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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

London Fashion Week A/W 2011 Preview: Jayne Pierson

In the last of our series of pre-LFW interviews, we chat to Welsh designer Jayne Pierson to find out what's inspiring her this season and why she needs a holiday…

Written by Matt Bramford


Rachel Freire S/S 2011, order illustrated by Krister Selin

‘I’m terrible at interviews’ I announce shortly after arriving at Rachel Freire‘s East London studio. A bit of a melodramatic introduction, this site maybe; but as I now sit staring at my notes which resemble the scribbles of a toddler I now know why I said it.

My trouble is that I just like to listen to people. I get lost in conversation and forget to write anything down. I refuse to record interviews because I hate the sound of my own voice and I find it a bit of a distraction, so my erratic notes are all I have to record our meeting. Sometimes, if I meet up with somebody and they don’t say much, I can manage it; when I meet people like Rachel Freire – gorgeous, mesmerising, opinionated, articulate – I’m left with nothing.


A/W 2010, illustrated by Abby Wright

Rachel is based at the Dace Road studios, home also to the likes of Christopher Raeburn (featured in ACOFI) and Rui Leonardes. Ex-tennants include Mark Fast and Mary Kantrantzou who’ve now moved to Shacklewell Studios, aka hipster central, but despite her successes, Rachel’s staying put. I meet her on a grey Saturday afternoon, she’s been up for most of the night, but you wouldn’t notice despite her protests.

”Whoever says January is a dead month is LYING!’ Rachel exclaims as she makes the tea. I do find that I get on better with people who drink lots of tea. I just don’t trust people who don’t like it. I know, as she gives them a stir, that we’re going to get along. We sit at a big oak desk in the centre of the studio, Rachel lights a cigarette and we begin our conversation. I ask Rachel how it’s going, and she seems pretty positive. She has an army of interns and creates ‘a sense of family’ in her studio, which is adorned with all sorts of interesting antiquities like skulls and baseball paraphernalia. A sign above the door, Rachel’s mantra, reads ‘IF IN DOUBT, SPRAYPAINT IT GOLD,’ a statement I wholeheartedly agree with.


A/W 2010, illustrated by Naomi Law

Rachel brands herself as a ‘costumier’ who happened to fall into fashion, which explains her unique and innovative approach to dressing. ‘I’ll never lose track of my costumier routes,’ she tells me, ‘I’m pretty anti-fashion. It dictates what we wear and how we feel, and I’ve never subscribed to that.’ Her models ‘need to have an arse’ and she’s conscious of the responsibility a fashion designer must adopt, whether that be ethical or environmental. ‘I am the cheapest person!’ Rachel admits, ‘but I will never shop in Primark. I look at the clothes and think ‘somebody suffered for this’. I want customers to hold things knowing somebody’s crafted it – that something is special.’


S/S 2011, illustrated by Gemma Milly

Rachel won’t compromise. She’s staying true to herself and won’t put her name on anything that she hasn’t rigourously vetted and knows exactly where everything has come from. Rachel is as much an ethical designer as any of the Estethica designers – if not more so. She values the work of other people and believes that you ‘have to be ethical in so many different ways’. How you treat your interns, where you source your fabrics, how you communicate with suppliers – all these things, Rachel believes, are necessary for good business, not just opting for ethical fabrics.

Rachel’s previous collections provide sculptural, architectural pieces with innovative techniques (read all about her glow-in-the-dark S/S 2011 collection here) and it seems A/W 2011 will be even more exciting. As we chat about the boy Rachel’s texting and get mixed up with whose tea is whose (easy mistake – Rachel’s recently got a new mug but the Queen of Fucking Everything option she’s given me still has sentimental value) we’re surrounded by leather nipples. REAL nipples.

Rachel and her team of merry men (and women) have been hard at work in the previous weeks to marry them together to make roses. They’re absolutely beautiful to touch and look at but there’s something rather unsettling about them. ‘That’s my aesthetic!’ Rachel declares.

A sneak peek at some of the fabrics, techniques and colours Rachel’s preparing to show this week:


A/W 2010, illustrated by Joana Faria

Rachel’s also working with Ecco, who are developing processes for leather manufacturing for couture houses. Rachel has devoted a lot of her time visiting the Netherlands tannery working alongside them in their quest to transform how we produce and approach leather goods. ‘I’m obsessed with materials!’ Rachel tells me. ‘It’s much nicer to make a jacket out of something that you’ve had an input in from the start.’ She shows me a new process she’s working on (damned if I can remember the name) which gives leather an ethereal ripple-like pattern that looks as if it’s been photoshopped. I’m speechless, and we both sit caressing it for a while until I can think of something to say.


S/S 2011, illustrated by Yelena Bryksenkova

So what’s up next for Rachel? Well, A/W 2011 looks set to be her bravest collection yet, and I had a sneak peek at some of the fabrics, textures, techniques and cuts she’s working on. On a grander scale, she ‘loves to teach’ and wants to establish a system where the efforts of designers to instil good practises and skills into their army of interns is recognised. She describes mainstay teaching as ‘box ticking’ and, as someone whose never done what she was told to do, feels there’s more to give in a studio-based environment than anything in the classroom. I hear ya, love.

Rachel’s excited about the future. She plans to dazzle once a year at the A/W 2011 shows while maintaining commissions with an ever-expanding roster of clients and other projects during the rest of the year. She also wants to live on a boat and explore costume design in cinema. She references Jean Paul Gaultier‘s work on flicks like The Fifth Element and is excited by the prospect of applying her unique aesthetic to film. It all comes down to financing. ‘Money dictates and creates a standard,’ Rachel tells me. ‘The system to support new designers is very small, but I won’t compromise my values. I’m here to stay.’

I should bloody hope so.

Rachel’s original draqing for her collaboration with Neurotica:

All photography by Matt Bramford
Illustration by Mina Bach

Chad Valley is Hugo Manuel. Oxford born and bred, viagra buy this musician and producer is a member of the recently established Blessing Force Collective and the frontman of alt-folk band Jonquil. As the cold light of the new year dissolved in February, sale Hugo Manuel finished a tour with Twin Shadow and participated in Blessing Force’s recent Warehouse Party at The Old Bookbinders in Oxford. In the days inbetween, Manuel chatted to Amelia’s Magazine about his latest solo venture and what would happen if he ever went for tea with Neil Young…

First things first, how are you finding 2011 so far?

2011 has so far been a blur and feels like its about 10 days old. Its still fresh, and there are lots of plans being hatched.

What’s the story behind the name Chad Valley? I see in previous interviews you’ve mentioned that it’s the name of a toy company begun in the Victorian era?

Chad Valley is actually a place near Birmingham where the toy company was based and it just a wonderful sounding pairing of words. I have no connection with the toy company and when I first knew of the word it wasn’t anything to do with toys. In fact, a friend of mine used it as his stage name when he was in a punk band. Its a kind of generational thing though, because people of my age don’t tend to know about the toy company whereas older generations are like ‘why did you name yourself after Chad Valley!?’ I guess it is a bit like calling myself Argos.


Video for Chad Valley’s Up and Down by Katie Harrison

Which era or decade would you say has inspired your music the most?

For Chad Valley specifically I would have to say the late 80s to very early 90s. Its a kind of end of the decade thing where there is change and new things coming in, a rebellion against what has come before. I think the production values of electronic music had, by then, reached something of a pinnacle and things had got so slick that its almost sickly, but quite amazing at the same time. Outside that though, I think the period of 1969 to 1974 is probably the time I would most love to be making music. The records that came out of that era by Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Crosby, Still and Nash, Jackson Browne are all some of my favourites of all time.

What’s the musical inspiration behind Chad Valley? Are you still listening to Studio and The Tough Alliance or have you moved on to pastures new?

I still have so much love for those bands, absolutely. And Ceo, which is one of the guys from TA’s new project, is also great. That was definitely the jumping off point for Chad Valley, but things are moving on, for sure. I’m listening to a lot more R&B at the moment, and that is having a big impact on the stuff I’m making right now. I’m delving deep into R Kelly’s back catalogue for inspiration.

Illustration by Maria del Carmen Smith

If Chad Valley were a geographical landscape, what or where would it be? How would you map Jonquil?

It would be New York in the early 70s, just like in Taxi Driver. Jonquil would be LA, in the early 90s. Like in the Ice Cube videos.

What are your thoughts on Up and Down being described in the Guardian as “a slinky Hot Chip on downers, a disco-infused summer “joint” featuring some shimmering synths, padded drum beats and Manuel’s impressive croon”?

That was nice to hear. I like Hot Chip a lot, I think they’ve done pretty amazing things considering how weird a band they are. Also, it’s nice to get press in places like the Guardian because you can show your parents, and they can be very impressed.


Video for Chad Valley’s Portuguese Solid Summer by Katie Harrison

Who is the most inspirational person you have come across? What would a meeting between the two of you be like?

Neil Young, without a shadow of a doubt. I would love to have a cup of tea with him and just talk about writing music. I’m sure I would be 100% intimidated and just drool or something weird like that.

What is the most exciting or scary thing that 2011 will throw at you?

At the moment I’m fairly petrified about writing and producing an album. Because it’s just me and I don’t have other people to bounce ideas off, it can be very quite scary making the big decisions about lyrics, or song titles, artwork… those kind of things. But I’m getting way ahead of myself… I have about 2 and a half tunes for the album I guess.

I really like the ambient atmosphere of the video for Up and Down – how did the idea behind the video develop? How did you come across the footage?

It was actually made by my girlfriend when she had the summer off, and a lot of free time on her hands. It’s all stuff from across the internet, so it’s a pretty amazing patchwork of different people’s home videos, pretty much. I like that idea a lot, and its fairly mind-boggling, the fact that that is at all possible!

Illustration by Alia Gargum

What’s been your favourite gig to play at so far?

There are two that I’ll mention, and they are at opposite ends of the spectrum for live shows. One was at a launderette in Hackney. A working laundrette that had been closed for the night and fixed up with a PA and some projectors. They place was heaving, in the best possible way, and everyone danced. Everyone. So at the other end is the show I did with Foals on New Years Eve at the Kentish Town Forum. I was on first, but being NYE there was excitement in the room, and the vibes were excellent.

What impact does being based in Oxford have on your sound?

The scene we have here… the whole Blessing Force thing, is so supportive and encouraging that I think being from Oxford has had a huge affect on the way I make music, and just simply the fact that I do make music. Being surrounded by other musicians all doing similar bedroom-recorded stuff gives you a huge amount of drive to make shit happen. But the things that make Oxford great are also the things that make Oxford not so great. People are always coming and going from Oxford… its in a constant state of flux and this give it an uneasy feeling sometimes. Like, if you stay here for a long time there must be something wrong with you. I can see myself leaving Oxford in the future for sure, but right now it offers so much to me, that I couldn’t keep away.

Illustration by Mina Bach

Chad Valley is Hugo Manuel. Oxford born and bred, see this musician and producer is a member of the recently established Blessing Force Collective and the frontman of alt-folk band Jonquil. As the cold light of the new year dissolved in February, medicine Hugo Manuel finished a tour with Brooklyn’s acclaimed Twin Shadow and participated in Blessing Force’s recent Warehouse Party at The Old Bookbinders in Oxford. In the days inbetween, approved Manuel chatted to Amelia’s Magazine about his latest solo venture and what would happen if he ever went for tea with Neil Young…

First things first, how are you finding 2011 so far?

2011 has so far been a blur and feels like its about 10 days old. Its still fresh, and there are lots of plans being hatched.

What’s the story behind the name Chad Valley? I see in previous interviews you’ve mentioned that it’s the name of a toy company begun in the Victorian era?

Chad Valley is actually a place near Birmingham where the toy company was based and it just a wonderful sounding pairing of words. I have no connection with the toy company and when I first knew of the word it wasn’t anything to do with toys. In fact, a friend of mine used it as his stage name when he was in a punk band. Its a kind of generational thing though, because people of my age don’t tend to know about the toy company whereas older generations are like ‘why did you name yourself after Chad Valley!?’ I guess it is a bit like calling myself Argos.


Video for Chad Valley’s Up and Down by Katie Harrison

Which era or decade would you say has inspired your music the most?

For Chad Valley specifically I would have to say the late 80s to very early 90s. Its a kind of end of the decade thing where there is change and new things coming in, a rebellion against what has come before. I think the production values of electronic music had, by then, reached something of a pinnacle and things had got so slick that its almost sickly, but quite amazing at the same time. Outside that though, I think the period of 1969 to 1974 is probably the time I would most love to be making music. The records that came out of that era by Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Crosby, Still and Nash, Jackson Browne are all some of my favourites of all time.

What’s the musical inspiration behind Chad Valley? Are you still listening to Studio and The Tough Alliance or have you moved on to pastures new?

I still have so much love for those bands, absolutely. And Ceo, which is one of the guys from TA’s new project, is also great. That was definitely the jumping off point for Chad Valley, but things are moving on, for sure. I’m listening to a lot more R&B at the moment, and that is having a big impact on the stuff I’m making right now. I’m delving deep into R Kelly’s back catalogue for inspiration.

Illustration by Maria del Carmen Smith

If Chad Valley were a geographical landscape, what or where would it be? How would you map Jonquil?

It would be New York in the early 70s, just like in Taxi Driver. Jonquil would be LA, in the early 90s. Like in the Ice Cube videos.

What are your thoughts on Up and Down being described in the Guardian as “a slinky Hot Chip on downers, a disco-infused summer “joint” featuring some shimmering synths, padded drum beats and Manuel’s impressive croon”?

That was nice to hear. I like Hot Chip a lot, I think they’ve done pretty amazing things considering how weird a band they are. Also, it’s nice to get press in places like the Guardian because you can show your parents, and they can be very impressed.


Video for Chad Valley’s Portuguese Solid Summer by Katie Harrison

Who is the most inspirational person you have come across? What would a meeting between the two of you be like?

Neil Young, without a shadow of a doubt. I would love to have a cup of tea with him and just talk about writing music. I’m sure I would be 100% intimidated and just drool or something weird like that.

What is the most exciting or scary thing that 2011 will throw at you?

At the moment I’m fairly petrified about writing and producing an album. Because it’s just me and I don’t have other people to bounce ideas off, it can be very quite scary making the big decisions about lyrics, or song titles, artwork… those kind of things. But I’m getting way ahead of myself… I have about 2 and a half tunes for the album I guess.

I really like the ambient atmosphere of the video for Up and Down – how did the idea behind the video develop? How did you come across the footage?

It was actually made by my girlfriend when she had the summer off, and a lot of free time on her hands. It’s all stuff from across the internet, so it’s a pretty amazing patchwork of different people’s home videos, pretty much. I like that idea a lot, and its fairly mind-boggling, the fact that that is at all possible!

Illustration by Alia Gargum

What’s been your favourite gig to play at so far?

There are two that I’ll mention, and they are at opposite ends of the spectrum for live shows. One was at a launderette in Hackney. A working laundrette that had been closed for the night and fixed up with a PA and some projectors. They place was heaving, in the best possible way, and everyone danced. Everyone. So at the other end is the show I did with Foals on New Years Eve at the Kentish Town Forum. I was on first, but being NYE there was excitement in the room, and the vibes were excellent.

What impact does being based in Oxford have on your sound?

The scene we have here… the whole Blessing Force thing, is so supportive and encouraging that I think being from Oxford has had a huge affect on the way I make music, and just simply the fact that I do make music. Being surrounded by other musicians all doing similar bedroom-recorded stuff gives you a huge amount of drive to make shit happen. But the things that make Oxford great are also the things that make Oxford not so great. People are always coming and going from Oxford… its in a constant state of flux and this give it an uneasy feeling sometimes. Like, if you stay here for a long time there must be something wrong with you. I can see myself leaving Oxford in the future for sure, but right now it offers so much to me, that I couldn’t keep away.


Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

Welsh designer Jayne Pierson won the Graduate Fashion Week Ecological Design Award in 2007 and since then has quickly risen up the fashion ranks. Her latest collection, capsule S/S 2011, was a riot of colour and military influences, with luxurious fabrics and bold tailoring.

Jayne’s previous employers include Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen, and their influence is evident in her collections. She debuted solo-stylee in 2009 which saw her featured in Vogue Italia, Vogue and Grazia to name a few.

It’s Jayne’s combination of superior fabrics and innovative design concepts (as well as her extraordinary cutting ability) that makes her a stand-out label in a sea of new designers.

I caught up with Jayne in the run-up to fashion week A/W 2011 to find out how she’s coping and what the rest of the season holds…

Your SS11 collection went down a storm – can you tell us a bit about it?
My Spring/Summer 2011 was based on The Twin Parallel.  The theory of space and time and the existence of gravitational time dilation.  It engages with the notion that one could change the past to recreate the future. I wanted to create a collection that was ultimately timeless.


Illustration by Karolina Burdon

What’s inspiring you for A/W 11?
Black, bondage, gloss and industrial.

What can we expect to see on the catwalk from Jayne Pierson this season?
The silhouette juxtaposes the two opposites of restrained tailoring and freeform drape. The organic shapes and the mystery between the folds represent an unknowing, an uncertainty and an alienation. This inexpicably draws me in.

Have you had any major hurdles or experiences in the run up to this season? 
Not really but I can always do with another few months to schedule a holiday somewhere…??

What techniques/fabrics/patterns are you using?
Opposites of restrained tailoring and freeform drape; leather with taffeta.??

How do you gage the response to each collection? Do you read reviews?
Not really as I usually base it on how well the sales are doing.


Illustration by Rukmunal Hakim

??What kind of woman wears Jayne Pierson? Has this changed? 
I’m developing wearable garments with a high-end finish that retains a knowing irony for women that choose to march to the sound of their own drum. ??

What do you make of the current London Fashion scene?
I don’t really follow it as I’m based in Wales. I think it helps to give me space to reflect.

Which fashionable London hotspots would you reccommend to relax?
Tate, Hakkasan, Whiskey Mist and Spitalfields Market.

What does the rest of 2011 have in store for Jayne Pierson?
Paris Fashion Week and a well needed rest at my mum’s house in Dallas, Texas.

Jayne will show her A/W 2011 collection at On|Off today

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