Alice Lee S/S 2012 by Gemma Cotterell
The Vauxhall Fashion Scout ‘Ones to Watch‘ show is undoubtedly one of the highlights on the London Fashion Week calendar. It’s an opportunity for new designers to present their work, hand-picked because of their extraordinary designs, and for us fashion-hungry fans to witness the best of new talent.
For S/S 2012, design team, and in-real-life husband and wife, Lee Farmer and Alice Smith were chosen to showcase their collection. They had already received recognition for their work. In 2002, they had won the New Generation Sponsorship, and had previously received orders from Browns and Harrods. They re-launched Alice Lee as part of the VFS line up, after taking some time out from the label to focus on their family.
A/W 2012 Sketch courtesy of Alice Lee
Alice Lee is all about exceptional knitwear – a mix of intricate designs that for S/S 2012 were woven with strips of leather, in a simple palette of white, pale green, black and a splash of red. The collection was formed of modern shapes – deep cut and body con dresses, knitted trousers and varying hemlines, with a refined finish and detailing. There was an element of the futuristic to this collection, and I can remember Georgia Tackac’s review of the VFS ‘Ones to Watch‘ show, where she compared the Alice Lee collection to something Princess Leia would have had in her costume wardrobe.
I spoke to Alice a few days before the chaos of LFW started, about inspirations, the new collection and the dominance of knitwear.
What impact did being chosen as one of Vauxhall Fashion’s Scout’s ‘Ones to Watch‘ last year have?
We got to do a catwalk show and got some good press then this led to orders, so in all a very good impact from being named as one of Vauxhall Fashion Scout’s Ones to Watch. From this we were chosen as one of the 5 Womenswear designers selected by Selfridges for their Bright Young Things project. This came hand in hand with an order for S/S 2012, and a window display for 2 months. This was an amazing opportunity to display the pieces in a way we wanted, and get the public to see our designs on Oxford Street, with it’s 1 million people a day passing by Selfridges.
A/W 2012 Coil Dress Fitting courtesy of Alice Lee
What have you been up to since then?
Since then we have been working on the orders we have received, which we made this time in our studio, as well as working on our window for Selfridges. We’re now working on our A/W 2012 collection.
A/W 2012 Dress Sketch courtesy of Alice Lee
What can we expect from your new collection?
We have been thinking about colours for winter. We do love black, but have just added a splash of colour here and there. There are some longer lengths in the dresses, and skirts. We have some outerwear with fur, faux of course as we never use real fur, or sheepskin. It’s just not our cup of tea.
Alice Lee S/S 2012 by Kris Keys
What were the inspirations and influences?
Many, too many to put down. A feeling from a poem by Dante. A feeling of being protected and armoured, and a continuation of the leather work combined with knitwear that we started to develop for S/S 2012.
Can you explain a little about your passion for design, and explain how you moved into fashion design.
Alice – I always loved making things and sewing as a child. I come from an ‘arty’ family, my dad is a photographer and my mom is a fashion designer, so I was inspired by them. Also I grew up from the age if 10 to 14 in a travelling theatre company touring Europe, with my dad, so I was surrounded by things and people that inspired and nurtured my creativity.
Alice Lee A/W 2012 Dress Sketch
Can you tell me a little about the process of your designs – perhaps a little about the materials and techniques that are used?
Well we both work through the ideas together, but Lee is more of the sketcher and I’m more of the knitter. So I knit swatches and Lee sketches. Then as are doing this we try shapes out on the mannequin, see what works then we usually go from that stage in to knitting the garment. At the moment we are using all natural yarns for winter, mostly wool and then hand threaded and stitched with leather stripes. A very time consuming process but we think it’s worth it. All pieces are hand made and fully fashioned.
You put the label on hold for a while to focus on family. How are you finding the balance with working now, especially with the lead up to LFW?
Well we have two children, so it is quite a juggling act. They are at nursery and school now so we have time to work. But they do come to the studio sometimes.
Can you explain why knitwear is such an integral part of your label?
It just kind of happened that way. I did my degree and MA in fashion knitwear. Also it’s probably a lot to do with making our own fabric from a cone of yarn and being able to knit it in to any shape and form we want to. Also the embellishment is very prominent. It’s very 3D, from the stitches to the end shape of the garment. We like to make something truly our own and with knitwear you can do.
- Alice Lee: London Fashion Week A/W 2012 Catwalk Review
- Taylor Made Menagerie
- London Fashion Week A/W 2011 Catwalk Review: Alice Palmer
- Pre-LFW interview: Ada Zanditon
- An interview with Accessory Designer Hope Von Joel from Eye of the World Designs