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

22.05.2020 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

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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Catching up with Parisian Jewellery brand Sisi Joía

14.05.2020 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

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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A simple idea for people talking: Andy Warhol’s editorial legacy bound in one tome, thanks to Assouline

26.01.2020 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

A simple idea for people talking: Andy Warhol’s editorial legacy bound in one tome thanks to Assouline

There is a new book on the shelves of Assouline’s publishing maison on Piccadilly in London – it weighs over 5kg, it takes up more than a shelf, its hardcover is awash in acrid green and it rests in a metallic pink protective jacket. Bold, bright, brassy, beautiful: 50 years of Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine has been collated, curated and bound into a vibrant dazzle. 

Assouline’s mighty tome on this dazzling riot that was Interview Magazine lets you eavesdrop in on the romance, the righteousness, the unrest and the regalia that made and still makes Interview one of the most infamous magazines to this day. 

© Christopher Makos, June 1972

Initially contrived as a cross between the youth culture-led Rolling Stone and the nudity of Screw, Interview was due to be a riot of a success according to Andy Warhol, as it was going to be a film review magazine that was comprised of decent and relevant journalism, and sex. Having resulted instead in a zeitgeist of exceptional journalism, outrageous interviews and total creative freedom across fashion, art, music and culture, Interview turned on its head what a magazine could encompass. 

Speaking to Esther Kremer, Editor In Chief and Director of Publishing at Assouline, we discuss why the powerhouse of noble titles saw the legacy of Interview Magazine as a key opportunity to celebrate and support the reputation of what Richard Turley, Editorial Director of Interview, labelled “a mess, a big beautiful mess.”

Glenn Steigelman, November 1969

How did this retrospective of Interview Magazine come about?

On the occasion of Interview’s 50th anniversary, it seemed opportune to curate their history in a book.

Why did you feel this was a valid retrospective that needed to be published under Assouline?

Assouline is a curator of culture, we educate with strong imagery and constantly refer back to the creative leaders of the past in all our works. Interview: 50 Years is a visual text book to decades of history of film, fashion and art.

How did Interview change the publishing landscape?

In an age when magazines were all about carefully composed shoots in exotic locations by leading photographers, Andy turned publishing on its head with a real and unedited interview format for his magazine. Because he could not afford to pay writers, he just published the interviews verbatim.  He took chances by featuring young stars like Jodie Foster, the only talent he could afford  at the time, and at 18 she ended up working as a staff writer for him as well. He was innovative and ahead of his time in that regard. He was an entertainer, not just an artist,  and dreamed up ways of captivating his audience within his small operating budget.

© Glenn Steigelman, December, 1991

Do you think Interview is still a relevant publication? 

Yes, because it focuses on emerging talent, like Nick Braun (Succession) and has an edgy vibe which is presented for a sophisticated audience who understands good design. It’s different than what else is out there and many of their competitors.

What did your involvement in the creation of this title teach you about the magazine and Andy Warhol’s lateral creative vision?

Andy’s Interview shows that Innovators take risks. He had a  “go big or go home” attitude that we see today in the startup community. Andy was that kind of visionary and his creativity extended way beyond art.

Glenn Steigelman October 2002

The book is published as a mighty tome: why did you feel this was the right format for a retrospective on Interview?

The contents of the book are epic. They take readers through  what many consider the heyday of NYC. It deserves to be XXL.

Can you summarise what Interview meant to you in three words when you started work on this project ?

ANDY, NYC, INNOVATION

Can you summarise Interview in three words after creating this tome?

ANDY, NYC, INNOVATION

Interview 50 Years – 3D Cover

What would you like readers to take away from this book?

An understanding of a time where creative energy exuded from the streets of NYC and how that magic happened.

Interview is available to purchase by Assouline here.

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Colville: Dedicated Vision

26.11.2019 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

The brand that culminated from three relationships founded at Marni is one of beauty, strength and a contemporary elegance.

Colville doesn’t have a brand bio, it has a manifesto: a dedicated vision, that it hopes to instil in those who encounter it. A meeting of three fabulous minds, Colville was consummated from a Venn diagram of insight, expertise and experience. From Lucinda Chambers, the stylist and ex-fashion director of Vogue UK, to the Marni designers Molly Molloy and Kirsten Foss, this is a label that has not entered the market light-handedly. Striding into familiar waters, this time with no obligations, Colville feels like a giant sigh of exhilaration: a long time coming from three impressive women who have spent decades strengthening and celebrating visions. Now they can carve out their own. 

With the name a reference to a street David Hockney frequented in the 1970’s the initial associations are set before one even claps eyes on the clothes. Colour, modernism, a uniqueness of touch and ingenuity of vision: all aspects we see this brand emanating, and thus paying homage to a history of modern art, thus three lives also spent exploring and adoring the arts. It’s a smattering of London too, rooting their designs as a sort of cultured and cool friendliness – the love of a half pint in Francis Bacon’s favourite pub as much as his works that hang in the Tate. 

Colville commenced with an AW19 collection in 2018, a collection of depth and brevity. With graphic hand drawn prints, unexpected shapes, cropped lengths, drawstring tightenings and thickly overlaid silks draped in voluminous and generous furls around the body. 

The woman they design for are neither expected or stereotyped caricatures on the fashion track. Described in their manifesto, they are “hunters and gatherers, odd and individual: so are our women. Building their own reality as a product of the imagination and living it.”

It would be too easy to pull the similarities between Marni and the near-intergalactic jewellery, like proud UFO sculptures, the ruched and determined bold layering of Lucinda’s oft mimicked styling, This would be lazy. Of course, their past will enter this brave new future: after all, they all helped carve Marni’s instantly recognisable aesthetic for so long. 

Talking to the three creators, Colville is only furthered in the mind as an intelligent label, creating collections – exclusive to Matches Fashion – that are joyful celebrations of colour, considered balances of separates, and brave designs of unique jewellery, bags and accessories that not only appeal to women of substance, but push the boundaries out of noteworthy shapes, formulation and aesthetics. Hooray for Colville: a brand that thinks and acts for the woman with brains, culture, art and creativity at her core. 

How has your collated, extensive and reputable experiences resulted in Colville’s aesthetics and the manifesto of the brand?

I think our collated experience has what has helped us shape and  Colville, our collective knowledge and strengths have bought a brand together that we didn’t perhaps expect. We started designing a wardrobe for the 3 of us, really that’s what it came down to. Something for each of us, 3 aesthetics combined.

Why do you call your brand a sum, rather than a mix of ideas?

It’s a sum as it has a unique and distinctive voice and vision of its own, Colville. When we are talking through ideas we often say, that’s very Colville, and we know what that means. It’s a certain freedom of expression, bold and quietly beautiful at the same time, the mix. 

What does Colville draw inspiration from?

We are inspired by anything and everything.

We look at so many corners of life and its offerings to feed our collections. As three working together, it is important for us to be receptive to mixed references.

Tell us about the brand’s inception

We knew we wanted to continue our working relationships when we all left Marni. We couldn’t imagine not continuing our creative collaboration, it made sense and then suddenly one day we are doing it on our own and it’s growing!

Do you feel there are paradoxes at play in your collections?

Yes probably purely for the fact that we are 3 women with different aesthetic tastes that come together. We can do a tailored coat in black but then we love a drawstring bold floral print dress. We all see the point of each other’s ideas; I think that mix is what makes us unique and perhaps paradoxical.

Is Colville a direct manifestation of art and culture?

 I think it’s a direct result of what we are feeling in that moment, it’s more of an emotional response to what we want to wear, having said that we go to exhibitions and films etc and those experiences permeate into our collections subconsciously.

Does music hold any relevance in your collections?

Well we are always listening to it and it’s important to all of us, I think we can remember the music we were listening to while we were emailing late at night replying to emails!

What was the last thing that made you excited?
Lucinda: the last thing I was excited about was two minutes ago thinking about a shoot…. and who was going to do that. 

Molly : Working at the bag factory this morning and seeing the new prototypes.

Kristin: Booking a Christmas trip to India.

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