Deborah Bowness
New Ribbon
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'FUR: AN ISSUE OF LIFE AND DEATH' EXHIBIT OPENS

Fur. The mere mention of the word makes many cringe. In western urban culture, it's a contentious topic that divides us into two groups: those who deem fur fashion READ MORE...
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RED HOT: EXHIBIT OF GINGER MEN IS NOW A BOOK

Earlier this week, I was in the comments section of a blog I frequent, and someone had posted a photo of a shirtless, young guy with red hair sticking his tongue out cheekily READ MORE...
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A MODERN CHRISTMAS AT THE SLEEPER HOUSE

The Sculptured House, also known as the Sleeper House since 1973 when it featured in Woody Allen's sci-fi comedy, Sleeper, is so cool it's painful. An elliptical curiosity in concrete and glass perched on Colorado's READ MORE...
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FASHION FILMS TO FEATURE AT ASFF

The BAFTA qualifying Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) has teamed up with London College of Fashion to establish a new fashion film strand at this year’s event, showcasing READ MORE...
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'KNITTING FOR JULIET' COMPETITION LAUNCHES IN ITALY

Knitwear designers studying in Italy are invited to enter the Knitting for Juliet competition launched by Fashion Ground Academy of Italian Design READ MORE...
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NICHOLAS ROSE'S FULL COLOUR LIVING

It was not possible to walk past Nicholas Rose's luminous, contoured lamp shades at 100% Design the other week, I felt like a moth drawn to a flame. READ MORE...
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#UNLOCK ART FILM SERIES ENDS ON A HUMOROUS NOTE

The film series, #UnlockArt, produced by Tate and supported by Le Meridien, concluded with the release of the last of eight films, What's So Funny?, decided by an online poll READ MORE...
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November 06, 2014

Keira Knightly on Fairtytale Fallacies, Heroines and Her Mum's Foreboding Red Lipstick

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 "For the princess to be waiting to be rescued by some dude...I never really got that." Keira Knightly, you have my attention. I like Keira. She's witty, self-deprecating, and a great actor. Kind of an anti-celebrity. She even got married under the radar in a modest and quiet affair. And she just happens to be gorgeous and looks incredible in clothes. So she was the perfect cover choice and editorial feature for Net-a-Porter's weekly online fashion glossy, EDIT

I hardly ever write about celebrities and generally I loathe the trend (that seems to now be the norm) to put actresses on fashion covers (Vogue, I'm looking at you!), booting the models out. I won't bother explaining; you'll either know exactly what I mean or you won't. But Keira is an exception. And this video is a clue as to why:

 

You can see the heroine-inspired editorial and read the full interview here

 

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Keira

September 07, 2014

Fred Butler Mentors Young Designers at Somewhereto_ Festival

If I had to nominate an inspirational creative to motivate aspiring British fashion designers, Fred Butler would be at the top of my list. Somewhereto_  saw the magic, too, and chose the colour-loving designer and consultant, who has had pieces commissioned by Lady Gaga, Nike, Swatch and Selfridges, to act as mentor  for the Summer of somewhereto_ Festival. Fred donated her time to do workshops and provide one-to-one mentoring to young designers Kay Davis and Shireeka Devlin. Watch the film above to see the exciting things they got up to this summer. (Email subscribers please click the title to view the film on the blog.)

The UK-wide project is delivered by Livity and funded by a £7m grant from the Big Lottery Fund to support its expansion to 2016. somewhereto_ is a free nationwide location finding service which helps 16-25 year olds access free spaces in their communities. 

Whether young people are interested in music, fashion, art, tech, starting an enterprise or participating in urban sport, somewhereto_ offers an incredible opportunity for young people to realise their potential, kick start ideas, sell their products or services, showcase creative concepts and boost their skills.

You can learn more about the initiative at the somewhereto_ website and explore Fred Butler's wonderful world here

September 05, 2014

Anthony Head: Ahead of the Game

Anthony-Head (1 of 1)

As a huge Buffy fan, I bring you an interview with 'Giles', Anthony Head, who hasn't been short of meaty roles since the show ended eleven years ago. 

With his designer stubble, razor-sharp style and pearly-white grin, Anthony Head’s outward appearance belies his 60 years, but as far as new projects go, this is an actor who feels as youthful as ever.

First impressions of Anthony Head are that of the quintessential English gent, not far removed from Head’s fictional – and much lauded - role as tea quaffing librarian Giles, in cult TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Behind the scenes, Head’s Englishness spills over into his undying passion for bucolic Somerset, a place he calls “one of the most beautiful counties in England.”

“When I used to come back from LA, we’d be driving somewhere along the A46 and there’d be a point when I’d just wind down my window and breathe in the Somerset air,” he gushes. “It just loves all weathers and there’s something about the Mendips – the rolling Mendips – that is so stunning. There’s a real peace.”

Head and his partner Sarah bought a farm near Bath six years ago with some money left to them by “a dear friend of Sarah’s.” They now have twelve horses, a few donkeys and Sarah teaches, rides and sees clients at the farm.

Anthony mucks in too though. In fact, on returning home from San Diego’s Comic-Con just last month - which he quips was “insane” - the first thing he did was to tend to the donkeys’ needs.

“On the way back from the airport, the driver said very sweetly ‘Well, Mr. Head, are you going to spend a couple of days putting your feet up and getting over the jetlag?’ I went and did quite the opposite! That afternoon I was down the stables mucking out the donkeys, because actors do need to be grounded. We need to shift the odd pile of poo just to remember who we are.”

Born in Camden Town in 1954, Anthony Stewart Head was educated at Sunbury Grammar School and London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), before earning his first acting role in the musical Godspell. He carved out his early notoriety from appearing in a series of twelve Nescafe commercials, before treading the boards in various stage shows and finally landing his famed role as Giles in Buffy back in 1997.

An industrious actor who clearly lacks the propensity to sit still, Head’s career is glittered with myriad small screen and big screen gigs, from playing Geoffrey Howe in 2011’s Margaret Thatcher biopic Iron Lady, to Will’s dad in The Inbetweeners, King Uther Pendragon in Merlin and the PM in Little Britain.

As a multi-faceted actor, he is forever turning his hand to new roles but for this latest one took on CGI, providing the voice for avaricious, egomaniacal footballer Flash in Juan Jose Campanella’s family foosball parable The Unbeatables. These days, his roles seem to be taking a darker turn…

 “I seem to be playing a few baddies at the moment!” he laughs. “What I normally try and do to enrich the role is think about why he’s bad, what makes him bad, what drives him. Because no one really gets out of bed and thinks ‘I’m going to be bad today’, it’s something that people become and there’s a reason they become that way; nothing is that two-dimensional or that black and white.

“You sort of look at people in middle age and think ‘what on earth got you to this point? How did you become, so angry, or so embittered?’ Quite often it’s something very small, right at an early age, that just pushed them. It may have started off as a little acorn but it’s grown into this massive oak tree. So that’s me playing bad people. And I enjoy it, because I like the challenge of making them interesting.”

So would he ever give it all up for a life toiling the land?

“The thing about acting is that I’m extremely fortunate to do what I do but I do it because I’m passionate about it,” says Head, with a glint in his eye. “I just think that if it was missing from my life, I might get a little boring…”

The Unbeatables is in cinemas now.

July 18, 2014

Sibling Gives the Jacob's Tin a Fashion Makeover

SIBLING

Designer collaboration is the way forward for brands who want to inject style into their products, and now baked snack maker Jacob’s has teamed up with British knitwear design trio, SIBLING, to create a limited edition cracker tin that will fit nicely in any fashionista’s kitchen cupboard. (I kind of love the idea of food brands working with high-end designers to bring their packaging into another realm.)

SIBLING, who are well known for their strong use of colour and love of traditional knitting techniques, have used their unique knitwear designs as inspiration for their redesign of the traditional Jacob’s Cream Cracker tin.

Twenty of the limited edition leopard print tins are now on sale on eBay, with all proceeds going to FareShare, the UK’s largest food redistribution charity. 

I had the opportunity to interview SIBLING Joe Bates (wearing the great hat, right) about the project and his own work:

TSL: Sibling is an 'in the know', unique, high fashion brand; not the typical choice for collaboration for such a ubiquitous company such as Jacob's - someone there knows their fashion! When you were first approached with the idea did you see it as an opportunity to introduce Sibling to a wider market?

JB: SIBLING are always keen to reach as broad an audience as possible. We get approached by many companies to collaborate so we have to be very careful who we choose to partner with. Jacobs came with a fun proposal that made us smile....so choice made.

TSL: You referenced Jacob's packaging colours for your striking argyle and leopard print tin design - was this combination an obvious choice or did you try other patterns and textures first?

JB: Colour is a fundamental to the SIBLING DNA, we embrace it wholeheartedly so utilising the Jacobs livery was not a challenge we couldn't meet. The patternation was based on our usual play on historical and traditional knitting, then we put that together with a bit of rebel spirit.

Sibling-Jacobs-tin

TSL: What is it like designing as a trio?

JB: Lovely, it means there's always someone to confer with which makes it great for expanding ideas very quickly. 

TSL: I hear Sibling are big snack fans - what is your favourite Jacob's snack? 

JB: The Cream Cracker of course, the original and the best. 

TSL: Where do you take inspiration from for your designs?

JB: Most often the inspiration will start from a single image. Being very passionate about reportage photography means that it is normally a single photographic portrait that will really fire things off. 

Sibling_finale_ss15TSL: What is your favourite piece you’ve ever created?

JB: The most recent is the finale piece from S/S15 SIBLING menswear catwalk show. It's a giant raffia piece, a real show stopper in red raffia, it was representative of the feeling of being 'cock of the walk' when you're dressed to the nines in your youthful rebellion stage. 

TSL: Who would you most like to wear your clothing?

JB: We have a litany of celebrities who have worn SIBLING, in fact some of our real heroes, Debbie Harry bought a SIBLING dress when she played Manchester, you can't top that in our book. 

TSL: Any words of wisdom to share with aspiring designers?

JB: Work hard and be nice to people. 

What great advice. Thank you, Joe! 

You can buy your own Sibling-designed Jacob's cracker tin here, and keep up with Jacob's at #SnackHappy.

FareShare is a unique charity fighting hunger and its underlying causes by  providing food to more than 1,290 local charities and community organisations across the UK, including homeless shelters, children’s breakfast clubs, women’s refuge centres and luncheon clubs for the elderly, helping to feed 62,200 people every day. 

February 15, 2014

All Rhodes to London

Zandra-and-safia-Z-chair-900x667Zandra Rhodes with People Tree founder Safia Minney

British designer Zandra Rhodes is a favourite amongst fashionistas for her unbashed love of colour and print, prolific and enduring fashion career, and her revolutionary contribution to textile design - and you can't not love her bright pink hair! Here is a conversation journalist Millie Davies had with the fashion icon at her London home:

We meet Zandra Rhodes in her fabulous London penthouse, an oasis of colour nestled a stone’s throw from The Shard and atop of her self-founded London Fashion and Textile Museum.

More than 50 years into her illustrious career, the fuchsia-haired veteran designer Zandra Rhodes is as busy as ever. “I only flew in from California this morning”, the 73-year-old fashionista lets slip as we discuss her latest collaboration.

The acclaimed textile designer has recently partnered with ethical fashion house People Tree to launch a bespoke range, ‘Happy Woman’. With her fabulous fingers in many pies, what sparked Zandra’s interest in this particular label?

“At first I simply thought it was a great cause and that People Tree did a very good product. And then of course having gone to India with the founder of People Tree, Safia Minney, it led me along to realise what a good cause it is. And one to keep plugging away for.”

Famous in the international world of fashion, Rhodes has shown an interest in sustainable clothing before, lending her name to the Pick Your Cotton campaign. She’s also collaborated with some of the biggest names in British retail heaven, in partnerships with Marks and Spencer, Topshop and MAC.

Talk turns to Zandra’s instrumental fashion museum; it hosts workshops, archives and its very own fashion school. Its latest Artists Textiles Exhibition was opened by the acclaimed museum director Sir Nicholas Serota and the Bermondsey building offers inspiration to a new generation of fashionable types in the capital.

What’s Zandra’s view of the success of the museum? “Well I definitely think it’s had an impact on making the textiles more visible,” she candidly offers.

Zandra_Rhodes

Zandra shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Currently dividing her time between her two bases, London and San Diego, she cites travel as a way to channel her creative energy. And whilst most of the fashion elite will be flocking to London for front row seats at next week’s London Fashion Week, the iconic figure is jetting back to the States to raise awareness for a women’s cause.

“I’m doing a show called Go Red for Women and it raises awareness that, actually, women have strokes and heart attacks more than they get breast cancer.”

As an advocate of women’s issues, how does Zandra think women fare in her industry?

“I think women have a harder road all round in whatever they go into.” She reflects. “The only thing I would say is – pointing it out can cause you more trouble.”

Having exhibited hairdos in a myriad of colours, most recently a brilliant pink, Zandra insists that artistically she would never be led by a favourite colour; rather, “one designs in whatever one needs.”

With the People Tree collection sporting fun, bright, and 100% organic cotton frocks and blouses, it’s a safe bet that sombre tones never featured on the drawing board.

Popular in the UK, America and beyond, Zandra continues to make an impact on global fashion. In her impressive career, she has produced multiple clothing lines, designed exclusive jewellery ranges and somewhat uniquely designed the set and costumes for the opera.

Having risen to success in the 1960s, does Zandra have any advice for present day aspiring designers?

“Only that no hard work gets wasted. And unfortunately you have to work harder and harder to get there right at the beginning.”

Zandra – who can add an OBE to her accolades - remains as big a name in British fashion as ever. As we leave the designer’s radiant home and emerge into the darkness of London’s streets, we can’t help but carry some of her sparkle with us.

‘Happy Woman’ is the new collaboration between Zandra Rhodes and People Tree.

January 29, 2014

New Year, New Home: 4 Design Trends for 2014

Turquoise-Rooms

A new year, a new you – a phrase that seems to lose all meaning when it’s rolled out on an annual basis as a platform for yo-yo diets and unsuccessful gym routines. However, when it comes to the home this year, it rings true. While there have been consistent trends year on year, some of which look to continue into 2014, there are also a number of emerging trends that will influence how we define our interior spaces. 

1. Cool Off With Deep Pastel Colours

Bright and bold is an effective way to punctuate the softer tones associated with minimalism in interior decor, like your whites and creams, and one of those big colours to watch for is turquoise. In a roundup of 2014 design trends, Elle Décor reported: “Turquoise showed up in upholstery, wall coverings, and on furniture. And we’re talking deep and saturated, not pale and wimpy.” This is the year for lovers of blue to truly indulge and expand their collections. 

2. All That Glitters Is Gold

Key colours need a cozy companion so decor pieces work harmoniously. Forecasters predict we’ll see an explosion of metallic colours in everything from statement furnishings like lamps and light fittings, through to ornaments, accessories and those small finishing touches in furniture hardware. Speaking to Lohud.com, designer Joanne Palumbo said: “I think that as the colors are going cooler in 2014, the metallics are going warmer, more towards the copper, aged brass, bronze finishes.”

3. Mid-Tone Soft Wood Furniture

Until recently it was deep, rich woods that were most popular, and now the trend is shifting back toward softer, paler woods. Decorator Lyn Peterson told the Lohud.com team: “We are not back to cherry and mahogany, but fruitwood-type finishes that are soft and lustrous. They anchor a room and give it gravitas while we play with other pieces.” A range of furniture made of lighter woods can be found at Furniture for Living. You can create rustic rooms or go with clean lines and use your blonde woods to create a sleek backdrop for contemporary accents. 

4. In With Personalising; Out With Coveting

Gone are the days of keeping up with the Joneses and attempting to duplicate a designer room from an interior design magazine, for example. Now, home decor is about those unusual, unique and chic items. Whether it's a one-of-a-kind piece, such as a family heirloom or a gem you've found at an antique market or during your travels, we're looking to create a space that reflects our own personality in a more intimate way. Which is how it should be, regardless of trends. 

   

November 01, 2013

Knowing your Wood Flooring

Oak FlooringLight oak plank warms this modern kitchen and gives it a quiet beauty

When we bought our house, we had the same issues so many new homeowners have, and that's very little time and very little money left over to make it as you want. Considering that so many newly purchased homes need total overhauls to erase decades-old decorating, we were lucky to have found a house that was essentially a blank canvas in terms of primed-only walls, re-sodded gardens, and all floors, carpeting, appliances and cabinetry were new. But I had one 'must-have', I wanted to replace the grey carpet that was put down in the living room with a wood floor. Actually, I wanted to rip that (so very thin) carpet out of the bedrooms, upstairs hallways and stairs as well, but there was that aforementioned too little time/too little money issue. The living room was a small but lovely space with high ceilings, crown molding, a modern fireplace and bay windows, so once that rug was out I could make it my own; the living room became my pet project. We were also first-time homeowners (not counting the condo we bought in Toronto which took so long to complete that we ended up in the UK before it closed), and so we were essentially rookies. Boy do I hate being a rookie at anything because you know that most of your decisions will end in some level of regret, and when it comes to homes, every decision has significant financial implications.

As well as painting the house, our decorator was also able to install the new living room floor. What luck! I thought, we really had no idea where to start with such things and were relieved he could take care of it. I'd always liked my mother-in-law's floor and so I asked for maple. I gave no specs and I wasn't asked for any either. He sourced some generic maple, probably from one of his buddies in the business, in all likelihood the cheapest he could find, and to this day I have no clue if what we paid was in line with what we got. What I do know is that it wasn't nearly as nice as my mother-in-law's floor but it would do, and it was far better than the grey carpet we started with. The installation seemed sound but it wasn't finished properly - where was the shine? - and I still resent the fact that he rushed me on the choice because he had other jobs to get onto. Many lessons were learned here and next time I will have done my homework and not compromise. 

So I'm doing a little research now. According to the National Wood Flooring Association there are 33 species of wood for flooring - yes, really! - many I wasn't even aware of such as Cumaru and Bubinga, until I read the list. (It's worth noting that the NWFA is the American body and their recognised species used for flooring may differ from those in other countries. The British Wood Floor Association doesn't give a list on their site.) That's a lot of wood to cover so I referred to Posh Flooring for some of the most popular solid wood choices that we're likely to consider for our homes. 

Here are the main features to be aware of with an example of what a floor in this species may look like - bearing in mind the various grades, quality, tonal variations in the grain, stain colours available, and that there are big differences between engineered wood and solid - so it pays to be thorough with your homework so you can make an informed decision:

Oak

MGSArchitecture_oak floorThis stained oak plank features beautiful light and dark contrasts throughout. Design by MGS Architecture.

There are so many looks when it comes to oak. Typically a heavily grained wood, it can look rich and rustic at one end of the spectrum and light and airy at the other. There's white oak, black oak, red oak (the name of the tree which has nothing to do with the colour), smoked oak, whitewash finishes, you get the idea. It stains evenly and one of its best qualities is that it is dent resistent, so if you're prone to dropping the remote at least once a day like I do, you might want to go for oak. 

Maple

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Wide maple planks warm this stark, minimalist kitchen. Design by Nicole Hollis.

Maple is a light-coloured hardwood that comes in two varieties. Heartwood is creamy white to light reddish brown while sapwood is pale to creamy white. It's dense and strong, offering excellent shock resistance and endures wear very well. It is typically seen in its natural state as it doesn't stain evenly, so what you see is what you get. But it will take a neutral finish. 

Walnut 

PortalDesign_walnut
Rich walnut floors anchor this colourful open plan home. Design by Portal Design. 

Walnut is an ideal choice if you want a naturally rich, chocolately wood, and the finishing process will only enhance its beauty. The grain is fairly consistent and it's one of the woods that will look even better as the years go by. It is highly light-sensitive and will darken over time if exposed, which can be a desirable effect, but best to be aware of this characteristic beforehand. It's also a softer wood than hard-wearing oak, for example, so you may want to keep it to areas with less traffic, kids and pets. 

Acacia 

Acacia_MazaDesignThe tonal variations makes this acacia floor particularly stunning. Design by Maza Design.

Acacia is an exotic hardwood, originating from Africa and Australia. It's becoming an increasingly popular choice for its rich beauty and unbeatable durability, making it ideal for high traffic areas that need to take wear and tear while retaining its looks. It's one of the best investments if you're looking for a floor that will last a lifetime. 

Bamboo

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Bamboo is perfect for creating a serene, harmonious space. Design by David Nieman Architects.

Technically, bamboo is a grass, although flooring made from it shares many characteristics with hardwood. It can be a more eco-friendly choice and it comes in that lovely, calming wheat colour we associate with natural bamboo. It's also available in dark shades that are more similar to walnut, but the process that achieves the darkening of the wood also softens it, so the natural colour is the best option if you're looking for durability. It also holds up well in humid environments and is less expensive than traditional hardwood. And of course it boasts that lovely fine grain!

February 28, 2013

Candy Dining

Mint-green-kitchen

If you love pastels, then what better way to embrace them than to decorate with them? The dining room is a great place for using pastels as they can create a beautifully serene atmosphere. Pastels look fresh and sweet, but you must be careful not to overdo it otherwise it can look sickly.

Modern Pastel Dining

Use sleek furniture in minimalist shapes and metallic accessories with mint, lavender and dusty blue walls and soft furnishings. For a modern look, stick to one colour and use the similar tones throughout. Alternatively, have a predominantly white room and make a subtle statement with a pastel table or chairs. Use the same colour in the curtains of your dining room to bring the room together, and try voile or sheer materials for a pretty, feminine look. Using monochrome and varying tones of grey with pastel also creates a striking look that really makes the pastel pop.

Pastels-Country-Dining-Country-Homes-and-Interiors-Housetohome

French Country Pastels

The French conjure an association with pastels thanks to the soft colours of their macarons which often provide a reference for interior colour schemes. French patterns such as the fleur de lis, and the rococo and baroque styles, look gorgeous in pastel shades and are used in French country decor. The French aren't overly fussy and like to mix opposites in their interiors, so to really get the feel, mix pastels with dark or bright colours, or both. A variety of textures - wood, porcelain, fabrics, glass - will give the space a rich, homey feel. 

Retro Pastels

This is where we pastel lovers can go really over the top. Pretty florals, polka dots, gingham, stripes and retro shapes can all come into the mix with a vintage pastel dining room. Think about the 1950s aesthetic with pretty coloured glasses and matching cutlery. A bunch of meadow flowers as a centre piece, cartoon birds and a retro style clock all contribute to a pretty feel to the room. Combine complementary pastel colours and shades to really make an impact. Everything from leather to linen to wood is available in pastel shades so you could have everything in your dining room pastel-ised. However, be careful not to go too over the top and include natural materials such as a wooden oak dining table painted white or left in its organic finish to ground the room. You can buy wooden dining tables from Top Furniture who are based in the UK.  

Photo source

December 03, 2012

LM Series: "Does Size Matter? Growth and Sustainability in Contemporary Art"


This is the fourth installment of the LM Series, documenting the discovery of new and wonderful, world class, art and food during 'Le Méridien at Frieze' at which I was a guest in October, hosted by Le Méridien Piccadilly in London.

The starting point of Le Méridien at Frieze was an intriguing panel discussion amongst influential art world leaders, part of the Outset Le Méridien Talk Series which took place in the ballroom at Le Méridien Piccadilly. The question of the day was articulated by Outset co-founder Candida Gertler who asked, "Does size matter? Is it right to keep going? And how do we resist the next big step? Will we be able to sustain it or will we self-destruct in a spiral of ambition? And so the debate began. Le Méridien's Global Cultural Curator Jérôme Sans moderated Frieze co-founder Amanda Sharp, Tate Modern's Curator of International Art, Mark Godfrey, Serpentine director Julia Peyton-Jones and Gagosian managing director of Europe Gary Waterston. In response, each panelist drew upon their own unique circumstances they face in moving their respective gallery or event forward, sometimes at odds with another's view, illustrating how subjective and contextual the topic of whether size matters really is. And that's what made it fascinating. The video above shows highlights from the discussion. (And beyond the compelling topic the film is very well done so I definitely recommend taking a look!)

I wanted to add, that at the dinner that evening at Le Méridien Piccadilly Terrace Bar and Grill (a five-course masterpiece by chef Michael Dutnall with inventive cocktail matchings by master mixologist Boris Ivan - and yes, I kept up, it would be a sin not to), I had the pleasure of sitting across from Jérôme Sans. We had a chat about the topic of the day, and I was so delighted to see right there in front of me how fired up (still) M. Sans felt about the very point of art becoming lost in the quest for growth simply for the sake of it, that someone as accomplished in the art world as he, had not lost sight of what really matters. Art is meant to move people in some way, and if it succeeds, why send it out the door a minute later to make room for something else? And why are we pushing for so much art to be produced? Which made me gush with admiration, even moreso, for what Le Méridien is doing for art, not as a commodity but as an enrichment of culture and ultimately, the individual. It's not all about what happens at Sotheby's.

Terrace
Just one of the great views within Le Méridien Piccadilly Terrace Bar and Grill

March 07, 2012

Forces of Nature: Steffi Crown & Angela Hooker

SteffiCrown

I came to know the textile designer, Angela Hooker, in 2010 after I reviewed the Felder Felder SS11 show at London Fashion Week. Angela had collaborated with the Felders to produce the textile designs for some of their most iconic printed pieces, spanning two consecutive seasons. The London-based, Paris-born creative is now working with Steffi Crown,  a new high-end London fashion, swimwear and accessories brand which, despite its youth (it just launched in 2011) has already received praise in Harper's Bazaar as "Best Newcomer", named Madame Figaro's "Trendspotting Face", and has won celebrity fans including The Artist's Berenice Bejo and Missy Pyle.  Limited edition collections feature sharp geometry with a bit of playful flair, printed with a high quality digital process on the best silks, cotton, Lycra and stretch Napa leather sourced in France.

Angela speaks about her collaborations with infectious enthusiasm - she has an endearing passion and reverence for the fashion talents she works with, and a knack for finding such fertile alliances which spark what would seem to be an endless stream of inspiration.

This is a new collaboration for you - what's it like to work with Steffi Crown?

It’s exciting designing digital prints with Stephania Ayiotou, the designer of the brand. Stephania has a strong idea of what she wants to start with which makes our collaboration more powerful. From a creative point of view, this has been the most exciting project - she really pushes the boundaries and does not compromise creativity to look “commercial”.

Photo by Rob Jarvis www.robjarvisphotography.com
 

How did you meet Stephania?

I met Stephania in London two years ago, in a pop up shop near Notting Hill. A couple of months later she called me up from Cyprus and asked me to collaborate on a brand new fashion collection she was working on. I happily took the project on board.

She's very talented, fashion being just one of the ways she expresses herself...

Yes, she's a multi-disciplinary artist and filmmaker, her directorial debut, Mad Dame, was selected at Cannes 2011. She is now shooting an exciting fashion film featuring her new collection which will show first in New York and then LA in July.

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Still from Stephania Ayiotou's 2011 film Mad Dame
 

Can you tell us about your creative process in designing textiles for the brand?

Before we start a print collection, Stephania will send me a detailed email that will include inspiring photographs, sometimes YouTube links of documentaries, for example, along with inspiring words  and photos. She describes what she likes about each one and how she feels it will relate to her collection. It’s a pretty complete brief, a very solid starting point.

Missy Pyle attends the 2012 DPA Golden Globe Awards Gift Suite on January 13,2012 in Beverly Hills,CaliforniaIs this an "opposites attract", complementary type of collaboration, or more of a "meeting of the minds"?

We have a similar approach to fashion; we are both inspired by the power of nature. That’s the main reason this collaboration is very successful for me. Nothing is more original than nature, I will never grow bored of this topic.
 
Stephania is also happy to explore the different possibilities digital printing has to offer, making the textile design process a lot more flexible and exciting.

Can you explain a bit about the digital print process?

Traditional printing, or screen printing, uses limited colours - a maximum of 18. However, there are no limitations with regards to colour and design in digital printing. The colours in digital printing are also more vivid, and you can print on more sophisticated, high-tech fabrics as well.

Do you have an especially favourite print from this collection?

My favourite print is the Midnight Garden.  The palette is inspired by the colours of a garden under the moonlight, and the pattern of the print is inspired by life in the underwater world, such as coral.
I also love the Black Lava jeans which are low-waisted and so easy to wear and flattering.

SteffiCrown
Steffi Crown's Stephania Ayiotou with The Artist's Bérénice Béjo wearing the Midnight Garden scarf; Black Lava jeans. Above right is Missy Pyle, also from The Artist, wearing the Blue Coral Silk Chiffon Dress

How would you describe the Steffi Crown woman?

I believe the wearer of Steffi Crown is a modern woman, she will feel very unique and powerful and in harmony with nature.

We look forward to the new collection and film! You can view and purchase the Steffi Crown SS12 collection at www.stefficrown.com

Steffi Crown collection photos by Rob Jarvis

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