drape it all on the mannequin and it comes naturally as a result of visual research. My references of ‘90s fashion will always be there as most of my fashion research stems from ‘90s magazines, and looking a lot at designers like Ann Demeulemeester, Alessandro Dell’Acqua, Jean Colonna. 

Your designs are intimately feminine – what made you want to explore femininity through your collections?

I studied lingerie during my BA so naturally, my work is about silhouettes that complement the female body. It is about embracing the strong and the soft duality of modern womanhood. I love working in the same amount of detail and scale that lingerie has, the mini details like straps, rings, which I use a lot. 

I like the way lingerie contours the body because of the way it’s constructed; how some delicate straps can hold and create the dynamics of the whole piece. There’s always some bra elements in my work. I try to come up with unconventional shapes like the circle bra part of a top in AW20, which is held together by a contrasting elastic strap and goes across the bust in a very graphic way. 

There’s both a strength and a vulnerability to your designs. How would you describe the message behind your aesthetic? 

I think my woman is complex and her beauty stands in the fact that there is a perfect marriage between severity and delicacy in her, and I try to translate this idea onto my clothes. By distorting the perception that comes along certain materials; creating delicacy from severity, and vice versa. 

To mirror that duality of softness and severity in women, I work with different levels of transparency intermingled together in every piece; some bolder drapes against lighter bits which are placed next to each other in an asymmetric, more erratic way. The way the drapes fall onto one another in a more “unexpected” way is to distort that notion of being just pretty and give it a twist into something more aggressive. The sheer fabrics also allow for me to play around with layers, which gives a more ethereal look and also serves as an “armour” by covering up despite being sheer.

Why do you feel fashion is the best way to communicate your message?

Because it is the wearer that brings that message to life and I love the relationship between the wearer and the garment and the meanings attached to it.

How do you want women to feel when wearing your pieces?

Beautiful, strong, alluring yet mysterious. 

How has your connection to London and Albania shaped your design approach?

Both places have shaped the way I think for sure. In Albania, I had the luck to have the help of amazing tutors who contributed to my well-rounded knowledge. And when I came to UK, it opened up even more possibilities for me. Both places have a nice juxtaposition of chaos and order that really inspires me and is reflected in my work and the way I see things.

How do you see the fashion industry adapting in this time of uncertainty? 

The pace is suddenly much slower but I see brands passionately trying to move forward despite the difficulties, and of course adapting to finding ways around it without having the comfort of being at the studio with the team or the usual cash flow. 

What have you got planned for your next steps? 

I’m looking forward to showing my next collection in September, and figuring out the best way to do it to ensure safety during these tough times. 

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Natural and noble : Twin meets Le Kasha – The brand aiming to enunciate the spirit of clothing as companion

Decorum and value: this is where our headspace is at right now. From a tightening of ethics and a loosening of excess – we are paring things back to what we have found bestows upon us a sense of purpose, significance, worth. Le Kasha is a brand that is not about screaming, yet nor is it about ignoring either. It is quiet in its voice, and clear in its motive. As we all take soft steps into a new way of thinking, Le Kasha gives us a new way of seeing too. 


How did you come to take over Le Kasha?

Le Kasha was founded in France in 1918 and was part of my family heritage. Le Kasha was originally a revolutionary fabric that was supplied to the big fashion houses of the time (Chanel, Lanvin, Jean Patou) which they used in creating their collections.

The original logo was an illustration by the French poster artist Géo Dorival. It had always intrigued me and I’d always wanted to one day give new life to the story and heritage of the brand. Eventually, 4 years ago, I decided to rework the illustration and to make it a bit more modern and easy to read, marking a new journey for Le Kasha; creating a luxury lifestyle brand inspired by travel and adventure, to offer timeless pieces to wear anytime and anywhere, made only in natural and noble fabrics

What changes did you implement upon becoming creative director of the brand?

The brand had been dormant for more than 50 years. I went through the archives, repurposed the original logo and with these created a completely new story but keeping the essence of the spirit of the original Le Kasha.

Talk us through where you source your fabrics, and the reasoning behind each textile. We use only noble and natural fabrics at Le Kasha. For the cashmere: The fabrics are sourced in the Alashan and Arbus regions of Inner Mongolia, at our Eco Label factory farm. Those regions are acknowledged to be the foremost regions for producing the highest and finest quality cashmere fibres.

Regarding the linen collection, Le Kasha uses only organic, pure linen fabrics. We found a very specific linen which doesn’t crease and you can spend the full day or night wearing the pieces and they remain elegant and comfortable. The 100% Silk fabrics are sourced in Italy and feel incredible against your skin. Both the linen and silk collections are produced locally in our atelier in Paris.

What role does travel play in Le Kasha?

Le Kasha gets it’s inspiration from travel: for the story behind each collection, for the colours, the styles and the spirit. 

I also love the idea that Le Kasha pieces are what you chose to travel with. The sweater that you always carry in your bag and follows you everywhere. Not just a random sweater; but a travel companion that carries with it the memories of all your travels and keeps you warm and soft on all your trips.

 

What projects are on the horizon for Le Kasha?

A complete men’s collection is on it’s way.. Le Kasha is also due to open a shop «  Boutique de Voyage » in a new luxury hotel in the South of France by next year.

Is there a beauty in specialisation?

Specialisation can allow you to take time to make sure to do that thing really well and properly; release only the best possible version of products to the market. 

It’s also more sustainable as you can focus on one supplier, one factory, and avoid the waste of a high volume of shipments and working with too many fabrics.

What principles are at the heart of your brand?

Quality & authenticity

What changes do you want to see in the fashion landscape post COVID19?

I hope there will be less pressure on brands to create and produce so quickly; giving more time to designers who aren’t given the time to be creative because there is always more and more pressure to be quick.

I hope people will realise that they need less clothes and will chose to buy with more consciousness. Which in turn will also be with a respect to the environment. 

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McQueen Creators NO.5 – Embroidery X Aneliya Kyurkchieva

This week, Alexander McQueen is inviting their followers to explore the art of embroidery, with a hint of inspiration from the house’s SS13 RTW collection. The challenge encourages creators to use whatever resources available at home to recreate an embroidered bee inspired by the bee dresses from the SS13 collection. The house also tapped a member of their in-house embroidery team Aneliya Kyurkchieva for a detailed tutorial on how the bees from the SS13 bee dresses were created. 

McQueen Creators is a weekly initiative brought forth in reaction to the current global quarantine, and calls on the house’s followers to artistically engage with their favourite pieces from a selection of images shared on the McQueen instagram page. A selection of final will be published across their social media platforms. Follow the house’s social media channels for updates, and to be considered in the batch of images shared on the McQueen page, be sure to tag @alexandermcqueen and include the hashtag #McQueenCreators in your caption. 

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Gucci Pre-Fall 2020 – #SoDeerToMe

Gucci’s latest campaign not only features the vibrant colours and intricate textiles of Alessandro Michele’s Pre-Fall 2020 collection, but also an incredibly adorable cast. The campaign titled #SoDeerToMe is a story shot by Alasdair McLellan in celebration of nature in all its forms. Like a scene out of sleeping beauty models are clad in full Gucci PF20 looks of androgynous silhouette & flashy 70’s accessories in the company of free roaming deer, rabbits, squirrels, skunks, owls and other animals.

Since February of this year, the brand joined The Lion’s Share Fund, which is an initiative that raises funds to protect endangered species and their natural habitats. A part of the partnership entails that the fashion house will donate 0.5% of its media spending to the organisation’s fund every time an animal appears in its advertisement, and this Pre-Fall campaign is no exception. To find out more about Gucci Pre-Fall 2020 collection, visit Gucci.com

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The global drag community in quarantine captured by Damien Frost

Cover image: Left: Luke Harris, Right: Sakeema Peng Crook

Damien Frost is a London-based Australian-British art director / graphic designer who spends his time during the day working in the theatres of The Big Smoke and immerses himself to document the city’s alternative queer life by night. His latest project is an ode to social distancing as he uses his opportunity in isolation to portrait creative compositions featuring some of the world’s most dynamic drag queens. 

 “I began the Social distancing project when we first went into lockdown in March as I quickly realised i was going to miss capturing the ephemeral art of the people I normally document and not only did I want to find an excuse to keep using my camera but I also needed to focus on something to distract me a little from the unfolding drama and try and document it in some safe way.

Julius Reuben @luisbenlon

Around the same time that I began the project many people who work in the nightlife economy had their livelihoods and cash flow immediately cut off – there were parties due to happen that people were depending on to pay their rent and some of these people began to pivot towards creating online social content – doing smaller scale performances form their bedrooms or party organisers moved the parties to be Facebook live feeds where the do’s would still play and people would tune in, dance around their lounge rooms and still talk shit over drinks (or warm tea even) and collectively solve the worlds problems albeit via text chat rather than the smoking area of a club, and so I’ve been capturing people before they do a show or after they do a performance or makeup tutorial video and present these portraits in The Social Distancing project,” Frost commented.  

Chloe Doherty , @chlodoh

Each portrait from the series carefully captures each queen’s individual character in the comfort of their homes as they transform themselves for their respective performances which creates a raw outlook / performance out of the concept of social distancing in itself. 

“I find the term Social Distancing fascinating for it’s inherent oxymoron being social and distant at the same time and so this project is exploring that, how we are connecting with each other during this strange moment in time. I wanted to show the process also- the image quality of the photos is mostly terrible as it’s very dependent on both the video call connection, the camera the other person is using on the other end and the lighting they have available and then I’m just taking photos with my camera of a pixelated video feed on an old iPad but this poor quality is also partly the point – the technology we have is imperfect and nothing can replace the personal social experience but at the moment this is all we have and so we make-do.

At first I thought there wouldn’t be a lot of people doing transformative looks during this period but I’ve been surprised by just how many people are still practicing their craft – using this time to play with new ideas, engage with challenges with other artists and just keep ploughing on. Despite the fact that many people are in extremely precarious and difficult circumstances and often not knowing where they will get the money for the next rent payment people are trying to keep positive in the knowledge that we are all in this together and there’s a strong desire amongst everyone I talk to that hopefully we can all learn from this situation and we might come out of this situation more thoughtful about each other and the delicate balance of the world we live in.

Keep up with the artist and view the full version of the artists featured @damienfrost.

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McQueen Creators NO.4 – The Silhouette x Howard Tangye

 Alexander McQueen’s latest instalment of their McQueen Creators initiative invites their followers to explore the art of creating silhouettes. With the use of a sketchbook and charcoals, pencils, pastels, paint or whatever materials available, we are welcomed to join the McQueen world and interpret of favourite looks from the women’s SS20 & men’s AW20 collections with images specially chosen by Creative Director Sarah Burton as inspiration. The house also taps on the Head of BA Womenswear at Central Saint Martins Howard Tangye to spearhead the project as he takes part and shares his expertise in the field with a video tutorial. Tangye is seen guiding the McQueen audience through his process of painting an ivory tailored double breasted wool overcoat and trousers from the men’s AW20 collection. The full tutorial can be viewed below. 

McQueen Creators is a weekly initiative brought forth in reaction to the current global quarantine, and calls on the house’s followers to artistically engage with their favourite pieces from a selection of images shared on the McQueen instagram page. A selection of final will be published across their social media platforms. Follow the house’s social media channels for updates, and to be considered in the batch of images shared on the McQueen page, be sure to tag @alexandermcqueen and include the hashtag #McQueenCreators in your caption. 

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Musée des Arts Décoratifs : “Christian Dior, Designer of Dreams” Virtual Tour

French Maison Christian Dior recently launched a virtual tour to their latest exhibition’s in partnership with Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Titled “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams,” this exhibition traces the impact of one of the 20th century’s most influential couturiers while exploring the works of the six artistic directors who succeeded him.

“There is no other country in the world, besides my own, whose way of life I like so much. I love English traditions, English politeness, English architecture. I even love English cooking,” a quote from Christian Dior. The designer deeply admired the British  way of life, even his first fashion show took place at London’s Savoy Hotel and he then later established the brand as Christian Dior London. 

The exhibition also gives insight to Dior’s creative collaborations with jewellers, shoemakers, and glove makers as well as a focus on some of his earliest elite clients. These include author Nancy Mitford, dancer Margot Fonteyn and a special highlight of the Christian Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday. The exhibition will presents over 500 objects and over 200 rare Haute Couture garments displayed alongside the designer’s personal possessions. The virtual show reveals the sources of inspiration which help define the Dior aesthetic, from the intricate designs of Yves Saint Laurent to Maria Grazia Chiuri’s feminist vision. Discover the link to the virtual showcase below.

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PRADA Pre-Fall Womenswear 2020 – Painted in PRADA

Prada’s latest campaign for Pre-Fall 2020 was crafted with the intention of blurring the lines between reality and digital and re-imagining a new idea of intimacy during these very particular times. The campaign was shot in London back in February by photographer David Sims and recently digitally painted in New York. 

The images and campaign films combine hand-painted watercolors with digital artistry. The silhouettes of each look and their seams and patterns, become ‘paint by numbers’ frames for energetic explorations of color – a dozen Prada-ist shades of Celeste blue, pink, yellow, orange, green and more. 

“Blurring lines between the photographic and the painterly, between technology and humanity, it is a subconscious echo of our moment. The joy of color via the joy of technology – both a means of communicating a message, immediately. Ultimately, that message is positivity – a fantasy, painted in Prada colors,” read the brand’s campaign notes. For more info on the Pre-Fall ’20 collection, visit Prada.com

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A Certain Authenticity and Authority of Voice: A chat with Proenza Schouler on their collaboration with Birkenstock

Collaboration – never has the creative industry needed to explore the potential of partnerships in such a laterally minded way. As the world goes through what has been dubbed a collective trauma, connected and meaningful interactions have been formulating as the experience of the global crisis solidifies groups – memories that will be shared in the future.

Partnerships are becoming more reasonable, more cultivating, more open to input and experience.We see the term maker traversing a spectrum of craft, limited not to certain adages and opening itself to dialogues with how others are coping and creating. On the crest of the pandemic breaking on western shores, Proenza Schouler collaborated with Birkenstock. Shot by Juergen Teller, the collaboration evokes an impression of the importance to look at function within form once more: of what people want, what people need.

Twin spoke to Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler about this cross pollination of ideas and why we need collaborations now more than ever.  

How did this partnership come about?

J&L: The collaboration happened quite organically. A friend of ours who was working on a project with Birkenstock mentioned to them that we were fans of the brand, and that perhaps we should all meet together to discuss a potential collaboration. We met, and the rest is history.

What was the attraction to either design house?

J&L: Birkenstocks have always had a special place in our lives and are one of the few things that the two of us have in common from our separate and completely different childhood experiences.

Lazaro: I grew up in Miami, so the ocean was an important part of my life. Spending your free time on the sand and on boats was what one did as a kid. Birkenstocks were what my friends and I always wore because they were easy, comfortable, and had a kind of counterculture nostalgia associated with them that was very much in the air during those days. I remember wearing them to my first day of college at the University of Miami and not thinking twice about how appropriate that would be. It was simply part of the culture down in the tropics. When I moved to NY, I of course took my Birkenstocks with me and actually still have those exact pair in my closet. They are one of the few things I still have in my possession from those early days before Proenza Schouler.

Jack: I grew up in Tokyo but moved to New Jersey as a child with my family. Growing up in the 90’s and being the free spirited and independent kid that I was, I ended up leaving home at a young age and traveling around the country with the Grateful Dead. It was during those years that Birkenstocks really became a staple of my everyday life. On tour, that was the de facto uniform. They became a kind of symbol of a by gone era that the kids around me were glorifying in a way, and trying to relive on our own. Of course, it was a different time altogether, but Birkenstocks somehow connected the past with the present. I moved to San Francisco after I eventually finished high school, then ended up at an arts boarding school in Massachusetts, before ending up in NY and starting at Parsons. Birkenstock were a part of my entire journey into adulthood and to this day are still a mainstay of my life.

Would you say this is a meeting of likeminded creatives or actually an opposites-attract partnership?

J&L: We love the idea of two New York designers who have a brand firmly planted in the eco system of NY fashion collaborating with a historic German shoemaker. The cross pollinating of cultures and ideas and work styles feels totally pertinent to the world of today.

Why do we need collaboration in the fashion world now more than ever?

Collaborations can be great if they feel organic and natural. We actually don’t do many of them as we like to focus on the work we already do in-house. We have pretty clear ideas of what we like and what we don’t, and sometimes with too many cooks in the kitchen the process can get difficult. There are already two of us, so adding more people into the mix can sometimes get complicated. On the other hand, if the collaborator does something iconic that we feel makes sense for us and our woman, and we  have a very clear idea of what we would like to do for it, then of course it is a great thing to do. It opens up your brand to people who wouldn’t normally interact with it and vice versa. It can be an incredibly interesting thing to do on many levels and we think the one-off nature of the project usually makes it exciting and desirable for people. 

It’s important to open up your studio to new voices, new ideas, new people, in an effort to push the boundaries of what is possible in-house. We could have done our own version of a Birkenstock sandal with Proenza Schouler shoes, but it would never be a real Birkenstock. Authenticity is something we care deeply about and if we wanted to create something in the world of Birkenstock, who better to do it with than the masters of that kind of shoe: Birkenstock.

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