MUKZIN

INTERVIEW BY CARLOTTA BUOSI

 
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Many of the key elements of Chinese tradition - just like pretty much any kind of tradition, world-wide - seem anachronistic today. Obsolete. The fact that most youngsters - Chinese and non Chinese - are brought up being completely out of touch with these values, catapulted into irrepressible modernity since a very young age, is what upsets Kate Han the most. Creative Director of contemporary brand MUKZIN, Han embraces the challenge - but also the opportunity! - of bringing elements of her culture and its rich tradition back to new life, through fashion. The balance between historical references and contemporary transgression is precisely where Mukzin finds its sweet spot. Selected by Vip.com in collaboration with the British Fashion Council and brought to London Fashion Week, Mukzin showcased their Spring/Summer 2019 collection in the British capital for the first time this season. Lurve caught up with Kate after the show, to find out more about her incredibly creative brand and the unique concept behind it.

 

1. Katie, You are very much inspired about your culture. Tell us more about that.

I always get my inspiration from the heritage of Chinese culture. I’m not interested in the future - it doesn’t exist yet! - but I’m really interested in the past and in the present.  My workplace is full of antique pieces and contemporary art. I put everything together like an art installation.

 

2. Where else do you draw your inspiration from?

Recently, I lived in Hangzhou. It’s a characteristically vivid city in China with the best tech business mixed with beautiful old gardens, towers and ancient architecture. Whenever I walked out from home, I just saw ideas for my new collections materialising in front of me.

 

3. How would you describe MUKZIN’s style in 3 words?

Defining MUKZIN’s aesthetic in a few words is almost impossible. Despite that, I believe you could point out my design immediately among hundreds of other designers.

 

4. What do you like to experiment the most with?

I like to give the old things new lives.

 

5. Would you say that for a fashion designer it’s more important to be consistent or to keep introducing new elements and concepts in their work?

The new elements I like to introduce are  always related with the history and heritage of my culture, which I believe have the power to be reinvented into something new. So I would say consistency it’s very important. Also, I don’t really follow any trend.

 

6. You’ve previously collaborated with a series of artists for your collections. Tell us more about that.

I am completely obsessed with the contemporary art. Years ago, I began collecting the work of some young Chinese artists, and we then became close friend. When I started my brand, some of them understood the concept immediately. They felt that it was a fresh, cool thing  to re-design old Chinese elements and they wanted to be involved in it. We started working together in my tiny studio, making patterns. We had a lot of fun.

 

7. Tell us the core inspiration behind Mukzin SS19 collection.

The collection is inspired by the traditional packaging of Chinese medicines.

 

8. How would you describe your ideal customer?

Smart, open minded. Someone who love colours and is willing to accept new ideas.

 

9. What would you like for your brand to convey to its wearers?   

A feeling of empathy, yet temperamental. Something you would have found ages ago and which is now coming into reality once again.

 

10. What are your plans for the future of MUKZIN?

I would like to see my pieces being worn everywhere in the world.

Special thanks to Charlotte Berghman and the British Fashion Council.

Paria Farzaneh

INTERVIEW BY CARLOTTA BUOSI

 
 

Born in Devon from Iranian parents, Paria Farzaneh’s childhood was market by the yearly visits to her family, falling in love with the Iranian culture, which still majorly influences both her personal style and her work as fashion designer. Strikingly individualistic, it’s important for Paria to exit the toxic eco-chamber of social media and become acknowledged about what goes on in the world, all influences banned. Through fashion, Paria aims to give a sense of belonging to people, helping them to implement themselves in their own way, starting from what they choose to wear. That’s what makes her work special. 

 

 2. How does the representation of Middle Eastern culture in the UK affect your inspiration?

 Nothing will ever be an accurate representation of true Middle Eastern culture in the UK. I think it would befair to share the many aspects of this culture in the right way.The media’s influence often does not help portraying reality for what it truly is. 

 

 3. What is that you’d like to communicate through creating your style?

 I think what I’m trying to do is beyond fashion, beyond all of the stigmas and parodies that come within it.Fashion is a huge platform for a lot of young people. I think community is also important, and within that a style starts to grow.Fashion it’s not about cloning everyone to look the same, it’s more about offering a sense of belonging, or whatever it may be for people to implement themselves in their own way.This is what makes it special. 

 

4. Who are your boys? What do they believe in? 

I think capping the demographic at just boys would be incorrect. When I make my collections, the first toile is always tried on myself, purely because there is no boundary of whether it is only for boys, men, etc. I believe in wearing things that you have a connection to, that you really like. I make things I like, not what I think would fit in a trend.

 

5. You became the talk of town last season, after Frank Ocean wore one of tour T-shirts headlining in London. How did it feel to have someone spreading your message so loud?

 The message has always been clear, outer space is the limit. 

 

6. Describe your style in three words to our readers.

 My own style is very androgynous, bold and definitely daring. 

 

7. Today’s fashion has seen a dramatic gender shift, with people choosing clothes not based on the gender they should belong to but solely on their taste and style. What do you think about unisex clothing and is there an element of that in your pieces?

 For sure. I completely understand why women’s fashion weeks and men’s fashion weeks are separateed. There are different markets for both that have not yet developed into one single demographic and I don’t think it ever well, but at the same time this just causes a stigma and creates divide, when at the end of the day, it’s just clothes. We should just wear what we want.

 

 8. What should we expect from Paria Farzaneh in the future?

 You’ll find out in January. 

 

Special thanks to Charlotte Berghman and the British Fashion Council.

The Season Hats

INTERVIEW BY CARLOTTA BUOSI

 
 

Originally from Yorkshire, Paul Stafford has one of those rare attitudes able to enjoyed both arts and sciences in the same measure. While studying Natural Sciences and Psychology at Cambridge University, he met Selina Horshi, English Literature student from Northern Ireland. That’s when their story, but also the story of their brand - The Seasons Hats - begun. After few years in London together, they both came to the realisation that they wanted to create something which would have made people feel happy and confident. Something which could be used to both attract attention and hide beneath. Of course, it all came down to hats. Beautiful, unique and creative hats which have changed many youngsters’ perception towards millinery. Through The Seasons Hats, Paul and Selina aim to keep the heritage of hat making alive, fighting against the struggles of a business that many - especially within the fashion world, today - would consider obsolete, but which carries and layers layers of beautiful tradition, ready to be translated into modernity.

 

 

1.      Paul, you initially studied Natural Sciences, before making a dramatic switch toward millinery. What inspired the change?

After University, I started working for one of the Big 4 accountancy firms but I wanted to do something creative in my free time. As I had made headpieces for Selina and other friends to wear to university balls and events, I did a millinery course at the London College of Fashion. Loving this, I went on to train under Rachel Trevor-Morgan, who holds a Royal Warrant for making hats for the Queen and then went on to my MA.

 

2.      Do you feel like your scientific training has somehow been useful in your career as a milliner?

It’s certainly useful to have an understanding of business management when starting a label. It’s just the two of us, so you Have to wear so many hats at the same time. I also have a very technical approach toward construction. I love working out new techniques when designing our collections.

 

3.      Selina, what fascinates you the most about hats?

When we started the business, I was a little concerned that we’d be entering an industry where everyone knows each other, and it’s a relatively limited market. I was really happy to find out how supportive an environment millinery is and the feeling of community about it. We all want people to wear more hats!

 

4.      What made you decide to leave a successful career in Digital - such an up-and-coming field - to dedicate yourself to something much more traditional such as hats?

Both mine and Paul’s parents had their own businesses in which they worked together and it got to the point that both Paul and I felt that we were ready to do the same. Millinery is a very traditional industry but we saw a real gap in the market for refined, minimal headwear that people our age would like to wear.

 

5.      Paul and Selina, why do you think women should wear hats, today?

Because the right hat makes you feel happy and confident. They’re a piece of clothing that you can use to attract attention or to hide beneath.

 

6.      What makes an intelligent, elegant, relevant hat?

Integrity of design and construction, a piece that inspires confidence in the wearer.

 

7.      Paul, what is your first memory of hats and what do hats represent for you?

The caps and boaters that we wore to infant school - of course, emblazoned with the school crest - a very prominent way of marking us as part of a group. So much of clothing is about self expression, and the head is the most impactful part of the body to adorn, with its position and importance in communication.

 

8.      What do you see in the future of millinery?

There’s a heritage of making that I hope will continue to be passed on - it’s a shame that even in the historically very short time that I’ve been making headwear how many blocking factories have gone out of business or traditional fabrics have stopped being made. Though I also think that all of fashion has to embrace change from technological and ethical standpoints and I hope that millinery is a part of this movement.

 

 9.  What would you like your contribution to be?

I’m content if I can make beautiful work, and hope that it makes people happy.

 

10.  Paul, what are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on a piece for a bride I know very well. It’s a privilege to be able to contribute to the most important occasions in people’s lives. Though I can’t share anything about the piece yet, her fiancee knows nothing about it.

Special thanks to Charlotte Berghman and the British Fashion Council.

Isosceles

INTERVIEW BY CARLOTTA BUOSI

Cicely Travers loves lingerie. And not just the mere though of having something beautiful hidden inside a drawer that never gets opened, but lingerie as a part of every-day dressing. Choosing knickers carefully, being mindful of the silhouette which suits you best can change the way you hold yourself, according with the British-born, Rome-based designer.  Through her brand, Isosceles, Cicely aims to create lingerie which flatters through clothing, where what’s underneath almost becomes more relevant than what’s supposed to cover it up. Or maybe enhance it? Just as the images from her latest campaign - shot by Amy Gwatkin - Cicely aims to break all stereotypes about lingerie by wearing it, showing, enjoying it and putting the whole process on Instagram, for women to be inspired. 

1. Cicely, what do you think women look for in their lingerie and can never quite find? 

I think women want everything from lingerie. Fit, beauty, comfort, flattering, sexy, seam- less. I believe women should have a range of well fitting lingerie and should choose the correct lingerie for the ensemble. 

2. What made you desire to create a beautiful but also functional lingerie line? 

it gives me great pleasure to design and create beautiful lingerie, but I want it to be worn rather than used once and left languishing in the drawer. It wouldn’t feel right for me to make something that doesn’t have longevity. 

3. How do you make lingerie iconic and what is iconic about Isosceles? 

I think that to make any brand iconic you have to adhere to your aesthetic and not pander to trends.You must write your own rules. What I try to do with Isosceles Lingerie is have a unique signature and stay true to that concept. 

4. Where does the design process start for you versus where does it take you in the end?

I start by sketching, I always have a notebook in case an idea pops into my head. I make a drawing and then I drape on the stand, cut out and make a prototype.There starts the process of trial and error. Sometimes I can spend anentire week on a pair of knickers that just wouldn’t work.

5. Multi-coloured lingerie: yes or no?
Definitely yes!But I appreciate that there is a place for the blacks, whites and beiges. 

6. Total white underwear: yes or no? 
Yes. I love white underwear, very sexy.

7. What are the biggest stereotypes around lingerie, in your opinion? 
Thongs are not comfortable. VPL is bad.Women need to where ’T- shirt’ bras.

8. How do you plan to break some of them, if any? 
I plan to break them all by wearing see through clothes and thongs, not wearing ’T- shirt’ bras and putting it all on Instagram. In fact, my new campaign has a female flashers theme: women exposing themselves in public. I find thatliberating. 

9. What do you want your women to feel when wearing Isosceles? 
Comfortable, confident and perky. 

10. What do you feel, wearing your pieces? 
Like I want to people to see them 

11. All of your pieces are made in the UK. Tell us more about this choice.
I work with a wonderful factory called AJM in Wales, which is in a region that used to have many lingerie factories that closed down. The clever owner, James,used to work there and when the other factories started closing down,he started his own one. I love to visit when getting my samples made and I know that the people that work there are paid properly and not being exploited. We need to come up with alternatives for fast fashion, it is polluting the world and killing people and its not sustainable. Society needs to be more aware of what goes into making clothes. 

10. What should we expect from Isosceles’ new collection? 

Im really excited about my new collection. I have added a few new pieces that are very playful and I am using a new fabric made in Italy with an incredible stretch ribbon from Japan. I am especially proud of the look book campaign shot by Amy Gwatkin and the video she made, which is beautiful and was so much fun to shoot. It is definitely my best work so far. 

11. What is that you love the most about your job? 

Im a lingerie addict so I love to rummage through flea markets in Rome, looking for vintage pieces of lingerie, trawling eBay for 90’s La Perla and - of course - calling it research. 

Special thanks to Charlotte Berghman and the British Fashion Council.

Bianca Saunders

INTERVIEW BY CARLOTTA BUOSI

 
 

Bianca Saunders is a Namesake brand. Essentially, it’s a concept. A new take on mens fashion, offering an alternative aesthetic.  

Bianca, who grew up in South East London, was always drawn to notice and understand the differences between all kinds of people surrounding her. Due to her own Jamaican heritage, the designer’s strongly influenced by the clash between British and Caribbean cultures, which she references plenty in her innovative work. Challenging the stereotypes of menswear clothing as well as evolving visual expectations are at the core of her design. Passionate about researching, Bianca is determined to somehow change people’s perspective, and she chose clothes are her preferred way to make a statement. 

 

1.    Bianca, you are a true Londoner. Would you say you’re mostly focused on what’s around you, when searching for inspiration, or instead look further away from your surroundings?

I definitely look at what’s around me forinspiration, taking my friends and family as references. People do say they get a real "London" feel from my work. Further away does not inspire me and I believe it’s nice that I can put my own identity into my work, so it is not so far removed from me.

 

2.    What would you describe as your main influences when it comes to your design?

A lot my influences come from conversations with my male friends and the ideas I get from their personal style. 

Now and again I go to art galleries. For example, Lorna Simpsons’ exhibition "Unanswerable" helped me rethink my own research for my SS19 collection “Gestures”. For this collectionI looked back at the mannerisms and gestures taken from my research for my final year of Masters at RCA, focused on a film titled " Personal Politics". The film looks closely at Black masculinity and challenges its stereotypes.

 

3.     How would you describe your style to someone who has never seen your work?

I create fashion that expresses and validates the ‘in-betweenness’, weaving subtle signifiers of femininity into an otherwise boldly masculine silhouette. 

 

4.    Why menswear?

Menswear is changing a lot and I realised how much more can be done, in terms of introducing new aesthetics. I find menswear more exciting as there are more codes you have to stick to. It’s about finding ways to readjust them. When I started, I soon realised how I tend to be drawn to looking at mens clothing for references or including men’s images in my research. Menswear seemed like the right switch. 

 

5.     Is there a message you wish to communicate through your design?

  Evolving visual expectations of gender and challenging stereotypes. Continuing the conversation and making sure my work is still as authentic as it was in the beginning. What drives me the most is my research, as well as opening up important discussions through my work. I feel like if my work doesn’t have that element it stops being special. 

 

6.    What do you expect from London Fashion Week Mens in January?

I think London Fashion Week Mens is a great place to be. It’s not so much about the hype of the bigger designers, but giving smaller designers like myself a chance to be seen. 

 

10.  And what should we expect from your AW19 collection in January?

 I am really excited and looking forward to it. Autumn/Winter is my favourite season to design for, as I am mostly drawn towards working with the heavier weighted fabrics. I do want to revisit my drape techniques and the ideas of expositing underwear as outwear. 

Special thanks to Charlotte Berghman and the British Fashion Council.