Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Making toiles…jewellery toiles

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Toile is something you do when designing clothes. It’s a mockup of a design in cheap fabric just to see how the pattern fits.

I often make toiles for my jewellery too. It can be just a small detail to test some technique or sometimes I just arrange stuff on the floor in a certain way and then take a photo. Then I rearrange everything and make another photo. Later I will take a look in a computer to see what I have done and ponder over which design is the best.

Some toiles just lay around for a long time and they never turn into anything. Usually it’s because some vital details are missing or I cannot work out what to do next.

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To make this one I had to find out how to do macrame. I'm still not very good at it. In fact I'm quite useless! Found some instructions online, will keep on trying. Macrame is actually good fun- honest! Its probably a good thing to do when travelling on an airplane. I used to crochet on airplanes, but the security check confiscated my crochet needles (potential weapons!) on several occasions. Macrame on the other hand can be done without any needles!

Love the contrast of metal tubes with rope. Think I might do something like this in my next collection.

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Here’s some of my toiles. Work in progress.

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And here’s a bit that I did…

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…that actually turned into a necklace yesterday.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Two new…

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This one I made the day before yesterday…

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And this one I made yesterday. Both are part of my current jewellery collection Tribe, that just keeps growing and growing. Will put some of the new designs in to my Etsy shop in next few days.

Check www.fashionsaboteur.etsy.com

Friday, July 24, 2009

Serpentine Pavilion and other nice and shiny and irresistible objects…

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London Serpentine gallery has a wonderful annual project: every summer they put up a pavilion in their front yard for everybody to enjoy for free. Those pavilions have been designed by world famous architects like Oscar Niemeyer, Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaas etc. When the summer is over the pavilions will be auctioned off to some architecture-loving millionaires, who probably will set them up in their own back yards…

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This year’s pavilion is designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of leading Japanese architectural practice SANAA. It is like a giant shiny futuristic silver tongue that’s licking the grassy area in front of the historic Serpentine Gallery building, creating an exciting contrast of materials, eras and aesthetics.

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The structure is very simple, but as the roof lowers and rises- and grows in different directions it makes you want to run around in childish exhilaration and experience it from all different angles- which is exactly what I did when I went to see it. The roof is shiny and mirrored on top and underneath so when you are under it, you will see the reflections of grass and trees above you.

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Kathleen Anderson has taken this great picture of the Koons Poodle in Venice. Pic via her Flickr site.

There’s something about highly polished shiny reflective surfaces that are absolutely irresistible to me. Like Jeff Koons Bunny or Poodle which I adore. Buy the way- when you go to see the Serpentine Pavilion, pop into the Serpentine Gallery too. It’s hosting a Jeff Koons exhibition until September. No shiny Bunnies or Poodles this time, but some fantastic colourful paintings of Popeye and blow-up lobsters… worth checking out!

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Shiny objects look especially good when they are next to something completely different and contrasting. Like a pile of hay and bunch of chickens. I have an architecture book (Home. Twentieth- Century House by Dejan Sudjic ) with a picture of a scene exactly like that. It is an old farm in Austria, near Vienna with a futuristic extension and shiny aluminium staircase. The complex was designed by Artec Architects. I wonder what the chickens think of it? Probably something like: “ Oh a UFO landed in our yard. Where’s that tasty worm I just found…” Don’t think they really appreciate that large shiny object.

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On the other hand- I appreciate a modern shiny object anytime!

In my inspiration folder there are some pics I took of Birmingham's Selfridges. This building must be one of my favourites. It’s designed by architecture bureau Future Systems, famous for their futuristic vision.

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Its worth travelling up to Birmingham just to see that wonderful vision of a vast expanse of silver discs. And then return to wherever you came from- completely happy and a pleasantly bewildered from this out-of–this world experience.

shiny balls

At the moment my jewellery making boxes contain a lot of large and shiny metallic balls.

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So far I have been using those shiny balls with restraint, mixing them with more rustic elements in my Tribe jewellery collection.

But deep inside me there is a wish to use them with much more exuberance! To make a HUGE necklace of shiny balls of all sizes- like bunch of Christmas decorations!

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Talking about Christmas decorations- they are shiny objects too and of course I absolutely love them. It’s always a sad moment when you have to put them away in a box for a whole year. I have a set of old Soviet children’s Christmas tree decorations- which includes a tiny cosmonaut, a snow-woman (not a snowman!), a squirrel, a cob of corn and several other bits and pieces. It’s my little treasure. I’m sure it inspires me somehow. Do not know how exactly … :-)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Delightful Digitaria


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Last week I made a new discovery on London Soho’s Berwick street- a new fashion shop and gallery called Digitaria. I am quite excited about it, because I think it’s fantastic! The space is wonderful, the fashions are wonderful AND high quality and the whole concept of it, as an art-fashion space, really works. Berwick street is better known for its fabric, sex and music shops, tailors workshops and food market, but now it has really made it onto a London fashion map.

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Digitaria is actually a fashion label run by Greek designer Eleftheria Arapoglou and it’s creative director Stavros Karelis. They launched Digitaria label and showroom last year in Greece and decided to bring it to London too. So about two months ago they opened the Berwick street shop, which includes a fashion area, downstairs art gallery and two big window displays, one of which is used as an extension of the gallery. The arty side of Digitaria is curated by performance artist Scottee who has managed to bring in some pretty impressive and inspirational events and exhibitions.

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Digitaria is not at all one- label- shop. The makers have invited several other cool labels to join and sell their wares, among them Leigh Bowery collaborator Lee Benjamin, London DJ Warboy with his range and a new label from Millie Cockton called Euphemia, plus T-shirt collection from Scottie the curator himself.

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The space used to be an old tailor shop and Digitaria displays proudly all the original interior features like wooden panelling, staircase and display cabinets and even the old clothes brush left behind by the tailors.

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Fashion room’s walls are covered with especially commissioned unique wallpaper by artist James Unsworth.

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At the moment Digitaria Gallery shows the work of photographer Kate Garner, contributor of i-D magazine who's work has also appeared in American and British Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, GQ, Vanity Fair, Elle etc.

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Visit Digitaria @ 60 Berwick Street, Soho, London
Check out Digitaria on Facebook and Myspace too!

Friday, July 17, 2009



Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fishing for Inspiration on London's Brick Lane

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London Brick Lane is a real goldmine for inspiration! All kinds of international style spies and inspiration scouts are completely aware of that and stroll up and down this street, constantly looking for new sprouting trends. Today I joined them and took some fabulous and inspirational pics. You just have to point the camera on any wall and there it is- new print design or nice colour palette for a collection…

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I spotted some especially interesting street art by Nathan Bowen. He’s work would make great fabric prints. When I got home I quickly Photoshopped together some mock dresses, using his wallpaintings just to prove my point…

I’m working on a collection at the moment, using scribbles, doodles and hand drawings in print patterns, so that’s probably why I was drawn to Nathan’s graffiti.

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Nathan Bowen's art would make great prints!

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One more sample of Nathan Bowen's work.

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I also took pictures of one other street artist’s creations. I named her/him Stitch Guerilla. She/he had left oversized cross-stitched motifs around Brick Lane’s grilled windows.

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And some more inspiration...

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And some more..... Thank you Brick Lane!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Prints Charming

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My digiprint fabrics are slowly but surely getting there. I design them on real life scale on Photoshop, so it’s really trying on my good old laptop. Lots of time to look out of the window while the computer is transforming another layer…

As the fabric I’m printing on is 140 cm wide, I obviously cannot print out the design on my inkjet on full scale ( there are no repeats!). I worked a way around this problem, printing the design out in sections, on A4 paper. Then I glue all the bits together and voila! I can have an idea of the print’s scale. Then I place this piece of paper on a dummy or myself :-) , just to get an idea…

There are already some ready print samples, but I’m not quite pleased about the colour. Think I will go for more strange, chalky pastel colour scheme for the collection, duck eggs and greys probably.

fabric on dummies

These are not dresses! Just bits of sample print fabric thrown on a dummie- to get an idea of the proportion of the print. It will definitely do some huge swirls!


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No place like Etsy, yet

One very lovely and helpful fashion business consultant gave me an advice- don’t go selling on Etsy.com, it will ruin your fashion label’s image and “proper” fashion boutiques will not want to sell your stuff if you are on Etsy.

Well, what do you do? If one makes things that one wants to sell- Etsy is great. Its democratic, it’s instant, you have the control and the best thing – you will be able to keep most of the money.

Selling through the boutiques is nice for exposure and representation, but everyone knows they multiply their prices manifold and for that reason designers are forced to make their wholesale prices as low as possible.

That might be one of the reasons why most of the designers do not make much profit selling clothes. In best cases they break even. Money comes in from other sources for the designers- teaching, selling design consultation services, perfume licences, accessories, designing collections for high street brands and so on.

The designers who make money from clothes are usually retailers themselves, owning several own label shops. Even all the successful high street brands like Mango, Zara, New Look etc. are clever, selling through their own shops only and doing so keeping all the money.

The problem is- not all the designers are able or even wish to become shopkeepers, or even have a budget to open their own online shops.

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My shop on Etsy.com

So what choices are there for a young designer who actually wants to make a living with his/hers designs? Studio sales, sales through blogs, markets- not very high profile. Etsy? Or are there any similar sites to Etsy, but more high end designer, that let you set up your own shop under their wing and charge sellers reasonable percentage per sale? There might be some out there, but I personally do not know any. If anyone knows, please let me and the others know too.

To sell on Etsy and other unorthodox places I created a separate label from my own name label. I decided it will be sort of saboteur-label. I can do anything I want under it and sell anywhere I find suitable and nothing can harm it, because its saboteur-label. I called it a_s_proto and at the moment you can find it in my Etsy shop and in one small designer shop ( which I part own ) in Northern Europe. Under a_s_proto I can do one-offs and small editions and special releases, run riot and have lots of fun.

At the moment I’m only selling jewellery under a_s_proto but hopefully clothes will follow one day.

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My new label looks like that. I added my fingerprint to it- so it cannot be faked ;-)

Madeleine Vionnet used to use her fingerprint on her label- that’s where I got the idea from.

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Here are some pieces from my a_s_proto jewellery collection called “Tribe”.

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When I needed to make a display for my a_s_proto “Tribe” collection earrings in my shop, I designed some silly “masks”. The more I look at them the more I like them and I’m thinking of turning them into T-shirt prints in black and white. Might look quite good.

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This is what the display looks like.