The fourth in a 12-part series intended to change the way you buy and wear fashion. This month we feature accessories designer Michelle Lowe-Holder.
William wears cape Omer Asim. Jeans Monkey Genes. Julia wears dress Omer Asim. Jersey dress White Tent. Accessories Michelle Lowe-Holder.
Often when we are made aware of big global issues, be it climate change, poverty, epidemics, natural disasters we get lost in the immensity and insanity of the problem, and we’re left with a sense of impotency even absurdity. In most cases, no matter how many times we’re bombarded with information, it is only when we find a personal connection to the problem that our mindset shifts and eventually our behaviour changes. We decided to spread the i-sustain project over twelve months so that we could focus on a wide range of different designers and different perspectives, in the hope that some word, picture or quote might resonate in a way that sparks that personal connection.
Julia wears dress Dr Noki’s NHS. William wears trousers and jacket William Richard Green. Accessories Michelle Lowe-Holder.
Moving towards a more sustainable society isn’t just about offering practicalsolutions handed down from on high; it’s also a personal challenge for us all as individuals. We need to understand and respect the interdependence between ourselves and the people, places and possessions that surround us. Fashion has an important role to play in this process because it is both a poetic and a practical medium, one that has an intrinsic role in everyday life but still has the capacity to inspire, surprise and evoke.
Jumpsuit Hussein Chalayan. Accessories Michelle Lowe-Holder.
As we’re restricted to a few hundred words each month we’re often forced to apply a broad-brush, so this month we decided not to re-visit the obvious issues but instead to explore a more abstract concept, in this case the role of the ‘modern artisan’ in today’s fashion industry. So often we fail to appreciate the time, skill and dedication that goes in to making everything we own and our clothes are no exception. Hark back fifty years and things were very different; tradesmen and artisans were often part of communities, providing goods and services that hailed from their own hands and as a result people understood what they were paying for.
William wears trousers and shirt William Richard Green. Julia wears dress and shawl Omer Asim. Accessories Michelle Lowe-Holder.
Perhaps rather than looking at branding, advertising and celebrity endorsement to help us shape our taste, we should learn again to understand and respect the specialism and skills of individuals. Niche does not have to mean irrelevant or insignificant, a successful industry can be formed of many small components that operate effectively, efficiently and creatively within their own area; a network of designer makers providing us with the artistry and the industry that can fulfil everything from our need for wearable clothing to our very human desire for self expression.
Jumper Hussein Chalayan. Leggings Mark Fast. Accessories Michelle Lowe-Holder.
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!
Click here to read interview with Michelle.
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.