“Blink” Interviews: Li Edelkoort on her proudest moments

This is the final part of our interview with Lidewij Edelkoort, and I think that may be just as well as several people have asked me if I work for Li or if I have something to do with Trend Tablet. The answer to both of those questions is no- but only because I haven’t been asked!

In 2005, Aid to Artisans honoured Li with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2008, on behalf of the French Minister of Culture, Didier Grumbach, President of the French Fédération de la Couture, honoured Li by awarding her Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, amongst many other honours and awards so she has many, many amazing career highlights, so we were wondering if there was a moment that felt more significant than the others…

Blink”: The final question we have for you is to ask what has made you proudest in her career?

Lidewij Edelkoort: I have recently been awarded the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds prize in the Netherlands for outstanding contribution in the fields of design, fashion and trend forecasting, which was a wonderful surprise as they just turned up on my Amsterdam office’s doorstep with a film crew, unannounced, to give me the award. It feels like an incredibly important acknowledgement and validation for myself and also for my peers. One of the most significant aspects of this award is the ability to set up a foundation (The Prins Bernarhard Cultuurfonds prize awards €75,000.00 to the winner) and I’m just waiting for it to be put together. My plan is to create a ‘floating institute’ that could move from school to school, location to location, both literally and virtually.

Really, every day is a great career moment for me.

The work changes constantly. The diversity is a constant creative trigger. I’m never bored and for that I consider myself very lucky. Even if I’m traveling delivering the same trend lecture over and over, it changes thorough the impact of the location and the audience, which is an inspiration in itself.

We’re constantly looking at how we can deliver information in new ways, particularly in how we can reach emerging designers, small businesses and emerging countries. In this time of crisis, it’s important to offer that option, so we’ve created Trend Union Online Forecast; a more affordable, accessible, closer to the season option. We’ve also launched the Trend Letter, a sister service to Trend Tablet, which is a premium curated tool delivering a weekly input of inspiration, analyzing fashion shows and brand strategies, and noting the exhibitions, books and culture that will trigger trends.

Trend Union Online Fashion Forecast

Trend Union Online Fashion Forecast

“Blink” Interviews: Li Edelkoort on Technology

We hope that you enjoyed part 1 of our interview with Li Edelkoort. After discovering where Li finds inspiration, we turned to the subject of technology…

“Blink”: the way that we work at “Blink” is very different to how I was working as a designer and forecaster at the start of my career, and that is mainly due to new technology and the internet. How has technology impacted on the way that you work?

Li Edelkoort: access to the internet has hugely deepened the research factor. I really like it. For me it’s like walking along. You come across an image, which leads to a film, which then leads you on to a whole new subject. It is full of amazing traps and diversions.

It may save huge amounts of time, but it can also be very annoying because you just can’t stop!


It has also added wonderful new ways of working with our clients, and created new opportunities for us to share information and communicate our ideas. Last year we launched the Trend Tablet. Our aim was to make it a social website, like the Wikipedia of trends where everyone has the opportunity to contribute information. This free site is a place where you can see what the team are interested in and being influenced by, gaining an early insight into emerging trends, watching them evolve and grow. Trend Tablet has also linked in to Pinterest where we have set up some boards reflecting things that we are currently considering and discussing. Anyone can contribute to these boards by emailing us their images, adding to the social aspect of this part of our business.

design & photo by kathy klein

"In Circle(s)" design & photo by Kathy Klein, from 'Collages' on the Trend Tablet site, and also featured on the Pinterest board 'In Circles'

For our post about Trend Tablet, just click here. For more interview posts, click here.

Blink Interviews: Jason Kirk of Kirk Originals

I first met Jason Kirk when he had just launched his business, Kirk Originals– we were both very young! I was at Whistles and he came in to show us the collection. I recall seeing some really amazing frames. Brilliantly innovative shapes and materials that were super desirable. They made a great impression on me and I have been keeping a watchful eye on how Kirk Originals has been developing since then. I recently had the fortune to make contact with Jason again, through the wonder that is Twitter. I was delighted when Jason agreed to be interviewed by us. There are some fascinating insights into Kirk Originals and his approach to business. Thank you so much Jason.

Now over to Jason for some background on how Kirk Originals came to be, and then the inquisition…

Sidney (my grandfather) and Percy (his brother) Kirk were great innovators in the optical industry. In 1919 they turned a sewing machine into a lens cutter and within a few years they had factories in London and helped other people around them open factories so that London became a world centre of optical excellence. At the time, they were in Hatton Garden. My father was an optician, along with all his brothers and cousins but none of my generation was into it at all. It all seemed very dry and conservative until I discovered a stash of glasses that Sidney and Percy had designed in the ’50s and ’60s, beautiful upswept blues and greens. At the same time, I got made redundant by L’Oreal and used the small amount of money they gave me to make some new frames. It was around then that I met my future wife and business partner Karen, who is a graphic designer by trade, so we launched Kirk Originals together in 1992…..so next year is our 20th anniversary!

Tell us about your current design crush

Design can take itself too seriously sometimes so I enjoy the humour in say Ron Arad’s Rover Chair or Paul Smith‘s creativity.

Which comes first for you, personal style, the brands handwriting or trends?

Personal style, without any hesitation. A good designer’s handwriting should be obvious without any effort to make it so. It is always so dangerous to attempt to move with trends. Perhaps sometimes a personal interpretation of a trend but even that should happen naturally if you are tuned in to your target audience. We design what we love and what feels right to us. Usually we find some sort of parallel with the direction the market is taking but, more often than not, that is coincidence.

Do you think commerciality or creativity is the most important?

Creativity of course, but it is fascinating how commercial aspects impact on creativity. The obvious symptom is seeing design become banal because of commercial pressure to sell. We have always resisted this whatever the pressure. Our store on Conduit Street is not designed to sell ‘as many frames as possible’. We know it could be more commercial. It is designed (by Campaign Design who are superb by the way) to reflect our attitude to eyewear, to our profession and to creativity in general.

People come to Kirk Originals for something different. If we did bow to commercial pressure and design the same frames as everybody else then we would be relying on our brand name to sell our products…..that is just not our style. We have built up a great following that we value and appreciate but I doubt that any of those people buy our glasses because of our name. What we hope to achieve is enough loyalty for them to be interested in what we are doing each season and then, if our work merits it, they will buy from us again……and again……and again.

How does the idea of sustainability impact on your collection?

We study our products and our packaging very carefully for sustainability issues. Our chosen medium or the one in which we have the most experience, is plastic and, specifically in eyewear, this tends to be acetate. Re-cycled acetates are very limited at the moment, largely because production is dominated by a few giants but things will have to change.

Our SS2012 collection will be produced entirely in acrylic (shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone). This brings a whole new wealth of possibilities, especially in the ‘green’ arena. I believe we are the only people to be hand-making acrylic frames so this is a very exciting new venture.

What are you currently working on and how is it shaping up?

The next launch for us is a collection called BEAM and its sister collection SUNBEAM. They will be launched at London Fashion Week in September and at the SILMO optical show in Paris at the end of the month. We have been working on this for several years; frames hand made entirely from acrylic which is very light, easy to adjust and it has an amazing range of colours.

This bucks the trend of black and tortoise shell frames that has been stagnating for a while and, if I may loop back to an earlier question, this reflects a response to the economic environment. When things stated getting tough, eyewear went ‘simple’. “Retro” was all we heard for the last few years. I would visit opticians in Germany and Holland and see shops full of black and tortoise shell frames all looking like variations on the Wayfarer. Lazy design. Safe design.

I love retro styling and some of the most beautiful frames were designed in the 50s, 60s and 70s but STOP. How about that personal style that we were talking about before?

So getting back to the point, Sunbeam is our innovation to celebrate our 20th anniversary next year. Colours are bright. Shapes are big and bold. The finish actually looks like glass – very Kirk Originals.

What’s currently inspiring you?

Colour. It is often about an attitude or a state of mind than an object or movement for us. We need a little brightness in our lives, some celebration. Looks at the colours of an Ozwald Boateng or a Richard James suit, soak in the ambiance of Sketch. When you are dressed or surrounded by uplifting objects then you feel great. Our conversation with our clients is partly about how they look in their glasses but, more importantly, also how they FEEL in their glasses.

Has your business developed in the way that you anticipated?

Business never develops in the way you anticipate which is what makes it enjoyable. Karen and I still own 100% of the company so we can make our own decisions, right or wrong, and stand behind them.

We plan to open more stores in key fashion capitals and develop our retail strategy but we need to be a little more patient. We are very happy with where we are today and just as ambitious as we were twenty years ago.

How would you describe your brand’s design aesthetic?

Kirk Originals is all about self expression. Everybody is unique and so the challenge is how to express one’s individuality through eyewear. Then on top of that one’s mood is variable so…

By identifying key strands that run through our clients we can create certain key elements in our design that reflect the wearer; they are creative, individual, irreverent, independent, confident…and then we try to translate that into our design.

Interesting though when you compare what people spend on clothing to what they spend on eyewear. Often eyewear is an after thought, which makes no sense because the first and last thing that you see when you are with someone is their eyes. Take a look around you right now. I bet you can see people that spend a great deal of time choosing their wardrobe, investing in shoes but wearing functional eyewear. Bizarre. And so many of them only have one pair……..how many tops do you have? Good eyewear is an investment, like good shoes but it says so much about you (like shoes), not forgetting also the medical importance which I have not even mentioned.

What was your first fashion memory?

When I found Grandpa Sidney’s glasses back in 1992 I did not know much about the world of fashion and design. That was probably an advantage. I had no preconceptions and no hesitation about approaching anyone. In general people were very kind, welcoming, encouraging and willing to help.

As I strolled around London with a hitachi case full of specs, I met Helen Storey, Nick Coleman, Lucille at Whistles and everyone was very supportive. When we opened our store in Covent Garden I wrote to Paul Smith and asked him if I could meet him and just have a chat. He did not have a clue who I was but I got a positive reply and was invited over for breakfast.

This kind of support and encouragement goes a long way and I have never forgotten it.

What is currently tempting you into making a purchase?

I love Moods Of Norway, full of colour and exuberance, great suiting and knitwear.

What has been the biggest challenge for Kirk Originals?

Maintaining our principles when we could have gone more commercial. The very first time we did a show in New York I bumped into Barbara MacReynolds from LA Eyeworks in an antique store. Star struck, I went and introduced myself and asked if she could regale me with one piece of advice. And she did. “Stick to your principles” and perhaps that has been the single most valuable advice we have had.

We started off with £1500 of redundancy money from L’Oreal and we have never had any financial backing. That too has been challenging. We are driven, fiercely ambitious (I recommend  Eating The Big Fish by Adam Morgan) but we have maintained our design ethic and not sold out in order to satisfy any lust for growth or financial reward. Patience. Yes, staying patient is a challenge.

What advice would the you now give to the you who was just launching Kirk Originals?

Tough question. I could make you a long list of things that the text book would have had us do differently but then we are not a mainstream company and I think it is the difference that has contributed to our success. If I was to give advice to anyone starting a business it would be “listen. Listen to everyone”. You do not need to act on what people say but it is far better to learn from other people’s mistakes than your own!

What’s the best thing about your job?

There are so many good things. I work from home with Karen. I see my two boys all the time. I travel the world, work with fascinating people, design, create, set my own timetable and wake up itching to get on with it.

Any future projects that you’d like to tell us about?

We are studying a project to open more retail stores in major fashion venues at the moment. Other than that, we are concentrating on design.

Tell us about your most fabulous fashion moment

Winning a Silmo D’Or award for eyewear design was pretty special. Designing frames for ‘stars’ is always fun too. We don’t name drop but we have had the pleasure of designing for pretty much anyone at the top of the film or music business that you can think of.

Our proudest fashion moment must be when we designed a menswear clothing collection which was featured on the front cover of Menswear Buyer and got a spread inside.

I guess if you want something a little more fabulous how about designing the glasses for Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman’s character) in the Batman films.

Who would you love to work with, past or present?

It is always interesting to work with people from other disciplines who bring a fresh and open-minded approach.

I am often asked who would I like to put glasses on that we have not (yet) worked with. That is a little easier…….it is usually people that you never see wearing glasses like David Bowie – is that because he does not need them or he has never seen any that he likes? There is another challenge.

I feel most creative when…

I am in Japan. Yep. Strange but true. Stimulating, inspiring, amazing.

Any final word of advice?

Keep listening. Keep learning.

Jason Kirk of Kirk Originals

The Kirk Originals Conduit Street store

the 'Aretha' frame

the 'Sculpture' frame

the 'Sunbeam Spark' frame

Thanks again to Jason and also to Karen. Looking forward to seeing you at London Fashion Week.

If you’d like to read more inspirational interviews, just click here. If you’re interested in more posts featuring frames and shades, then click here. Enjoy!

Blink Inspiration: Vice Style Visionaries Part 3- Nick Knight

This is the third, and we think very possibly the most exciting of the Vice Style/ Blackberry ‘Visionaries’ series. We hope that you enjoyed our posts on Gareth Pugh and Diane Pernet from this series too.

Nick Knight is among the world’s most influential photographers as well as being Director & founder of SHOWstudio.com the fashion & art internet broadcasting channel.  He has won numerous awards for his editorial work for Vogue, Dazed & Confused, W magazine, i-D, and Visionaire, as well as for fashion and advertising projects for clients including Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen, Calvin Klein, Levi Strauss, Yohji Yamamoto and Yves Saint Laurent.

As a fashion photographer, Nick Knight has consistently challenged conventional notions of beauty.  His first book of photographs, skinheads, was published in 1982.  He has since produced Nicknight, a 12 year retrospective, and Flora, a series of flower pictures.  Knight’s work has been exhibited at such institutions as the Victoria & Albert Museum, Saatchi Gallery, the Photographers Gallery and Hayward Gallery and recently The Tate Modern.  He has produced a permanent installation, Plant Power, for the Natural History Museum in London.

In the video Knight speaks incredibly inspirationally and eloquently about fashion as an art form and the creative force that is Lady Gaga, as well as the current evolution/ revolution occurring within the way the fashion industry is communication and operating. Knight also talks about his respect for and working relationship with the Fashion Director at SHOWstudio, Alex Fury. Knight and Fury have been instrumental in changing the way that fashion is being communicated, particularly through the instantaneous reportage that they produce from the shows, featured on the SHOWstudio site.


Blink Interviews: Design Director of Cutler and Gross, Marie Wilkinson

A little while back, I had the good fortune to spend some time working for Cutler and Gross. It was a small diversion out of womenswear into the wonderful world of  glasses, and it was an experience that I treasure. Not only was it wonderful to work for such a well respected, design and quality oriented brand, the team there are a really special group of people. The atmosphere and ethos set by Tony Gross and Graham Cutler is core to this brands success. If you have never spent time in their Knightsbridge stores I urge you to do so.

Each pair of Cutler and Gross frames is entirely hand-made and follows in excess of 30 processes that have been set in place since the first pair was handcrafted in 1969. Until very recently, this took place above the Knightsbridge shop, but in 1982 manufacturing moved to the traditional sunglass manufacturing region of Cadore, Italy. The manufacturing process that Cutler and Gross specialize in is truly a labour of love, with each individual frame being treated as a bespoke creation that takes four weeks to handcraft.

Before the manufacturing process begins, enormous amounts of care and thought goes into the design. When Cutler and Gross started making frames in the 1960s inspiration came from a piece of furniture, a rare slice of film noir or an imaginary concept. Today, design is the responsibility of Design Director Marie Wilkinson, who joined the company in 1982 as an apprentice under Mr Cutler and Mr Gross. Marie expertly marries the heritage and history of Cutler and Gross with future trends. She works closely with Creative Director Monica Chong, and each season they work on themes and concepts for the new collections.

We recently caught up with Marie and we are extremely grateful that she agreed to answer some of our questions.

Tell us about your current design crush
Vidal Sassoon haircuts.

Which comes first for you, the brand’s own handwriting or trends?
The brand’s own handwriting comes first as I know from past experience, Cutler and Gross styles often set the trends.

Do you think commerciality or creativity is the most important?
I think commercial should mean that the glasses should appeal to a broad group of people and this in turn should feed  the creativity.

Does the idea of sustainability impact on your collection at all?
Yes , in that we have used  Vintage sheet acetate in our collections and we have even up-cycled unused stock acetate to create new sheets in a fabulous new tortoiseshell effect.

What are you currently working on and how is it shaping up?
I am working on Fall Winter 2012 ideas for our own collections and for Victoria Beckham’s collection.

What or who are your longest standing design influences?
Mr Cutler and Mr Gross

What’s currently inspiring you?
1950’s furniture with brass legs.

Has your role at Cutler and Gross developed in the way that you anticipated?
Beyond my wildest dreams!

How would you describe your personal design aesthetic?
Louise Brooks in a frock!

What was your first fashion memory?
The short A line mini dresses my impossibly glamorous Godmother wore when she came to our house for afternoon tea in the 1960’s.

Any advise on choosing the perfect frame?

Above all else the shape and the colour has to suit your face , your haircut and personality. Be honest with yourself and don’t just buy the latest ‘trend’. If your face suits ‘cat’s eyes’ only; embrace the cat!

What is currently tempting you into making a purchase?
Maison Martin Margiela with their fabulous furniture.

Sunglasses indoors… Fashion fabulous or fashion faux pas?
Fashion fabulous.

What’s the best thing about your job?
The opportunity to work with such huge creative talents.

Any future projects that you’d like to tell us about?
Designing exclusive glasses for the new Cutler and Gross showrooms in London, Toronto and New York that will be open by the end of this year.

What 3 words best describe what Cutler and Gross stand for?
Stylish, handmade, hand-polished.

Pencil and paper or computer and mouse?
Pencil and paper.

Tell us about your most fabulous fashion moment

The time when I went to Elton John’s home to show him the collection and he loved the glasses and personally made me tea, served in Versace tea cups. He is the most charming host.

Who would you love to work with, past or present?
Ann Demeulemeester.

I feel most creative when…
the sun is shining

Any final word of advice?
I think it is important to have a mentor.
I had the most wonderful mentors in Mr Cutler and Mr Gross, for which I am very grateful.

Marie Wilkinson, Design Director at Cutler and Gross

from the Spring Summer '11 collection, 'The Mermaid and the Officer'

from the Spring Summer '11 collection, 'The Mermaid and the Officer'

Tony Gross and Graham Cutler

Thanks again to Marie for the fabulous interview. If you’d like to read more inspirational interviews, just click here. Enjoy!

Blink Inspiration: Vice Style Visionaries Part 2- Diane Pernet

Following on from last week’s post about Gareth Pugh, we now have the next inspirational installment in the Blackberry/ Vice Style series for you…

Diane Pernet‘s impressive career spans fashion design, journalism and film-making, but she is foremost a cult fashion ‘curator’. When not in the front row at fashion week she can be found consulting and bestowing her revered judgement at various creative institutions globally. Her work on the web propelled her to the forefront of online fashion, as the driving force behind A Shaded View of Fashion. This blog, widely referred to as a ‘style bible’, is hailed as a platform giving young designers the opportunity to get the exposure they need, and its also the way that we first discovered Pernet and her unique take on the world of fashion.

Pernet was herself a fashion designer in the 80’s and edited numerous publications including Joyce, elle.com, vogueparis.com and Zoo over the years. As one of the first to champion fashion film, her own early lo-fi fashion film ventures were a landmark in the burgeoning medium of fashion film. In 2008 she founded the first ever fashion film festival, A Shaded View on Fashion Film Festival which recognizes the medium as an art form in its own right and is helping earn it the credibility it deserves. In the video she speaks passionately about her love of fashion film and her film festival. Pernet also praises the work of Stefan Siegel, who launched the brilliant designer platform, ‘Not Just a Label’ hwo has created the perfect on-line environment for new designers to gain global exposure.


Blink Interviews: Boys&Girls

As some of the most stylish folks I see these days are the offspring of some of my very stylish friends, I think its fair to say that fashion knows no age limits. We were really excited when we heard about a new British kidswear brand that combined brilliant aesthetics and a brilliantly ethical approach so it didn’t feel too much of a stretch to feature them on the blog.

Each garment is made using the highest quality organic (GOTS certified) and fairly traded (FLO certified) cotton for garments that are soft yet strong and easy care. A small section of the range is fully Fairtrade certified and carries the Fairtrade Mark, the aim being to eventually have an entirely Fairtrade certified range. The Boys&Girls ethos is ‘created with care’.
The Boys&Girls brand has steadily been building momentum since its launch and now has 50 stockists in the UK and Europe, a great blog as well as a Facebook page and a growing Twitter following. The full range is available from the Boys&Girls website.

We decided that we wanted to know more about this brand and its founders so we asked them for a quick interview…

So, what is the main inspiration behind launching ‘Boys and Girls’?
The inspiration behind Boys&Girls is to prove that ethical retailing can be mainstream, look really cool and need not be ‘green’ or ‘hippy’ just because it’s created with care.
We also feel there is a gap in the kidswear market for a more down-to-earth  British brand that is design-led and reflects today’s vibrant urban lifestyle– more parks and playgrounds than paddocks and ponies. We purposely use just normal kids (not models) to allow their individual personalities to shine through. Boys&Girls styles are comfy, practical and great everyday play clothes yet bright and attractive enough to wear to parties.

Why incorporate sustainability/ fair trade/ organic?
We really just feel it’s the right thing to do. The 3 of us have all worked with organic and Fairtrade manufacturing and it would have been hard to go back to working with conventional cotton again once you are aware of all the positive consequences using organic and Fairtrade manufacturing practices can bring.

Do you think sustainability, fairly traded or organically produced clothing should be a specific focus for kidswear?
We think it should be a specific focus for all clothing manufacturing.

Where do you look for inspiration for the collection?
We are lucky to be surrounded by endless sources of inspiration here in London’s East End– great markets, vintage stores and lots of interestingly dressed people. We always try and make sure our styles can fit the description of play clothes and so we do like retro sports clothes. We are also all about colour– we get very excited about colour palettes and the designs just seem to follow.

Have you considered recycling or upcycling with your products and packaging?
We do try and incorporate sustainable practices into anything we do where possible. So, for example, our paper mail bags are made in the UK from sustainably managed sources and are recyclable. We haven’t done any upcycling yet, but it is a great idea and definitely something for the future.

What is your dream for ‘Boys and Girls’ in 5 years time?
To be the No. 1 British brand for design-led and ethical kids clothes!

Who is the team behind ‘Boys and Girls’?
There are 3 of us in the Boys&Girls team all with a background in clothing retail, but luckily from different head-office roles; Buying, Merchandising and Design. Between us we have worked at some of the main high street retailers including, Topshop and BHS, but all met while working at the organic baby retailer, Green Baby.
However, there is also another Boys&Girls team as in all the various suppliers, free-lancers and friends that have helped us turn our original idea into the fledgling brand it is today and continue to offer their invaluable enthusiasm, support and advice.

What has been your favourite product so far?
I can’t decide between the yellow striped towelling sundress which makes every little girl look like a ray of sunshine, or the Out To Play sweat top which completely took us by surprise with its popularity and has now become instantly recognisable as Boys&Girls.

What additional challenges have you experienced with your decision to make the collection sustainable, fairly traded and organic?
It is a challenge for any start up clothing company to get off the ground due to small quantities being uneconomical and therefore unattractive to most manufacturers. This has been exacerbated recently by steeply rising fuel and cotton prices.
When you also throw into the mix organic and FLO cotton which has an extra cost and less availability it really does become even more challenging. Maintaining the ‘Fairtrade’ element of the range has proved to be the biggest struggle. In order for the cotton in a garment to be fully Fairtrade certified, it has to pass FLO certification at every stage of the supply chain – from the price paid for the cotton, to the ginners, the knitters, the dye house, etc all the way to the manufacturers. This is not as easy as it sounds for a small start-up company as most of these processors need to work with certain minimums of cloth in order for them to stay productive. For example, a FLO certified dye house does not stay open 24 hours a day meaning their employers all have to work overtime as most conventional dye houses do, so they need to reach optimum productivity during the hours they are open in order to remain profitable. Unfortunately we were unable to meet the minimums required by the FLO dye house on all but a small portion of our range and so although we have paid a fair price for the cotton, it cannot be fully Fairtrade certified as it didn’t manage to get FLO certification for this part of the supply chain.
The daily challenge for us therefore, is to continue to support the cotton farmers by buying the FLO cotton while trying to increase our sales and order quantities so that we can eventually have a completely Fairtrade certified range.

Well, we think that all the effort is worth it! Thanks to the Boys&Girls team for sparing us some time to give us the interview and we wish you the very best success with this brilliant brand.

Blink Interviews: Teatum Jones

We are very excited to share with you our latest fashion discovery. While at London Fashion Week we’re always on the look out for something that looks fresh and innovative. In September last year, that came in the form of the wonderful Felicity Brown (read her interview here), and this February, we came across Teatum Jones. It was a new name to us, and is perhaps also to you, but there is a growing excitement around this brand- and we feel sure that this is a name that will be on the top if many fashion editors and buyers wish list in the season’s ahead.

Catherine Teatum met Rob Jones while they worked together at John Richmond, where they discovered a shared creative passion driven by an edgy and sometimes sinister blend of romance and tragedy. Both designers are engaged with the concept of fashion embracing a story, and the stories that are subtly expressed though their use of silhouette and pattern are just incredible and fascinating.

Having decided to launch their own label, Teatum and Jones spent several years researching and developing their concept for a contemporary, relevant, refined and chic womenswear brand. After being selected as a Fashion Fringe finalist in 2009, they launched their debut collection for SS’11.

VOGUE.com: “Teatum Jones….build their own fashion picture, the result being a clever and tight collection…with lots of hidden details…the sorts of details that make a jacket sit just right, or a dress perfect to pose in” – Jessica Bumpus

So, here are their fascinating answers to our interview questions…

Do you think that wearability is more important than creativity?

Above all else, concept comes first. Without the concept hinging everything together from the top, you do not have a brand. Then what follows is an understanding of the need to have a commercial balance. From this understanding you’re able to structure a collection that satisfies the need for both creativity and wearability.

How would you describe your fashion aesthetic?

Effortless chic, honing the perfect balance between masculine and feminine and structure and fluidity.

Care to share any fashion don’ts or disasters?

Don’t drink three bottles of champagne and wear 9” heels. That should give some clue as a previously witnessed fashion disaster.

Which comes first for you, personal style or trends?

Personal style. Trends are transient, real style enjoys longevity because it expresses the integrity of your core character.

What or who are your longest standing design influences?

The human mind. We draw our biggest inspiration from how we emotionally react to different situations, subjects and other human beings.

What is currently tempting you into making a purchase?

The new iPad….damn those apple people….such a sexy consumer driven brand.

What’s the best fashion advice that you’ve ever been given?

Trust your gut instinct.

Can you share with us your most fabulous fashion moment?

When we met Janice Dickenson at the Designers Party during London fashion Week…we spotted her on the stairs and called out her name, she turned around and slurred an obscenity at us….it was perfect. It was exactly the greeting we were hoping for. She is beyond fashion fabulous. She is just fantastic.

Who would you love to work with, past or present?

We would have loved to work with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert throughout their reign. What they did for British Culture, and the Arts was phenomenal and we still benefit from it today.

Paper and pencil or computer and mouse?

One cannot exist without the other. When it comes to cutting, you cannot beat the nuance and detail in a handcrafted pattern yet what we can create on the computer for our prints is utterly limitless.

I feel most creative when…

Listening to something like Philip Glass and wandering through an exhibition in central London that has just sparked something and your heart starts to beat faster knowing that you have stumbled cross your next hook.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Knowing that everyday you’re waking up, making your way into a studio you love and getting that little bit closer to achieving your ultimate dream.  We’re incredibly privileged to be able to do what we love. Not everyone has that choice so we try to never to take anything for granted.

Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones

Teatum Jones, AW'11 Collection

Teatum Jones, AW'11 Collection

Teatum Jones, AW'11 Collection

Teatum Jones, AW'11 Collection

Thanks so much to Rob and Catherine for the time that they gave us to create this brilliant interview. I cannot wait to see how their brand develops.

If you’d like to read more of our inspirational interviews, just click here. Enjoy!

London College of Fashion Graduates: We spotlight Nicol Vizioli

Here is the forth and final  LCF MA graduate that we have selected to be showcased on the “Blink” blog. The work of Nicol Vizioli is just stupefyingly beautiful, while also holding a certain disturbing mood about them. They stood out amongst all of the other exceptionally brilliant Fashion Photography graduates for their darkness, the stark square presentation of them and the delicate fine art style execution. We are delighted to share some of our favourite images with you, as well as find out more about the artist herself.


Nicol was born in Rome. She started out as a painter and gradually her fascination for still images developed into a natural interest for photography.

While undertaking a degree in Cinema at University of Rome ‘La Sapienza‘, she wrote a dissertation on Floria Sigismondi that was published by Bulzoni, Rome, in 2008. In 2009 she decided to move to London where she recently completed a Master in Fashion Photography at The University of the Arts London.

Her work has been exhibited in Rome and London, and published in magazines such as Eyemazing. She has recently been shortlisted for the Sony World Photography Award 2011 and we have high hopes that she will be awarded a prize.


Over to Nicol to explain her work (which, I think you’ll agree, she has done very evocatively)…

The insight of this project, Shadows on Parade, draws upon many different places, such as mythology, literature, painting and the animal world: photography is therefore regarded as the convergence point, where all of them meet.

It is a series of portraits, shot on film. They are declinations of my imagery, desires, waits, silent attempts of redemption. Sometimes they are dreams, more often they are prayers.

The roots of this project are deeply connected with a precise idea of space and the experience in it, which is very close to P.Brook’s concept of theatre as ‘an empty space’: there is no emptiness or total absence of life, but a summary of all the choices and possibilities, from which life’s forms and shapes come from. There is no scenario: the possible reality for me is a black box, antechamber of desire, abyss. Due to the soft light, figures appear like a revelation and the rest remains wrapped in the deep darkness, in the mistery. Other two important aspects of this work are the isolation of the figure as a necessary condition, like in Francis Bacon’s paintings, and the use of an everyday dramatic light: the illuminated moment, like in Caravaggio.

Following the immense and unpredictable variety of human behaviour and physical shapes, I’ve worked with a wide range of human forms and different beauties. The casting was very instinctive but precise: twins, elderly, albinos or bald people…each of them was carefully chosen for this project. I wanted the idea of human completeness to disappear, photographing the discrepancy instead of the  person.

Sometimes it seems that they are waiting for something to happen. But what is really happening, or is going to happen, or sometimes has already happened, it is not a show.

The only so-called show is given by their stillness, like a frozen waiting, or the act itself… but they can only be produced in total absence of spectators. And there are no spectators here, only witnesses.

This project is still open for me.

What would your dream job be?

Creating images, no matter what medium or language I use. Meeting special creatures. Telling stories and be the listener of them.

Who or what has proven to be your longest standing inspiration?

The same old familiar places, such as the wood close to the place I grew up. Nature has always been my main source, is where I get lost and where I start again.

Instead of photography, what other creative discipline would you have chosen?

I’ve been painting and drawing for all my life, and then arrived photography… so I feel myself in both of them,. They influence each other in a natural, constant flow. But I am very fascinated by the moving image, I would like to experiment with video soon.

What is the most exciting thing that you learnt on your MA?

Confronting and questioning myself,  which was mainly what I was looking for when I entered the course.

What three words best sum up your aesthetic?

Suspended. Pale. Memory.

Shadows on Parade by Nicol Vizioli

Shadows on Parade by Nicol Vizioli

Shadows on Parade by Nicol Vizioli

So, thats it for this year’s graduates, but we feel sure that you will be reading about all four very soon as they embark on amazingly creative careers.

If you’d like to read more inspirational interviews, just click here. Enjoy!

London College of Fashion MA Graduates: We Spotlight Giovanni Martins

Here is the third in our four part series from the LCF‘s MA Graduate show. The ‘Fashion Photography’ students showed a really wonderfully diverse approach to the art of fashion photography. Some of the projects looked like glossy magazine editorial, others looked like works of fine art. And then there was the work of Giovanni Martins. We were struck by the incredibly accomplished feel to the video that he presented at Victoria House. It felt really exciting, energetic and really very striking. Thanks Giovanni, for the following insight into your vision…


I started out with a BA in  ‘Lifestyle & Design’ at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam where I completed 2 years, but as I wanted to pursue a Fashion photography career I started searching for other courses that would help me to achieve my goal. I found this in the MA in ‘Fashion Photography’ at the London College of Fashion. Looking at some of their successful alumni, I decided that this would be a course that could help me to realize my dreams.

My time at LCF was a big experiment, working with new techniques, people and fashion. I actually gained a deeper and better understanding of my work, and even more important, how to communicate my vision and my narrative through visual storytelling.


My final major project consisted of another experiment. I have a deep interest of mixing media, combined with the rise of fashion film, so I decided to try to take this medium to a new level. I searched for a technique that I wanted to explore and gain a deeper understanding in, and I found that in ‘Bullet Time Animation’.

In short, this technique consists of an array of 50 photo cameras, which are all synced up together, and are able to take images simultaneously. I worked with the amazing guys at Lumasol, who specialize in 360 degree photography. In post production, layering and morphing these images together, results in a full frozen in time and space 360 degree view (in film) of the model. This technique is perhaps best known part in creating some of the key visual effects in ‘The Matrix’ movie trilogy.

When commencing work on this project, I started to research the Surrealist movement, as the surrealists were at the creative cutting edge in their time as well, trying to utilize new techniques in order to visualize their film based storytelling. I ended up with a 5 minute Fashion photography related moving editorial, inspired by ‘Le Manifeste du Surrealisme’ (1924 Andre Breton) as well as other diverse surrealist movies, such as ‘Blood of a Poet’ and ‘Un Chien d’andalou’.

Styling included avant garde couture pieces from designers such as Iris van Herpen (Dutch Design award winner) as well as Jan Taminiau, Una Burke, Emma Griffiths and ‘wearable works of art’ from Bibi van der Velden’s latest collection called ‘Sphere’.

The film, called ‘Manifesto’ received amazing feedback and is up for selection at some exciting film festivals, which i can reveal more about in a while…

What would your dream job be?

An internationally renowned high end fashion photographer working with Tom Ford, Lanvin, Gucci

Who or what has proven to be your longest standing inspiration?

Viktor & Rolf hands down.

These 2 dutch designers set the fashion world up side down with their elaborate catwalk presentations and perfectly executed mind-blowing concepts. Every show is a major inspiration for me, and would love to shoot their designs!

If not fashion photography and video art (is that even the right term for what you do?), what other creative discipline would you have chosen?

As mixed media is all a big blur, I think I would stay in the same disciplines, blurring boundaries of photography, film, animation and graphic design.

Can you see your skill set and style being utilized within the fashion market?

Currently I have some interesting projects running, so be on the lookout you might see my name pop up in place you would, and also would never expect!

What is the most exciting thing that you learnt on your MA?

Not so much in terms of ‘learning’ rather than that my Masters really functioned well as a catalyst in order to push my boundaries and take me and my work to the next level.

What three words best sum up your aesthetic?

Avant-garde, sexy, chic





Thanks so much to Giovanni for the time that he gave us, and do click here for interviews with other creatives who we find inspiring. Enjoy!