The design focus of the i-Sustain IV, Michelle Lowe-Holder is a designer who has taken her courage in both hands and re-invented what she does to fully express the skills, interests and identity she wants to offer the world as a modern artisan.
The collars, cuffs and bibs that feature in her small but perfectly formed accessories collections certainly sit more in the realms of flamboyant self expression but also a perfect contemporary interpretation of the smocking, pleating, folding and foiling techniques that form the backbone of Michelle’s interest in fashion. After ten years competing in the often dispiriting and generic world of women’s ready to wear, where many of her ideas were lost in the need to compete with huge established brands, Michelle decided to take a risk and re-invent her business. Using materials from her own and other’s past collections, as well as those she found and sourced from the waste of other industries, she put together her first range of accessories. The product is a very personal expression of her creativity, skill and intelligence; we need more like her!
Why do you think you’re part of this project? I’m part of it because I was mentored by the London College of Sustainable Fashion in mid 2009. At this point I had been designing womenswear with “sustainable elements” only. Within the program I decided to re-think my AW10 collection – distilling the hand crafted details into accessories rather than applying them to garments. It was always the details I was interested and excited about. This also allowed me to push the collection in an even more ethical direction by utilizing cut-offs, end-line materials, zero waste processes and dominantly handmade pieces.
Do you have a philosophy? Try, try and try – I know it’s a cliché.
Who or what inspires you? All my collections started with textile design, either in print or dimension. I find an image or fabric detail and develop and re-work the technique or feeling. Most of my collections have 50-100 sample development swatches. My first accessory collection (“AW10 Ribbon Reclaim”) designed in 2009, was inspired by a vintage pin-cushion I bought many years ago. In April 2010 I collaborated with boutique “Darkroom” re-working the same fabric folding technique in African fabrics. I have since built on this in each collection – with new cut-offs/end of lines available, different print techniques and the introduction of hardware.
What’s unique about your work? Wearable but edgy; soft but geometric; handcrafted but slick; ethical but accessible.
What could you do better? A question for the insecure!! I could do many things better. In an “ethical sense”, for individuals, I believe the coming challenges and necessities for “doing better” are huge.
Where can we buy your collections? My collections are sold at boutiques : Darkroom / Luna and Curious / 123 / Beyond the Valley and internet sales :boticca.com / NJAL .com / nonesuchthings.com / Hiddenart.com
What are you working on now? I am working on the new SS12 collection to be shown at LFW, Somerset House @ Esthetica , Sept 16th – 20th. I have just finished designing two dresses featured in the opening of the video “Smashing Future Fashion” in collaboration with “The Believers” debuting at New York Fashion Week, Sept 9th “BIG SCREEN PLAZA” 6PM and LFW films (date TBA).
Most of the accessory pieces in i-sustain IV were designed and made exclusively for this shoot.
Re-touching: Russell Day @ Daybreak Creative
Hair: Eamonn Hughes @ Premier Hair & Makeup using Kiehls stylist series
Make up: Veronica Martinez using Shiseido
Models: William P @ Elite, Julia S @ Storm
Photographer’s Assistant – Jonathan Leigh
Styling Assistant – Samantha Williams
Head here to see our i-Sustain series in full.