University of Central Lancashire: Shortlisted for the Fashion Photography award at Graduate Fashion Week 2014
When entering the building to meet a shortlisted Graduate Fashion Week student, I expected to be greeted by a stressed, shaking shell of a student. However, Emily Long was the image of calm, cool and collected – remarkable considering it is just two days to go until the opening day of the event at East London’s Truman Brewery. Bringing her portfolio we discussed her inspirations behind each piece and her aspirations once leaving University.
A strong believer in sustainable fashion and the fashion revolution, Emily name checks Vivienne Westwood and Professor Sandy Black as inspiration. Emily’s passion for strong females and the empowerment that they portray therefore shines throughout her work. A stand out piece in her portfolio is a collection of images that takes ideas from the world of jousting. Originally brought up within a family of jousters, aspects of the medieval sport can be seen throughout, with the deep colours and styling of accessories screaming out. Although the images show inspiration, she likes to take her imagery one step further by adding context through history. Each shot is taken at the National Trust site, Rufford Old Hall, a site known to hold regular joust events giving the thought process that little bit of an extra push. Although the images portray the empowerment of females, it is only very subtle throughout, making sure that they do not push political messages.
With the use of both recycling and upcycling throughout her styling methods, Emily cites the environment as another important inspiration. Taking me through images that have incorporated her love for water sports and the outdoors, she believes it adds a sense of freedom to her work, especially with the unpredictable nature of film photography.
With a whole host of UCLan past winners pursuing promising careers in the fashion industry, the pressure is on for the 19 shortlisted nominees to live up to the previous success of the University. Emily believes that whether she wins the award or not, the nomination and attending the event alone brings great opportunity to her future career and an all in all astounding experience. However, having already been featured in Vogue Italia last year, I have high hopes for this young stylist and photographer.
Emily’s work plus a whole host of other Graduate pieces will be able available at Graduate Fashion Week 2014 from Saturday 31st May onward.
As it turns out, Tumblr is not only the most addictive blogging platform in the world. It can also be a good starting point when thinking of setting up a new clothing brand – that’s how it started for The Whitepepper back in 2011. Quickly, it led the brand to open their own boutique on ASOS marketplace and later start their own website and consequently being stocked by Topshop on Oxford Circus and independent retailers from all over the world.
Founded in East London, The Whitepepper are still loyal to their British roots with all of their products designed right where it started. Heavily inspired by streetwear and Tumblr culture, their clothes are original, eye-catching and just the right amount of quirky. Refreshingly, there is something for both boys and girls to have a look at and prices are high street affordable.
But The Whitepepper are not only about the clothing; they have their own magazine, TWP, where you can order for free, from their website. They also still keep their Tumblr page which is an endless source of inspiration and regularly share their own London secrets on the brand’s blog!
Finally, being a girl in love with everything sparkly, bubblegum-y and festive, I have to focus on the brands’ newest winter lookbook. Presenting not only a collection of perfect Christmas-party dresses (think velvet, collars and glitter), but also genius accessories (two words: UNICORN. CLUTCH. Ok, couple more: PINK. GLITTERY. SHOES). It is all you need to make these cold months a little bit more enjoyable and special.
If you are bored with your wardrobe and feel like you can’t find anything on the high street without looking like everyone else, check out The Whitepepper’s website. Be warned: it may result in vivid dreams about having your own, perfect unicorn clutch!
‘Who hasn’t had the desire to be someone else for a while?’ asks Austrian photographer Klaus Pichler. His recent photo project ‘Just the Two of Us’ captures Austrians hidden behind the costume of their choice, on a very intimate level as the setting is their own home interior.
The Austrian born and bred photographer has been working on this project for more than two years, as he quickly realised that people were quite reluctant at the idea of letting a stranger into their home. It would seem that everyone has the desire to be someone else for a while, but only in a certain space, which, ultimately, says a lot about this project and people on a sociological dimension. There is something so intimate about revealing your own space, your own habits, that one could argue it can only be done if you cover your identity, so as to not be associated with it. Pichler’s series is an interesting rendition of how people step out of their own skin to create an alter ego/personae.
What then, is the motivation behind stepping out of one’s own skin? Pichler says that over the course of the shooting, he was able to see a pattern emerge; for a lot of people, dressing up is a way for them to cope with society’s pressures. Some had a boring or stressful job, or had issues in their everyday life. Either way, the act of dressing up allowed these people to inhabit a different world for while and feel more empowered. Pichler believes that costumes give people the excuse for a “temporary withdrawal from civil life.”
“Fashion fades while style lasts forever”.
Lily J is a London-based clothing brand that sells beautiful clothing at affordable prices. Launched in 2010, Lily J started as a single store, and has now expanded to four; three in Camden and one in Notting Hill.
Their product offering is extensive, with dresses, tops, cardigans, skirts and coats, although there’s a particular emphasis on their beautiful dresses. The main focus is lace, which is evident throughout pretty much all of their clothing, whether on ruffles, trims or the whole outfit. Lily J is a paradise for any lover of girly, beautiful clothes with a kind of Alice in Wonderland feel to them.
Their outfits have been constructed very thoughtfully – they can be dressed down with tights and flats in the day, but equally, teamed with a pair of heels and sparkly jewellery, they would look great for a night out sipping cocktails at a sophisticated bar.
To have a look at some of their pretty clothes on offer, have a look at their Facebook page (although unfortunately, they’re quite inactive) or website, where you can shop online.
The Berlin-based artist and photographer (and film director!), Sebastian Bieniek has recently released a ‘work in progress’ photo series titled ‘Doublefaced’, depicting the intimate day-to-day actions of a two-faced girl. The photographs show a normal girl – you see her in a bath, smoking a cigarette, in a car park… And then you realise that she has two faces; one half of her features drawn on with thick black lines. It is subtly frightening and slightly eerie, almost Picasso-esque (I like to imagine that this is what a modern real life Picasso would be).
A lot of people have criticised the photo series, saying it is a poorly executed project. I, on the other hand, believe that the power of these images rely on the fact that it is ‘self-applied’ makeup as opposed to ‘beauty makeup’, and the smudgeness of the lines only reflect the limits of our imagination. When does a face cease to be a face? What is the connection between our confusion and our imagination? Can a fragment of reality be just as valid as a reality in itself? From my point of view, these are questions that the series try to raise through the use of double dualities and merging realites. When does the ‘I’/’eye’ cease to exist by itself’?
Bieniek himself has said that he doesn’t know where the project is heading, or what is really consists of. It started when his son was really ill and sad, whereupon he drew a happy smile on the side of his face. From there, it has evolved into a project gaining more than 73,000 followers around the world, with Bieniek uploading regular photographs on his Tumblr and Facebook page.
You can follow Sebastian Bieniek on his Tumblr or on his Facebook.
Graduate Fashion Weeks are the best occasions to spot new, refreshing talents on the British fashion scene and what screams ‘the next big thing’ more than winning a Gold award at London’s GFW? Not so many things, let me assure you. Last June, the award went to talented hands of Lauren Smith from Edinburgh College of Art.
The collection, that Roland Mouret himself described as “emotional” won Lauren £20,000 to launch her fashion career and a capsule collection for George. Don’t think that it stopped the young designer from developing her skills even further – right now, she’s doing her Masters in Textiles at ECA.
Lauren’s designs are really emotional indeed – delicate and dreamy they spread the feeling of nostalgia but also bring the unexpected with the strong, architectural structures being shown next to neon-yellow tulle and loose jumpsuits. The collection, constructed around two primary colours – yellow and blue – is inspired by the relationship an artist forms with their sketchbook, making Lauren’s designs even more personal and even kind of intimate. After all, those are her sketches that we can see embroidered on the garments.
Other than winning a Gold award at GWF, Lauren has more successes in her portfolio. Recently, she designed a dress made of… 50 kilograms of chocolate for the National Chocolate Week to enjoyment of all of the sweet tooth our there (myself included).
I am more than excited to see what the future holds for this 23-year-old designer, remember her name, this year you will see Lauren’s designs everywhere!