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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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Monday, May 4, 2009

Missing Persons

If Miss California's gay-unfriendly remarks ruffled your feathers, take a gander at London's Alternative Miss World, where imagination is encouraged and differences celebrated. Here, eccentric artist Andrew Logan, who began the event thirty-something years ago, ruled the roost Saturday night. Co-hosting with Ruby Wax, he lived up to the theme of The Elements with a Bauhaus-like outfit designed by Zandra Rhodes. Earth, air, water, fire—I was in my element! Music was supplied by The Irrepressibles, who had all been styled in cosmic costumes, à la Bladerunner meets the Triadic Ballet.

The majority of the twenty contestants had clearly spent the better part of the last few months constructing their insane outfits and choreographing their entrances and routines. It was a riot. Each one was as outrageous as the next. The size and complexity of the presentations escalated throughout the three rounds: daywear, swimwear and eveningwear. And yes, an interview, quality entertainment in the sense that none of the misses offered any kind of coherent enlightenment. Ruby showed no mercy.

By the end of the night my cheeks were hurting from smiling so much, and I can only imagine the fun that went on in the judges' huddle, which included Tim Curry, Julian Clary, Molly Parkin, Zandra Rhodes and Jonny Woo. But the most uplifting aspect of Alternative Miss World was the participation of so many generations. One contestant was eight months pregnant while another was probably on the the agenda from the inaugural contest in 1972.

text/photos by Fred Butler

Award Ceremony

Miss Bubbles of Hope

Miss Trailer Trash, Little Miss Sustainable

Miss No Signs of Any Civilisation Whatsoever

Judges Zandra Rhodes and Jonny Woo, Mademoiselle Sea-Sea-Sur Mer

Miss Fancy Chance (the winner)

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Following Hint's footage of its making, Ben Charles Edwards' "Eat Your Chiffon"—a dinner party hosted by Natt Weller and Zandra Rhodes, with a host of fashion names—finally goes live. Part I is the anticipation, Part II is Zandra multitasking in the kitchen while reminiscing about dressing Princess Di, the genius of Poiret and how “London still has a cutting edge, but the rest of the world doesn’t want to admit it.” Part III, the finale, sees Zandra and co. settling down to dinner and chewing the linguistic fat—Andrew Logan on how Divine was like a brother to him, Piers Atkinson on Zandra's brush-sweeping technique, Marios Schwab and much more. It's a fashion feast.

Part I

Part II

Part III

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Friday, December 7, 2007

Dean Mayo Davies ducks into a dinner happening chez Zandra Rhodes. Video footage by Michele Mei...

On Nov. 30, the great and the fabulous braved wintry London weather to gather at designer and color queen Zandra Rhodes' penthouse in Bermondsey. The occasion? A dinner party organized by Natt Weller (host of Dangerous To Know club and son of the legendary Paul Weller, founder of The Jam and The Style Council) and filmed by Ben Charles Edwards (best known for shooting drag diva Jodie Harsh), whose vision for the art film was a twisted mix of John Waters' Eat Your Makeup and the seventh chapter from Alice in Wonderland. Hence the title: "Chapter 7: Eat Your Chiffon."

As Zandra whipped up a storm in the kitchen (pea soup garnished with sesame salt to start), her illustrious guests began filtering in. First to arrive was Andrew Logan, iconic artist and jeweler extraordinaire who took the red dress code to extremes with a crimson suit, red velvet and bejeweled slippers, ruby-glass neckpiece and doorknob-sized ring. Elsewhere in the eclectic mix were new music sensation Bishi; ceramicist Kate Malone; Barbara Grispini, creative consultant to London Fashion Week; prop stylist and accessory whiz Fred Butler; hot women's designer Marios Schwab; and Piers Atkinson of Fashion Week tabloid The Daily Rubbish (which isn’t rubbish at all). When asked by Andrew about his conversation-steering strategy, Natt replied that he was "influenced by The Fern Cotton [teeny-bopper TV host] approach. A lot of listening is involved.” After all, you can’t plan chemistry.

Keep an eye out for the short when the first of three parts launches online in January. It's one of many future projects from Glass Loves, a fashion/art/communications company that previously worked with Zandra's Fashion and Textile Museum.

While you wait for the premiere, enjoy Hint’s cryptic, fly-on-the-wall video footage of the events and remember the off-camera wisdom of our pink-haired hostess: “When dyeing my hair, I put the coloring on my head as usual, but the secret is to wrap it up tightly in a turban and leave it on overnight, sleeping in it. If you don't, your hair will come out as only a pale pink. And who wants pale?!”

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