Friday, 28 November 2008

When Giles met Colin

On Tuesday 11th November Colin McDowell, Senior Fashion writer for Sunday Times Style and renowned fashion commentator, staged a televised chat with fashion designer, Giles Deacon, at The London College of Fashion. There was an atmosphere of excitement as Giles, who was awarded British Fashion Designer of the year in 2007, strolled on stage and settled into his chair next to Colin.

Colin started by praising Gile's achievements and outlining his star studded career which has involved working for Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren before setting up his own London based luxury womenswear label in 2004.

Gile's came across as very magnanimous, as in answer to a question on how hard it is to become an established fashion designer, he explained how there is so much petty politics within the industry and how he has tried to combat this in his own team by ensuring a healthy fun relationship. Among other qualities he listed, was 'direct honesty, to say that's a shit idea', to which he sat back laughing.

Gile's then answered questions from the audience, such as the inevitable, 'is there anything that inspires you?' to which he replied that it was actually those around him that influence him, adding after a pause, that daily work has to be stimulating, and you need people to be direct and even silly, like his long term friend and ex, Fashion Stylist Katie Grand. Though he hastily assured the audience that she was not his muse, 'the concept of a muse is just a bit creepy, like designers who say they were inspired by their grandmothers skirts when they were little. that's just weird!'

There was many questions from people in the audience who felt an affiliation with his northern roots, having been brought up in Cumbria, and he demonstrated how his background informed his career from his 'northern pragmatism' which made him think, 'Christ, gotta get a job, pay the rent!', to his new collection for high street retailer New Look, 'it's an income for the next three years, and people were sniffy about it but then not everyone can or wants to spend £250,000 on a dress. And why should they?'

And his proudest moment? without hesitation he replied, 'being Designer of the Year, just looking at the list of other people who were on it and thinking Christ I'm on it!' Since last year he has been a permanent fixture in the fashion world and has a number of lucrative deals with New Look, Daks and his own label Giles Deacon.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Interview with Fashion Designer Ashish.

Don’t fancy being left to fester under the mistletoe this Xmas? Take your mother’s advice and put on a sequined party frock to stand out from all the boring little black dresses. Ashish is the king of sequins and his A/W collection exudes high octane party glamour.

The story behind his collection this season runs along the theme of, ‘Disney meets Marilyn Monroe, and an ex Las Vegas showgirl.’ The thirty-two dazzling outfits leave you with the feeling that the Disney characters, Marilyn and the showgirl did more than just meet, they donned some sequins and partied!

When creating a collection, Ashish explains that he keeps his clients in mind; whereas the English appear to buy across the scale, his clients in Russia and New York are more difficult to predict, though his designs tend to appeal to young party girls.

It is easy to see why; his collection this season sports heavily sequined mini dresses, skirts and tops, which combine instant impact glamour within a feminine silhouette. There are voyeuristic dresses with large holes cut out, sporty sweater with burlesque style nipple tassels and woolen jumpers adorned with cherries.

Since he first sold his A/W collection in 2001 to Browns Focus, a London designer fashion boutique, his star has been rising. His statement outfits have been worn by Lilly Allen, Madonna on her ‘confessions’ album tour, Victoria Beckham, and R&B singer Estelle, ‘£700 is a lot of money and I really feel flattered when people say they feel sexy in my designs’.

From all the celebs parading around in his outfits, the new and upcoming ‘doowop’ soul singer, V.V Brown caught his attention when she wore one of his dresses for a Jools Holland performance, ‘she also wore that dress for her video, she embodies my ideal girl that I keep in mind when designing, so much energy.’ From wearing one of his dresses V.V Brown earned herself another little number as he kindly sent her one to keep. In comparison, his thoughts on celebrity drag queen Jodie Harsh wearing his designs, went along the lines of- ‘lovely bloke, great fun, don’t really want to see my clothes on a tranny though!’

Ashish’s first show in 2004 exploded onto the fashion scene like a kaleidoscopic glitter ball, he said he had, ‘nothing to loose, though sequins at that time were not cool. Americans didn’t like it, they were like ‘oh my god, we haven’t seen sequins on the catwalk for like 40 years’. People were frightened by it. But then Lizzie Jagger started wearing it’. However, the British press lapped it up and he was rewarded with a ‘New Generation’ sponsorship from The British Fashion Council. This is what is exciting about Ashish, he isn’t afraid to go against convention and design outfits that force people to rethink their preconceptions concerning fashion. His radical attitude to design has proved him to be definitely more than just a party girl’s favourite designer.

His zest for colour and eye for the alternative can be said to come from his fashion forward mother, who now manages his factory of 70 workers in Delhi, ‘She was fabulous! Before the weight of course, but this was the woman who could pull off a lime green jumpsuit.’ His other major influence is 80’s fashion designer Bob Mackie, who is best known for designing outfits for Cher and Gerry Hall. Ashish describes him as ‘vulgar but fun’ and as a designer he could bring humour to his outlandish, jewel encrusted garments.

And when he looses his creative spark and draws a blank? Ashish firmly believes in the power of films as soothing to a designers dry patch, ‘I watch like 60 films a day, no seriously, god that sounds sad! The film ‘the eyes of Laura Mars’ works for me, its corny but it’s shot beautifully.’