Friday, 24 October 2008

Hand Spun and Hand Woven

The Eco- Fashion pioneer took a little time out from saving sheep and the UK woolen industry to discuss her collections, influence and her New Year project, Grand Knit with lily Cole.

Izzy Lane’s A/W Collection 08 is a set of beautiful garments, all with a bittersweet story to tell. Collective heritage, brought back from the brink.

Izzy Lane has been woven from a long love with both clothes and animals. “ I always wanted Izzy Lane to be an animal centric label. I have been witnessing the maltreatment of animals for 40 years and now I want to give those animals a voice”.

Having recently won the 2008 ethical business award, Isobel enthuses about her ethos and collections, “ I agree that we should be boycotting throwaway fashion, in the past 20 to 30 years we have been frivolous. We are witnessing a credit crunch, but also a crunch up of our values. We will witness soon a revolution in spending habits.”

Like predecessors Vivienne Westwood and her Harris Tweed, Katherine Hamnett and organic cotton, Isobel Davies is now following the wool pack in hoping to save the final strands of the UK wool industry. “ It is in its early stages but I am hoping to salvage and preserve the last Victorian weaver mill in Scotland. We have moved Izzy Lane’s production up to the mill with the intention of buying.”

Alongside this, the company is collaborating with Lily Cole on a range of British wool sweaters named Grand Knit. All hand woven by the nana of your choice, just choose the pattern and colour and Mavis will sow her name into the label. The personal touch.

And look out for the A/W beautiful cardigans, wraps and vegetarian knee length shoes.

“ I take ideas from nature, without exploiting nature”.

Fashion with ethics. Stitching up society.

Spun from a different yarn...

In 2008, Britain seems to be witnessing a roots revival. Eco chic has high prominence in the autumn/ winter collections 08 ; with Dame Westwood reaching for a slice of childhood imagination in her latest jungle dwelling/ eco-warrior look and Eco- fashion pioneer Katherine E. Hamnett having campaigned for a quarter of a century to bring organic cotton to the mainstream UK market, has succeeded with a groundbreaking deal with Tesco. Hand make and don’t waste seems to be the new mantra of the millennium and with everyone following Lily Cole’s green fingerprints in reaching for Nana’s knitting needles and 60s dress patterns, being a Recessionista has never felt so good.

I talked to designer Jennifer Ambrose, founder of the Enamore hemp clothing line on the ‘best of british’ and the forgotten art of creating clothes.

Enamore for Enamore?

Think bedrock meets Burlesque. A politically correct Betty Boop.
The designs are beautiful, twisting the ethical ethos into something personal, hand tailored and appealing to the eye. Soft bras and knickers made from a soft bamboo jersey, candy pink satin bows and organic stretch silk. Unique dresses made to order in polka dot, geometric and floral prints. Strawberry Boleros, palooza garters and vintage tulip dresses. Limited edition and made especially for you. Sourced, stitched, constructed and sent in 21 days. Oh and all on a clear conscience.

Founder Jennifer Ambrose took half an hour out of her hectic schedule to talk to me over a quick cup of tea, green that is. The clothing line starting in 2004 and has continued to grow, leaving its roots now firmly established, leading to the recognition of a 2008 green web award. Yet it hasn’t been an all round flowery experience.

“ I started from scratch and from the age of 23 I began to teach myself the techniques of sowing, stitching, weaving and sourcing. I was doing 50 hour weeks ; juggling learning how to design with three low paid jobs”.

Yet Ambrose works with fashion and textile graduates from all over the UK and enables them to see the textile industry from within. “Eco fashion is a huge part of our future and self-taught education is the key” says Jenny.

She is clearly happy as she boasts about her array of helpers, yet her tone changes when we broach university fashion courses. “ My students are surprised when they realise I haven’t been to University. I feel they cloud the perceptions of the fashion industry. Everyone strives for the high designer positions, yet the UK industry needs pattern cutters and machinists. it’s a crying shame.”

So what does Ambrose hope to see in the budding fashionistas of the future? “Hopefully the next generation will be taking all lines of jobs and kicking up a fuss about environmental policies.”
And what can we hope to see from her? “ I am still a tiny company behind the online illusions. Yet for the A/W collection I want to work with hemp wool creating sexy tailored jackets, with a lady Penelope theme. Heritage with my own twist”.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Art you really surprised? For we are just two lost souls living in a fishbowl...

Banksy: Not one to sweep issues under the carpet

Pure genuis. Whilst politicians plunder in presenting any ecological, sustainable bill as an umbrella for the current climate; along comes our very own Bristolian Banksy with his bold tactfulness. Imfamous for his socio-political street art, the ambigious artiste's latest exhibition is, ahem, a pet shop in central New York. His reason?

" New Yorkers don't care about art, they care about pets. So I am exhibiting them instead."

Yet these are no cute Andrex puppies. Floating fish fingers, Chicken Nuggets in a pen pecking, um, tomato sauce and hot Dogs under a heated survelliance CCTV camera. As usual, his magic finger has led to his medicine being a bitter pill to swallow.

" I wanted to make art that questioned our relationship with animals and the ethics and sustainablility of factory farming but it ended up as chicken nuggets singing".

An artificial microcosm with a authentic moral undertone.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Protecting your Own.

Harvest the Festival.
Skip down country lane, feel the rush of cold air and imagine the rustic, raw canvas.
Izzy Lane's Autumn/Winter collection O8 is rural and simultaneously kind of kitch. The collection evokes frosty imagery of the English Rose blooming in the sophisticated tailored tweed. Tailored lapels, high waisted pencil skirts, finely constructed knit jerseys and the male collection also have an appeal.
Cold yet collected.

Each is a beautiful garment with a bittersweet story to tell. Youthful innocence seems to be encapsulated within the design. The warp and weft retreating back to the olde english culture. Collected Heritage, brought back from the brink.

Wensleydale.Shetland.Cashmere. Natural.

Chesnut. Magenta.Hopsack.

Find your trilby and blow the whistle on these timeless home-grown pieces.