The New Intimacy with Designer Nensi Dojaka

07.05.2020 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

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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LFW: Fashion East SS2020 Showcase

18.06.2019 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Last week  three young designers under the Fashion East Initiative presented their SS2020 collections. A small tribe of Londoners and British fashion school alumni who each spoke with very different voices.

Saul Nash SS2020
Saul Nash SS2020
Saul Nash SS2020

The newest designer to the bunch was British dancer and choreographer Saul Nash who opened the showcase and his section of the evening with a group of models standing on the runway. Followed by a dance performance upon the guests being seated. This performance helped to show off Nash’s construction abilities in creating functional pieces with technical fabrics, curved zippers and mesh. From steel grey nylon pants, to light blue tracksuits. Each piece was made with an awareness of comfort and sensitivity towards movement. 

Robyn Lynch SS2020
Robyn Lynch SS2020
Robyn Lynch SS2020

 Irish designer Robyn Lynch presented a solid coloured men’s collection inspired by the sport uniforms worn throughout Irish communities in earlier decades. This was brought out through a selection of cable knit sweaters, terry cloth shorts, t-shirts and cropped sweatpants all rendered in a palette of mint greens, lilac and cornflower blues.  

Mowalola SS2020
Mowalola SS2020
Mowalola SS2020

Nigerian designer Mowalola Ogunlesi showcased her second collection with Fashion East that was inspired by her experiencing the woes of romantic love for the first time, “I’ve just fallen in love for the first time and I feel as if no one talks about the horrific side, the dangers of love, losing control of your emotions and feeling like your crazy. It’s like a horror movie. So this is as if I’m in a black Woodstock Festival and someone has been murdered,” she explained. And henceforth this included looks with gunshot wounds placed against large lip prints, religious symbols in colourful halter necked suits, skin tight pants,  revealing bodices, jumpsuits, and coats made from leather, cotton and cowhide fabrics. 

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Fashion East Fall-Winter 2019

19.02.2019 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Last weekend passed this year’s first Fashion East showcase which featured a list of three intriguing London based emerging designers, in showcase of their Fall Winter 2019 Collections. The non-profit initiative, set up by Lulu Kennedy and Old Truman Brewery to support and nurture emerging British talent celebrates its 18th year of triumph after housing designers such as JW Anderson, Kim Jones and Gareth Pugh; just to name a few.

Central Saint Martins graduate Gareth Wrighton was one of the three talents to showcase. Wrighton presented a 22 look collection in collaboration with stylist Ib Kamara titled “Smooth Criminal.” The collection was inspired by a four month residency the designer previously took in Johannesburg with Kamara and South African photographer Kristin Lee Moolman. It cohesively spoke to the stories of political coups, warring dynasties and feuding families caught in a violent power struggle. The looks included flaming hair, bullet accessorised mini dresses and sweaters with burning forests. The collection in itself was nothing short of a political statement. 

Gareth Wrighton AW19 | Image via Chris Yates
Gareth Wrighton AW19 | Image via Chris Yates

In 2017 Designer Charlotte Knowles and partner Alexandre Arsenault launched their South London label Charlotte Knowles London after also completing their masters at Central Saint Martins. Designing for a feminine and strong woman, in the AW19 collection, Knowles explores femininity and ready to wear in a way which disrupts traditional boundaries. Boundaries between the vulnerable and the combative, the human and the natural, the intimate and the public and the strange and familiar. The collection featured wool and technically crafted fabrics, made in soft pastel colours from form fitting, to minimal to fluid.  This was the designers’ final showcase with the support of the Fashion East Initiative .

Charlotte Knowles AW19 | Image via Chris Yates
Charlotte Knowles AW19 | Image via Chris Yates
Charlotte Knowles AW19 | Image via Chris Yates

The final collection was that of Chinese CSM trained designer Yuhan Wang whose collection was inspired by traditional Chinese concepts of femininity and their connections to western culture. She explored the lines between beauty and strangeness , softness, delicacy and sensibility. In her second season showcasing for the Fashion East initiative, Wang’s pieces were made in silk satins, lace, velvet and tulle in ripple technique to flounce around the female form. She presented sheath and tea dresses in a 3 Dimensional way where her ruches and other artistically danced around the body. “ I think of it as the push and pull we experience as women. The constant dialogue between our inner and outer worlds,” says wang.  With soft colours of blue, lilac and primrose yellow, the designer pieced together a cohesive collection which told an impactful and interesting story. 

Yuhan Wang AW19 | Image via Chris Yates
Yuhan Wang AW19 | Image via Chris Yates
Yuhan Wang AW19 | Image via Chris Yates

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Fashion East SS19 Showcase

18.09.2018 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Charlotte Knowles, Yuhan Wang and A Sai Ta were the London based designers chosen to showcase at this year’s Fashion East SS19 showcase.  The non-profit initiative, set up by Lulu Kennedy and Old Truman Brewery to support and nurture emerging British talent celebrates its 18th year of triumph after housing designers such as JW Anderson, Kim Jones and Gareth Pugh; just to name a few.

One of the first talents of this year’s show was the fruit of Central Saint Martins graduates Charlotte Knowles and partner Alexandre Arsenault, who launched their brand Charlotte Knowles in 2017. The designer duo presented a collection for a strong, confident and futuristic woman which focused on refined pieces with intricate details. The woman they presented was one who celebrates her femininity as she proudly strut down the runway in, halter neck bikinis, mesh slips and cut-out pieces of bright colours accented with an abundance of straps.

Fashion East, Charlotte Knowles SS19 | Images by Chris Yates
Fashion East, Charlotte Knowles SS19 | Images by Chris Yates

Chinese born designer Yuhan Wang who is also an alumni of the Central Saint Martins womenswear program brought forth a collection which was inspired by asian femininity and its ties to western culture. The SS19 collection was entitled Women Indors. She explored the line between coverage and exposure; delicacy and sensibility as she played peekaboo with techniques of drapery paired with sheer fabrics to create pieces which celebrated the female form in a fun yet sensual manner.

Fashion East, Yuhan Wang SS19 | Images by Chris Yates
Fashion East, Yuhan Wang SS19 | Images by Chris Yates

Designer A SaI Ta who previously launched his label Asai with Fashion East in February 2017 for his SS19 collection, dives into the roots of his British-Chinese-Vietnamese heritage and reinterprets this as a second generation Londoner. Ta uses fabric manipulation and pairs this with his sharp pattern making skills to create a collection with disrupts familiar visual codes by creating sharp intriguing forms of the modern day female silhouette with inspiration from military culture. After graduating from Central Saint Martins the designer gained experience at The Row and was sought after for a position at Kanye West’s Yeezy just a year into completing his MA.

Fashion East, ASAI SS19 | Images by Chris Yates
Fashion East, ASAI SS19 | Images by Chris Yates

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Fashion East x Galeria Melissa

23.05.2018 | Art , Culture , Fashion | BY:

In keeping with Galeria Melissa’s reputation for hosting maverick collaborations and guests, the space’s next takeover brings Fashion East’s merry band of designers to the Covent Garden space.

The Fashion East womenswear designers, which includes Supriya Lele, Charlotte Knowles and Asai interpreted Galeria Melissa’s  OPEN VIBES AW18 collection. The video that will preview this evening is the first to be created between Galeria Melissa and Fashion East. Shot with a home video aesthetic, the video offers a low-fi feel that blends the fantasy of fashion with the reality of its process.

This latest collaboration with Fashion East follows Juno Calypso’s unnerving takeover earlier in the year. Expect weird, wacky and wonderful things.

Imagery by Dexter Lander

Imagery by Dexter Lander

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Fashion east spring summer 2014

24.09.2013 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Fashion East is a pioneering non-profit initiative established by Lulu Kennedy and the Old Truman Brewery in 2000. The scheme champions emerging designers, showcasing them on the catwalk at London Fashion Week. Designers are selected by Fashion East’s panel of industry experts who offer guidance and mentoring support. As part of the scheme designers receive a bursary, a fully produced runway show and are taken to Paris to hold sales appointments with international stores. Fashion East has has kick started the careers of many of the UK’s most prolific design talent including Gareth Pugh, Jonathan Saunders, House of Holland, Louise Gray, Marios Schwab, Meadham Kirchhoff, Richard Nicoll, Roksanda Ilincic and Simone Rocha.

For the spring/summer 2014 the Fashion East show featured Ashley Williams, Claire Barrow and Ryan Lo.

Twin’s Trinity Eliis went backstage before the show and got some photos of Ryan Lo’s and Ashley William’s creations.

fashioneast.co.uk

 

 

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Backstage Access: Fashion East

19.02.2013 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Lulu Kennedy’s Fashion East initiative is always a surefire platform for London’s latest design talent. This season, Claire Barrow, Ryan Lo and Ashley Williams displayed their inspirations for A/W 13, which included lampshade accessories, an Ally McBeal/Bridget Jones hybrid and lipstick prints. Twin headed behind the scenes to check it all out…

fashioneast.co.uk

Photography by James O Roberts.

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The Long Look

25.10.2012 | Blog | BY:

When James Long finally branched out into womenswear, with his critically acclaimed debut show at Fashion East A/W11, the fashion world was ready. We spend a lot of our time coveting the wardrobes of our male relatives and friends. We envy the clean, sharp tailoring, the perfect shirt, the imitable jackets. We steal their clothes on a near regular basis – I’m still wearing my younger brother’s barmitzvah suit, eight years on.

So when a menswear designer makes the move into womenswear, we find ourselves unrestrainedly happy. Smiles replace pouts all round. Under the watchful, expert eye of the Lulu Kennedy, Long’s womenswear collections have gone from strength to strength. This season, he flew the nest, with his first ever non-sponsored, independent, magnificent collection.

Twin spoke to James about monochrome, minimalism and female icons past and present…

What was your inspiration for S/S13?
The monochrome colour palate really came from something that was happening in the menswear show ten weeks earlier – where we’d be looking at Joseph Albez, the Kung Fu Cowboy and David Shrigley. Another inspiration, or element, was that this was our first non-sponsored BFC show.

In terms of design, it is a more simple collection…
Yes, this season we consciously stripped the collection back to something very basic, yet very beautiful. If you’ve seen a lot of one style you, obviously, get a bit sick of it and need a change. So that’s how I work – alternating seasons between elaborate and basic. However there are a lot of design elements I’ve always loved and relied on: polka dots, lines etc.

Do you have a favourite shape?
I guess I’m a hypocrite as I think I’m linear but then I do love a dot as well! To be honest what I really love is to mix everything up so that I have a bit of everything, and more. This collection was always going to be monochrome, but it also had to have my maximalist-type knitwear, which was worked in with the contradictory minimalist colour palate. I think that’s why I love it so much. It simply made sense. It was definitely my most personal womenswear collection.

So who is the woman behind this very personal collection?
PJ Harvey meets Beattlejuice!

Who are some of your favourite women, past and present?
There are inspirational, historical women who come up at the embryonic stages of design – Leer, Stevie Nicks & Nancy Spungen – but the physical collection itself is far more based on women who are around me – Virginia Bates, Lulu [Kennedy], Louise Grey, my sister Charlotte, Sam in the studio to name a few [some of whom featured on Princess Julia’s watercolour shirt]. Once the collection is ready we often think about people it would be for. We’ll say ‘that is a Lulu shirt’ or, and this sounds funny (because this is for twin) but ‘Celestine might wear that’. These are women who we envisage wearing our clothes – not muses but the icons to come!

Are your men’s and women’s collections conceived in tandem?
For me, the two are very much the same thing – they are conceived and created here [at studio] by the same team, using the same principles and the same elements. Only the mood, colours or cut differ. There is 50% cross over and then we also share techniques – the belted box pleat for our skirts we took from the menswear, with great success!

What are you currently listening to in the studio?
We’ve turned into a radio only station; absolute 90s; radio 6; Jarvis’ Sunday service. At show time we have Hanna Hanra sending through a barrage of music. Or we’ll play one album over and over again; this season it was PJ Harvey, obviously. I also really like Rose Blake’s work.

And what are you currently reading?
The Empress of Ireland – it’s a really nice bedtime read.

What will you be dressing as for Halloween?
I’ll actually be in Ibiza staying with Virginia Bates, no plans yet but we’re always dressing up!

What’s next for you?
Teaching menswear at the Royal Collage of Art which I love. I’m continuously amazed and impressed by the quality of work. We have our menswear show on the 7th january, and then it’s womenswear again! We also have a collection for Topman coming out in two weeks. We’re making, showing, delivering: just keeping it going really!

jameslonguk.com

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