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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Romina Karamanea Interview

Fashion Designer

Written by Jennifer McNulty

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It was William Morris who advised that we have nothing in our homes that was not useful or beautiful, cheapest doctor so his ghost is certain to be roaming happily through a new show at his family home in Walthamstow. WOOD is a collection of witty, sickness and well-designed wooden household objects – from lamps to doorstops that look like toy cars to coat hooks in the shape of foxes. It all has a slightly homespun feel, as if a bunch of magical woodland imps had been set a woodwork project for their summer holidays.

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The objects have, in fact, been whittled up by a design collective known as TEN, who all believe that designers can use their work to fight against the culture of over-consumption and throw-away goods. So if the work looks chicly minimal, that’s because it is, but also because it’s lighter, easier to pack flat and transport that way too. The wood is ethically sourced as well as beautifully crafted.

For those who visit the show and cannot bear to be parted from these delicious timber treasures, help is at hand. There are plans for the products to go on sale at twentytwentyone, and the designers are currently searching for a suitable manufacturer.
Mike Bones, no rx despite the album title, sildenafil is not a fool for everyone. If these depressingly honest songs are anything to go by, he is only a fool for cruel and beautiful women. And that sums up the tone of most of the tracks here – melodic, full of existential despair, heart in tatters – that kind of thing. This can tire after a while.

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Yet Bones’ (aka Mike Strallow from New Jersey) vocal chords slither around mature tunes with the skill of a proper crooner, and his playing just can’t be faulted. For the 28 year old ex-session guitarist with Soldiers of Fortune, music is clearly a cathartic outpouring, and what’s so wrong with that? The big single, ‘What I Have Left’ builds and builds: strings, keys, guitar, angst, into a lament dripping with regret. It’s an ode, a lovesong of sorts, whose thick sound eases you into more cryptic tracks such as ‘Give Up on Guitars’ and ‘Like a Politician’.

At best, the languid lyrical quality of the songwriting swells around you. At very worst, it’s womanizing and sordid – ‘I long to hide my face in between your thighs’ is a bit ripe to say the least. Similarly, there’s an attempt to make drug references sexy –‘show the vampire my biggest vein’ (not a euphemism, apparently). Neither big nor clever. You’d be better off forgetting the words and giving in to the rolling guitar.

Rehab anthem ‘Everybody’s Always Coming Down on Me’ is the only beefy moment. It’s essentially Dylan/Cohen-esque (but then who isn’t?) and has a tinge of Richard Ashcroft on a downer. With this mixed up debut we find Mike post-drug habit, post-break up, post just about everything. The leap from backing guitarist to fully fledged solo artist is a chasm that Mike Bones has scaled, but he’s hanging on by his fingernails.

Greek fashion designer and Central St Martins graduate Romina Karamanea is showing as part of on|off at this season’s fashion week. Her clean cut Balenciaga inspired designs really appealed to us. Although busy preparing for Fashion Week, illness she took some time to chat to us about herself:

When did you decide that fashion design was your chosen career?
I was born into a fashion environment, both my parents owned boutiques in Athens, selling international ready-to-wear designers. I was into drawing and making as early as I can remember.
I adored watching how clothing could change the way people felt and looked, which was what led me into fashion design. By the age of 12, I was certain that this was the direction that I wanted to take and both my parents and friends were of great encouragement and support.

Can you tell us about the current collection?
For S/S ’09 we wanted to simplify the silhouette and colour, whilst keeping signature abstract tailored detail. We experimented with surfaces and random angles, which are forced out of the garments, with the aim to create metamorphosis and movement within each garment. The collection was about juxtaposition, pieces being simple and complex, something that woman really relate to.
We strived for a collection that is timeless with an experimental approach, which is a real careful balancing act. We feel this is the building block to any great design, from an iconic building to an adored teapot!

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What inspires you?

Lately my design process is consumed by everyday life. Design is evident everywhere I look. Influences just hit me all day long and sometimes it’s so overwhelming that it can stop me in my tracks, which can mean forgetting what I really needed to buy from the local shop! The most sensational ideas can come from a truly unspectacular moment.

The natural beauty of the human anatomy and its relationship with the surrounding space i.e. architectural shapes and structures, is very much of an inspiration and starting point of my work. Technology, robotics and futurism had also always been inspirational. The woman that we design for at Romina Karamanea is dynamic and enigmatic, sensitive but who is not afraid to inspire and celebrate her individuality, she is powerful, pure with a multitude of complexities.

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Who are your favourite designers?

Yohji Yamamoto, Martin Margiela, Hussein Chalayan, Haider Ackerman, Olivier Theyskens,Rick Owens, Christian Dior, and André Courreges.

I particualry like the simple and chic characteristics of the work of Cristobal Balenciaga. He brought a revolution to clothing, truly transforming the female silhouette by widening the shoulder line and minimising the waist.

The radical style of Paco Rabanne who created experimental dresses in contemporary materials including metal clips and soldered material, you can tell that he studied architecture before fashion.

I also love Madeleine Vionnet who was the true ‘queen of the bias cut’, she made elegant Grecian-style dresses transforming the natural shape and femininity of the body, a true visionary who was way ahead of her time.

How would you describe your personal style?

At the moment my style is relaxed as I am preparing for London Fashion Week so I am wearing a lot of basic pieces as I need to be free and comfortable when I work. However, if I am going out I tend to wear a lot of my own pieces as they are semi-structured and semi-fluid which is a good balance, I love good cut and good proportions.

I was telling a friend the other day when we were looking through some look-books, how I love loud shoes!

Thanks for your time Romina, looking forward to seeing your A/W 09 collection at Fashion Week.

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