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Leutton Postle: a dynamic fashion partnership
01 May 2012 by Joyce Thornton
Sam Leutton (Texprint alumna 2009) is now one half of a creative partnership formed with her long time friend Jenny Postle. Now working as Leutton Postle, the duo is currently working on their third season. Leutton Postle’s wonderfully rich and imaginative textiles define each piece in their inventive collection, and they describe their aesthetic as “awkward pretty”. They scooped the Vauxhall Fashion Scout Merit Award for their spring/summer 2012 collection during London Fashion Week in September 2011. We caught up with Sam to find out more:
Leutton Postle's creative collaboration
What made you decide to form a partnership - creating Leutton Postle? Jenny and I have been friends for ages, we both knit and we have a similar aesthetic in our work. When Jenny finished her MA (at CSM) I was freelancing and it was a natural progression for us to join forces.
You are both creative people with individual ideas – so how does the partnership work? We bring together our own personal ideas and inspirations, hash and re-hash them together and throw them in a kind of melting pot of knitting and textiles. The result is a fabric, a garment or a product that has a bit of both of us in it.
In practical terms – how do you divide up the essential non-creative tasks of running your own business? If we've got certain tasks that need doing we generally work on them together, or whoever is the most alert/least knackered takes over!
Can you describe a typical day at work? It starts with tea and lots of it. Jenny is very chirpy in the morning whereas I'm usually not human until noon. We're not massively organised, so each day is very different but usually involves a lot of emailing, the odd meeting and, if we're lucky, some making.
What inspires you in your work? Oh, all-sorts. We don't restrain ourselves by certain subjects in particular but in the end the last collection [autumn/winter 2012/13] came from a mulch of 1970s textiles and Nigerian appliqué techniques.
Leutton Postle textile detail
Do you have favourite materials that you work with? Where to start… we use anything up to 20 different yarns in a garment but I especially like a weird chenille which looks like rubber bands but feels like a Sylvanian Family character. I also love a fuzzy mohair, super shiny iridescent fabrics, and cords and tapes.
What is your vision for Leutton Postle’s future? To grow steadily and retain our creativity.
You graduated in 2009 and went to China – what were you doing and who were you working for? After graduation, I was offered the opportunity to work for Stoll, a German knitwear company. I worked in the design department developing knitted fabrics and garments.
What was it that first drew you to knitwear? I loved how I could make a whole new fabric with one continuous thread. And then be able to add in other fabrics; manipulating the knitted piece to create something new again. I did, and still do, find knitting quite amazing.
What qualities do you think are needed to be successful in knitwear design? Patience, lots of it. Learning to knit was very frustrating for me, so endurance too! But really a love for textiles and experimentation are good attributes to have.
What have been the significant moments in your career so far? Starting Leutton Postle; the emotional roller-coaster of creating a collection and the resulting shows. Also, Björk ordered pieces from our spring/summer 2012 collection. If we could choose one person in the world to wear our pieces it would be her - so for her to pick us is beyond flattering.
Harold Tillman and Texprint's Peter Ring-Lefevre with Sam Leutton at Indigo Paris 2009
What did being part of Texprint mean to you? It was flattering to be chosen to take part in Texprint. It gave me a great insight into the industry very soon after graduation. A highlight was exhibiting in Paris and being around like-minded textile designers.
Advice to new graduates? Relax, unwind and clear your head. For me, my career so far has happened very naturally but I think it's important to nurture relationships with people who are in the industry that you are in.
Advice to those just embarking on a textile or fashion degree? Be as creative as you can. On your degree you can do what you like and don’t be swayed by commerciality, so make the most of it!
What are your long-term plans? For Leutton Postle to continue and to get better and stronger. We want to continue to wow people. Other than that it would be great to open a crazy shop. I'd love to do more pieces specifically for performance. And I'd like to work on some non-fashion art work at some point.
New Horizons: Alydia Cooper, Holly Holmes and Georgia Dorey
22 April 2012 by Joyce Thornton
Embroidery and print specialist Alydia Cooper has been very busy since her time with Texprint in 2011. Alydia has created new work including her Under the Sea collection featuring a new range of sea animals depicted in her distinctive, decorative style. She says: “I exhibited at the Knitting and Stitching Shows in Harrogate and Dublin as part of their graduate showcase at the end of 2011. I decided to aim some of my collection towards the childrenswear market and have spent time contacting children’s nurseries and other outlets. More recently, I exhibited at [needlework show] L'Aiguille-en-Fête in Paris in February 2012, as well as continuing to work on special commissions – I’ve done bespoke chair covers and cushions for interiors.” Alydia found her Texprint experience beneficial in many ways, as she explains: “During Indigo, Paris, Agnes B bought three of my designs which gave me great confidence because it proved there was a place in the market for my work. Every part of the Texprint programme was amazing from the interview stage right through toshowing in Paris. I loved the Need to Know pack that we were all given. It has been extremely helpful with every bit of information we could need from sales to copyright terms etc. It was great to have the opportunity to talk to potential international clients and seeing how they would translate my designs.”
Holly Holmes print design work
Talented printed textile designer Holly Holmes was one of the first of 2011’s group to land a great first job. While exhibiting with Texprint, she was interviewed for a design position with Hodgesellers - a textile studio in London. Holly was selected for the job and says: “My current position as textile designer and screen printer within the studio is very satisfying. I have learnt so much already, since starting in September 2011 - I am really enjoying myself and I feel very lucky.” Holly’s fresh, vibrant style is defined by her confident use of colour and pattern. Successful under Texprint’s banner in Indigo, Paris, she sold some of her designs to both Italian and British fashion companies. Holly says: “It was such a privilege being part of Texprint, getting to meet lots of industry insiders as well as the other graduates. It was really great to get feedback on my work from so many different people – all the information given by the Texprint team was truly invaluable.”
Georgia Dorey, Texprint 2011
Finally, print specialist Georgia Dorey is continuing her studies – currently working towards her MA at the RCA. Georgia says: “My time at the RCA so far has been wonderful. Looking back on my Texprint experience, it was totally fantastic. Being chosen was a massive confidence boost for me at a time when I was just coming to the end of my degree and starting to feel quite scared about the future. Texprint London was a great opportunity to practice my networking skills and to build confidence when talking about my work to others. The time in between London and Indigo Paris was a fantastic incentive to carry on my creative work over the summer. Exhibiting in Paris was an amazing opportunity and I am so thankful for all the Texprint team for making it all possible. I found the first day of selling in Paris quite hard - it sometimes felt like everyone around you was selling design work and you weren’t. But then on the second day I sold nine design samples to Agnes B, as well as two samples and two illustrations to a Belgium-based company the following day, with both companies wanting me to continue to work for them in the future. Texprint taught me an invaluable amount – much of which will see me through the rest of my career.”
Exhibition Alert: Fine Cell Work, April events
17 April 2012 by Joyce Thornton
Social enterprise organisation Fine Cell Work has announced an exhibition and sale at the Rifles Club in Mayfair, London, on April 26, 2012. Working to assist in the rehabilitation of prisoners through paid, skilled, creative needlework, Fine Cell Work produces top quality, beautiful pieces of work. Prisoners are taught by volunteers, many from The Embroiderers’ and Quilters’ Guilds, and the organisation aims to “foster hope, discipline and self esteem”. Cushions, bags, quilts and other items will all be available to buy at the exhibition, and would make exceptional gifts.
The Rifles Club, 56, Davies Street, London W1K 5HR. Nearest tube: Bond Street. Opening hours 12 noon – 4.30pm on April 26, 2012
Limited edition embroidery artworks by Gavin Turk and Fine Cell Work
Also - catch it while you can – British artist Gavin Turk has collaborated with Fine Cell Work to create an exhibition at the Ben Brown Gallery in London, which ends on Friday April 20, 2012. Over 30 artworks, hand-stitched by prisoners, will be on display. In the creation of these new pieces Gavin Turk pays homage to the work of the late Italian artist Alighiero e Boetti to coincide with Boetti’s current major retrospective show at Tate Modern. Boetti is known for his fascination with words, numbers, dates and games as well as for his use of tapestry in some of his works, particularly in the Mappa pieces, where he harnessed the skills of artisan embroiderers from Afghanistan.
Ben Brown Fine Arts, 12 Brooks Mews, London W1K 4GD. Opening hours 11am – 6pm until April 20, 2012
Elena Munoz: a creative career in Paris
03 April 2012 by Joyce Thornton
Innovative knitwear designer Elena Munoz - Texprint Knit Prize winner 2010 - is now employed as an assistant knitwear designer at legendary French fashion brand Givenchy. Elena had previously gained a prestigious seven-month internship as an assistant knit designer for Balenciaga - another iconic Parisian fashion label. We catch up with Elena to find out more about these exciting developments in her career.
Congratulations on your wonderful new job as assistant knit designer at Givenchy – how did this come about? I did an internship at Balenciaga, and when this was coming to an end a designer from the company put me in contact with a Parisian headhunter who then got me the interview at Givenchy.
Elena Munoz, design from 2010
How was the interview process? After the first interview with the director of human resources at Givenchy, I was then invited for a second interview a few weeks later with the manager of womenswear. My portfolio was then shown for approval to the artistic director. The entire process took about two months.
Where are you based - and can you tell us about the studio environment? The studio is based in Paris above the Givenchy store on Avenue George V. Every department has its own distinct space: haute couture and its atelier, menswear, womenswear and accessories are divided into separate floors.
You won the Texprint Knit Prize in 2010 – what did that mean to you? Through Texprint I gained a lot of confidence in my work and in myself when liaising with buyers and networking. I think this is the best experience and the best help a textile design graduate can be given when finishing his or her studies. I am really grateful to all of the Texprint team. The advice was invaluable - how to best present your work to the industry, how to develop skills - such as creating relationships with clients, and of course valuing and pricing your work. It was an incredible opportunity to be given a stand to show and sell my work at Première Vision in Paris, and in Hong Kong.
What was the highlight of the Texprint process for you? Being selected for Texprint was a fantastic continuation of my studies because it led me directly into the professional world. I really enjoyed the Hong Kong trip. It was also great to meet and to exchange ideas with the other five Texprint special prize winners.
What did you do after Texprint? I interned for one season at Céline’s knit and jersey department in London. I was then commissioned to create some catwalk knit pieces for Guy Laroche, based on a sample they purchased from me at Première Vision. Then I was offered the internship at Balenciaga and moved to Paris.
Elena Munoz, design from 2010
What inspired you to choose knitwear as a discipline initially? I chose knit as my specialty because of the possibilities for three-dimensional creation and experimentation that the medium allows. The process of working and creating with knitting machines has always felt very natural to me.
What have been the most significant moments in your career path so far? Being accepted into Central Saint Martins to study knitwear (after business studies in my native Madrid) was really a turning point for me. It made me strive to always push boundaries within my creative field. Moving to London from Spain was a great cultural experience and was a key factor for me in deciding to combine textiles with fashion. A further significant moment was being selected for Texprint - a great showcase to present my work internationally.
After London, it just felt natural to move to Paris in order to continue to develop my passion for knitwear. I have been given great opportunities to experience the expertise of some great Parisian design studios. Today I’m very happy to be part of such a prestigious fashion house.
What is your advice to new graduates? Develop your networking skills because you need them! Get in contact with agents or headhunters to help you to find a job, and try to gain as much experience as you can as an intern or by freelancing to build a strong portfolio. Never stop doing what you like most.
And to students embarking on a degree? Work hard and enjoy these years as much as you can. Remember that it’s only by pushing yourself that you get the most interesting outcomes.
What are your plans for the future? It’s difficult to project ahead to the future, but whatever I am doing - I hope to always apply the same passion and the same energy.