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Texprint talks: Emma Mawston of Liberty Art Fabrics

25 April 2013 by Editor

...from the spring summer 2013 collection

Emma Mawston, head of design for Liberty Art Fabrics, is not surprisingly passionate about prints and the Liberty heritage.  She is also a long-time supporter of Texprint and regularly gives time to participate in the Texprint interview panels that take place each June.

As a creative company focused on design excellence Liberty understands just how important it is to look to their future heritage and drive innovation by supporting the next generation of young designers; Liberty Art Fabrics sponsors the Texprint Pattern Award.

-Emma, how long have you worked at Liberty Art Fabrics and what were you doing before?

I have worked at Liberty for nearly twenty-one years – in fact the same amount of time as Alexandra Shulman has been editor at Vogue!

While at college I had a great work placement with Nina Campbell, I then won an RSA Bursary which led to a placement with Cavendish Textiles – both invaluable experiences.  On graduating I went freelance, exhibiting at numerous exhibitions, working freelance in-house at Nigel French (design consultancy), and designing for a variety of markets under my own name.

When I applied for the Liberty role, I found out that they had asked my to interview because they liked my handwriting on the letter accompanying my CV!

-Tell us about the team at Liberty Art Fabrics?

The designers at Liberty Art Fabrics are Sheona, Sally, Polly, Robin, Keighley, Laura-Maria and Carrie.  At any one time the team are working across three areas - fashion, furnishing and lifestyle art fabrics - on different briefs, and often for different seasons. We often go on drawing research trips, have drawing days and spend time hand drawing and painting original artwork.

Also in the team are Rupal who works on special projects, and Lauren who backs us all up on everything plus creates the presentation Powerpoints, keeps the fent book*, and makes sure all design and colour files are organised at the end of every season. Holly is our studio co-ordinator who keeps things running smoothly!

(NB: each design is archived in various swatch and fent books*; artwork, fabric bases, colourways, promotional and sales material are all recorded).

Spring/summer 2013 inspired by The Chelsea Flower Show

-What is the process that takes a design idea into production and retail?

At the moment we are about to start creating sketches for spring/summer 2015. 

I love coming up with the design briefs, it’s one of the most inspirational aspects of my job.  One of my favourite tasks is to thoroughly research an idea and come up with something original each season.

Liberty Art Fabrics is a design-led company, which we pride ourselves on. While we listen to feedback from customers, agents and our sales team our design briefs are created two to three years before a collection is launched at retail so it is really important that the collections are design-led and retain the heritage and originality which makes our prints so successful.

Each season the studio creates around 43 designs in 8 colourways. We then present our work at a number of selection meetings, working very closely with Kirstie (Kirstie Carey MD of Liberty Design) who reviews the new ideas.  We whittle these down to 40 designs, all of which will be printed onto Liberty’s iconic Tana Lawn.  We also create capsule collections on a number of different base fabrics using the designs most relevant to each base.

While we aim to think as creatively as possible at this stage, there may also be other considerations – it is important that our collections are successful worldwide, so we occasionally work on special projects that cater for specific design and colour requests. We also work on childrenswear design and colour. 

-Tell us about your recent travels for inspiration and research?

While researching spring/summer 2013 we went to Tresco (Scilly Isles) – in fact nearly all the best sellers in this collection were inspired by that trip - we also went to Vienna for design research, to the Chelsea Flower Show and on the trail of Guerrilla Gardeners in London!

More recently we’ve been to Glasgow and The Isle of Bute, both wonderful.  However my favourite research trip was to Iceland for autumn/winter 2013, a truly inspirational place that will stay with me forever.

Spring/summer 2013 inspired by Tresco

Spring/summer 2013 inspired by The Chelsea Flower Show

Spring/summer 2013 inspired by Vienna

-Do you ever refer back to the Liberty archives?  

Yes, the Liberty Archive is amazing.  It is hidden away in a warehouse in Bermondsey - a treasure trove of archived Liberty prints and sketches. Every design, from tana lawn to silk satin, is documented with as much information as possible and stored safely in a digital database. 

But most exciting of course are the collections themselves - oversized books bursting to the brim with swatches, piles of neatly labeled boxes and paintings as bright as the day they were painted.

The Liberty archives

-What are your favourite inspirations right now?

Gosh, almost everything inspires me, but mainly it is my daughters Mauve and Rose Xanthe who make me laugh so much and look at the world from such a variety of different and wonderful perspectives. 

-In what ways do you work with students and what would you look for in a graduate designer joining your team?

We work on an annual collaboration with the textile design students at Central Saint Martins, and have also worked with another MA course creating colour for a recent collection. We always have work experience students in the studio, working from one week to three months at a time.

I would look for the same thing in a graduate as any designer – diversity of ideas, great sketchbooks with lots of original hand drawing, and a beautiful and varied sense of colour.  Personality is important too - someone who is very lovely and very inspiring – it is so important that they spend time in the studio and for the team to bond with them. They would also need relevant computer skills!

Spring/summer 2013 inspired by Tresco

Article tags: print (31), alumni (45), general (61), business (54), champions of texprint (45), sponsors (30), colour (8)

Coutts Texprint dinner celebrates textile innovation

16 April 2013 by Editor

As a dedicated supporter of the arts, private bank Coutts again demonstrated its interest in the worlds of fashion and textiles by hosting an elegant dinner in support of textile design excellence. 

Held on Thursday 21 March 2013, it was the second Texprint dinner to be hosted by the historic bank at its head office on the Strand, London. Following a champagne reception in the boardroom, which is lined with hand-painted Chinese wallpaper c.1793, the guests were guided to its beautifully appointed private dining room for a sumptuous dinner. 

Alan Marshall, executive director of Coutts, welcomed the guests, saying: “Coutts is thrilled to be a sponsor of the Texprint 2013 dinner. It reinforces our commitment to the world of contemporary creative industries and our relationship with young entrepreneurs.The UK is a world leader at creating art, fashion and textiles and Coutts' support of Texprint enables emerging talent to access our experience of working with entrepreneurs in addition to providing mentoring schemes and financial advice."

Left: Marie Parsons (Jaguar Land Rover), Professor Clare Johnston (RCA)  Centre: Katrina Burroughs (Sunday Times Home), Katie Greenyer (Pentland Brands)  Right: Neisha Crosland, Susanna Kempe (Flying Trumpets)

Texprint’s chairman Barbara Kennington took the opportunity to thank the guests – including leading lights in fashion and textiles, the press and past alumni - for their continuing support for British-trained textile design graduates and without whom the Texprint programme would simply not exist. “Texprint’s programme of mentorship provides a vital bridge between university and the real world. Looking at the autumn/winter 13 fashion collections, particularly in London, what struck me was the increasing importance of textile innovation - an indication of just how important it is to encourage and support the next generation of textile creativity.”

Peter Ring-Lefevre (Texprint), Kate O’Connor (Creative Skillset)

John Snowdon (Worshipful Company of Weavers), Peter Ackroyd (Woolmark Company), Andrew Blessley (Clothworkers Foundation), Hugh Beevor (Texprint)

The Texprint programme has been selecting and mentoring graduate textile designers for over 40 years. And through Coutts’ gracious hospitality, the dinner provided the charity with a means of thanking those who make it possible, among them Kirstie Carey, managing director of Liberty Art Fabrics (sponsor of Texprint’s Pattern prize); Paul Graham, sales director of Pantone EMEA (sponsor of the Colour prize); and Texprint trustee Dominic Lowe represented The Sanderson Art in Industry Trust, which is a Foundation sponsor of the charity.

Italian textile producers and luxury fashion brands have long recognized the excellence of British-trained designers and regularly employ interns selected from the Texprint winners. Texprint was pleased to welcome Luigi Turconi of Ratti, part of the giant Marzotto group; Elena Alfani of luxury brand Salvatore Ferragamo; and Marco Taiana of Tessitura Taiana represented the Como-based creative initiative ComON with which Texprint has long been associated.

Left: Barbara Kennington (Texprint) Andrew Blessley (Clothworkers Foundation) Right: Peter Ring-Lefevre (Texprint), Elena Alfani (Salvatore Ferragamo)

Anne Tyrrell MBE, designer and member of Texprint's Council, said: "It’s a really special evening, so impressive, and it’s a huge compliment that so many visitors from Europe attended."

Marco Taiana (Taiana, ComON), Caryn Simonson (Chelsea College of Art & Design), Joanna Bowring (Texprint)

Katie Greenyer, creative director of the Pentland Group, was delighted to announce during the evening that Pentland would be increasing its sponsorship for 2013, which was fantastic news and greatly appreciated. 

The Texprint management team also welcomed Catriona Macnab, creative director of Foundation sponsor WGSN; John Francis, director of sponsor Paul Smith; style director of the Telegraph magazine Tamsin Blanchard; and Michael Ayerst, managing director of wall coverings specialist Surface View, which has so generously provided the dramatic wall murals seen at the Texprint London event for the past two years.

And from Texprint’s alumni, guests included Michael Angove, Neil Bamford of Mint Design Studio, David Edmond, and Marie Parsons of Jaguar Land Rover.

Left: Julius Schofield MBE (InDesign), Philippa Brock (Central St Martins)  Right: Anne Tyrrell MBE, Leanne Prichard (Coutts)

Left: Alison Murdoch (Haberdashers’ Company), Gill Gledhill (GGHQ), Terry Mansfield CBE  Right: Neil Bamford (Mint Design), Michael Ayerst (Surface View)

The world of interiors has been an area of increased focus for many young textile designers. Neisha Crosland, a Texprint judge in 2012, and Mary Carroll, of luxury interior furnishings brand De le Cuona, attended the dinner, as did Katrina Burroughs, a renowned journalist specialising in interior design who is a regular contributor to the Sunday Times Home section.

The words of after dinner speaker Susanna Kempe, founder and CEO of Flying Trumpets, were greeted with much nodding of heads and agreement as she talked of too many businesses being run by accountants; too few by creatives, stating: “To change that, we have to finally, unequivocally, reject the false opposition between creativity and commercialism. We have to combine imaginative genius with disciplined execution; embrace create effectiveness and demonstrate commercial accountability. If we don’t businesses and boards will continue to be led by accountants most comfortable in a world of timid homogeneity. Businesses should be run by people for whom innovation, clients and brands are in their very DNA.”

Her thoughts were applauded by all – and especially by Kate O’Connor deputy managing director of Creative Skillset, and Anne Tyrrell who responded: “She was amazing. I must say I will attack my meetings with new energy as a result, what an impressive woman.”

Barbara wrapped up the evening, saying: “Our sincere thanks to Coutts for hosting such an enjoyable and hugely useful opportunity for people interested in supporting British design training and textile innovation to get together, to talk and to debate. Invaluable!”

Article tags: alumni (45), home & interiors (28), texprint 2012 (27), fashion (36), woolmark (19), general (61), business (54), champions of texprint (45), sponsors (30), special events (11)

Texprint alumnae at SIT Select, 4 May

07 April 2013 by Editor

Textile: ©Lisa Bloomer

Texprint has been invited by Lizzi Walton, artistic director and CEO of Stroud International Textiles to introduce the work of Texrint alumnae Lauren Bowker (Texprint 2011) and Lisa Bloomer (Texprint 2012) at SIT Select on Saturday 4 May.

A day of textile innovation and design excellence Introduced by Barbara Kennington; illustrated talks from Lauren Bowker and Lisa Bloomer.

Date: Saturday 4 May, start 1.00 pm – 3 pm

Tickets: £10 & £8 (Friends of SIT & Museum)

SIT Select is the exhibition arm of Stroud International Textiles, their aim to raise awareness and to increase the enjoyment of contemporary textiles and contemporary crafts. Through an extensive programme of exhibitions, talks and open studios, SIT Select challenges the public’s perception of contemporary crafts while increasing active participation in the arts for a wide range of people and abilities.

While at first glance textile art and craft may seem only loosely connected to the faster moving and commercial worlds of fashion and interiors, there’s little doubt that it can inform, guide and inspire. As fashion textiles become increasingly innovative and creative, and production challenges even greater, it is important to be open-minded and explore seemingly less walked routes to discover new directions for colour and materials.

Since leaving The Royal College of Art the routes taken by Lauren Bowker and Lisa Bloomer could not be more different although there are points of connection, particularly around sustainability and textile development to improve the world in which we live, which motivate them both.

Lauren Bowker’s vision - to See The Unseen - lies beyond the world of the traditional textile as she intertwines unexpected materials and technology for the future world of arts, fashion and wellbeing - everything from catwalks to feathers to concrete - always with the human at the heart and with the intention of providing real solutions to real problems, improving and inspiring our lives.

Lauren Bowker for Peachoo + Krejberg 2012/13

Lauren Bowker

Lisa Bloomer’s work, though firmly based in weave, goes beyond the traditional textile approach as she explores dye, print and freehand techniques.  Using digital technology Lisa mixes the complexity of cross-dyeing with the spontaneity of mark-making to create sustainably-produced, bespoke fabrics for interiors and fashion.

Lisa Bloomer at Indigo 2011

Textile: ©Lisa Bloomer

The main exhibitions and talks curated by SIT take place in the Museum in the Park, Stroud - check WEBSITE. Tickets must be either booked online or by sending a cheque to SIT. Details are in brochure and on the booking page.

Texprint is pleased to support this extraordinarily rich and diverse programme and applauds the excellence and innovation of UK-based designer makers who are driving textiles and contemporary crafts forward nationally and internationally.  CLICK BELOW to view the full brochure onscreen:

 

Article tags: weave (24), texprint 2011 (31), mixed media (24), fashion (36), general (61), texprint 2010 (11), business (54), technology (9)

London Fashion Week: Texprint’s textile review Part 2

04 April 2013 by Editor

In Texprint’s second report on the autumn/winter 13/14 London Fashion Week collections we look at the innovations in wool, surface finishes, jacquards - and at what’s new in technology.

“London Fashion Week has long been synonymous with innovation and the latest round of London runways shows didn’t disappoint as our internationally acclaimed young designers lead the way in exciting new textile developments,” comments Sue Evans, fashion editor of WGSN.com (Texprint sponsor).

Christopher Raeburn, Daks, J.W.Anderson / Photos: style.com

Sophistication came from those collections that showed a quiet simplicity of attitude (though not necessarily of colour), and in many cases, a continuing passion for wool, whether flat surfaced, ombred or more decorative.

Sue notes: “Print wunderkind Jonathan Saunders delivered scrolling appliques on delicate lace and felted wools in place of his signature print and pattern, an interesting move for him.”

Jonathan Saunders / Photos: style.com

"Wool was present not only at Fashion Week in London but also in New York, Milan and Paris where several collections featured full overcoats in woollen fabrics.  Of note were examples of boiled wools, meltons, serges and drabs.  Of particular interest in Paris was Stella McCartney's astute use of menswear fabrics, particularly pin stripes and flannels in worsted weights to add extra drape.  Woolmark feels that wool has made a massive return for autumn/winter 13/14 in both men's and women's wear.  Never has wool been so much at the forefront of the collections of leading designers and brands," says Peter Ackroyd, The Woolmark Company (Texprint sponsor).

Pringle of Scotland, Burberry Prorsum, John Rocha / Photos: style.com

Utilitarian looks were there too.  Clare Johnston, professor of textiles at RCA, says: “The designers presented collections of men’s and women’s fashion that were modern, desirable and durable.” Not least Christopher Raeburn’s felted wool fabrics, made water resistant with Teflon, a clever and practical innovation that works to enhance his contemporary take on the sportswear aesthetic.

Mulberry / Photos: style.com

Fabrics were often toyed with, and finishes were key. Bonded double jersey, rubber, cire and wet-look coatings were all used by designers to lend an anarchic and unexpected edge.

Felder Felder, Simone Rocha, Burberry Prorsum / Photos: style.com

Refreshing colour and innovative fabrications came from Simone Rocha who showcased a delightful mix of felted wools, heavy lace, cobweb crochet, sparkly tinsel threads and tufts of petal-like texture.  Her baby-pink tones, spongy bonded fabrics and classic structures were both exaggerated and assured. J.W. Anderson showed a collection that was pared down, modern and played with proportions and exaggerated details.

J.W.Anderson, Simone Rocha, Roksanda Ilincic / Photos: style.com

Jacquards found a new direction too.  Used notably by Pringle of Scotland and Temperley London.

Temperley London, Pringle of Scotland, Osman / Photos: style.com

Texprint also notes British designers exploring technology in new and exciting ways.

In the case of Burberry Prorsum technology is used to emphasise the heritage and artisanal quality of the collection as the creative story behind each autumn/winter 12/13 runway Made To Order piece comes to life through smart personalisation. 

Technology in each item unlocks immersive video footage, retracing its journey and celebrating its expert design and craftsmanship. On contact with a touch screen device each piece unlocks a unique video experience, charting its artisan production -- including original sketches, runway edits, craftsmanship and personalisation. Undoubtedly an incredibly expensive luxe service, but exciting and innovative nonetheless.

We also love Matthew Williamson’s low-tech Vine video campaign – snappy close-up 6-second videos shot backstage by photographer Sean Cunningham and tweeted live as the looks hit the runway.  On his Facebook page Williamson also shows close-up photos of his spring/summer 2013 collection – Mathew Magnified - a clever way of highlighting the intricate workmanship and fabrics; detail that is often lost on the runway.

Article tags: fashion (36), woolmark (19), general (61), business (54), technology (9), special events (11)

Wool House: feeling warm and woolly!

14 March 2013 by Editor

“Wool is a fibre for the life we lead, the people we love, the planet we inhabit.” The Campaign for Wool

The Wool House exhibition at Somerset House, London, opened yesterday and is on until 24 March.  This stylish and richly artisanal celebration of wool is not to be missed encompassing as it does the very best of what can be achieved by spinning, weaving, printing and manipulating this most timeless and enduring of fibres.

Hummingbird by Alexander McQueen for The Rug Company

The lofty and elegant rooms in the west wing of Somerset House have been used to stage a series of room sets as well as displays of fashion and accessories, including bespoke tailoring and hand knitting.

Savile Row bespoke

The importance of wool to the fashion industry is demonstrated with designs by, among others, Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Christopher Raeburn; also Dashing Tweeds (Kirsty McDougall, Texprint 2002) and Alice Palmer (Texprint 2007).

Teflon-coated felted lace parka by Christopher Raeburn, headphones by Urbanears, tweed jackets by Dashing Tweeds

Knitted dress by Mark Fast, knitted chair cover, knit and fleece cape by Alice Palmer

As part of the national Campaign for Wool supported by The Prince of Wales, the project also involves a series of interactive workshops and a special educational and innovation room, using hi-tech tablets to demonstrate the processes wool undergoes on its journey from sheep to consumer.  This is an exhibition designed to engage and educate as much as to enjoy.

“Wool is all about comfort and beauty.  It is a fibre grown, not manmade, with an origin and integrity that has yet to be matched.  Natural, renewable and sustainable it offers the most timeless and enduring quality to materials for many different lifestyle products for interiors, fashion, build and craft.“ The Campaign for Wool

 

Wool fabrics are used to great effect in the room installations.  From the dramatic entrance hall with its chequered black and white carpet, to the modernist room by Anne Kyyro-Quinn with its brightly coloured sound-absorbing wall coverings, the fresh and charming nursery designed by Donna Wilson, to the typically eclectic and crafted bedroom designed by Kit Kemp MBE.  Dream interiors that beautifully illustrate wool's versatility in use, colour and texture.

Modern Room by Anne Kyyro-Quinn

Nursery by Donna Wilson

Bedroom by Kit Kemp MBE

Event director Bridgette Kelly - working with interior designer Arabella McNie as curator, and all the participating designers and highly skilled artisans - has created a truly diverse and creative opportunity to engage with the fibre’s heritage and future potential. 

We would encourage textile and fashion design students and tutors to visit and be inspired!

Wool art installation by Dutch tapestry artist, Claudy Jongstra

Wools of the World

Artisan rug weaver Jason Collingwood in his temporary studio, weaving on a table loom throughout the exhibition

 

 

 

 

Article tags: knit (15), weave (24), exhibition (24), home & interiors (28), fashion (36), woolmark (19), general (61), sponsors (30), accessories (15), special events (11)

London Fashion Week: Texprint’s textile review Part 1

03 March 2013 by Editor

With London Fashion Week over we thought it useful to highlight the breadth of autumn/winter 13/14 fabric directions being explored and developed by British brands and designers.

This season textiles are worked together and manipulated to create layered or multi-dimensional effects.  It is no longer enough to talk of knits, weaves or prints – weaves are embroidered or coated, felted flat fabrics are printed or embellished, knits are exaggerated, and prints are layered over jacquards or under sheers.  We are also seeing completely new types of fabrics being created by rethinking handcrafted techniques such as crochet and lace making.

Clements Ribeiro, Sister by Sibling, House of Holland / Photos: style.com

“In the digital age we are seeing an innovative amalgamation of technology and handcrafted looks. The whole digital print revolution started on the London runways and has transmitted down to the high street at every level so it was interesting to see pioneers of the medium like Peter Pilotto and Holly Fulton take a different route for autumn/winter 13/14, combining digital technology with something altogether more textural as both designers introduced embroidery, appliques and patchwork into their silhouettes,” says Sue Evans, fashion editor of WGSN.com (Texprint sponsor).

Peter Pilotto / Photos: style.com

Holly Fulton / Photos: style.com

Clare Johnston, professor of textiles at the RCA, agrees: “Just when we needed it, the catwalk shows were uplifting and inspiring. The fabrics exuded luxury and invention. Prints and patterns continue to be bold and brave with less reliance on obvious digital imagery and more use of individual and imaginative design.”

Silhouettes are also being reconsidered; note Peter Pilotto’s squared off and oversized jacekets and coats, inspired by the Spanish Renaissance painter El Greco, and embroidered with bold strokes of painterly energy.

Peter Pilotto / Photos: style.com

Moving on from her signature collaged, quirky and colourful digital prints, Mary Katrantzou’s new direction saw what Sue Evans describes as: “hauntingly beautiful monochromatic landscapes,” digitally printed over jacquards and brocades and worked into strong Japanese-esque silhouettes.  Also included in the collection are embossed leather and black-on-black jacquards.

Mary Katrantzou / Photos: style.com

Mary Katrantzou / Photos: style.com

While talking of fabric mixing and layering, Sue comments: “At Tom Ford, we were introduced to intricate floral embroideries fused with plush astrakhan furs, while at Erdem delicate print flower motifs were taken into another dimension when combined with laser punched cut-outs on a technical bonded fabric base.”

In his most beautiful, demure and modern collection to date, Erdem Moralioglu moved beyond his more familiar cocktail wear looks by showing a collection of confident and sensual fabrications.  Layering sheer over texture, lace over print, and using ostrich feathers, oversized sequins, or bright, three-dimensional embroidered flowers to lift the fabric surface.  He also showed tweeds, gleaming with shots of neon or plastic raffia, and softened by delicate threads of ostrich feathers wafting over the surface.

Erdem / Photos: style.com

Erdem / Photos: style.com

Christopher Kane also played with unexpected fabrications.  A modern take on sculptural Guipure lace and passmenterie-type trims on panne velvet dresses, interlocked along seam lines or cut open to give shape and allow movement.  Feathers were used extensively: to look like fraying seams or to create three-dimensional flowers; and cut jacquard jersey in a camouflage pattern gave the impression of a scratched and unfinished surface. Humour was here too, in the brightly coloured brain scan embroidery on an organza tee-shirt.

Christopher Kane / Photos: style.com

Christopher Kane / Photos: style.com

Article tags: fashion (36), general (61), business (54), special events (11)

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