For the past ten years, Fashion East has been giving young designers their dream break. To celebrate, director and founder Lulu Kennedy has launched Lulu and Co, a special collaboration with those whose careers she helped to forge. i-D Online went to the launch at Harvey Nichols and then caught up with Lulu the morning after.
Young fashion designers can often face years of fruitless labour and rejection, but a select few are lucky enough to have Lulu Kennedy on their side. Since setting up camp in the Old Truman Brewery in 2000, Fashion East, her non-profit initiative, has helped start the careers of some of fashion’s finest, including Jonathan Saunders, Marios Schwab, Richard Nicoll and Gareth Pugh. So what better way to mark Fashion East’s tenth anniversary than by taking a trip down memory lane and creating Lulu and Co, a collection of ten dresses taken straight from the Fashion East archives.
“We wanted to mark the occasion in a really fun way”, says Lulu, “but we also wanted something tangible, something people could buy”. The result is an eclectic mix of dresses which includes a nude cashmere jumper from House of Holland, a patent leather bandeau dress from Gareth Pugh and from Jonathan Saunders, the reissue of the popular ‘Wyler’ dress, a floor length evening gown with a fire flame chiffon insert, worn by Lulu at the launch party; “It’s about the drama with that dress” she muses, “you can make an amazing entrance”. The label has also collaborated with new kids on the block, Louise Gray and Holly Fulton, as well as resurrecting the now defunct label House of Jazz with a stiletto print shift from their spring/summer 2003 collection.
“It’s an incredible honour that they put their name to something they essentially don’t have complete control of. I guess they’ve trusted us to do a good job”. Trusted her they have, as close friend Jonathan Saunders explains: “Why would you not get involved? She was the person who gave me my first shot, who believed in me when I first left college. I am so happy to be part of it.”
With Lulu and Co now successfully launched, plans are already underway for the next one. Lulu, staying true to the Fashion East ethos, is keen to include less-established names such as Michael Van Der Ham, Natascha Stolle and Simone Rocha, who has just showed with Fashion East for spring/summer 2011, commenting, “I am as excited to work with those newer names as I am with our current collaborators. I can’t wait!”
Lulu and Co is available from Harvey Nichols and matchesfashion.com