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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

London Fashion Week S/S 2011 Catwalk Report: Basso & Brooke

Vibrant digital prints sliced with antique maps and handwritten notes at Basso & Brooke London Fashion Week show S/S 2011 19th September

Written by Florence Massey and Satu Fox

Illustration by Michelle Urvall Nyrén

In our pre- London Fashion Week interview with Cooperative Designs , illness stomach the design duo discussed the incredible presentations they produced for S/S 2010 (Bauhaus) and A/W 2010;

“With a presentation we have the opportunity to design the entire event, we try to encapsulate the feel of the collection as an real experience for our guests. This season we are showing at the Groucho Club, and we have some really exciting plans!”

These were the words of Annalisa Dunn and upon entering the packed out Groucho Club, it was the designers had produced something rather special. It was a scene straight from one of my favourite books, Evelyn Waugh’s satiric love affair with London’s upper classes: Vile Bodies (or Bright Young Things to give the book it’s film title).

Utilising the ever-so-shabby, but rather wonderful art deco setting of the Groucho Club, the set designed by David White encouraged the “good time” atmosphere that was infectious from the moment you walked in.

In the centre of the room alongside the live piano, the models were arranged as in a frieze so beloved of traditional painting. Holding their position, they laughed and smiled as cameras snapped Cooperative Designs’ celebrated structural and incredibly textural knitwear. This year saw the introduction of raffia and jersey into their material repertoire.

Illustration by Michelle Urvall Nyrén

A Cooperative Designs presentation is a sought after event, by the time I had to leave, a one in one out policy had been implemented, as the upstairs room overflowed with admirers. The fantastic glasses adorning the models were made in collaboration with Alex Cunningham and the intriguing ready-for-the-beach wedges were in association with Flip Flop. As fitting such a special event many of the audience came dressed in previous seasons, making the clothes more covetable for the ease in which they are worn.

Illustration by Michelle Urvall Nyrén

Ever captivated by the fabrics and shapes used by Cooperative Designs, it was a delight to discuss their design process with Annalisa:

“Dorothee has more of a womenswear background then me, she has developed a process she calls Primary pattern cutting. Pieces are designed as flat graphic angular shapes then left to drape and distort on the body. This process particularly suits knitwear, as it has such great drape and stretch properties.”

A more apt title could not be found, for the presentation was titled Bollywood Babylon, which in turn was inspired by artist Kenneth Anger’s books; Hollywood Babylon 1 and 2 in which the writer records the debauchery of 1920′s Hollywood actors. This reviewer is particularly enamored with the art deco inspired print adorning the S/S 2011 collection, oh to join the easy revelry of this imagined film set created by Cooperative Designs!

Photographs by Amy Gwatkin

Illustration by Eugenia Tsimiklis

After pegging it down the strand, website like this I arrived at the BFC tent with less than 30 seconds to spare. My desperate dan demeanour must have won me brownie points somewhere as I was ushered into the catwalk seating area so fast my feet barely touched the floor. Expecting the Issa show to begin, no rx imagine my suprise when Basso and Brooke creations started to walk their way down the catwalk…there must have been some awful mistake?…yes, indeed there was Mr Matt Bramford (who must be reading his timetable upside down last night).

A 9am Sunday morning treat: great turnout (including model Amber Rose – front row), amazing prints and a seamless show. To be able to mix so many colours, prints, patterns and styles into pieces of clothing is a talent few can boast. I have never trained as a fashion designer but I imagine that there comes a time early in their lives, perhaps as a kid choosing between a pencil and a box of crayolas, when their speciality is set for life. In my view, all designers have not so much a signature look as a part of the DNA clothing they excel at: silhouette, colour, print, cut. Some designers can change the way we see the body – I’m thinking of Miuccia Prada –and some fill in the outlines of fashionable shapes with their own individual colour, pattern and texture.

Illustration by Eugenia Tsimiklis

Prints were the order of the day with a slight All Saints (edgy brand not 90s girlband) feel to some of the ones with italic scripting and antique maps running across. After reading the press release, it turns out that the writing is actually handwritten notes by Da Vinci, Tolstoy, Balzac and others in a nod to the non digital past. Digital prints are then sliced into the notes and maps, creating more dramatic, eclectic mixes.

Other prints included trompe l’oeil images of ruched fabrics, mainly used in larger panels on the back of dresses but occasionally inserted onto the front. I am personally a huge fan of print design (I was a colour-change felttip pen sort of kid), which I think often gets ignored in favour of more flashy, and by definition, flesh-revealing options (anyone designing an elaborately printed bikini has rather missed the point). There’s something depressing about an off-the-shelf pattern you end up seeing on clothes everywhere, from high street shops to market stalls. I want someone to have sat down and designed the images that appear on the surface of clothes with as much care and dedication as they did every other aspect.

Illustrated by June Chanpoomidole

Basso and Brooke’s S/S11 show didn’t pioneer any particular dress shape, although all their clothes look wearable: lots of skater-skirted party dresses, a collared blouse and skirt and filmy jumpsuitst. The skirts had great shape and movement to them, especially the shorter kicky ones; the dresses made use of clashing prints on the front and back and thought had also been put into matching shoes to each look. However, what they do to a tee is the print; everyone knows that when you go to their show you’ll get lovingly rendered prints galore. This also means subtle use of colour, and when the models took their turn all together, it added up to a handwritten, map inspired rainbow.

Photograph by Florence Massey

Some of the choices surprised me at first: leopard print? Hermes-scarf style illustrated floral squares? But because they were digitally chopped up with gold foil sections that seemed to creep over the garish parts, or set against a background of pearly grey silk, I think it worked. There is a trend now for mixing up complicated prints, which when it works, looks incredible. One good thing about animal print is that you can’t really beat nature for creating a pleasing whole and by sticking to the silvery sheen of water, brown and rusty orange of animals spots and mineral metallics, there’s a good chance an outfit will hang together, just like Basso and Brooke’s show.

Illustration by June Chanpoomidole

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