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!

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Protege Programme

17.02.2012 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

With a week’s worth of womenswear and menswear shows kicking off today, a new crop of fresh design talents will be making their London Fashion Week mark.

For this season, expect to see the collections of David Koma, Holly Fulton, J.JS Lee, J.W. Anderson, Michael van der Ham and Simone Rocha on the runway, as well as Christopher Raeburn, Thomas Tait, Nasir Mazhar, Sister by Sibling, Huishan Zhang, James Long, Lucas Nascimento, Tim Soar and Palmer//Harding presenting their unique designs in installations and exhibitions.

Helping them flourish in the fashion capital is the British Fashion Council’s NEWGEN initiative, founded in 1993 and sponsored by Topshop. The scheme offers young creatives a platform to showcase their designs at Somerset House, as well as offering financial and business support.

With past recipients including Alexander McQueen, Matthew Williamson, Christopher Kane, Mary Katrantzou and Meadham Kirchhoff, the future is looking more than bright for this next generation of fashion talent. After all, there’s nothing like a new kid on the block to shake things up.

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