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Ethical London Fashion Week, Part Two

March 14, 2010 in Slow Luxury Fashion
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This week The Ethical Hedonist explores the idea of luxury with ethics. I want to introduce you to three design houses that epitomise this new grown up, sexy pragmatism. Emesha Nagy is a designer who worships at the altar of glamour, allure and refinement. Her fashion heroine is Vivienne Westwood. Now Emesha is dreaming up little black dresses for the red carpet. Designer Nicola Woods and her label beautiful Soul pushes the boundaries of what sustainable luxury can be with vintage kimonos reworked into sensual, highly tailored jackets, minis and waterfall swing coats that can be worn in a multitude of ways. Finally, we celebrate the return of quality and heirloom beauty with The North Circular – a high end knitwear house championed by super model Lily Cole. The North Circular celebrates British wool, artisan craftmanship and the endangered Wensleydale. This is the label to visit for the sweater dress to break hearts, opulent scarves to treasure and hats inspired by courtly tradition.

Emesha

While Ada Zanditon is blazing a comet’s trail for beautifully constructed ethical flights of fantasy, it will won’t be long before you start to hear about another young designer who is all about razor sharp tailoring, luxe natural fibres and red carpet allure. Her name is Emesha Nagy, and her second season at London Fashion Week created the kind of anticipation and excitement I have only experienced once or twice at an ethical show.

Emesha speaks softly, which belies the way she thinks. Her fashion heroine is la Westwood, and it shows. Her collection for winter is all about extremes. About love and hate, happiness and sadness, hard and soft, and loose, deconstructed garments juxtaposed against the perfectly engineered little black dress that cleaves and drapes for maximum allure. There is much to fall in love with: a sleek draped, one shouldered dress, perfect for the urban goddess; a sassy, impossibly girlish pink cape to complete an evening dress, and the big, statement, three quarter length car coat that has the wow factor, and just didn’t exist as an ethical idea until now.

There’s more.

I admire a silken black tuxedo jacket, the colour of midnight, and a svelte cocktail dress as blue as dusk on a summer’s night in sensuous silk with sheer organza panelling (a masterpiece in understatement) and think how very YSL. How sexy! How exciting! At last a designer who appreciates that the real women would like to have their ethical cake, and, might like to seduce a man at the same time. Hooray! I would really like to discover a serious, right on rival to my vintage La Perla dresses, because I am in danger of wearing them to death.

Emesha’s life in fashion began early. On her tenth birthday she was presented with a rock n roll Barbie; with flame red hair, and when she wasn’t making clothes for her miniature alter ego, she was mesmerized by extrovert, optimistic catwalk shows of the 1980s.

After graduating from The London College of Fashion in 2006, Emesha was invited to show her graduate collection at The Swatch Alternative Fashion Show and knew she wanted to incorporate fair working practices and sustainability into the very fabric of her feminine, alluring, carefully tailored clothes. As a consequence, you will only find natural silks, linens, wools and organzas in her sensual, day into night collections. Emesha is also committed to offering work to the wonderful artisans in her native Hungary.

Emesha – Ethical Credentials
Local and Community production in the UK
Only natural fabrics and fibres used
Ethical Hedonist Rating  ♥♥♥♥♥

www.emesha.com

The North Circular

Suddenly, it seems anyone who is anyone is falling in love with the British countryside, rescuing sheep and rediscovering the endless possibilities to transform British wool into unique and fashionable items of desire. Some might say just in the nick of time. Our British wool industry is on its knees, due to cheap foreign imports and the virtual disappearance of our traditional mills, spinners and dyeing industry. This is a calamity.

So hats off to Super models Lily Cole and Katherine Poulton, green wonder woman and entrepreneur Isobel Davies (From Izzy Lane) and Central St Martins alumni, designer Alice Ashby for dreaming up the North Circular and championing two, cherished institutions: our grannies, with first class knitting skills, and our rare and endangered Wensleydale Longwool, British sheep. Now here comes the clever bit: taking the lustrous raw fleece and transforming it into knitwear that is desirable, beautifully crafted, doesn’t itch and eureka isn’t just about shapeless layers for keeping warm when it is minus six outside.

The highlight for me is the goddess, Sea Cable sweater dress. I smiled the moment I set eyes on this beauteous garment at London Fashion Week. Then I thought of Daryl Hannah in Splash. This is a fisherman’s sweater dress fit for the Queen of the Mermaids. It is made in Scotland, by a family owned company and it has that wonderful Rolls Royce feel and quality of an artisan garment built to last. The fabulously sexy shape is down to very clever engineering. Alice has included two side panels, to give the sweater a highly tailored, bodycon shape. The result? A sweater that will give a girl curves and cling in all the right places like Brigitte Bardot in And God Created Woman; ‘yes, like the sweater girls in the sixties’, giggles Alice excitedly. And at £350.00, it is worth every penny, and will last for years if you cherish it properly. I predict it will be on a lot of wish lists this autumn; it will certainly be on mine.

You might also like to know that by buying a little something from The North Circular you are keeping the grannies in rich tea biscuits and gossip, and ensuring that Izzy Lane’s pretty sheep with their distinctive long ringlet coats live out there days gambling in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and graze on organic land.

The North Circular also create an uncommonly fabulous range of: bobble hats, beanies, gloves and opulent, circular scarves knitted by a team of super grannies including: Aileen, Lorraine, Jane, Eileen, Pat, Susan, oh and Luke from London, who is clearly not masquerading as grannie. He is also quite good looking!

The North Circular – Ethical Credentials
Local and Community production in the UK
Organic and natural fibres used
Upcycling
Ethical Hedonist Rating  ♥♥♥♥♥
www.thenorthcircular.com

Beautiful Soul

Nicola Wood’s sensuous, complex, richly textured clothes are truly inspired by a beautiful idea – the reworking of vintage Japanese kimonos into flowing evening coats, apron mini skirts and tiny, luxuriant fitted jackets and shrugs. Thus Beautiful Soul offers another way to dress ethically and with great care and consideration. I like her ideas. They are for the woman who likes to play with her image and get dressed in a thousand different ways. So a jacket can be worn front, sideways or even back to front. These are garments loaded with symbolism, wit and subtle, carefully considered sensuality, emphasized by a tie here and a pleat or fold there. No wonder her signature jacket has been snapped up for the V&A shop.

For winter Woods pays homage to the colour palette of a master – Yohji Yamamoto – with hues of fire red, black, white and intense, peacock blue. As I slipped on a tiny, silky, iridescent blue jacket I was transported to the film In the Mood for Love. If you have seen it, you will know that one of the highlights of this exquisitely mannered, bittersweet love story is the heavenly way the heroine dresses in her demure and very vibrant cheongsam dresses and heels. Beautiful Soul – an immaculate, soulful collision between east and west.

Beautiful Soul – Ethical Credentials
Local and Community production in the UK
Organic and natural fibres used
Man-made biodegradable and eco friendly fibres used
Recycling and upcycling
Ethical Hedonist Rating  ♥♥♥♥♥
www.beautiful-soul.co.uk

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about the author

Alison Jane Reid

Alison Jane Reid - Journalist, Editor & Emerald Princess of Slow, Sustainable Luxury Living - 18 year track record interviewing real icons for: The Times, The Lady, You, The Mirror and Country Life. Now leading her alluring fairtrade, emerald revolution - Don’t Miss Out - Have you joined The Ethical Hedonist set?



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