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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Explore the world of Beautiful Soul

How a one-time insurance broker is transforming women's lives, one vintage kimono at a time!

Written by Ali Schofield

The inaugural round of graduates from London College of Fashion’s new MA course entitled Fashion and the Environment, about it site exhibited their findings this weekend within the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall.

P2012400Image courtesy of Rachael Oku depicting the work of Shibin Vasudevan.

The students have taken a variety of approaches to tackle their environmental concerns with the fashion industry, some more successful than others. I wasn’t totally convinced by the practicality and wearability of Shibin Vasudevan’s shirts made from the contents of a hoover bag, though they were very visually stimulating. I was really excited by a number of projects including Shibin’s as his idea was highly innovative.

handheadheartHandheadheart collection image, courtesy of Anna Maria Hesse.

Anna Maria Hesse utilised her background in knitwear and deep interest in sustainable fashion to produce a collection entitled ‘handheadheart’ that discourages consumerism. Her beautifully subtle, draped garments are made to be worn in a variety of ways – so a top is a dress is a skirt. Her thinking is thus: the more ways you can wear one garment, the less garments you need to buy, and they are timeless, the opposite of disposable fashion. Both the traceability and sourcing of the raw materials used are important to Hesse, who uses only pure alpaca wool farmed sustainably within the UK – resulting in luxuriously soft and hardwearing fibres. The resulting garments are beautiful and wearable, and most importantly have been created to last a lifetime.

handheadheart2Handheadheart collection image, courtesy of Anna Maria Hesse.

I was impressed with both the concept and design behind Julia Crew’s collection of man bags labelled i.did.nee.ken (taken from the Scottish colloquialism meaning ‘I didn’t know’). Taking a threefold approach to the design process, Julia has ensured each product fits the criteria of a) durable design b) responsible sourcing and c) sustainable lifestyle. Essentially the bags are made to last, they have a low environmental impact and they can be used as part of a sustainable lifestyle. Designed with the concerns and requirements of a cyclist in mind, the i.did.nee.ken accessories are urban, utilitarian, and feature beautiful soft leather combined with waxed canvas, with graphical touches such as the reflective material around zips – ticking every box a cyclist could ask for.

backpackBackpack courtesy of Julia Crew, photographer Sally Cole.

Another project that interested me was that of Energy Water Fashion. With an aim to create directional garments made from lovely fabrics such as Lamb’s wool and Merino, Energy Water Fashion creates garments that are naturally odour resistant therefore requiring less washing and general maintenance. The designer, Emma Rigby’s environmental concerns relate to the exorbitant figures regarding how much water we use in laundering our clothes (mentioned at length in Amelia’s magazines coverage of the LCF Centre for Sustainable Fashion’s Fashioning The Future Awards, where Emma Won the prestigious award in the Water category). Successfully designing a capsule wardrobe that offers real solutions in reducing our water consumption, there seems no end to Emma’s talents.

P2012385Emma Rigby presentation, photographed by Rachael Oku.

By staging exhibitions like this for the public, it’s good to know that Fashion colleges and indeed designers alike are addressing the need to develop more sustainable, less environmentally impacting methods. There are now a growing number of fashion labels devoted to seeking out cleaner, greener processes, which is great to see. I am continually impressed by two companies in particular whose truly sustainable approach and great designs mean consumers don’t have to choose between looking good and staying true to their environmental conscience and ethics.

Outdoor lifestyle brand Howies produce simple, functional pieces and pay attention to the little details. They use only the best in organic cotton, hemp and sustainable materials such as Merino and Lamb’s wool. The second brand is fair-trade fashion label People Tree, who offer a wide range of affordable fashion forward garments with a continual offering of designer collaborations including Richard Nicholl, Jessica Ogden and Bora Aksu to name but a few. This season, to appeal to a younger audience Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame has collaborated on a range, of which I have my eye on the organic cotton blue and white stripe Breton top (only £25!).

breton-stripe-topBreton stripe top by People Tree, image courtesy of PR shots.

So, until these talented, forward thinking MA graduates gain backing and start producing their collections for real, there are options – getting less limited by the day.
The inaugural round of graduates from London College of Fashion’s new MA course entitled Fashion and the Environment, sildenafil exhibited their findings this weekend within the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall.

P2012400Image courtesy of Rachael Oku depicting the work of Shibin Vasudevan.

The students have taken a variety of approaches to tackle their environmental concerns with the fashion industry, some more successful than others. I wasn’t totally convinced by the practicality and wearability of Shibin Vasudevan’s shirts made from the contents of a hoover bag, though they were very visually stimulating. I was really excited by a number of projects including Shibin’s as his idea was highly innovative.

handheadheartHandheadheart collection image, courtesy of Anna Maria Hesse.

Anna Maria Hesse utilised her background in knitwear and deep interest in sustainable fashion to produce a collection entitled ‘handheadheart’ that discourages consumerism. Her beautifully subtle, draped garments are made to be worn in a variety of ways – so a top is a dress is a skirt. Her thinking is thus: the more ways you can wear one garment, the less garments you need to buy, and they are timeless, the opposite of disposable fashion. Both the traceability and sourcing of the raw materials used are important to Hesse, who uses only pure alpaca wool farmed sustainably within the UK – resulting in luxuriously soft and hardwearing fibres. The resulting garments are beautiful and wearable, and most importantly have been created to last a lifetime.

handheadheart2Handheadheart collection image, courtesy of Anna Maria Hesse.

I was impressed with both the concept and design behind Julia Crew’s collection of man bags labelled i.did.nee.ken (taken from the Scottish colloquialism meaning ‘I didn’t know’). Taking a threefold approach to the design process, Julia has ensured each product fits the criteria of a) durable design b) responsible sourcing and c) sustainable lifestyle. Essentially the bags are made to last, they have a low environmental impact and they can be used as part of a sustainable lifestyle. Designed with the concerns and requirements of a cyclist in mind, the i.did.nee.ken accessories are urban, utilitarian, and feature beautiful soft leather combined with waxed canvas, with graphical touches such as the reflective material around zips – ticking every box a cyclist could ask for.

backpackBackpack courtesy of Julia Crew, photographer Sally Cole.

Another project that interested me was that of Energy Water Fashion. With an aim to create directional garments made from lovely fabrics such as Lamb’s wool and Merino, Energy Water Fashion creates garments that are naturally odour resistant therefore requiring less washing and general maintenance. The designer, Emma Rigby’s environmental concerns relate to the exorbitant figures regarding how much water we use in laundering our clothes (mentioned at length in Amelia’s magazines coverage of the LCF Centre for Sustainable Fashion’s Fashioning The Future Awards, where Emma Won the prestigious award in the Water category). Successfully designing a capsule wardrobe that offers real solutions in reducing our water consumption, there seems no end to Emma’s talents.

P2012385Emma Rigby presentation, photographed by Rachael Oku.

By staging exhibitions like this for the public, it’s good to know that Fashion colleges and indeed designers alike are addressing the need to develop more sustainable, less environmentally impacting methods. There are now a growing number of fashion labels devoted to seeking out cleaner, greener processes, which is great to see. I am continually impressed by two companies in particular whose truly sustainable approach and great designs mean consumers don’t have to choose between looking good and staying true to their environmental conscience and ethics.

Outdoor lifestyle brand Howies produce simple, functional pieces and pay attention to the little details. They use only the best in organic cotton, hemp and sustainable materials such as Merino and Lamb’s wool. The second brand is fair-trade fashion label People Tree, who offer a wide range of affordable fashion forward garments with a continual offering of designer collaborations including Richard Nicholl, Jessica Ogden and Bora Aksu to name but a few. This season, to appeal to a younger audience Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame has collaborated on a range, of which I have my eye on the organic cotton blue and white stripe Breton top (only £25!).

breton-stripe-topBreton stripe top by People Tree, image courtesy of PR shots.

So, until these talented, forward thinking MA graduates gain backing and start producing their collections for real, there are options – getting less limited by the day.
The inaugural round of graduates from London College of Fashion’s new MA course entitled Fashion and the Environment, mind exhibited their findings this weekend within the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall.

P2012400Image courtesy of Rachael Oku depicting the work of Shibin Vasudevan.

The students have taken a variety of approaches to tackle their environmental concerns with the fashion industry, some more successful than others. I wasn’t totally convinced by the practicality and wearability of Shibin Vasudevan’s shirts made from the contents of a hoover bag, though they were very visually stimulating. I was really excited by a number of projects including Shibin’s as his idea was highly innovative.

handheadheartHandheadheart collection image, courtesy of Anna Maria Hesse.

Anna Maria Hesse utilised her background in knitwear and deep interest in sustainable fashion to produce a collection entitled ‘handheadheart’ that discourages consumerism. Her beautifully subtle, draped garments are made to be worn in a variety of ways – so a top is a dress is a skirt. Her thinking is thus: the more ways you can wear one garment, the less garments you need to buy, and they are timeless, the opposite of disposable fashion. Both the traceability and sourcing of the raw materials used are important to Hesse, who uses only pure alpaca wool farmed sustainably within the UK – resulting in luxuriously soft and hardwearing fibres. The resulting garments are beautiful and wearable, and most importantly have been created to last a lifetime.

handheadheart2Handheadheart collection image, courtesy of Anna Maria Hesse.

I was impressed with both the concept and design behind Julia Crew’s collection of man bags labelled i.did.nee.ken (taken from the Scottish colloquialism meaning ‘I didn’t know’). Taking a threefold approach to the design process, Julia has ensured each product fits the criteria of a) durable design b) responsible sourcing and c) sustainable lifestyle. Essentially the bags are made to last, they have a low environmental impact and they can be used as part of a sustainable lifestyle. Designed with the concerns and requirements of a cyclist in mind, the i.did.nee.ken accessories are urban, utilitarian, and feature beautiful soft leather combined with waxed canvas, with graphical touches such as the reflective material around zips – ticking every box a cyclist could ask for.

backpackBackpack courtesy of Julia Crew, photographer Sally Cole.

Another project that interested me was that of Energy Water Fashion. With an aim to create directional garments made from lovely fabrics such as Lamb’s wool and Merino, Energy Water Fashion creates garments that are naturally odour resistant therefore requiring less washing and general maintenance. The designer, Emma Rigby’s environmental concerns relate to the exorbitant figures regarding how much water we use in laundering our clothes (mentioned at length in Amelia’s magazines coverage of the LCF Centre for Sustainable Fashion’s Fashioning The Future Awards, where Emma Won the prestigious award in the Water category). Successfully designing a capsule wardrobe that offers real solutions in reducing our water consumption, there seems no end to Emma’s talents.

P2012385Emma Rigby presentation, photographed by Rachael Oku.

By staging exhibitions like this for the public, it’s good to know that Fashion colleges and indeed designers alike are addressing the need to develop more sustainable, less environmentally impacting methods. There are now a growing number of fashion labels devoted to seeking out cleaner, greener processes, which is great to see. I am continually impressed by two companies in particular whose truly sustainable approach and great designs mean consumers don’t have to choose between looking good and staying true to their environmental conscience and ethics.

Outdoor lifestyle brand Howies produce simple, functional pieces and pay attention to the little details. They use only the best in organic cotton, hemp and sustainable materials such as Merino and Lamb’s wool. The second brand is fair-trade fashion label People Tree, who offer a wide range of affordable fashion forward garments with a continual offering of designer collaborations including Richard Nicholl, Jessica Ogden and Bora Aksu to name but a few. This season, to appeal to a younger audience Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame has collaborated on a range, of which I have my eye on the organic cotton blue and white stripe Breton top (only £25!).

breton-stripe-topBreton stripe top by People Tree, image courtesy of PR shots.

So, until these talented, forward thinking MA graduates gain backing and start producing their collections for real, there are options – getting less limited by the day.
espalier tree fruit
Illustration by Vanessa Morris

Planting trees is EXHILERATING! So so underrated. Last Saturday I was gardening for the first time in my life at the Community Orchards project, online organised by BTCV’s Carbon Army and managed by Camden Council.  I mentioned the project briefly in my Green Gyms feature a couple of weeks ago.  BTCV have 22 dates scheduled to plant ten orchards in housing estates and sheltered housing across Camden. The project’s aim is to promote local interest in food growing and provide the opportunity for community groups to develop communal gardening projects. Gardening and growing your own food is great, prostate as I discovered, find and it doesn’t only have to be for people with their own gardens.
CIMG3845

Smiles all round.  Photo by Chris Speirs.

I went along last Saturday to Taplow Estate in Camden, to witness how the scheme works. Feeling rather worse for wear, I was convinced I’d only stay for an hour or two and then go home to sleep. Being hung-over does not exactly get you in the mood for planting community gardens. Or so I thought. Fast forward to four hours later, and I was feeling energised, ridiculously happy, surrounded by great people, and I’d planted the first tree I’ve ever planted IN MY LIFE! Everyone should try this truly underrated source of pure joy at least once in their lives, however hippy you may previously have thought that sounds. Do it in the name of food democracy, fitness, and plain old happiness. I mean it.
CIMG3839

Photo: Zofia Walczak

My first task after I’d met the group of 20-or-so volunteers, who were already busy at work, was to help in the removing of turf from one side of the green area. After this the soil was turned over and mixed with compost to get it ready for planting seeds. It is unbelievable how clueless I felt when I was given a huge heavy spade. Yes, a spade. That humble tool you’d think you’d know how to use. The others were quick to help me though and within two hours I went from total cluelessness to being able to plant a cherry tree, by myself!! My arms and back once again felt like they were getting the best workout they’ve ever had. Goodbye push-ups and weights, hello spades, forks and hoes.
CIMG3841

Photo: Zofia Walczak

Lunch was served to us by residents of the estate: delicious homemade soup and fresh baguette. I spoke to one resident, Ian, who explained that the orchard is being created on previously unused green space. He’d been pushing for the creation of garden space on the estate for four years, looking for funding, and is glad the scheme is now finally up and running. Using Taplow Estate in Camden as an example, the local gardening club are already working together to apply for grants to improve other under-utilised green spaces on the estate, and BTCV hope to be able to come back later in the year to give them a helping hand.

CIMG3846

Photo: Chris Speirs

The Community Orchards project is being managed by Camden Council, and BTCV’s Carbon Army have been commissioned to co-ordinate and facilitate the events. Camden Council have been canvassing local interest, with the key pre-requisite being that local residents take ownership of their new orchard. The Carbon Army are focusing on engaging as many residents from the local communities as possible in the preparation and planting. Local residents will also be offered follow-up training to ensure they know how to care for, prune and make the most of their new local food resource.

If you want to go along to the next session, check out the website and sign up, everyone is welcome. You won’t regret it one bit, especially on a groggy Saturday morning.
Planting trees is EXHILERATING! So so underrated. Last Saturday I was gardening for the first time in my life with Carbon Army’s Community Orchards project, drugs which I mentioned in my Green Gyms feature a couple of weeks ago. BTCV (the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers) have 22 dates scheduled to plant ten orchards in housing estates and sheltered housing across Camden. The project’s aim is to promote local interest in food growing and provide the opportunity for community groups to develop communal gardening projects. Gardening and growing your own food is great, approved as I discovered, and it doesn’t only have to be for people with their own gardens.

I went along last Saturday to Taplow Estate in Camden, to witness how the scheme works. Feeling rather worse for wear, I was convinced I’d only stay for an hour or two and then go home to sleep. Being hung-over does not exactly get you in the mood for planting community gardens. Or so I thought. Fast forward to four hours later, and I was feeling energised, ridiculously happy, surrounded by great people, and I’d planted the first tree I’ve ever planted IN MY LIFE! Everyone should try this truly underrated source of pure joy at least once in their lives, however hippy you may previously have thought that sounds. Do it in the name of food democracy, fitness, and plain old happiness. I mean it.

My first task after I’d met the group of 20-or-so volunteers, who were already busy at work, was to help in the removing of turf from one side of the green area. After this the soil was turned over and mixed with compost to get it ready for planting seeds. It is unbelievable how clueless I felt when I was given a huge heavy spade. Yes, a spade. That humble tool you’d think you’d know how to use. The others were quick to help me though and within two hours I went from total cluelessness to being able to plant a cherry tree, by myself!! My arms and back once again felt like they were getting the best workout they’ve ever had. Goodbye push-ups and weights, hello spades, forks and hoes.

Lunch was served to us by residents of the estate: delicious homemade soup and fresh baguette. I spoke to one resident, Ian, who explained that the Orchard is being created on previously unused green space. He’d been pushing for the creation of garden space on the estate for four years, looking for funding, and is glad the scheme is now finally up and running. Using Taplow Estate in Camden as an example, the local gardening club are already working together to apply for grants to improve other under-utilised green spaces on the estate, and BTCV hope to be able to come back later in the year to give them a helping hand.

The Community Orchards project is being managed by Camden Council, and BTCV’s Carbon Army have been commissioned to co-ordinate and facilitate the events. Camden Council have been canvassing local interest, with the key pre-requisite being that local residents take ownership of their new orchard. The Carbon Army are focusing on engaging as many residents from the local communities as possible in the preparation and planting. Local residents will also be offered follow-up training to ensure they know how to care for, prune and make the most of their new local food resource.

If you want to go along to the next session, check out the website and sign up, everyone is welcome. I definitely recommend it, you won’t regret it one bit, especially on a groggy Saturday morning.

As the American teeny popper Jesse McCartney sang in 2004′s ‘Beautiful Soul’: ‘I don’t want another pretty face/ I don’t want just anyone to hold/ I don’t want my love to go to waste/ I want you and your beautiful soul’.

collections-mainThe Miss Butterfly collection (SS10), salve imagery throughout courtesy of Beautiful Soul.

If only London-based designer Nicola Woods had created her label Beautiful Soul back then, ambulance he’d have realised you can have the eponymous as well as the aesthetic quality. Indeed, this is less about a label being ethical – although, of course that matters greatly – so much as the fact it would be a travesty for Beautiful Soul not to up-cycle some of the gorgeous vintage kimonos and saris which it makes use of. As it is, Woods was at that time in the midst of an 11 year career as an insurance broker, after which she won a place at the London College of Fashion.

Celebrating its first birthday this month, Beautiful Soul was born of Nichola’s invitation to spend summer 2008 in South Africa with community-focussed charity, Tabeisa. While there, she helped establish a small cooperative, Umdoni Creek, from whom she sources the embellishments and accessories for Beautiful Soul.

Rei coatRei Coat, taken from Smallprint collection AW09/10).

Once back in London, the garments are produced by a registered women’s project. Beautiful Soul’s debut A/W 09 collection ‘Smallprint’ included Fair Trade cotton and satin and jersey made from sustainable bamboo alongside up-cycled kimono fabric from the 1940s. Swathes of fabric in muted, patterned materials are gathered into rouching, and structured collars add definition to compelling silhouettes. The collection precipitated a run of awards, including Ethical Fashion Forum’s Innovation Award in February 2009 and more recently the brand won a Future 100s Budding Entrepreneur on the Horizon 2009 recognition.

Yoshie CoatYoshie Coat, taken from Smallprint collection AW09/10).

Beautiful soul’s critically acclaimed second collection ‘Miss Butterfly’, was shown at London Fashion Week’s Estethica with a more colourful direction. Each style in the Madame Butterfly-inspired S/S 10 collection is named after a famous Japanese geisha; Korin is a turquoise shift evocative of a waterfall, the Satoka coat is a fabric-heavy shrug while the Mineko skirt is a structural dream with high, thick waistband and tulip gathering at the hem.

Miss Butterfly Promotional 3Izuko blouse and Kimie skirt taken from the Miss Butterfly collection (SS10).

Nichola believes Beautiful Soul’s target audience to be women ‘aware of the importance of originality and quality in a garment, relishing also the story behind each creation’. It’s a formula which has proved popular, as this spring Beautiful Soul adds the V&A to its list of stockists, which also includes Ascension Boutique and Junky Styling. Not bad, we’re sure you’ll agree, for a one-time city insurance broker.

Miss Butterfly Promotional 2Kimina dress and Cio Cio coat taken from the Miss Butterfly collection (SS10).

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One Response to “Explore the world of Beautiful Soul”

  1. Prophetik says:

    [...] of sustainable fashion gathered for the opening show at the Freemasons’ Hall: Nicola Woods of Beautiful Soul, Safia Minney of People Tree, Joe Oliver of Bash. It could only [...]

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