Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Yuima Nakazato in Paris: Digital Couture Revolutionizes Fashion


The mystical haute couture presentation in Paris created by Yuima Nakazato, showing his vision for the future of a couture for all. Cover picture and all photographs by Elli Ioannou

Japanese fashion designer Yuima Nakazato is part of a new generation of avant-garde couturiers showing on Paris' official haute couture schedule. This season, he presented a collection made entirely with his new technology creating digital couture that allows custom-designed clothes to be accessible to everybody, Jeanne-Marie Cilento writes. Reporting and photographs by Elli Ioannou

Designer Yuima Nakazato with his
digital couture clothes
NUMINOUS and otherworldly it may have been, but Japanese designer Yuima Nakazato's show in Paris, presented a revolutionary new technique that could make couture clothes available to all. The couturier has created a digital technology which could change fashion with made-to-measure clothes for people around the world. An informative film like a 1950s British documentary explained the concept and then showed 21st century holographic forms with runway models wearing the clothes appearing in a darkened space with mystical music, enhancing the sense of the dawn of a futuristic age. He purposely altered the format of the traditional runway show, that usually takes only a few minutes, to a longer presentation that included film, music, models and mannequins. Nakazato wanted guests to have a more intimate connection to the designs and ideas behind the collection. "I used to do a lot of costume design and I still do a lot of design for the stage and recording artists," Nakazato explains. "Working and communicating with them directly and designing a piece just for them. When these artists wear my designs they are always very happy. It is quite different to designing something for mass production. I wanted to give this experience of having a uniquely designed piece to everyone." But the designer says the big question was "how" to do this.

"I wanted to give this experience of having a uniquely designed piece to everyone"

"Obviously haute couture is very expensive and mass production is very cheap. And the customer cannot communicate to the designer. So I thought technology could provide a solution and help realise my idea. So that was the staring point. When I design clothes I want to see people happy wearing them and enjoying life. Haute couture is the best design but as that is not possible for everyone, it is my aim to find a solution." Nakazato says his new technique is a breakthrough discovery in fashion technology. He uses a digital technique that creates a system where clothes are adaptable and grow with you ~ upwards or outwards ~ and that can incorporate wearable devices, be easily fixed and even be passed down to and adapted to your children. It sounds like the ultimate in sustainable dressing.

Riveted squares of digitally cut fabrics
 that make up Nakazato's new designs
"I feel couture is the future of fashion," Nakazato says. "This technology is sustainable, so if your body changes you can customise the clothes or if you damage some part of it you can just change it ~ so you don't just throw it away. The clothes become like another skin and you can even give it to your daughter, just changing the design and size." This digital haute couture uses 3D techniques to produce garments for every type and shape of body. The nine different designs shown by Nakazato in Paris, were all created with digitally cut squares of fabric. Instead of a traditional fitting where the body is measured, the wearer is scanned through a device before numbered squares of digitally cut fabrics are riveted together to form a perfectly fitting piece. His new 1950s-inspired collection includes evening dresses and a version of Dior's classic Bar suit as well as jeans and a leather jacket ~ all created with digitally-cut squares of fabric. Nakazato said the major breakthrough was finding a way to use everyday fabrics like cotton, nylons and wool which are difficult to control using digital fabrication.

 "That was the most difficult part," he says. "But in the end we succeeded. We can design every type and shape of garment to be a precise fit to the wearer's figure. Digital fabrication is very useful mainly for PVC, rubber or plastic. But I wanted to use traditional fabrics and although these are hard to control using digital tools we found a way of doing it."

"Mass customisation is possible because my team have removed the major constraint of using needles and thread"

Custom-made clothes, particularly haute couture, are out of reach for most people. But Nakazato argues his technology would change that: “We want to create a world where everyone can have tailor-made garments. Mass customisation is possible because my team have removed the major constraint of using needles and thread." The designer has developed the technique in Japan with engineers, 3D designers and sculptors so clothes can be adjusted to be a precise fit to the wearer's figure.

"With this system we are now able to build all silhouettes imaginable," Nakazato says. "It is like creating a garment from a dress pattern but with even more flexibility." The designer has been working for six months on the new 3D clothes-making technique using natural materials like cotton and wool plus nylons. While the designer admitted that his work was very much at the experimental stage, he insisted that "future mass customisation" is possible. "There is still a lot of work by hand in putting the clothes together," Nakazato explains. "It is like technology and craftsmanship put together." The designer says that aesthetically his digital creations still had a long way to go to reach the perfection of classic haute couture which must be made by hand.

For his latest collection, Nakazato wanted to combine his new way of constructing textiles with the past so that they melded together. "We have a long term vision for the future as we develop and show the evolution each season," Nakazato says. "For this collection I chose the 1950s as the theme, which is an interesting era for me, because it is a very strong period for haute couture after the second world war. Couture gave a lot of energy to people with its elegance and drama. At the same time, the post-war era was also the starting point of mass production for jeans and bomber jackets. It is interesting that these things that are totally different but happened at the same time. "

"We have a long term vision for the future and we develop and show the evolution each season"


Yuima Nakazato with a bomber jacket
 and fitted coat using his new technology
The designer began to be interested in fashion as a student because at his high school in Japan they could choose to wear whatever they wanted, unlike most Japanese schools where a uniform is de rigueur. "I liked looking at fashion magazines ~ there was no Internet then ~ so we were reading magazines and seeing the "street snaps," a very typically Japanese part of culture with pictures of people standing on the street which I really liked." But he decided that fashion would be his career after seeing the first Japanese designers graduating from the Royal Academy Antwerp in 2002. "I saw their graduate collections in the newspaper and they looked so colourful and interesting I was shocked. Seeing these designs changed me dramatically and inspired me to go into the fashion world more deeply and immediately I decided to do Antwerp's fashion degree as well."

Nankazato's show included film, music, models
and mannequins 
Today, when Nakazato is designing a new collection he begins with with key words and a story as a starting point, afterwards he begins the research. "For this collection, I spoke to many different people including sculptors, architects and engineers to get inspiration and knowledge," He says."Afterwards, I shared it with the rest of the team and we started the research together, studying materials and textiles. But the vision and story is the most important part and then finding solutions with digital fabrication, 3D printers and stories from history." But ultimately the designer is looking for a way of creating fashion design that makes people feel happier. "That is why I would like the clothes of the future to all be unique and different as I think that makes everyone feel good. Right now we have to wear mass produced clothes because of the cost. But that is all changing with this new technology and it makes for a very interesting moment in fashion."

Tap on photographs for full-screen slideshow
Japanese designer Yuima Nakazato with his new creations in Paris
A model wearing Nakazato's digital couture dress
Guests at the Yuima Nakazato show take a closer look at his revolutionary new system of making unique garments
After Nakazato's haute couture show, guests examine the clothes on mannequins
A striking denim and pink gown made using Nakazato's technique of digitally-cut squares of fabric that fit the body
Leather riveted ensemble of trousers and jacket created with Nakazato's new technology
Elegant, fitted dress that seems both contemporary and related to Dior's New Look all made with Nakazato's digital technology
Fitted jacket and trousers created using designer Yuima Nakazato's riveted technique: "When I design clothes I want to see people happy wearing them and enjoying life."
Bomber jacket and longer tops on mannequins after the runway show. Today, when Nakazato is designing a new collection he begins with with key words and a story as a starting point, afterwards he begins the research. 
Detail of the riveted jeans and pink squares showing Nakazato's technique
 "I feel couture is the future of fashion," Nakazato says. "This technology is sustainable, so if your body changes you can customise the clothes or if you damage some part of it you can just change it ~ so you don't just throw it away."
 

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

TRAVEL: A River Runs Through It: Echuca Dreaming on the Mighty Murray

Alfred Maslen's paddle steamer the PS Adelaide is still plowing through the waters of the Murray River today, after more than 150 years of service on Australia's greatest waterway. Cover picture of the Port of Echuca. See historic images below
Victoria's port town of Echuca on the Murray River has a rich history with its paddle steamers and riverboat men who travelled through vast inland areas of Australia. For a century, they transported wheat and wool and brought news, groceries and cloth to the people living in distant river country. Australia's Mississippi, the mighty Murray winds its way for thousands of kilometres from the soaring Mount Kosciuszko ranges down to the South Australian coast. Writer Geoffrey Maslen recalls his childhood days riding the river with his father, a steamboat engineer on the PS Adelaide
 
Morning mist rising from the Murray River
as a paddle steamer chuffs along
IN early winter the Murray River is low. Daily the mud-banks on each side appear to move together as if trying to staunch the river’s flow. The water is still fast-moving but without the broad, graceful sweep it has in spring and summer. Its colour, too, is different – a sombre grey, unlike the cheerful brown-green of the warmer months. As the morning sun drives back the shadows of the gum trees lining the banks, a white mist hovers over the waters. Seen from the top of a clay cliff bank, the mist winds away before me, slowly melting in the faint warmth. Below, at the water’s edge, a white egret perches on one leg eyeing its image – a long, pale question mark – in the water’s sheen. A flock of sulphur-crested cockatoos screeches like winged lunatics in the trees on the opposite bank. They suddenly take to the air and in an instant are gone. The brief silence is broken when a fat yellow-belly leaps out of the water and plops loudly back beneath the swirling waters – one of the many fish species that draw thousands of fishermen each year. A carolling magpie calls melodiously and a black-winged currawong sings a reply. Life is abundant around and in the river. For the creatures that rely on it, the river is life...
  
The Murray once echoed to the shrill whistles of a hundred trading paddle steamers, puffing thousands of kilometres with passengers and cargo ~ long before railways and motor cars and aeroplanes ~ through country Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. The men on the steamers opened up a vast area of inland Australia, feeding and clothing the people living in the river country and carrying away their produce. They were also the floating mailmen and newsboys, spreading friendly gossip and even at times the word of the Lord. The overlanders who travelled by horse and dray, the steamboat men and the pioneer settlers regarded the river in different ways: for some the water was for crops and stock; for others, it was a great transport highway. The gums they saw as fence posts, firewood, boats or railway sleepers, the cliffs as quarries.
 
The steamboat men opened up vast areas of inland Australia, bringing food and clothing to the people living in the river country and carrying away their produce
 
Built in 1866, the PS Adelaide is still plying
 the river today, carrying passengers
In my childhood, my father Alfred Maslen was the engineer on the oldest paddle steamer then left on the Murray, the PS Adelaide whose age has now passed the century and a half mark. She is a sturdy old tub, no beauty to be sure with her squat lines and snub nose. But she has a certain rakish grace, sailing the river like some outsize, mechanical duck. As with most of the riverboats, the Adelaide was built to last in 1866. She was originally fitted out to accommodate passengers on the run from Echuca to Albury but in 1873 she was refitted as logging steamer and for nearly 100 years she pulled barges of cargo – red gum logs in her later years – up and down the river to Echuca. I can see her now, chuffing her way upstream towing a string of barges behind to collect logs from the Barmah forest. The barges were outriggers with a number of logs lashed crosswise and from these the red gum logs, too heavy to float, were suspended by chains on the surface of the water, parallel to the barge.
 
 Curled up in the paddle steamer's bunk house I could look up into the sky, stars glittering like tiny crystals while meteoric sparks from the boat's belching tunnel flamed momentarily beneath them
 
A small boy with the Riverboat Captain,
 at the big wheel of his paddle steamer
On special occasions I was allowed to go too ~ a week on the high road! Bliss for a small boy was the marvel of the two great thrusting pistons, the hiss of steam, the steady, hypnotic chunka-plunk-chunk of the paddles. During the day there was ever-changing scenery ~ red gum forests, high cliffs, sand bars ~ with occasional stops at the wood piles to load up with firewood. And there was wildlife galore: ducks of every kind, huge flocks of swans, innumerable species of other birds and sometimes a long tiger snake, its head up like a periscope, swimming like mad to escape the whack of the paddles. At night the great eyes of the headlamps would sweep the bends and stare along the reaches into the weird and silent darkness of the bush. Yellow water curled at the bow and the trees grew out of the darkness, flashed greenly for a moment, then sank back into the shadow. Curled up in the bunk house with the door open I could look out and up into the infinite depths of sky, stars glittering like tiny crystals while meteoric sparks from the belching tunnel flamed momentarily beneath them. As I was lulled to sleep by the steady throb of the engine I could hear the sound of the firebox doors being clanged open, the rattle of the long poker as it was wielded to rearrange the burning logs. As a new log was thrust in, the glow from the furnace would light up the trees along the bank. Then the firebox doors would clang shut and I would hear the sound of laughter and soft talk from some of the crew keeping the captain company in the wheelhouse.

From the barge behind a song would sometimes drift across the water. One was sung to the tune of The Dying Stockman: Wrap me up in my tow-line and check-line And scuttle me deep down below, Where the cod and the snags won’t molest me, Where the Murray’s clear waters do flow... But usually it was yarns that were spun; oft-repeated tales of the great days on the river and the mighty mud pirates who sailed her. There was Captain Tommy Freeman who, as a young man was inspired by the feats of Blondin and walked across the Murray high on a tightrope stretched between trees on opposite banks. When he reached the middle of the river, the Echuca Riverine Herald reported, he lay down on his back and `kicked his legs about in the most astonishing manner’.

As I was lulled to sleep by the steady throb of the engine I could hear the sound of the firebox doors being clanged open, the rattle of the long poker as it was wielded to rearrange the burning logs
 
Paddle steamers leaving the wharves
at the Port of Echuca

Tommy was one of the best swimmers among the river men. One of his favourite pastimes was to dive in ahead of one of the paddle wheels of his steamer, let the thrashing blades pass over his head and then surface and swim to the rudder where he would climb on board again. His enemies called him `Tear-arse Tommy’ because he was always trying to get the maximum speed out of boats. Once, when sailing full-steam up the Darling, Tommy pointed to a camp high on the bank to his son Buck, who was the mate.

The camper was sitting outside his tent eating breakfast. `Watch this,” Tommy said and steered the steamer straight at the bank. At the last moment, he veered away but a great wave swept up the bank and over the unsuspecting breakfaster. The furious victim, however, was waiting at the next bend with a shotgun and peppered the wheelhouse with buck-shot. The captain and mate lay on the floor arguing about who should take the wheel while the steamer rounded the bend with no-one in command until she was out of range.

The firebox doors would clang shut and I would hear the sound of laughter and soft talk from the crew keeping the captain company in the wheelhouse

Then there was Wildman Bailey, another river captain from Echuca who acted for years as if the river was his private domain. Once, sailing in the Success with a barge called Croupier, Bailey met another steamer and was supposed to but refused to give way. The two boats steamed straight at each other and missed narrowly. Bailey managed to swing away from the other boat but a collision between it and the Croupier seemed inevitable. Bailey watched helplessly as the other steamer and his barge rushed head-on at each other. `Goodbye Croupier old girl,’ he called sadly.


The PS Adelaide docked in the rising sun at Echuca
But instead, the steamer crawled up on the Croupier on one paddle wheel, waddled the full length of her deck and then slid into the river again, leaving the barge barely damaged. On another occasion, Bailey was caught up the Darling on a falling river. Flying downstream on the last of the water, he passed a sheep station just before dawn and was hailed by an anxious squatter in his pyjamas. `Hey Bailey!’ the squatter yelled, `will you take my wool? It might be another year before the river rises again.’ Bailey leaned out of the wheelhouse and stared up at the squatter. `She’s so damn near sliding on the bottom,’ he yelled back, `that I wouldn’t even take a loaf of bread – and by hell am I hungry!’
 
Today, a dozen large and small home-built boats still chuff along the river, including the Alexander Arbuthnot ~ one of the last steamers built on the Murray River during the riverboat trade. She was constructed at Koondrook in 1923 to tow barges carrying logs from the forest to the Arbuthnot Sawmills for some years until the 1940s. Then she was sold to charcoal producers in the Barmah Forest and, during World War II, she lay idle. In 1947, however, she sank at her mooring and it was not until 1972, that the boat was raised by a group of Shepparton volunteers and was then bought by the City of Echuca in 1989 for restoration at the Port. The Alexander Arbuthnot is one of the 10 or more steamers that can still be seen on the river around Echuca.
 
Today, a dozen boats still chuff along the river, including the Alexander Arbuthnot ~ one of the last steamers built on the Murray River during the riverboat trade
 
The great sweep of the Murray River runs
through four Australian states
As it snakes its way across the countryside, the Murray drains an enormous area of land. The Murray-Darling Basin occupies more than a million square kilometres ~ about a seventh of the total area of Australia. With tributaries like the Darling, the Murrumbidgee, the Goulburn and the Campaspe, the Murray River takes in half of Victoria, three-quarters of New South Wales and part of South Australia, and an area of Queensland greater than the whole of Victoria. Maybe the Murray isn't as famous as other great rivers such as the Mississippi or the Amazon but, from its watershed in the Mount Kosciusko ranges more than 2000 metres above sea level, the Murray has wound its way for 20 million years ~ far longer than any other river on Earth ~ down to the South Australian coast 3000 kilometres away.

Humans have known and lived by the Murray for more than 40,000 years: the first people had it to themselves for almost all that time, up until 1830 when Captain Charles Sturt rowed down to its mouth: “At 3 pm, Hopkinson called out that we were approaching a junction and in less than a minute afterwards we were hurried into a broad and noble river,” was how the soldier-navigator-explorer described his discovery. “We had got on the high road and it was either to the south coast or to some important outlet but I will call it the Murray River.”

River trade endured for a century along the Murray River. By 1863, Echuca had been built to take the loads of wool, wheat and meat from the steam boats because it was the closest river port to Melbourne.

 The wharves at Echuca where wool and wheat
were unloaded for Melbourne
Some 20 years later, William Randall steamed from Mannum in South Australia nearly 1600 kilometres past Swan Hill ~ downstream from Echuca ~ in a home-made boat with a home-made steam engine whose boiler `swelled in defiance of bolts changes and wedges’, breathing, say the old-timers, like a concertina. Sturt’s `high road’ soon became a reality. River trade endured for a century and stretched across three colonies and 6000 kilometres of waterway. In 1860, 17 steam boats were trading and operating along the Murray River and by1863 the new town of Echuca had been built to take the loads of wool and wheat and meat from the steam boats because it was the closest river port to Melbourne. By then, it had a population of 300 but, in less than 10 years, there were 1,600 inhabitants and Echuca was Victoria's second largest port with 240 boats annually trading in all types of goods, particularly wool.

The PS Emmylou, one of the fine 19th Century
paddle steamers travelling the river
Just before the turn of the 20th century, however, railway lines began linking river towns with the larger cities and the steamboat era was already nearing its end. Eventually, boats were tied up all along the Murray River waiting for work that never came. Some sank or were broken up, a few ran halfway into the new century as fishing boats, logging steamers and passenger craft but they, too, eventually disappeared. But then interest spread among locals and historians and some of the old steamboats were restored and began operating trips up and down the river for tourists.

The Aborigines had looked at the river and saw fish and game; at the gums and saw canoes and shields; at the cliffs and saw caves for shelter, clay and ochre for dancing bodies. But there was a difference. To the Aboriginal tribes ~ the Baraba Baraba, Wemba Wemba, Yorta Yorta and Ngurraiilam ~ the river was sacred. It was not theirs; it did not belong to them. They belonged to it for the river was the source of their legends; for them the Murray valley had been carved out in the Dreamtime when a giant Murray cod went swimming down the piccaninny Murray, his waving tail so huge it created the great broad sweeps seen today.

To the Aboriginal tribes ~ the Baraba Baraba, Wemba Wemba, Yorta Yorta and Ngurraiilam ~ the river was sacred. It was not theirs; it did not belong to them. They belonged to it, for the Murray was the source of their legends

A white Egret on the Murray, one of the many native
Australian birds that make the river home
In their 40,000 or more years as custodians, the Aborigines left few scars around the river: sacred burial grounds, gum trees with bark cut out for canoes, smoke stains on the yellow cliffs where they camped; glittering kitchen middens of cockles and mussel shells. The marks of the European invaders, though, are more easily seen. Locks and dams have drowned the swamplands and the red gum forests, arresting the rhythm of the river which replenished the swamps and mud-flats and generated the breeding cycles for fish, and for crops and cattle, the river polluted with runoffs and drains. There are other changes: When I first learned to swim in the Murray’s warm brown water, paddle-wheelers still swished back and forth. Swimming like fish, we could easily dodge them and we chased their wash to catch the waves, bobbing like corks.

Today, though, swimming in the river is like playing hop-scotch on a busy freeway. High-powered speedboats roar down the river, trailing skiers for tails, scattering swimmers daring enough to try to compete or just to cross the river from one bank to the other. A screaming fibreglass rocket with a 60 horsepower outboard at the stern and a nut at the wheel has none of the charm, the serenity or even the style of the old river boats.

The memories flood back as I stand on the cliff looking down on the river, the white mist almost gone. Life along the river has experienced a vast change in the past 150 or more years. The indigenous people who roamed its banks for millennia have almost all disappeared. The inland sailors, too, have gone ~ Alf Maslen among them ~ and little of what they brought to the river remains. They have stepped out of the great river of history.

Geoffrey Maslen’s new books are An Uncertain Future: Australian birdlife in danger and Too late: How we lost the battle with climate change, are published by HardieGrant and available at all good bookshops.


An early picture of the Adelaide steaming up the Murray River, towing a barge carrying red-gum logs. Photograph: Courtesy of the Echuca Historical Society



In 1869, wool being unloaded at the Punt in Echuca. Photograph: Courtesy of the Echuca Historical Society.
Bullock trains in Leslie Street in Echuca, carrying the wool brought by the paddles steamers to be taken to Melbourne. Photograph: Courtesy of the Echuca Historical Society 
 
 An 1876 etching of Echuca's Main Street and the Bridge Hotel at left, both still key features of the town. Image: Courtesy of the Echuca Historical Society





Sunday, 29 October 2017

History, Drama and Romance at Alistair James in London

Sitting in a bower of leaves, this diaphanous, pearl-encrusted gown worn with flowing red hair was the centrepiece of Alistair James' presentation in London. Cover picture and all photographs by Elli Ioannou for DAM.

One of the highlights of London Fashion Week was the official debut of British design duo Nicholas Alistair Walsh and David James Wise who first met at Alexander McQueen. Their evocative SS18 presentation was held in the exquisite Fitzrovia Chapel, designed in 1891 by celebrated Victorian architect John Loughborough Pearson. Story by Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Photographs by Elli Ioannou

 Pearl encrusted gown and a ruffled,
sequinned ensemble
LIKE a Pre-Raphaelite painting, a young woman with long, red hair and a flowing gown encrusted with pearls sits in a leafy bower in a gilded chancel. Architect John Loughborough Pearson's passion for medieval Italian architecture and St Mark's basilica in Venice inspired his design for the glimmering mosaics that give the chapel an otherworldly beauty.

This Gothic Revival jewel was the atmospheric backdrop to the romantic centrepiece of Alistair James' presentation during London Fashion Week, last month. Designers Nicholas Walsh and David Wise say they were inspired by a range of people and ideas yet those varied influences all coalesced into a cohesive and engaging collection with an unexpected edge.

The ideas for their most recent work were drawn from mythic, fairytale figures such as the May Queen and Sleeping Beauty to iconic British Sixties and Seventies fashion designer Ossie Clark and textile designer Celia Birtwell plus the work of portrait photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. Storytelling is at the heart of Alistair James' designs and Love Conquers All is the title of the new collection. Motifs include the briar rose and hearts, stars in sparkling Swarovksi crystals and a rich palette that included silver, blue and green. The diaphanous gowns were mixed with fluid smock-like dresses in white and porcelain blue, a suit with shorts in custom-made, dark green jacquard and silvery, sequined and ruffled outfit with a short, thigh-skimming skirts.

A key element in the design duo's philosophy is a ‘made in Britain’ ethos. This relates to Nicholas Walsh's family connection to fabric production in Yorkshire and David Wise's career as a textile designer and their belief in sustainability and using local skills and materials. The pair is determined to continue to work with British mills to create their new collections.

Fluid grace in a blue like
 Jasperware porcelain
Today, the designers work together from a South London studio. While Nicholas Walsh grew up in West Yorkshire and started his career as a women's wear designer, David Wise comes from London and began his career in textiles. Before forming their label, Wise had already worked with top fashion houses, including Alexander McQueen since 2010. Walsh grew up in Halifax, a wool trade town, and he was able to see his father at work at a theatre drapery mill. A youth spent surrounded by the mill's wools, velvets and silks meant he could easily relate to Wise's work as a textile designer.

Nicholas Walsh began his career in fashion after graduating with a BA in women's wear in 2014 and then working at Gareth Pugh and Alexander McQueen. While Walsh was working in the couture studio, Wise was a textile designer when they met at McQueen. When the two designers decided to branch out and create their own label together, they made a capsule collection which they showed to the British Fashion Council. They were put in touch with fashion industry contacts that helped them move forward with their label and lead to their ethereal SS18 collection shown this season in London.

Tap on photographs for full-screen slideshow
Voluminous, flowing lines added to the collection's sense of otherworldly romance.
The collection was inspired by the May Queen and Sleeping Beauty along with Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell and British portrait photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.
Nicholas Walsh and David Wise say they were inspired by a range of people and ideas yet those varied influences all coalesced into a cohesive and engaging collection with an unexpected edge.
When the two designers decided to branch out and create their own label together, they made a capsule collection which they showed to the British Fashion Council.
The designers were put in touch with fashion industry contacts that helped them move forward with their label and lead to their official SS18 collection shown this season in London.
Today, the designers work together from a South London studio. Nicholas Walsh grew up in West Yorkshire and started his career as a women's wear designer while David Wise comes from London and began his career in textiles.



A key element in the design duo's philosophy is a ‘made in Britain’ ethos. This relates to Nicholas Walsh's family connection to fabric production in Yorkshire and David Wise's career as a textile designer and their belief in sustainability and using local skills and materials.
Nicholas Walsh began his career in fashion after graduating with a BA in women's wear in 2014 and then working at Gareth Pugh and Alexander McQueen. While Walsh was working in the couture studio, Wise was a textile designer when they met at McQueen.
 



Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Slow Fashion in a Fast World: Indian Designer Rahul Mishra

Prismatic colours embroidered on to a flowing dark navy gown at Rahul Mishra's SS18 show in Paris. Cover picture and all photographs by Elli Ioannou

Designer Rahul Mishra believes in "slow fashion" where time is taken to research and produce collections. He uses artisans from across India that work by hand using traditional techniques like fine embroidery to create collections that are shown during Paris Fashion Week. Mishra wants to combine both the best of new technology with craftsmanship to enhance a sense of beauty and peace, writes Antonio Visconti. Photographs by Elli Ioannou

Intricate flowers and stripes create a
richly-textured jacket
IN our rapidly changing world of digital technology and social media, fashion designers are pressurised to deliver their shows and collections as soon as possible to world wide audiences and often in real time. Although many fashion houses in Paris and Milan have resisted the "see now, buy now" movement because either it is not feasible given the conceptual nature of many shows or the time-consuming workmanship required for high-end collections. Philosophically, Indian designer Rahul Mishra who shows on the official Paris Fashion Week schedule, supports "slow fashion". His fashion house is based on sustainable and ethical production using both hand-craft techniques combined with new technology. Mishra collaborates with craftspeople in different regions of India. The designer aims to create collections that are contemporary yet use traditional artisans that support local economies.

When Mishra visited his hometown village Malhousie in Uttar Pradesh earlier this year, it allowed him to literally slow down and appreciate the stillness and beauty of the natural world. In the quiet of the village, cut-off from digital distractions, he focused on the joy of observing the birds and the bees under India's great blue sky, walking across the village fields and listening to the crickets.

Animals like birds, bees and tigers embroidered
on to a jacket at Rahul Mishra
Mishra's latest SS18 collection, presented in Paris earlier this month, was inspired by watching the honeybees in his village and looking at prisms of light and colour created by movement. When the designer returned to his studio in Delhi, he researched what he had seen in the countryside and spent months creating his new runway show, "Light In The Sky". During Paris Fashion Week, he showed the new collections including some one hundred garments, many pieces finely embroidered with bees, flowers and birds and prismatic representations of light. The collection includes floating, sheer dresses with ruffles, flowing skirts and a multitude of different colours ~ inspired by seeing colour and light at speed. It was a frothy, buoyant and summery collection, one that contrasted with his Autumn/Winter 2017 show with its rich pointillist embroidery inspired by 19th century French Impressionist painters, created by 700 different artisans.

Studying a science degree, Rahul Mishra did not seem destined to a life at the epicentre of haute fashion in Paris. He comes from a family of doctors and grew up listening to his grandparents tales of history and myth in his village.

Layers of ruffles enhances the summery, buoyant
theme of the show
Mishra went to school locally before completing a graduate degree in physics at nearby Kanpur University. But he decided to change career completely and express his ideas about the world through design. He went on to do a post-graduate degree at the National Institute of Design in Ahmadabad. His dissertation addressed social issues that he encountered meeting Indian crafts people. His aim was to find out how to make these artisans more empowered. Mishra's debut collection was based on using traditional Kerala looms. This first collection won him a scholarship to Italy's Istituto Marangoni. By 2008, he opened his own fashion house focusing on specialist textiles and hand-made garments. Mishra's work became known beyond India, when he won the prestigious Woolmark Prize in Milan in 2014. This buoyed him to launch his Spring/Summer 2015 collection and show it on the international fashion stage at Paris Fashion Week. So far, Mishra has managed to maintain a strong Indian identity based on the country's traditional skills while melding that with the latest in digital technology.

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Rahul Mishra's fashion house is based on sustainable and ethical production using both hand-craft techniques combined with new technology.


Mishra collaborates with craftspeople in different regions across India.


The designer aims to create collections that are contemporary yet use traditional artisans that support local economies.

Mishra's SS18 collection, presented in Paris earlier this month, was inspired by watching the honeybees in his village and looking at prisms of light and colour created by movement.


When the designer returned to his studio in Delhi, he researched what he had seen in the countryside and spent months creating his new runway show.


 During Paris Fashion Week, Rahul Mishra showed the new collections including some one hundred garments, many pieces finely embroidered with bees, flowers and birds and prismatic representations of light.
The collection includes floating, sheer dresses with ruffles, flowing skirts and a multitude of different colours.
The new collection is a frothy, buoyant and summery with fluid fabrics and brilliant colour.
 Mishra's work became known beyond India, when he won the prestigious Woolmark Prize in Milan in 2014.
After studying Physics, Mishra went on to do a post-graduate degree at the National Institute of Design in Ahmadabad.

Mishra has managed to maintain a strong Indian identity based on the country's traditional skills while melding that with the latest in digital technology and showing on the international stage in Paris.




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