Sunday 31 March 2013

Easter Print Parade

As Easter is the time to indulge in colourfully clad confectionery, I thought I'd put down the calorie laden eggs for a moment and instead wrap myself up in an assortment of attention grabbing, mouth watering printed treats. With an elliptical form nowhere to be seen, my sweet tooth was more than satisfied sartorially with a selection box of recent buys from Trine Lindegaard, Agi & Sam for Tabio and Mohsin Ali. As the sugar rush courses through your veins, press your eye to a kaleidoscope of Kente, Bauhaus and Miami Vice...

Sweatshirt by Trine Lindegaard, coat by Mohsin Ali, socks by Agi & Sam x Tabio 
and rug from Pendleton.

The starting point for my own little Easter print Parade was Trine Lindegaard's Niable sweatshirt. For SS13, Lindegaard focused on what she does best; exploring new techniques and textile developments. When we visited the Danish-born design talent at her East London studio late last year, Lindegaard simply explained the collection as "a colourful collection that celebrates the traditional craftsmanship of Ghanaian fabric weavers whilst adding some sporty elements and of course, the odd bit of embellishment." The collection evolved from an approach from an West African based charity and an introduction to the wonders of their local weavers. Ultimately, Lindegaard celebrated this great textile tradition whilst breathing fresh life in to their work by mixing it with Western hi-tech materials to achieve a wearable and contemporary collection. My own little piece of Lindegaard's happy union of Kente and sportswear was duly snapped up at 39-39.  The second piece of the print puzzle was a pixelated pick of Agi & Sam SS13. With reworked trippy textiles and reimagined tantalising tat from 80s cop shows, the dazzling design duo delivered one of the real highlights of the inaugural London Collections: Men. The pairs accomplished alchemy of chintz and cheese bubbled throughout the collection's cauldron, from greasy moustaches to popping tailoring to the Tabio collaborated hosiery that peeked through sandals. Seeing the socks on sale at Machine-A, I couldn't help myself. From Miami Vice to the Bauhaus, the print parade marched on with Mohsin Ali. Where Lindegaard and Agi & Sam consistently revel in the worlds of print and colour, Ali is better known for being powered by form, function and fabric. Whilst continuing down his focused and well crafted path, Ali introduced print for the first time for AW12, leaving us dazzled by Josef Albers inspired geometric, Bauhaus style shapes. For me, the double breasted coat completed the look.

Coat by Mohsin Ali, sweatshirt by Trine Lindegaard, shirt by Dr. Martens
trousers by Stephan Schneider, socks by Agi & Sam x Tabio and trainers by Missoni x Converse

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Details... Fancy pants and battered trainers

I'm becoming increasingly fascinated with whether or not designers wear their designs and if so, how.   Here's Agi (one half of Agi&Sam, Agape Mdumulla) teaming up a colourful pair of AW12 trousers with well loved Nike's.

Thursday 21 March 2013

Treasured Items... Julian Ganio

The fashion shuffle, the procession from show to presentation to tradeshow (repeat to fade) can be a dull and even dour affair. Failing to mirror the excitement and energy of the collections, frowns are frequently fruitful on the FROW. However, there are a few faces that are positively beaming, ever positive and eager. Behind one cheeky smile is stylist Julian Ganio. Now, this London College of Fashion graduate first caused a wry smile and sent ripples of excitement through the industry when he sent a troupe of older, plumper, daddies down the catwalk for his graduate collection back in 2002. Having spent the last decade adding a little colour, texture, intrigue and fun to menswear, Ganio has made a name for himself working with Topman, Fred Perry and Dunhill as well as nurturing emerging London including Omar Kashoura, Agi&Sam and Craig Green. Whilst styling for your favourite style titles, he was recently made Fashion Editor of everyone's favourite, Fantastic Man. Buying him a coffee and a congratulatory slice of cake, I couldn't resist a spot of show and tell in a quiet enclave of East London. Here, with that omnipresent smile recounts the tale of two treasures.


Julian Ganio and the familiar corduroy hat


"This brown corduroy hat is from Joseph. I don't even know if it belonged to my mum or dad. I just know that I've had it from around 1998 but the hat itself is much older. I've done some digging and I think it is from the label's autumn/winter 76/77 collection. I can't recall how it came in to my possession but I collect hats, I've got about eight hundred. There are so many hats that mean something to me but this one just feels really relevant for me at the moment. I've been wearing it loads this Winter, mainly because it goes really well with a corduroy Margaret Howell suit, and well with some other cord pieces from Engineered Garments. I remember first wearing it when I was going through a hip-hop phase at around fifteen or sixteen, it was my own take on a bucket hat. Then I hadn't worn it for years but it now feels appropriate again. I like how worn it is. It makes me feel like I've had a past and been wearing it for thirty years. It manages to be both smart and scruffy, a little beaten up. At the moment, I like wearing things that are quite tailored but lived in, unstructured, nothing too pristine. It's the type of hat that I don't have to be too precious about, I can just stuff it in to my bag and it's fine."


.... and the Paul Smith paisley pair


"I've had the Paul Smith tie since 1999 and borrowed the scarf a lot over the years but didn't have it permanently until more recently. I've asked my Dad and he thinks they are from the mid 80s. As both of my cherished picks are so old, the memories I have of each of then have been developed from photographs. I remember them more as objects that I loved at home, finding them as I rummaged through the wardrobe or seeing them on the hat stand. I definitely think my parents had an influence on me and my interest in fashion. Both were very into clothes. My Mum use to work for Joseph back in the 70's and my Dad has been a hardcore Paul Smith fan from day one... and I used to get dragged round the Floral Street store in the 80's every Saturday afternoon when Covent Garden was quite different.

I don't wear them so much. I have moments with them where I will over wear them for a couple of months then move on but I always go back. I especially loved them when i was at LCF during 1998 - 2002 and wore them the most then. I've worn the tie more recently, it feels quite current and not vintage at all... almost like Agi&Sam could have made it... it could easily be their take on a paisley." Julian Ganio

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Dodd's new dawn

"It feels like the real start of Dodd," George Hudson declares as he places a pair of tea filled mugs on to his cutting table. He pauses with the excitement of his opening gambit still etched on his face. As we sit in his South East London studio, with a few promising seasons behind him, there's a discernible confidence that only develops with experience. "Dodd was something that happened quite organically after working in the industry for a few years but ultimately I came in to everything without the usual design education." Entering from a different door, Hudson has a seemingly unquenchable thirst to learn, to improve. The last year or two have been something of an education, the label ever developing as it matures. For autumn/winter 13 Dodd graduates, knowing exactly what it wants to be and what it wants to do. "We aim to create a clean minimal silhouette that uses a fusion of shapes, fabrics and production techniques."

"Coming in to this from outside a typical design background (excelling at tennis and swimming from a young age, Hudson was on a sport's scholarship in the US at UCI where he majored in History) has meant that this is a learning experience. It does create different ideas though, I see things differently and finding Dan, my design assistant and pattern cutter, has really helped focus Dodd. We're working closely together and that has helped advance Dodd. For us, moving forward everything has to feel new, progressive and clean," declares Hudson. The statement is a deceptively simple one but the foundations are now in place for the label to do just that. "With everything we've learned, the focus has been sourcing the best fabrics worldwide and working with the finest British producers. We've been looking to find the real gems. It's about doing things properly. It can't be rushed."  

"This season evolved around an idea of horizontal banding, clean lines and the subtle mounting up of thin layers. There were a few John Pawson images on the mood board because I'm a huge fan of his. I have an awkward confession though. I recently read a quote from him that said something like, 'when fashion designers start talking about architecture as inspiration, then they've got nothing left to say'." Midway through the last sentence, a huge grin dissects the designer's face and a giggle echoes across the studio space. We can laugh because Hudson has plenty to say and he's only just finding his voice. "In addition to Pawson, I kept on going back to Klerksdorp spheres," he adds after composing himself. "My old housemate Ella is at Camberwell and she introduced me to them. They are these spherical fossils which have horizontal lines. One was taken to the Californian Space Institute and it as so perfectly round that they couldn't even measure it. Scientists have struggled explain them and they are all of these different myths flying around, from them being objects planted by God to the work of aliens. I'm just fascinated by them."

"We've played with texture a little but the focus is on creating wearable, interesting garments and advancing our techniques." The result is a considered collection showcasing fit, form and function, realised by an intimate network of British makers. A measured evolution of Dodd that builds on the success of a pre-collection sold at The Shop at Bluebird. Autumn/winter 13 proper is a monochromatic celebration of clean lines in a season friendly palette of a myriad of grey and charcoal alongside flashes of indigo and deep burgundy. Stroking the cloth, Hudson's excitement bubbles over. "I did PV for the first time in September and I was just like a kid in a sweet shop. It was three days in heaven." Fabrics for the season include luxurious wool and cashmere blends, Italian yarn, butter-soft English suede, Japanese gauze wool and Kuroki denim. "We've really pushed ourselves sourcing fabrics to help find a real point of difference whilst always coming back to this idea of progressive, clean layers. At times we've used three or four different fabrics used in an outfit but it doesn't look forced. It all has to make sense and have a reason for being." Each offers a unique handle and effortlessly promotes a sense of cool comfort, designed to be layered and mis-matched to achieve a dynamic, quietly textured look. Allow the Jake Green shot look book to illustrate this point and reach out to cop a feel of the tactile treats with my own detail shots.

Look book shots by Jake Green. Detail shots by us.

Given that autumn/winter 13 marks a new dawn for the label, I ask George Hudson how the Dodd man has evolved. "He is becoming less influenced by what others are doing. My perception of the industry has changed through experience and spending some time in different parts of the world. I've had to stop trying so hard to fit in to this community of British designers and concentrate on myself. So, I just sketched some things and we began moving forward." There's a growing confidence. A momentum.  A desire. Hudson's unquenchable thirst to learn, to experiment and to continue to push is beginning to bear delicious sartorial fruits. "The focus now is on autumn/winter 14 and beginning the season with London." I can't wait to see this label continue to grow as it travels down its own path.

Thursday 14 March 2013

Mohsin AW13

"Muay Thai is a big part of my life, it keeps my mind focussed and drives that compatitive spirit inside of me," begins Mohsin Ali as we sit in his studio in the heart of East London. "Depending on seasons and work loads, I'll try and train at least four, five times a week. It's weird because I feel like a cheat if I don't! Muay Thai is like a drug. I got addicted to it at sixteen years old and to be honest I'd be lost without it!" Last summer we were offered a glimpse in to the interplay between his two seemingly disparate passions in Santiago Arbelaez's film for Hypebeast. It was a hint of the stunning things to come. For autumn/winter 13, Mohsin looks to the national sport of Thailand and its heritage.

"It is the art of eight limbs. Hands, elbows, knees and legs. It's like a game of chess, each move is as important as the next. The aim is to outwit your opponent intelligently to with the fight. Granted it's a little more lethal than chess but you get the same satisfaction of beating your opponent." As a recent hit of his favourite vice courses through his veins, it should come as little surprise that the design talent's two worlds collide so well for autumn/winter 13. It is a fight winning move that leaves this blogger out for the count. As a focused designer driven by form, fabric and function, the sport acts as the perfect foil to the designer's toil. "Muay Thai makes me think about things more, when you're training you're constantly learning no matter how experienced you are. I absorb everything like a sponge so I have to keep my mind as open as possible. This is the same approach I afford to my design work."

From built in thumb pieces to quilted linings, Mohsin Ali's debut collection for autumn/winter 11 was an exquisite showcase of the true beauty of menswear. Having been inspired by twenty first century explorers, Mohsin obsessed over the concept of integration and protective layering to create multi faceted items that blew us away. The inspiration might be different but the approach is repeated for the latest autumn/winter collection. Fuelled by his love for both traditional and technical fabrics, as well an insatiable fascination with cut and silhouette, we are once again seduced by his approach. Having watched the label grow and slowly evolve in a considered fashion since first encountering his designs, this autumn/winter collection marks a confident step forward.

Exploring sartorial notions of protection with the physical needs and demands of the sport, Mohsin produces a thirty five piece collection that plays with shape, silhouette, fabric and function. These are subtly transformative garments. Oversized quilted coats, detachable capes and belted tailoring all enable the wearer to experiment with feelings of security and presence whilst engineered sleeves with thumb pieces resemble hand wraps and typical Muay Thai shorts are repurposed in wool cashmere and styled with heavy knit leggings. The result is modern day armour. As we've come to expect from the designer, fabrics are of the highest quality whilst cut is key. Mixing both traditional and technical fabrics and by introducing embroidery, Mohsin has created a wonderfully tactile collection. The early promise of the accomplished debut has been more than fulfilled. It has been further refined and honed. Everything comes together in perfect harmony. "More than any other has managed, this collection really encapsulates my design standpoint." For this exciting talent, design should be questioned and challenged at all times and only then can you produce and create something truly special. All appliance should be for a reason. For the interested eye, the cacophony of details incessantly offer intrigue and talking points. From bondage tailoring to judo belt detailing runs subtly through many of the pieces, everything has a reason and a place.

"From Muay Thai I looked at Thai culture, the history of its dress and experimented with aspects from other martial arts disciplines, looking at how we protect and insulate ourselves. There's a wealth of information available out there but most of my research was born out of chats with the guys in the gym who are historians. A lot of the research came from two individuals in particular. Ian, who has a vast history in muay thai and thai culture in general and also Greg Wootton who is the perfect fit model. Greg is also a world and european champion at the ripe old age of 21). It's ideal for me as a lot of the younger fighters have the perfect physique as fit models, so it's great when collection time comes round. Most importantly where I train and the friends I train with are like a extended family it's always good to see them. A happy life in the gym helps me focus and think clearly when researching and designing."

Lookbook photography by David Sessions alongside my own detail shots.

"It has been a learning curve but I'm a lot more confident in everything now," Mohsin declares before taking another sip of his sweet tea. It shows. This is a justifiably confident collection. There's a daring in the design. A courage in the cloth. A certainty in the cut. A spunk in the silhouette. Ultimately it is Mohsin. His two passions stitched perfectly, his two worlds united. The personal made universal.


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