Owl feather print textiles by Angela Hooker in collaboration with Felder Felder, AW11
Prints are bringing fashion to life in a way not seen since the 1960s, and textile innovation has opened up exciting new concepts in garment design. Getting dressed is now even more fun! London-based design duo Felder Felder have established their brand as the go-to for a rock n' roll look with a sophisticated twist, their last two collections bursting with textural techniques on dyed leather and layered prints on an array of fabrics and opacities. This dynamic new dimension to their signature edgy look is the result of their collaboration with brilliant young textile designer Angela Hooker.
I wanted to know more about Angela and how she works so we had a conversation - lucky for us she doesn't spare any details!
So you're from Paris?
Yes, I was born in Paris 14e. My mother is French and my father is English. I came to live in London when I was 17, to study at the Central Saint Martin's and never left. I used to go often to Paris while a student especially, to visit family and friends. These days I go less often, only once a year for a few days during Paris fashion week at the moment.
Parisian and London style are quite different, Paris being about easy elegance while London nurtures individual expression. Your techniques with slashed leather, bright hues like cobalt and fuschia, and textural richness created through digital prints as seen in your work with Felder-Felder for their Spring 2011 collection, would suggest that the London style got into your head. Or did you arrive with these kinds of ideas and develop them in your time at CSM?
While living in Paris I was designing fashion for myself and also worked for a little while at Malhia Kent's workshop. The company is well known for designing "fantasy tweeds" for which Coco Chanel is famous worldwide. They mainly do weaving and traditional textiles. I was 15 years old; it was my first paid job.
Central Saint Martin’s was a splendid eye opener. We had lectures and projects at college with designers and artists such as Gilbert & Jorge, Grayson Perry, Eley Kishimoto, John Galliano’s assistant Elisa Palomino, to name a few. Their advice and opinions really opened my eyes on all the opportunities and directions I could take as a designer, a real confidence boost and inspiration. I learned to think outside the box. My goal as a fashion and textile designer is to create original pieces, fresh textiles - London is the best place to embrace such projects in my opinion.
How wonderful to work with the tweeds at such a young age! How much were you taught in school regarding techniques? Did you find your style largely through experimenting on your own?
At college we were given the facilities/equipment to create, such as a great library, a print studio and a design studio. We were trained on the basics of pattern cutting and we also learned the basics of dying and printing. Then it was all up to us, we were free to do pretty much what we wanted with no commercial restrictions. I learned the most from my fellow classmates. The school is mainly there to teach you that you can do whatever you want, just get your hands in there. Central Saint Martins taught me to open up and build confidence in my creating process. Before I went there I had piles of designs on paper and I was never sure what to do with them. At Central Saint Martins I actually executed them 3D, all my ideas became real and achievable.
Angela Hooker's dyed, slashed and twisted leather in collaboration with Felder Felder, SS11
So it was at CSM that you met Daniela and Annette Felder and you collaborated after you graduated. What were your plans before you began to work together?
Daniela and I were in the same class for three years during our BA Fashion Print at Central Saint Martins. Annette did a fashion journalism/marketing-oriented BA course, nonetheless she was around all the time with us on the second floor of the Charing Cross Road building, where fashion print students hang out for breaks next to the print room. They are always together so if you meet one you’ll meet the other.
After I graduated I started working as an assistant designer for Manuel Vadillo and then became a brand specialist at Selfridges for Balenciaga. Nicolas Ghesquiere, Balenciaga’s head designer, is for me the top designer of our generation, an inspiration. I love his androgynous silhouettes and classic Spanish tailoring. As a brand specialist I got to assist the buyer on a trip to Paris for the Spring/Summer 2008 laser cut collection, one of their best. My favourite piece was the robotic metallic trouser-suits.
Felder Felder stocked one of their early collections in Selfridges. It was a wonderful surprise when they came to the shop to give the staff a brief lecture on their collection; this is when I discovered that they were already established as a brand. Later on I asked them if they needed help for textile designs and printing and that is how we began working together.
Where did your palette and print inspiration for Felder Felder AW11 come from?
The inspiration for this textile collection comes from the uncontrollable beauty and breathtaking power of nature; from a barn owl in mid air to thunder in a midnight blue sky. This was applied to create the the "owl feather" digital print, printed on silk and canvas - we did a petrol green version as well as a warm grey; the goat hair, hand dyed in petrol green; and the thunder blue leather which was hand tie-dyed.
How do your currently create your print samples?
I either take fabric and leather from Felder Felder's studio or I go and buy my own around Brick Lane, Dalston and sometimes Shepherds Bush. I also go and buy a few dyes and spray paints from art shops. I’ll then create a few textile ideas, three to seven samples I already have in mind and want to try out. The next step is to go and do some research for my colour palette and textures by going to exhibitions, libraries and on the Internet. I then start experimenting and developing my textile ideas in 3D. Once I’m happy with the samples I will start designing digital prints in the same style.
Are you interested in creating your own designs to apply your prints and textiles techniques, under your own label?
I believe teamwork works best for me. At the present time I am interested in working on digital textiles and embroidery in collaboration with more fashion labels. I'm also looking to do a lot more work with soft furnishings textiles. If I ever were to have my name in a label it would be in partnership with another one I believe - needless to say that individuality counts but teamwork is dynamite!
So how does your creative process work in a collaborative project? Do you see the designs and hear the concept of the collection first and then go to it? Or do you all sit down first and brainstorm that way?
With Felder Felder we work in collaboration. We have a first meeting regarding the inspirations for the new collection, silhouettes, fabrics and colours. I will take notes and contribute to the first stage of the creation in our brainstorm meeting.
From there I create new textile samples especially for the Felder twins label - I have a week or two to come up with six to twelve new textile creations and up to a hundred digital prints. They might choose three to four textile samples and one digital print. The twins develop a new collection from there. We have weekly meetings during that stage too as the textiles and the collections grow together. The samples will merge with the designs and change slightly during the process; for example the colour of dyes might slightly vary. It gives me the time to perfect the textile production sides of things, too.
With the lightning fast pace of fashion and the very short timelines to come up with brilliant textiles and prints, there's no time to wait for inspiration. Are you able, each time, to leave a meeting and go right into creating for the collection? What would you do to faciliate the process if it didn't come together instantly?
I am always up to date on fashion trends and am looking for inspiration non-stop on a daily basis, as I really enjoy it. I always have my A6 sketchbook with me in my back pocket, so if I have an idea walking down the street, on the bus, in an art gallery, I can sketch them straight out and go home to sample them.
By the time the meeting for the new collection comes I already have a selection of ideas and mood board of my own. A first meeting with Felder-Felder develops my ideas and finalizes them towards one strong direction. I will sketch during our meeting, take photographs; translate visually what they expect for their next season and make sure I understand their vision accurately after our first meeting. I get started straight away on samples the same day.
Right now, for example, I’m already sampling for next season, sketching and brainstorming ideas that I will finalize after this week’s show. I always try to be ahead, it’s more exciting that way. The only thing that would facilitate the creating process would be for me to have 24-hour access to a print workshop, ideally my own!
We hope you will one day, Angela! You can follow Angela Hooker's work at her blog
Photos: Header by Felder Felder, Mahlia Kent by Angela Hooker, the rest by Denise Grayson