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Meet the 2017 judges: Elsa May, Product Manager Fashion of Première Vision Paris

17 May 2017 by Roger Tredre

Elsa May of Première Vision is one of the judges of this year’s Texprint Awards. We spoke to her about creativity and working for PV.

Elsa May is Chef de Produits Mode at Première Vision. That means Product Manager Fashion, and it’s an important role, not only for the company but for the industry at large.

That’s because Première Vision Paris is the world leader event for fashion industry professionals. It’s held twice yearly in Paris at the giant Paris-Nord Villepinte and is known to most people in the business simply as PV – a must-see event for anyone in the fashion and textile business.

Première Vision Designs, the specialist design show formerly titled Indigo, sits within the main PV and is a long-running major sponsor of Texprint.

Elsa May studied fashion design at ECSCP, the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. She then developed expertise in fashion trends at Peclers Paris, one of Europe’s best known trends research houses, an expertise that prepared her perfectly for her work at PV.

A highlight of the year for Texprint designers is the chance to exhibit at Première Vision Designs in September (Sept 19-21 are the dates in 2017). This opportunity has launched the careers of many generations of designers, some of whom return to PV later with their own studios.

PV is also where the Texprint Awards presentation is held, so it’s a key part of the calendar for Texprint – the place where Texprint interlinks with the rest of the international industry.

 

What do you look for when you are judging a design award?

I guess, above all, creativity, which can be expressed in various ways – the technique and the innovative process of fabrication. Which does not necessarily mean complicated. Often, the most stunning designs seem so obvious that it seems unbelievable no one thought of them.

The content and the creative process are key elements of design: sketches, mock-ups, textures that create sensations and are inspirational. These really leave a trace and stay in the mind.

Also, I look at the way the work is presented: the shape things take, the way the portfolio/garment/book is designed. And the way the students/ designers present their work – how they talk about it can be valuable.

After working at PV since 2013, you must have seen a great deal of Texprint designers’ work?

Yes, the creativity I see from Texprint is amazing. For knits or weave developments as well as prints. I really admire the work – and, to be honest, it even makes me long to go back to school!

How does the Fashion Team at PV work, and what does your job involve?

We are seven working full-time on the PV team. Each of us is in charge of a different aspect of the fashion information for the specific shows. My focus is Première Vision Designs and Fabrics.

But we all build the season together from the very beginning, from the very first research. It starts with our ‘concertation’ meetings that are held with our exhibitors and professionals from the industry twice each season. They collaborate with us to merge the reality of their developments and our projections to develop each unique season.

We then write, construct and transmit the information to our exhibitors to help them to build their collections. I’m specifically in charge of the fashion information that is sent to the design studios at PV Designs, which is apart from PV Fabrics, but also related.

The artistic direction and shape of the PV Designs forum, as well as the selection of the designs shown at the show, are the responsibility of the PV Fashion team.

Elsa May presents trends at Première Vision

How important are organisations such as Texprint in your view?

Very important. These creative students are the designers of tomorrow!

How – and where – do you find creative inspiration for your own work?

I love living in a capital because of the incredible cultural variety it has, whether it be Paris, London, Brussels, New York… And travelling around the globe – the opportunities I have with PV to discover the diversity of creative expression in countries like Japan, Brasil, Turkey. It’s infinite!

Seeing art and design exhibitions and fairs, openings, school shows, but also theatre, dance, musical venues, contemporary new ways of sound and visual design – all these are very inspiring to me. Of course, sometimes just walking around and looking up or down or close-up – in cities as well as nature – can be a great inspiration.

Première Vision, February 2017 edition

Alumna Stories: Flett Bertram, Lesage

03 May 2017 by Roger Tredre

Spring/summer 2016 Chanel ready-to-wear

One designer’s trip to Paris with Texprint in 2014 turned into a job opportunity at the legendary couture embroidery atelier of Lesage. Flett Bertram tells us how Paris became her home.

Designer Flett Bertram, from Cambridgeshire, is loving the experience of living in Paris and working for Lesage, the historic couture embroidery atelier.

She first heard about Lesage while studying at the Royal College of Art in London for a Master's degree in Mixed Media textiles. “Hubert Barrère, artistic director at Lesage, came to give a talk and I was fascinated. When I came to Première Vision in 2014 with Texprint, I asked Lesage if they would take a quick look at my stand. They did – and things developed from there.”

They certainly developed fast. Three years on, we interviewed Flett to learn more about her French experience.

Images of Flett's work for Chanel: left and right - spring/summer 2016 couture; centre - spring/summer 2017 resort

Where is the studio based, and how many designers are in the team from what kind of backgrounds? 

The studio is based on the outskirts of Paris, just next to the canal which is super in summertime for picnics.

There are about 70 people working at Lesage in total. That includes a large team of highly skilled embroiderers, a drawing team and a weaving team. Not forgetting everyone involved in quality control and production.

The design team is fairly small. Some of the girls (we're all quite young so I still consider us girls!) studied textiles to Masters level as I did. Other members of the team come from a Haute Couture background.

How is the experience of working and living in Paris?

I find life in Paris incredibly peaceful in comparison to my previous life in London. It's wonderful to be able to cycle home along the canal or take a stroll up to Montmartre after work. Paris is a city of observers: everyone loves to sit en terrace and watch the world go by. It's ideal for designers like me who are always searching for inspiration. People are rarely in a rush and they like to take their time to enjoy life's simple pleasures. I know it's a cliché, but they also really value the work/life balance much more than we do back in Britain. Leisure time is sacred. As is good wine.

As a student, I rarely stepped away from my desk. With hindsight, I realise how important it is to take time out just to do other stuff, and then to return the next day feeling refreshed, full of enthusiasm and with a new perspective on things. To come back with 'fresh eyes' is how I like to describe it.

Flett, out-and-about in Paris

You studied as a textiles designer at London College of Fashion and the Royal College of Art. What are the additional skill sets you need to design at Lesage?

At college I was very reflective and took a lot of time over every decision. In industry, you have to be far less attached to what you're doing. You have to make decisions faster and learn to view your work from the perspective of the client. There are no additional skill sets required – all you need is your creativity.

Has your own design aesthetic evolved since you left college?

My role at Lesage is to design and create exciting embroidery swatches that we then present to clients. Here at Lesage, we already have one of the largest archivesof embroidery swatches in the world, so it's imperative that each of my swatches brings something new and inventive. I find that my design aesthetic is constantly evolving as I search for new ideas and techniques.

What’s a typical day like for you?

Each day begins with un petit café when I arrive between 9-9.30am. If I skip this step, then all hell will be let loose. After that I go directly to my metier (that means embroidery frame) to get swatch-making! We usually work towards a theme that we will have each individually researched.

Once I get going with an idea, I know not to stop even if I'm not convinced it's going well. Often I'm pleasantly surprised by the end result! I usually manage to make one or two embroidery swatches a day. There's not too muchpressure, we all work at our own speed. Sometimes the inspiration is there, and sometimes it's not.

We usually finish at around 5.30 or 6pm. If it's the run up to a big catwalk show, then we'll end up staying later – it's all hands on deck to get everything prepared.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Colour, form, texture, technique, material – inspiration is everywhere. I use the internet a lot but that's mainly just a starting point to get the juices flowing. A lot of my inspiration comes when I'm already working on a swatch, so I like to keep a little notebook nearby to jot down my ideas.

What are your memories of Texprint?

I have great memories of our trip to Paris and of Première Vision. I remember that we were all extremely nervous when carrying out our first few sales but I think our confidence slowly improved... as did our sales banter! I also recall that the last day of Première Vision was my birthday, so it was great to be in Paris for that.

Flett, out-and-about in Paris

Flett, out-and-about in Paris

Texprint alumna stories: Cherica Haye, designer, Rolls-Royce Bespoke

17 April 2017 by Roger Tredre

Cherica Haye, a Texprint designer in 2013, now creates beautiful car interiors for Rolls-Royce.

She’s a designer who specialises in material makeup and innovation for the luxury goods sector. Cherica Haye, who initially studied textiles at Central Saint Martins, became interested in the sector while building a portfolio of conceptual textiles for carmakers at the Royal College of Art.

After Texprint, Rolls-Royce design director Giles Taylor invited her to join the bespoke division of Rolls-Royce, the studio of designers and artisans who create the marque’s most prestigious custom models.

Her work includes the Serenity Phantom, displayed at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, and praised by CNN as “the world’s most beautiful Rolls-Royce”. The interior of the Serenity Phantom was upholstered with pastel green raw silk, sourced from Suzhou, China and woven in the UK. Flowers referencing Japanese royal robes and chinoiserie were embroidered and hand-painted. Simply beautiful.

Cherica reviewing material finishes at the Rolls-Royce studios

Tell us about how you came to work for Rolls-Royce Bespoke.

At my RCA Graduation show in 2013 I was introduced to Giles Taylor, and had the opportunity to present my work to him and talk him through the conceptual thinking behind it. Mr Taylor took my details and about a year later, whilst working for Lululemon in Vancouver [Cherica had won a Lululemon Texprint Award, which included a three-month internship], an opportunity became available for me to join the Rolls-Royce colour and materials team. I started in Goodwood in July 2014.

Where is the studio based, and how many designers are in the team from what kind of backgrounds? 

The Rolls-Royce Bespoke design studio is set in in the beautiful West Sussex countryside in Goodwood, England. Goodwood is the home of Rolls-Royce, where every car has been handbuilt since 2003. Bespoke design is currently home to a team of 20 designers, including one intern and two bespoke design engineers. Each designer brings specialised expertise to the team in a variety of fields, not just from the world of automotive design.

Embroidered and hand-painted detailing

Rolls-Royce (and you) received some excellent publicity for the Serenity Phantom shown in Geneva in 2015. How did that come about?

The Serenity Phantom was one of the very first projects I worked on when I joined the team in Goodwood. It was incredibly exciting and not at all what I expected! I was really amazed at the possibilities we had at our fingertips at Rolls-Royce, and how some of our customers trust our taste to the extent that we have almost a free reign on the design, layout and aesthetic. With Serenity, the head of Colour and Materials at the time really wanted to create something exceptional to elevate the brand and enchant our patrons. My background in textiles and as a weave designer/maker fitted perfectly to the one-off nature of this project, as I am used to making unique, one-off materials to suit each client.

Serenity introduced a completely new level of individualised luxury to a modern Rolls-Royce. We were inspired by the amazing interiors of elite Rolls-Royces of the past, where leather was seen as a more functional material, and high-end bespoke fabrics and silks were seen as the ultimate luxury. We felt inspired to share this heritage with our customers in a very modern, contemporary way.

Interior of the bespoke Serenity Phantom shown in Geneva 2015

You studied as a textiles designer at CSM and the RCA. What are the additional skill sets you need to design car interiors?

Along with a strong knowledge of materials, fabric construction and design, a good working level knowledge of how to use the Adobe suite of programs (Photoshop, Illustrator) will really help you visualise your ideas quickly and effectively. You also have to be prepared to learn a lot about the additional factors in addition to design that affect a car interior – safety, construction and durability all play a part.

Has your own design aesthetic evolved since you left the RCA?

I would say so. I think I have become more of a perfectionist with a much more intense attention to detail.

Where do you find your inspiration?

My background in fashion naturally means that couture is a big influence, but I also find inspiration in nature and architecture. I especially like using them together. I find that the juxtaposition of these subjects brings unexpected beauty. 

So how would you bespoke decorate a Rolls-Royce for yourself?

I would have everything Bespoke. Come to think of it, I would probably create a car from the ground up, because for me a Rolls-Royce is a work of art and should be passed down from generations to generations like one-off couture garments. 

To start, the model of my choice would have to be a Phantom bespoked with a one-off exterior two-tone paint, which has paint technology that allows the paint colour to do a complete shift from one colour to another when seen at different angles. The colour palette is inspired by the vibrant natural world of the tropics and my travels.

For the interior, I would have all the seat front tailored with layered woven silk. The seat backs and the driver’s seat would be colour matched to the fabric and covered in leather. The interior environment would be complementary to the exterior, adding considered colour/material breakup throughout that tell an authentic story.

And to finish, I would most definitely add Rolls-Royce signature starlight headliner (the headliner features a series of fiber-optic lights mounted inside the ceiling of the car, the design of which is unique to the owner, and looks like star constellations in the sky).

Interior of the bespoke Serenity Phantom shown in Geneva 2015

 

 

Alumnus update: Mikey Womack, Design Union and Textile View

08 April 2017 by Editor

It’s certainly unusual for a young textile designer to see his work on the front cover of an international magazine just months after graduation.  But thanks to the keen eye of designer Eileen Gleeson, and her instinct for talent, Mikey Womack found himself working on a special print forecast edition of Textile View published for top European trade fair Premiere Vision.

Eileen Gleeson set up Design Union first in New York after graduating Brighton Polytechnic studying under John Miles, then moved back to London where she is now based with her team of artist/designers.

She first spotted Mikey while interviewing graduates for Texprint in June 2016 (in order to be selected for Texprint, over 200 graduates put forward by their college tutors and are interviewed by panels of industry professionals).  Eileen says her first impressions were of a young designer who worked in a highly sensitive and original way, “painting from the gut” as she describes it. 

Front cover, Textile View special edition

Eileen continues: “His work impressed me with its strong and fluid painterly style – unique and very individual with a hauntingly beautiful colour sense, not over polished instead a little strange and ethereal.  Individualism was the theme for our View shoot, we were looking at portraits and in particular paintings of Marlene Dumas, his work slotted perfectly in.”

Eileen had previously worked with David Shah publisher of Textile View magazine, so when she got the brief to work on the autumn/winter 2018/19 print trends for Issue 117 the timing was right and the work Mikey developed with such a natural ease was adopted - the results are just brilliant.

From Mikey’s point of view, the opportunity was mind-blowing: “With Eileen, I started brainstorming ideas, we looked at Basquiat and Marlene Dumas, and looked through my portfolio to decide on which direction to go. She gave me a lot of creative freedom, which was fabulous. I came up with the name 'Soft Punk' for the trend as it combined pastel, spring time shades and delicate, ghostly colours with an energetic punk-style drawing. The whole process was very instinctive, I literally decided on the colours by picking up used brushes that had been tinted by paint over time and taking the colours from them (the image of the brushes ended up getting published in the edit!) 

Seeing my work eventually being turned into a garment worn by a model and styled with an amazing backdrop was a proud moment for me. Then having the director of Textile View magazine love the spread enough to want it on the cover was mind-blowing. I can't thank Eileen, Design Union and Textile View enough for the opportunity!”

Looking forward, Mikey is freelancing and exploring a number of exciting new projects including a print collection for a womenswear brand in China, a collection for a new London menswear brand (which showed at Copenhagen Fashion Week), and designing the album artwork for an up-and-coming band!

Following images - Design Union and Textile View autumn/winter 2018/19 print trends...

 

Alumna stories: Elmina Fors, knitwear designer

25 March 2017 by Roger Tredre

Swedish knitwear designer Elmina Fors has built her own small business following her experience at Texprint in 2014. And small can be very beautiful.

She comes from a town where daylight never happens for three weeks in December and temperatures plummet to -30 degrees centigrade. No surprise perhaps that knitwear designer Elmina Fors likes to make what she describes as “warming clothes”.

© Elmina Fors 2017

The Swede, who was a Texprint designer in 2014, grew up in Kiruna, the northernmost town in Sweden. “You wear wool garments most of the year. I do like to use natural fibres and good quality yarns that feel good on the body.”

Elmina Fors Knitwear designs, makes and sells knitted accessories including scarves, hats, socks and wrist warmers, as well as soft throws and cushions. Her teal and orange Artisk scarf, available in teal and orange, or black and white, is a typical example of her work, the pattern inspired by age-old Northern Scandinavian patterns used on jumpers, made in a soft slightly felted Merino lambswool, wide and long to wrap over the shoulders. For the Spring/Summer season, she’s working with some new natural yarns including cotton/lambswool for her oversized Trekant jumpers and a lovely Swedish linen yarn from Vaxbo Lin for linen jumpers and scarves. 

© Elmina Fors 2017

A sense of tradition and connection with the past runs through all her work. “I like the history of patterns. Everyone has a connection to repeated patterns and geometric shapes because people have been doing them for a very long time. There is such a wealth of patterns that have travelled across the world.”

At home in Kiruna, handknitting was a family matter. “My mum taught me how to knit, and her mum taught her. It’s always something that people do there – people make things for themselves or family members. You fix things in your own home. I like that idea of DIY. You don’t have to buy new all the time.”

Saying Scarf: only wear clothes you can dance in  © Elmina Fors 2017

And there was a joyous communal aspect to it too. “Only wear clothes you can dance in” are the words stitched into her Saying Scarf, taking the words from a favourite saying of a friend. (See Fors’ video with the same title, created with R&A Collaborations).

Only Wear Clothes You Can Dance In - Elmina Fors from R&A Collaborations on Vimeo.

She first came to the south coast of England to study knitwear design at Brighton University, expanding her skill sets to machine knitting and developing her own design aesthetic. Then came the breakthrough with Texprint, which gave her the platform to present her work on an international stage in Paris.

© Elmina Fors 2017

Fors made her home in nearby Hove, coincidentally not far from Texprint honorary chairman Barbara Kennington. The designer now plans to relocate back to her home country, where she has identified a studio in Stockholm, ready for occupation in July, but she intends to maintain her strong links with the UK.

She has good memories of Texprint. “It was really useful, all the support and advice, and meeting other designers. I looked at all the big labels and design houses at Première Vision Designs and asked myself whether it was possible to have your own business and keep it very small and local. So it started as a kind of experiment.”

The experiment has worked out well, although it’s hard work, as Fors acknowledges. “I have always wanted to work hard and I’ve learned to make decisions on my own. I think many makers are quite introvert personalities, and we have to be focused and organised. Yes, it’s hard but it can be so rewarding.”

Texprint’s Barbara Kennington says: “I love Elmina’s work and admire her desire to ‘do her own thing’. Setting up on your own is not for every designer. It can be tough as you learn to multi-task all the essentials - from marketing to organising production, finance management to deciding on retail options (pop ups, fairs or selling to buyers).”

She adds: “To run your own business, you need to be willing to work hard, call in friends and family to help, and put up with limited studio space and often working on your own. Participating in the Texprint programme certainly helps young designers to prepare for this.”

www.elminafors.uk

© Elmina Fors 2017

Surface View: the 2017 EDITS collection

16 February 2017 by Roger Tredre

Collection curated by leading interiors, food and still life stylist Sania Pell

A delightful new home textiles collection from Surface View is titled Abstraction | Edit – and every designer involved is from Texprint.

The artwork is inspired by drawing and mark making, while the colour palette is delicious – teal, terracotta, peach, mint, neutral shades of grey from pale to dark, with flashes of jewel-like emerald green and sapphire.

Texprint 'Abstraction' EDITS collection for Surface View © Mikey Womack 2016

Six of the 2016 Texprint designers participated in the collection, which was developed in collaboration with Surface View, the bespoke interior decoration company. Curated by leading interiors, food and still life stylist Sania Pell, it’s a real treat.

Designers participating include Chloe Frost (winner of the 2016 Texprint Colour Award), Mikey Womack, Grace Lomas (Texprint Fashion Award winner), Irene Infantes, Isla Middleton (Texprint Interiors Award winner) and Emmeline Kellett.

The new collection is now available to view and buy on the Surface View website. The designers receive important publicity and recognition as well as royalties on all sales. Products include printed cushions, lampshades, window films and large-scale canvases.

Texprint 'Abstraction' EDITS collection for Surface View

This is the latest annual installment in an ongoing, acclaimed series of curated collaborations (EDITS) developed by Surface View with a different curator every year. For 2017, it’s the turn of Pell, a London-based interiors stylist perhaps best known for her long-term association with Elle Decoration magazine (regularly styling interior trend stories and covers). “It’s always such a pleasure looking through new designers’ work,” says Pell. “It’s the part of my work I enjoy the most, and I always seek to include as much new work as possible in my styling.”

She was instantly drawn to the free mark-making style of Mikey Womack, with its hint of graffiti. “It really captured my attention. His drawing is so fresh. It’s interesting to see how it can be explored through home products, such as on a cushion.”

How does she find inspiration in her work? “It’s a feeling, isn’t it? It’s a hunch with trends – something out there in the ether.”

You can tell that Pell has the right hunches. On the day we meet, she’s wearing a zesty green top that is a dead ringer for Pantone’s 2017 Colour of the Year (the exact colour name is Greenery 15-0343), but it’s most certainly not a case of her copying Pantone!

One of her favourite jobs last year was styling product for Tate Modern In the museum’s new extension just before it opened. “We really pared it back and presented the product as hero in the amazing architectural space. I felt like one of the luckiest people in the world.”

Sania Pell for the Tate Modern

Pell herself trained as a textile designer at the Edinburgh College of Art, and it remains her first love. She enjoyed working for London studios for six years before deciding to try her hand at styling and shifting into a new career. Fast forward to the present – and she’s a popular and highly respected name in the interiors styling world, with two books to her name (as well as two children).

She laughs as she explains how she was put forward for Texprint some 20 years ago, but didn’t make the final award-winning cut. “I thought I had a chance at the Colour Award, but when they were reviewing my portfolio they skipped past the colour and were drawn to my black and white drawings instead.” So it’s a pleasure for her to return in style for the Surface View collaboration.

Founded nine years ago, Surface View is part of digital print company VGL. It uses state-of-the-art print technology for application to a wide variety of interior products, building a reputation for being able to print images on virtually anything.

Based in Reading, Berkshire, the company already has a long association with Texprint, producing the signage for events in London, Paris and Shanghai. The collaboration came about as a result of conversations with managing director Michael Ayerst following a visit to the Texprint exhibition in London in 2014.

Alissa Sequeira of the Surface View marketing team says: “This year’s Texprint Edit takes on an entirely different identity. Mixing the designers’ diverse styles, Sania has curated an exciting selection of work that brings a fresh offering to our Edits. Supporting upcoming talent is always a pleasure for us and we are thrilled to continue the collaboration with Texprint. It has been wonderful to work with Sania – her expansive experience in both design and styling is evident in her considered approach to the curation of the Edit. We’re delighted with the final choices and are looking forward to working with these superb products.”

www.saniapell.com 

www.surfaceview.co.uk

Texprint 'Abstraction' EDITS collection for Surface View © Chloe Frost 2016

 

Texprint 'Abstraction' EDITS collection for Surface View © Emmeline Kellett 2016

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