Helen Lawrence Interview, a chat with the British designer to watch

INSIDER’S GUIDE; Central St Martin’s graduate Helen Lawrence is one of the fashion designers to watch in 2015.

Every year there’s one designer who sets the tongues wagging: Christopher Kane, Simone Rocha, Holly Fulton, Erdem… This year the buzz at London Fashion Week was around young British designer Helen Lawrence.

Fresh from a tenure with Fashion East, the coveted platform for emerging designers, this AW15 was Helen Lawrence’s first solo presentation. Her use of knitwear employs a new aesthetic in which beauty can be found in the flaws of the garment’s structure as well as the seams. The way in which Lawrence’s clothes work with the body creates a new silhouette, working with and against the human form in a rhythm all of it’s own. Lawrence is without a doubt a fashion designer to watch, and whilst her collection may not be for everyone her innovation is impossible to ignore.

For AW15 Helen Lawrence took her inspiration from the tape bound sculptures of artist Phyllida Barlow. ‘I wanted to create knitwear that would in someway bind itself around the body, so I combined elastic and lambswool yarns to create garments that hugged and bulged from different parts of the body.”


Helen Lawrence S/S 15 (credit: London is the Reason)

Lawrence is coming up alongside many innovative young British designers. Perhaps unsurprisingly then, her fellow Central St Martins student, Fashion East compatriot and current menswear superstar Craig Green is someone she has already collaborated with. ‘It was really exciting to translate the fabrics into menswear, which I’d never had the opportunity to do before.’ Lawrence also cites fellow Fashion East-er Louise AslopCaitlin Price and Sadie Williams as the designers to keep an eye on for the future.

What renders Helen Lawrence as a designer that stands out from the crowd is that she is not only interesting from an aesthetic perspective but from a technical one too, with the fabrics that she uses created in house. ‘It’s great to be able to completely control the structure of the material, and how it behaves on the body.’

A Newcastle native, Lawrence has settled in London and shows no signs of leaving. ‘London has a great support network for emerging designers. I’ve been able to create my collections and set up my business with the amazing support from Fashion East, British Fashion Council, and Centre for Fashion Enterprise.’


Designer Helen Lawrence

And whilst instagram is flooded daily with glittering images of life on The Frow, Helen Lawrence has no pretensions of having the time to enjoy the glamour that the fashion industry sells. Dressed in jeans and a baggy t-shirt, snacking on granny smith apples and peanut M&Ms and listening to Fleetwood Mac the designer will be spending the time between now and the next round of shows in September ‘completing the last of SS15 production, starting AW15 production and SS16 sampling.’ 

An easy life it is not, but for this young British designer the hard work is destined to pay off.


Helen Lawrence AW15

CULTURAL DIARY

CW: Old favourite?

HL: Dover Street Market

CW: New discovery?

HL: Little Ivy’s – Clapton

CW: Best-loved walk or view?

HL: Along regents canal from Broadway Market down through Victoria Park, and over to Hackney Wick. Finished off with a beer and pizza from Crate.

CW: Greatest meal you’ve ever had in London?

HL: Steak at Hill & Szrok – Broadway Market

CW: Favourite local restaurant/bar/pub?

HL: Restaurant: White Rabbit – Dalston and Pub: Talbot, Englefield Road on a Sunday – Best roast dinner!

CW: 
Hidden gem no-one else knows about? 

HL: Arcola Theatre,  Dalston

CW: Public/cultural/artistic figure you admire?

HL:Phyllida Barlow

First published on Culture Whisper, 16 March 2015

Twin magazine, Issue 10: Woman’s Hour band

Woman’s Hour band

For British readers the idea of Woman’s Hour, the band, conjures up images of Sue MacGregor on synths and Jenni Murray harmonising with Riot Grrl vigour about home births and the gender pay gap. And as formidable as that image is I doubt the world is ready for it. Step forward Woman’s Hour the minimalist four-piece hailed as Northern England’s answer to The XX. The fact that they’re named after the stalwart BBC Radio 4 programme which has given British listeners ‘a female perspective on the world’ since 1946 is sheer accident; they’d always titled tracks after radio shows and when it came to their first live performance, Woman’s Hour made sense – and it stuck.

The band formed three years ago when siblings Will and Fiona Burgess moved from Kendal in the Lake District to London, joining up with former schoolmates Nicholas Graves and Josh Hunnisett. “Music has always been a part of my life,” says Burgess. “But being in London piqued our curiosity to really give it a try.” What began as a bit of escapist fun, soon evolved into something more serious – they were scouted and signed to indie label within two months. But after releasing two singles they found themselves frustrated by the direction they were headed. “What we realised is that it had happened too quickly,” she explains. “And we weren’t really ready for it or in control.”

After leaving the label in 2012 to regroup, they began collaborating with respected 4AD producer Tom Morris. Together, they took a hold of their creative output. “Morris really helped us to be confident about finding our sound,” explains Burgess. And listening to their most recent releases – , and – it’s clear they’ve found it. Burgess’s ethereal vocals are laid over slow-moving beats that recall the pristine pop of Portishead and LA styles of Warpaint – all with an indie dash of celebrated fellow Cumbrians, Wild Beasts.

Beyond their sparse sound, what marks out Woman’s Hour is their knack for creative collaboration. Taking inspiration from the immaculate artwork of Kraftwerk and The Beatles’ The White Album cover by artist Robert Rauschenberg, this is a group for whom visual identity is equal to sound. Most notable is their recent collaborations with <Deutsche Börse Photography> prize-winning artists Oliver Chanarin and Adam Broomberg. “It’s a dialogue that happens pretty naturally,” says Burgess of the creative process. “Their work is concerned with questioning and critiquing the role of photography.” Using stills and film Chanarin and Broomberg, who recently exhibited at MOMA, help visualise the Woman’s Hour’s sound. The imagery often comes from the past: eccentric Eighties self-help and self-defence manuals with titles from to .  Such re-appropriation – taking a historical picture out of context to give it a completely different meaning – is pertinent to both artists and band. “We share an interest in the politics of photography and its role in everyday life,” says Burgess. “Our music tends to touch on emotional vulnerability. So a self-defence manual for women is a visual manifestation of that.”

Woman’s Hour’s most recent video stars Vilma, a deaf actress who signs to the song, interpreting the music through a series of vibrations. Hers is a visceral, not a literal, translation. The concept came about after Fiona saw two people signing to one another on the street. Here, imagery and sound combine to create something akin to performance. “It’s a look at how language can become dance,” says Burgess, who has just completed a masters degree in Theatre and Performance studies. “It’s about the performance in everyday life and how to express the rhythm of feeling.”

It’s no surprise that the performance artist Laurie Anderson is one of Burgess’s cultural heroines. “I’ve always found her really inspiring,” she says. “ is such a great song – and a perfect example of how music and performance art can connect. She managed to blur the lines between music and art in a really unique and powerful way.” Patti Smith too is a model for the band’s pursuit of an identity beyond their music. “It’s so comforting to know how Smith survived as an artist in the Seventies,” she continues. “She didn’t just see herself as a musician, but as a poet, a painter and an artist.”

The band’s debut album is the perfect description of their carefully crafted creative process. As seamless as their sound has become – this is a group who aren’t afraid of the grind. “We went on a real journey to put this album together. There was a lot of labour involved,” Burgess admits. “Some of the tracks were completely reworked, taking on totally different guises before we were all happy. But you work on something because you love it. For me the creative process is always going to be a layering of ideas.”

Conversations is out now on Secretly Canadian

 

 

Woman’s Hour’s top ten summer sounds

 

Animal Collective –

“Euphoric summer track.”

Gardens & Villa –

“Great garden. Great villa. Where’s the pool?”

Toots & the Maytals –

“This song invented summer.”

Jurassic 5 –

“As close to an LA summer as we’ll get.”

The War On Drugs –

“The best jam band.”

Bruce Springsteen –

“The boss is in charge of the summer.”

Tomas Barfod –

“For when the sun goes down.”

Juan Maclean –

“Slow-burning house track”

Kurt Vile –

“A sprawling sun-stricken hazy jam”

Diiv –

“Blissed out summer vibes.”

 First published in Twin, issue X, 2014

Vogue feature: Drama’s Ones to Watch

THIS year has been a big one for a whole host of exciting new British acting talent; from actress Alicia Vikander (Anna Karenina) and Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones) to brothers Luke and Harry Treadaway (Clash of the Titans and The Lone Ranger respectively). But who are the ones to watch out for in 2015? Here’s Vogue‘s crop of homegrown stars set to take the acting world by storm, both here and across the Atlantic.

The Girls

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Morfydd Clark

Last year Olivia played two lead roles at Shakespeare’s Globe – both receiving critical acclaim. She has just been offered the lead in the feature Blowing Louder than the Wind opposite Corinne Masiero. Olivia also starred in the acclaimed feature, Father of My Childrenwhich won the Jury Special Prize at Cannes in 2009.

One of this year’s Screen International Stars of Tomorrow, Aimee-Ffion Edwards caught our attention when she starred in Jez Butterworth’s play Jerusalem in 2009. If you don’t catch her in on the big screen in Queen and Country, out this winter, you’ll certainly see her on the small one – either in Peaky Blindersopposite Cillian Murphy, or in Wolf Hall opposite Damian Lewis (both on the BBC).

Playing a young Angelina Jolie in Disney’s Maleficent is a dream for any actress, yet this, coupled with taking the lead role in Wildlike, topped off an incredible year for 18-year-old Ella Purnell. Next year looks set to propel her to even more dizzying heights when she plays a young Jane in Disney’s Tarzan.

Next year promises to be an exciting one for Kaitlyn. She plays the leading role inMen, Women & Children, which has been accepted into the Toronto Film Festival, and has just wrapped a starring role with Catherine Keener in the indie film The Greens Are Gone.

The Boys

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Osy Ikhile

Osy has spent the year shooting leads opposite Nicholas Hoult and Robert Sheehan in Kill your Friends and Jet Trash respectively. He is currently shooting a grown-up’s version of Tarzan, featuring Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie, in which Tarzan is called back to his former home in the jungle (scheduled for release in 2016).

Ben Lloyd–Hughes

It’s no mean feat to rival the charm and flair of Jude Law, however that didn’t stop this bright young thing when he played his rival in Henry V earlier this year at the Noël Coward Theatre. With a leading role in the West End already behind him, Ben can next been seen in the forthcoming BBC series Life in Squares.

Callum Turner

This up-and-coming actor has already had a busy 2014. He’s appeared as Bill inQueen and Country and has just finishedFrankenstein alongside James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe. Look out for him on this side of the pond in Channel 4’sGlue and catch him soon in Jeremy Sauliner’s new American feature Green Room.

Tom Holland

Having already been named as a Breakthrough Brit by Bafta, it’s only a matter of time before this 18-year-old becomes a household name. With a role in The Impossible already under his belt, Tom will now take centre stage in the highly anticipated Channel 4 adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, directed by Peter Kosminsky.

Dominic Sherwood

Few people could get away with playing a young Mick Jagger, but Dominic Sherwood is one of them, in Not Fade Away. Look out for Dominic’s next feature film Take Down (rebellious students take matters into their own hands when the campus is taken hostage by criminals), alongside Ed Westwick.