Elephants 211-220

Today is steak and ale pot pie soup dat at Eat. It’s also elephant day on LLO. Here’s 211-220.

211. Hope by Richard Symonds; BT building
Hope

212. Looking Me In The Eye by Rina Bannerjee; Berkeley Square
Looking me in the eye

213. Elefun by Rosie Brooks; Green Park
Elefun

214. Vanda by Rosie Sanders; Swallow Street
Vanda

215. Rainforest by Ruth Green; Holland Park Avenue
Rainforest

216. The Emerald Queen by Sabine Roemer; Selfridges
The Emerald Queen

217. The Spirit of India by Sacha Jafri; Selfridges
The Spirit of India

218. The Lion King on Stage by Sacha Jafri; Covent Garden Piazza
The Lion King on Stage

219. Cloudia by Alan O’Connor; Carnaby Street
Cloudia

220. Oak, Chestnut, Plane & Elm by Sam Hacking; Regent Place
Oak, Chestnut, Plane & Elm

For more photos, interviews and other info, visit my Elephant Parade page. Stay tuned for the rest!

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London Art Spot: Holly Somers

If you walk down Carnaby Street right now, you’ll see a wintery scene in the windows of the Deisel shop called “Paper vs. Scissors” with delicate paper cut-out trees and mannequins with blank faces and big white hair. This is the work of Holly Somers, a recent graduate of London College of Fashion and joint winner of the Nina De York Illustration Award 2010.

Her debut collection takes the simple practices of folding, pleating and layering to the next level with inspiration from Japanese origami in rich, earthy tones perfect for this time of year. There’s a selection of images below for this week’s London Art Spot and for a more expansive look at the origami collection, there’s a great blog post here.

Read on to hear about Holly’s favourite gold blazer, where her love of a great fabric leads her on days out in the shops around here and her thoughts that went into the design of the Deisel shop window display.

LLO: Give us an overview of your latest Japanese origami-inspired collection.
HS: Throughout my design career, I have always had an interest in and an admiration for Japanese design and in particular Japanese fashion. Working with initial origami maquettes, I was able to experiment with unusual shape construction on a small scale before transferring it on to the body. This quickly led to the development of manipulating a two dimensional form to create a three dimensional object, both in paper, but then more naturally in fabric and garment construction. I was fascinated with the juxtaposition of woven fabrics with stretch fabrics and the intrinsic properties of these opposing materials. This concept became integral to the design and success of the garments as fabric manipulation extended beyond simple folding, pleating and layering. Much of the silk was transformed through interfusing before the fabrics were even cut altering the nature of the fabric to suit the needs of each garment. This collection became an exploration.

LLO: You created the lovely Paper vs. Scissors display in the Female Diesel shop windows on Carnaby Street. What was your thought process when given the brief through deciding on your final designs?
HS: The Window Installation was a fantastic opportunity to step into the world of visual merchandising and with the paper theme I could build on ideas from my previous collection but move it away from the body.  Diesel wanted a white paper forest to appeal to the Christmas season, however, it had to keep the edge that the Diesel brand upholds. I researched back over many artists who had manipulated paper for art installations with a focus on paper cutting rather than folding as before. I began experimenting drawing over tree designs using Adobe Illustrator to create intricate, ambiguous tree stencils that could be laser cut for the window. Design ideas went from broken chairs to be stacked up like tree trunks, rotating lights casting stencil silhouettes on the walls to importing large quantities of branches and logs from the Cotswolds to act as support and structure for the installation; from 8ft wooden trees attached to the store facing to laser cut paper creepers pasted to the woodwork like vines encompassing the store in a tangled forest. The concept also had to translate to the Male Diesel store so we attached hundreds of laser cut scissors to trees there to convey the idea that the boy’s trees had cut up the paper girl’s trees. Despite a great deal of design development there was still an aspect of improvisation on the installation nights, especially to deal with the restraints that come from the location being first and foremost a working shop. Working alongside the team at StudioXag was a great: logistically, technically and creatively.

LLO: Where’s your favourite place in London for fashion inspiration – both in the shops and on the streets?
HS: London as a city is a fantastic source of inspiration in itself with the endless resources available to anyone who lives here. The markets, libraries and museums are  perfect places to contemplate design ideas; especially the Design Bookshop in the V&A. However, since  moving here, I find walking along the South Bank at night when the city is alight one of the most inspiring places to be.LLO: Give us a hint at some of the upcoming fashions in London for next season?
HS: London’s fashion strives to be new and exciting playing to a more youthful clientele where the idea of design and creativity is pushed to the limit when the factor of wearability often comes into play. I feel that next season London designers will continue in this way, however there is definitely starting to be a move to more accessible collections as individual designers’ stylistic tastes are becoming more refined and therefore subtler in their portrayal.

LLO: Which aspects of your designs make them uniquely yours?
HS: Detail. In everything that attracts me, inspires me or interests me it is always the detail that captures my attention. The cleverness of an idea or the way something has been cut. It does not have to be complex but it provokes thought. I want my work to engage people in this way; for them to see and to appreciate the detail and depth of an idea.

LLO: Who is the target audience for your work? Do your designs transfer easily from the catwalk to the streets?
HS: My work is aimed at women aged from mid-twenties to mid-thirties with an understanding and appreciation of fashion, fabric and cut who will find innovative creations in my work that augments their style and femininity. I feel my designs could be diffused from the catwalk to the streets especially as jersey is a very popular fabric to work with at the moment. However, my collection relied on using high end fabrics to create the desired effect. Replacements can be found to cater to the high street market and price-point though the results would still be different. The joy in designing for the catwalk is there is not always a mass market and a low cost budget to consider. As a designer you have more manoeuvrability.

LLO:  Which piece are you most proud of so far and why?
HS: The gold blazer from my collection. It was ironically one of the easier pieces to design as it seemed to design itself on the stand. After working on something for so many months I am often too close to my work to appreciate it, however for some reason I could still relate to this piece and enjoy wearing it myself. It is an example of an idea that remained strong from the initial sketch to its final fruition and therefore I am proud that it is mine.

LLO:What are your favourite materials to work with and the best places to buy them in London?
HS: For me, fabrics are of the utmost importance in a collection, so I take great pleasure in searching around fabric shops and showrooms to discover what is available. Shepherd’s Bush is a great place for toiling fabrics and there is a particular shop on Goldhawk Road which sells fantastic wools. There are a few showrooms along Great Titchfield Street that act as agents for factories and mills across the world. These places are ideal as you can touch and feel samples and quickly discover the vast range of fabrics that are on offer. I particularly love working with jersey and I actually sourced all of my silk jersey from Japan for my last collection.

LLO: You recently graduated from London College of Fashion and won the highly acclaimed Nina de York Illustration Award wowing people with your designs. What’s next for you?
HS: I want to keep experimenting in a range of Fashion Design disciplines. My loyalty will always remain with garment design and this is where I wish to build my career, however I feel that working in visual merchandising, buying and accessories, etc., all feeds my creativity and I hope to remain as creative a designer as possible. To study in Paris would be a fantastic opportunity and there are MBA courses that appeal to me greatly. However, I intend to gain further experience in the industry over the next few years before I embark on further education.

LLO: Any other up-and-coming London-based designers we should keep an eye on?
HS: Joanna Pritchard. I have known Jo throughout my time at London College of Fashion and she is a very talented, unassuming designer. Her minimalist style has a wide-ranging appeal but her detail attracts a closer scrutiny. Jo has just started an MA Womenswear Design course at Central St Martins and I cannot wait to see her move from strength to strength and produce an astounding collection.

Thanks Holly!

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

Elephants 151-160

Time for some more elephants. Here’s 151-160. Faves?

151. Wooly Mammoth by Laura Ford; originally at Hans Crescent
Wooly Mammoth

Wooly Mammoth

152. Frank by Leinz; originally at Market Place
Frank

153. Clearing by Lela Sheilds; Soho Square
Clearing

154. Gilt by Lily Lewis; originally in Golden Square Gardens
Gilt

155. ELEPHANTASTIC by Lily Marneffe; originally at 6 Devonshire Square
ELEPHANTASTIC

156. TINKLE by Louise Dear; Bruton Street
TINKLE 2

TINKLE

157. Deliverance by Loz Atkinson; Queens Walk, Royal Festival Hall
Deliverance

158. Eeipey by Lucy Clarke; originally in Windrush Square, Brixton
Eeipey

Eeipey

159. Mason by Lucy Fergus; originally at House of St. Barnabas
Mason

160. Kissed by Lulu Guinness; Carnaby Street/Broadwick Street
Kissed by Lulu Guinness

For more photos, interviews and other info, visit my Elephant Parade page. Stay tuned for the rest!

Elephants 111-120

Another dose of Elephant Parade for Thursday morning. Here’s numbers 111-120.

111. Mother Nature by Hannes D’haese; The Hempel
MOTHER NATURE

112. Tara by Mark Shand; Hyde Park – Speaker’s Corner
Tara

113. Monopoly Community Chest by Hasbro & Invited Artists; Hamleys Toy Store
Monopoly Community Chest

114. Zambi by Donna Goes; Hamleys Toy Store
Project Zambi

115. Eco the Elephant by Haverstock School & Olswang LLP; originally in High Holborn
Eco the Elephant

Eco the Elephant

116. Hornbill by Helen Cowcher; More London
Hornbill

117. Untitled by India Jane Birley; Queens Walk – Hungerford Bridge
Untitled

Untitled

118. Candy by Isaac Mizrahi; Carnaby Street/Marlborough Street
Candy

119. Oli by Issa; South Molton Street
Oli

Oli

120. The Singing Butler Rides Again by Jack Vettriano; Burlington Arcade
The Singing Butler Rides Again

For more photos, interviews and other info, visit my Elephant Parade page. Stay tuned for the rest!

London Street Pianos: There’s Music in the Air

Classical music drifts through the leaves of Postman’s Park, swirls past the plaques for those who have died saving the lives of others, sweeps over the purple flowers in the middle and people sitting on wooden benches applaud lightly. The girl at the piano pays them no mind. She’s lost in her music. The words “Play me, I’m yours” are scrawled across the instrument that’s positioned in the garden near a tree.

Street Piano - Postman's Park 2

Down near St. Paul’s two friends entertain a small crowd – one on piano and one on guitar sitting cross-legged on the ground. People are smiling, the usual hurried City pace interrupted by curiosity and a lovely sound.

Street Piano - St. Paul's

The piano near Millennium Bridge is empty, but the occasional passerby plucks a finger on a key and giggles shyly wishing she knew how to play, or remembered from her childhood.

Street Piano - Millennium Bridge 2

Over at Monument, the afterwork boys have gathered round, the top of the piano a table for drinks, one lucky colleague appointed to the keys and the others drumming on the side or singing which is sure to get louder and more off-key as the night rolls on.

Street Piano - Monument

And the Royal Exchange has turned into a one-man stage, a piano man and a lonely soul with a beer and a cigarette drunkenly dancing and swaying his worries away.

Street Piano - Royal Exchange 2

There are 21 street pianos set up in London, a project by Luke Jerram. A similar project is going on simultaneously in NYC, only they get 60 pianos. Humph. Most of the London pianos are in the Square Mile, but a couple can be found in Hampstead Heath and Southeast. They’re around until 10th of July. Play them. They’re yours.

Here’s a video from the street pianos website on Carnaby Street last year. How often do you get Londoners hanging out singing “Hey Jude” together?

For piano map and more info: www.streetpianos.co.uk