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Saturday, June 6, 2009

New Designer Alert: Dean Quinn

I first met Dean Quinn, who's just won the Womenswear Award at Central St Martins' BA graduation show, last year in New York when I was visiting Threeasfour, where he was interning. Having now finished his degree, he invited me to his London studio for a closer inspection, and here's what I learned.

The circulating crests of bugle beads that's become his signature came about by happy accident from a faulty measurement when arranging them in flat lines. The flashes of light that reflect from their staggered surface was inspired by sun shining onto skin through a blind in Bladerunner. The architectural shoulder silhouette—or the "Dean Shoulder"—was designed by exposing and stacking shoulder pads. Inside the jackets of his 50% hand-sewn collection is a complex network of tape to hold each piece in place so it lies flat on the body.

Dean's first foray into fashion was making a dress for his GCSE art project, which was lost on his conservative high school. But he sought out a mentor and, at only 16, traveled from Ireland to to London to intern with Zandra Rhodes. There he was put to work painting pattern designs and found out about applying to Central St. Martins. Fast forward eight years to his win—and on his birthday, no less.

—Fred Butler



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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Stella Performance

By Haidee Findlay-Levin...

Giving in to the suppressed urge for retail therapy, I popped into Barneys New York yesterday for Stella McCartney's trunk show, which gave me a chance to see the collection up close. Better still, Stella was there in person for a Q&A with the wonderfully witty Simon Doonan.

I knew Stella from my early styling days in London. I remember being at her precious jewel box of a studio in Notting Hill (when Phoebe Philo was still her assistant) at the moment Madonna's office called for the first time. I was amazed that the potentially blasé daughter of a Beatle could be excited by celebrity.

Stella is now, incredibly, a mother of three and running her own international clothing, accessory and beauty empire, plus designing a collaboration with Adidas. When Simon asked if she would like to do menswear, she answered with a resounding yes. Why not? She trained, post-Central Saint Martins, with a bespoke tailor who worked under the notorious Tommy Nutter. Suiting has been a part of her signature since her student days, even before her tenure at Chloé.

Now, as everyone knows, Stella is a lifelong vegetarian and promotes a cruelty-free ethos in her personal and professional lives. Although she passes no judgment on others, she is well-known for her staunch opposition to leather, designing all her accessories—shoes, bags, belts, etc.—in alternative materials. For this, she has drawn a lot of respect in an industry that loves all things animal: leather, exotic skins, fur and so on.

So, right then, just as I was thinking about her noble aversion to animal-made products, it happened. It. You know! I, a fellow vegetarian, unwittingly made the ultimate Stella faux pas by wearing not only the fairly forgivable leather boots and a leather bag, but also my Acne leather tunic complete with a jumbo leather and metal Tuareg [North African] necklace! I listened uneasily as she spoke about her affection for the jumpsuit, desperate to crawl into and disappear in one of them. But I rallied, hid part of my outfit under my short coat and I went to say hello, for old times' sake. And in true Stella form, she put (visible) judgment aside and was all compliments on my appearance.



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