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Hellen Van Rees: London Fashion Week A/W 2013 Catwalk Preview Interview

New writer Jessica Cook chats to designer Hellen van Rees prior to the launch of her A/W 2013 collection at LFW this weekend.

Written by Jessica Cook

Hellen Van Rees
Helen Van Rees A/W 2013 by Claire Kearns

Up-and-coming Dutch fashion and textile designer Hellen van Rees is presenting her independent collection SQUARE3 ANGLE: THE TRANSFORMATION at London Fashion Week A/W 2013 this weekend. Hellen graduated from the MA in Fashion at Central Saint Martins’ back in February 2012 and then packed her suitcase and moved to the Netherlands to start her own fashion label. Her first collection at LFW was pegged as a ‘One to Watch’ by Fashion Scout and Lady Gaga has since been spotted donning her clobber. She’s known for her hand-made tweed fabrics which are created using factory remnants and recycled threads, and her work has 3-dimensional, sculpture-like elements, as well as a futuristic feel. Complete with a brand-spanking new video to promote her new Chanel-inspired collection, it’s likely that her pieces will receive a lot of interest in the coming weeks.

London Fashion Week
Helen Van Rees A/W 2013 by RoshniBA

Hellen Van Rees is still exploring the ideas from her graduate collection which she developed on in her last show Square2: Exploring Excitement. Although you might expect a sprinkling of déjà vu, this collection puts a tangy new twist on her hallmark tweeds. I spoke to Hellen about her shiny new collection and her plans for the future in advance of her (second) London Fashion Week show.

Video collaboration between Hellen van Rees and Evelien Gerrits of EveMedia

What can we expect from your upcoming collection at LFW A/W’13?
Lots of tweed and colours, contrasting black & white rubber and beautiful quality wool and silk; all arty but wearable.

You released a promo video for your show, how did this project come about?
I was trying to think of a way, other than a catwalk show, to present the new collection; to show the collection moving and in a nice atmosphere so the complete image comes across, as well as the details. This seemed like an exciting way to achieve that.

London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week

Hellen Van Rees

London Fashion Week

Photography by Kim Buckard

You started your own label in February 2012, what are your greatest achievements of the last year?
The fact that I was able to show my very first independent collection during London and Paris fashion week; and that I am able to do so again.

Do you have a favourite piece in this show?
I like the pieces with the new multi-coloured tweed a lot: the long dress with shiny black sleeves especially. It’s got strange contrasts but is also very elegant and wearable as well.

Do you wear your own pieces?
Not when I work (because it can get messy!) but for presentations, interviews and special occasions, yes.

Hellen Van Rees
Helen Van Rees A/W 2013 by Victoria Haynes

You’re also exhibiting at Paris Fashion Week; do you think the reactions to your show will differ between London and Paris?
I think it will because it attracts a different crowd. London has lots of bloggers and people who are generally interested in fashion that want to absorb new things, so it’s a very excitable crowd. Paris is more serious business, people there are generally looking for something more specific.

You studied the MA in Fashion at Central Saint Martins; did this prepare you for setting up your own label?
CSM was very good for me, to bring out my strong points and help me develop a clear direction within my designs. It doesn’t really prepare you for the whole business side of how it works, for example, how to sell your clothes, but I’m finding out along the way, which is fine.

Hellen Van Reees

London Fashion Week

Hellen Van Rees

Photography by Kim Buckard

You were chosen to be part of Ones to Watch as part of Vauxhall Fashion Scout’s prestigious platform for new design talent; do you think this has helped you?
Yes it has! It has made it possible for me to show my work in a professional way to large number of professionals and I’ve been supported with advice as well. They’ve done all this again for this season, which is great!

Hellen van Rees LFW
Helen Van Rees A/W 2013 by Maya Beus

You’re known for your use of tweed and sustainable materials: is this something you’ve always been interested in?
Sustainability is very important to me because I think it makes sense. I make high-end handmade garments; it makes sense that not only the outside is nice looking, but also that the story behind it is strong. The tweed and the weaving method is something I developed about a year and a half ago, but I keep getting new ideas for it so I’ll keep going with it for a while.

3D shapes are a big part of your work, where do you get your inspiration?
Contemporary art installations mostly, like the cube installations by Rachel Whiteread.

London Fashion Week
Helen Van Rees A/W 2013 by BlackEyed Jack

What is the process behind each of your collections?
I continue with the previous collection, reinterpret it, change colours, look at art and pictures, make fabrics and then make garments. I don’t really sketch; I just start making one thing and from it comes another new idea. Halfway through I do a fitting see what I have and what’s missing. I make more, and in the end there’s suddenly a collection

LFW aside, is there anything else in the year ahead that you’re really looking forward to?
Yes! I’m doing a TED talk in March at TEDx Zwolle.

London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week

Hellen Van Rees

Hellen Van Rees’ collection can be seen in the Fashion Scout London & Paris Showroom. London 15.02 -19.02 & Freemasons Hall, 60 Great Queen Street. Paris 28.02 – 05.03, 23 Rue du Roi de Sicile, Paris. You can buy her pieces at her store here


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