Monday, 29 April 2013

Trine Lindegaard AW13

Peering through Trine Lndegaard's ever dazzling prism of print, colour and texture, you could be forgiven for merely admiring her lighthearted and playful approach to menswear but you would be missing a hidden beauty. Beyond the embellishment, deeper than the innovative textile techniques and behind the beaming smiles, there's so much more to discover. There's a substantial seriousness, honesty and integrity past the fanfare. For me, that's the real beauty of her work. This weekend I delved past the showy surface by dropping by her East London home-turned-studio.

"I'm really inspired by working with different people and growing relationships," Lindegaard purrs as she quietly but excitedly introduces her autumn/winter 13 collection. "It's important that the relationships are beneficial for all parties involved, they need something out of it, more than simple commerce." In her spring/summer 13 collection, we were introduced to the first harvest from the carefully cultivated relationship with West African textile artisans and manufacturers. To this kaleidoscope of Kente which has been explored and developed even further, the passionate talent adds equally colourful and intricate textiles from the Ivory Coast and embellishment hand embroidered by prisoners here in the UK. It is a heady and heart warming mix. In some hands such a combination could jar but in Lindegaard's it's an intriguing and inspiring ménage à trois of craftsmanship. 

Entitled Happiness, the collection is firmly rooted in the embroidery of Fine Cell Work, a social enterprise that trains prisoners in paid, skilled, creative needlework undertaken in the long hours spent in their cells. Up until my last chat with the Danish born, Dalston based designer, I had no idea that  in prisons all across the UK, inmates are filling their hours embroidering highly-crafted cushions, bags, pictures and patchwork quilts. Lindegaard explains:

"They've been around for fifteen years or so, they do amazing cross stitching with prisoners. Wonderful work. Their lives are so basic and Fine Cell Work offer a distraction, a purpose and the opportunity to discover a more constructive and reflective side to themselves. As you'd expect all of the guys are young and tough but they hand embroider cushions and are in complete awe of their teaching aunties, the volunteers from the Embroiderers and Quilters Guild. It's so strange and surprising. I've visited a group at Wandsworth and it is such a rewarding experience going in to the prison and seeing their pride and excitement in what they're doing. It's refreshing and I'm pleased to be a part of it.

Right from the very beginning I wanted the inmates to be part of the process. I wanted it to be really free for them. The first workshop centred around happiness and I wanted it to come from their point of view, evolve out of their interests which are so mixed."

The work and interests of one inmate in particular, Ziga, a keen painter, helped inspire the collection. For someone confined to such a small cell, cut off from the outside world, his sketches were amazingly imaginative. Naive yet confident. Familiar yet surreal. Uplifting yet a little dark. "It was love at first sight," Lindegaard fondly recalls and she strokes an embroidered bleeding heart that now adorns one of her sweatshirts but was dreamed up by Ziga. Developing elements of this artwork, working closely with the talented Jessica Ball from Yours Sustainably for the first samples and integrating the embroidery work with the developed African textiles, autumn/winter 13 is a colourful concerto. Listen with your eyes below...

My own detail shots alongside... 
sketchbook shots from Trine and look book photography by Ivona Chrzastek.

"At the beginning of the season I wanted there to be an obvious link between the continuation of the work with Kente and the introduction of the embroidered pieces with Fine Cell Work but logistically that was quite difficult. In a way, I like that I don't have complete control. It's the same with the work that comes from Africa when I was working from London, sending images and notes which were sometimes lost in translation. For examples the colours at times differ wildly from what I had envisaged because of how my sketches have been printed out over there but it's fun! I'm going to Ghana next month though which will help push things forward. This initial work has remained quite traditional but having just had a little dialogue with them and researching it from here, I'm beginning to realise just how varied and detailed they can be. So we will really push it next season, I'm very excited."

Trine Lindegaard is always excited and with good reason. Always pushing and hungry to learn, season on season we are treated to a surprising evolution. Whilst savouring this collection, our excitement for the next enthralling stage is already beginning to grow.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Weekend Reading... ARTICLE


After many months of whispers flavoured with excitement, hopes and daydreams, the inaugural issue of ARTICLE landed on my desk this week. Following two years of planning and development, the handsome publication became a reality thanks to potential readers pledging their support with Unbound.  Intrigued by Creative Director and Fashion Director Kenny Ho's  passion and support for all things British, the growing community put their money where their interest was and a new bi-annual was born.

"We aim to share the things which we believe make Britain great: art, design, culture, entertainment and contemporary men’s fashion, explored from unique, intensely personal perspectives by our team of writers, photographers and creatives," Kenny Ho explains. A seemingly simple aim that the first issue sets off to explore in earnest. Whereas John Holt's excellent LAW mag depicts a neglected, gritty, dark soap opera of an urban landcape, Kenny Ho along with art director Rosy Tsai choose to examine a very different side of British culture but manage to do so in an equally refreshing way. Over one hundred sixteen page of  advert free, design rich pages, its debut journey sets off on a Tweed Run, enjoys a tea break with renowned tailor Timothy Everest to hear his take on the future of menswear, delves deep in to the intricate work of Bermondsey-based leather artisan Oliver Ruuger and finds time to collaborate with artist and architect Heidi Locher on a series of evocative photographic images. Dip your toe its inviting waters below...


Right from the very first page, ARTICLE sets off down its own well cultivated path. The launch issue is a considered and well researched trip through British craftsmanship, design and culture. This is only the beginning.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Details... Kente Kaleidoscope

There might have been a time when Trine Lindegaard's colourful cocktail of a spring/summer 13 collection left me intimidated  No longer. I'm obsessed by its combination of traditionally hand weaved Kente, technical mesh and knits. After a recent trip to Other / Shop I teamed up her Rubino t shirt with a sheer, short sleeved white shirt from U - Handmade in England.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The wizardry of the white shirt

"When I put on a white shirt, it's the same feeling as getting in to crisp, fresh sheets at night. I just feel good," explained Tom Ford on his love of the freshly starched and gleaming component of his familiar uniform. Whether you wear your daily pick from a wardrobe full, rediscover a neglected old favourite lurking behind a blue Bengal striped number or unearth the sartorial holy grail that is the perfect blend of weight, size, cut and fabric, there's no denying the transformative, medicinal even, qualities of the white shirt. Dressed up or down, personalised or homogeneous, masterfully minimal or captivating complex, there's no denying that a clean white shirt has the ability to make you feel good. Few understand this better, explore its virtues as virtuously or push the medium further than palmer//harding.

There are countless incarnations of double act, but in all cases the sum is markedly different from its parts. Since its accomplished debut in September 2011, palmer//harding have created men's and women's collections that encompass the combined aesthetic, passion, skill and international experience of the design duo. It is a double act that revels and excels in the realms of duality. Simple yet complex. Restrained yet free. Traditional yet innovative. It is all to easy to encounter semantic opposition when discussing this dynamic duo. The clashing yet complimentary design dynamic and the pair's continuous questioning of the other that pushes palmer//harding forward and elevates the humble shirt in the process. "We're geeks when it comes to shirts and construction," admitted Matthew Harding on my last visit to their Rickmansworth based studio. "The shirt itself is grounded in menswear, there's so much tailoring heritage in there. Every facet of the shirt has slowly evolved from sleeve heads to gauntlets and we want to be part of that. With our menswear especially it is all about finding the right balance between something that feels new and innovative whilst feeling familiar and able to slot in to a wardrobe and be enjoyed for some time."

For spring/summer13, palmer//harding offer ten shirts for men and flexing their muscles of expertise while printing their menswear manifesto using their alphabet of sharp stitches, considered collars and stirring shapes. "We wanted to keep the definition of what our menswear is,"  added Levi Palmer before a united declaration of "we're not interested in saying something in one hundred looks when it can be said in just ten." There's a succinct balance in the edit but each piece flows to the next and continues the thread of the the label's narrative. Each quietly drunk on detail. As their Cotton USA sponsored blank canvas comes alive with the label's enthralling tale, I couldn't resist the urge to add one of their shirts to my library. Throwing my arms in to the crisp cotton, enveloping myself in the bright light, I am reborn. I had found my holy grail.

My piece of palmer//harding spring/summer 13

When did you last take a hit from the feel good sartorial stalwart that is the white shirt?

Friday, 19 April 2013

Introducing... Itokawa Film

"I was in Milan, he was in London, in the middle of the night we were e-mailing each other weird digital images," explains menswear designer Samuel Membery as he introduces us to the collaborative creative that is Itokawa Film. "What began as an odd form of late night communication evolved in to a competition between the two of us. We pushed each other to create the most interesting piece of digital art we could and ultimately in to the debut capsule collection of menswear, art and accessories." Working for a design house in Milan, these late night exchanges were an escape for both himself and close friend James Ari King. "I've know James since Uni. He's a bit of a lunatic and I was drawn to him. I've always been amazed by his work and have wanted to work him in some capacity for a while." In Itokawa Film they've found the perfect outlet. With Internet hackers as their shared muse, the two disciplines of menswear design and visual art collide beautifully.

From embarrassing governments to forcing corporations to their knees, providing illegal lols to saving the world from evil geniuses, the whims and fancies of an Internet hacker are varied. Few create capsule collections of menswear, art and accessories. "After many months of creating images – we must have made over 500 images, we sifted, organised and manipulated them even more. We eventually decided that what we were making was basically hacker art." I can't help but think of the tagline of the mid-nighties classic 'Hackers', 'Their only crime was curiosity'. Following months of electronic exchanges, the design duo had entered a current of curiosity and emerged as one with a sensory and sartorial shake-up. Rather than destroy or disrupt, these hackers sought to create. Together the dazzling duo want to infiltrate your mind, wardrobes and walls.

Despite the quick fire early evolution, Itokawa Film’s collection is far from rushed. There’s a real care to the production as Membery explains: "All the t-shirts are digitally printed and made in Italy. All the screen prints are hand printed by us in the studio in Dalston, whilst the bags are handmade by us in the studio and then they will be made in the UK." As we stand in their shared studio in Dalston, the lasting remnants of their insular and addictive pursuit flicker on the rails and walls. Do not adjust your screens and dive in to the collection.


Our own detail shots alongside Itokawa Film's look book shots by James Ari King and film by Francesco Petroni.

Itokawa Film is very much a collective that orbits around the energy of Sam and James. "We’re both inspired by similar things, mostly apocalyptic stories. We kind of think of ourselves as some sort of brand for the apocalypse." Readying myself for the apocalypse, I draw the interview to a close by asking him about the future plans of Itokawa Film? "For it to evolve into a lifestyle brand with a very unique take on things. We’re going to be working with different music producers, some furniture designers, sunglasses companies and shoemakers. Then in June 2013 I’m launching my solo menswear line under “Film”. Itokawa is James, and Film is me, and when we combine, it’s Itokawa Film." This is only the beginning for the ever evolving collective. Are you sitting comfortably? The show is about to start.


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