5 Minutes with Black and Brown London Designer, Simi Singh

As everyone knows all too well, there are days when your favourite pair of jeans or LBD don’t make you feel so hot. Maybe it was the Chinese takeaway you had last night, maybe you’re just not in the right mood, whatever the reason, even our trustiest of ensembles sometimes let us down, but accessories on the other hand, never do. Especially those of the ultra-luxe, handcrafted, exquisitely embellished variety, hence why I leapt at the chance to chat with Simi Singh, Co-Founder and Designer of cult accessory label, Black and Brown London

Black and Brown London

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5 Minutes With… Negarin

As you might have noticed, I’m having a bit of an interview bonanza at the moment. I guess I just figured that while I can bang on about my favourite designers until the cows come home, my sartorial ramblings probably can’t compete with pearls of wisdom from the industry insiders responsible for creating the collections I covet. Last week I chatted to Negarin Sadr, financier turned fashion designer and founder of hot, new womenswear brand, Negarin London.


LPA: You left a career in finance to pursue your dream of becoming a fashion designer. That was a brave, and potentially very risky decision. What prompted you to make the leap?

NS: I had a really bad accident which put me in a wheelchair for 2 months and it was a life changing experience. I decided that, considering you spend 2 thirds of your life working, I’d rather spend that time happy doing something I was passionate about and had dreamt about doing since I was a little girl, than working with numbers… Banking was not exactly my cupt of tea. At that moment I realised that I needed to follow my dream and be able to work in an environment where I really appreciated being there everyday.

LPA: You were born in Iran and educated in New York, why did you decide to launch your brand here in London?

NS: I want to keep my brand extremely international and think that today London is definitely the most international out of the 4 fashion cities. Plus, I’d rather be hearing complaints about the weather than the economy which is what New York’s slightly been like over the past few years! London is also incredibly supportive of the arts which I find really inspiring.

LPA: Despite being rooted here in London, you did your main presentation in New York last season. Why did you take this decision? Do you plan on showing at London Fashion Week in future?

Absolutely. As I said, we’d like to keep Negarin London very international so we’d like to keep jumping between the cities and exposing the brand to different areas and different countries as we move forward. I think that’s a really important part of our brand development, moving it around the fashion world rather than just focused in one city. So hopefully this season we’ll be showing in London, next season Paris, and so on.

LPA: How would you describe the Negarin London aesthetic?

NS: Negarin London is young, playful, practical, versatile, bold, confident, colourful and modern. I mean modern in terms of the tecniques we use such as advances pattern cutting and specific fabrics. We update the classical shapes and styles of the 60’s and 70’s to cater to today’s contemporary woman and what she needs in her wardrobe.

LPA: Besides working in finance, you also trained as a sculptor before turning your hand to fashion design. How do you feel these diverse experiences influence your work now?

NS: Absolutely. I think that coming from an expert 3D background it makes my vision much clearer and easier to communicate with my team to produce the product it makes it quite easy. Whilst training, we had to do very intense studies of anatomy and the body and knowing the proportions of the female figure to that extent is extremely helpful especially when we’re trying to do things like illusion tailoring to create garments that really flatter a woman’s figure.

LPA: The phrase ‘style icon’ is one we hear a lot these days. Who, if anyone, do you think truly deserved to be called ‘iconic’?

NS: That’s such a hard question, I don’t know how many times we’ve had this discussion in the office! Because I’m a very success orientated person, I look at peaople’s fashion success in terms of their work and history and what they’ve brought to the industry rather than just the clothes they wear. Personally, I think that Diane Von Furstenberg is a true icon. She’s your mega woman, the one who you totally want to be. She’s truly inspiring because she she’s so involved in using her profit in a charitable way and the impact she’s had on fashion over the past 10 years is just incredible.

LPA: What has been the most challenging thing about launching and running your own company?

NS: That’s kind of a endless list! I would say, first of all, when work for a big company that has a long-running infrastructure already in place, your activites and more impotantly, responsibilites are limited. When you run your own company anything that goes wrong in any department is your responsibility. When emergnecies come along it’s you that has to find the solution because you’re the only one who can. With fashion, production is always a drama and I find that the most challenging thing as you really have to get everybody to believe in your brand. Not just the press, or the editors or the buyers. It’s the guy who runs a factory in Italy who doesn’t speak one word of English, that person has to trust in you.

LPA: What is your ultimate aim for the Negarin London brand?

NS: My ultimate aim is to develop a lifestyle brand producing jewellery, leather goods and furniture. I like to work with very high tech fabrics so in 5 to 10 years I’d love to do advanced level polymers research and get into developing high tech fabrics like crease free cottons and stretch fabrics. We have a lot of ideas in house in terms of fabrics we wished that existed but don’t and I think it producing and distributing them could really advance fashion.

LPA: What advice would you give to someone hoping for a career in the fashion industry?

Working hard is so important. You always have to be doing something. In the studio there’s so much to do and there’s never down time and I you really have to show your boss that willing to work and do whatever it takes.

Love Ella. X

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5 Minutes With… LeiVanKash

Back when I was working as assistant to stylist, Iman Pasha, I used to find some of the events we organised pretty terrifying. After all, how could a naive teenager not be intimidated by meeting the likes of Erdem, Diane Von Furstenberg’s right hand man, Yvan Mispelaere and the legendary Mrs Joan Burstein?! I remember how Iman’s impossibly glamourous friend, Leila Kashanipour, always took the time to be incredibly nice to me, despite the fact I was shaking like a leaf, looking like an idiot and no doubt getting pretty much everything wrong. Well, I soon learned that besides being lovely and in posession of an unbelievably fabulous wardrobe, Leila was also an incredible jewellery designer. Last year she launched her own brand, LeiVanKash, which has quickly become a favourite with celebs, style icons and industry insiders.

Lei Van Kash

I caught up with Leila to talk about the realities running one of London’s hottest new jewellery labels and what the future holds for LeiVanKash…

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5 Minutes With… Caroline Nodder, Editor-in-Chief of Drapers

Vogue may often be referred to as the ‘Fashion Bible’. I myself, am guilty of claiming this on many occasions. However, when it comes down to it, it’s not Vogue that industry insiders look to for valuable insights into the world of fashion, it’s Drapers. Since 1887, Drapers has brought us everything from the hottest fashion news and show coverage, to job vacancies, salary surveys and sales data. In celebration of their 125th anniversary, Drapers has relaunched with a slick, new, 21st century look. I caught up with Editor-in-Chief, Caroline Nodder, to get the lowdown on her enviable career, why Drapers announced this year’s award nominees via Twitter and what to expect from the fashion business bible over the years to come…


LPA: What was your first job in fashion and how did you get from there to where you are today?

CN: This is my very first job in fashion! I’ve run magazines in a variety of business sectors before but when I arrived last March at Drapers I was completely new to the fashion sector. Let’s just say that luckily I’m a fast learner….

LPA: Talk me through a typical day as Editor-in-chief of Drapers…

CN: There are no typical days at Drapers! One day I might be looking through the latest shoot images for one of our seasonal special issues, the next I could be furiously tweeting from a catwalk show or working with the news team breaking a news exclusive online. That’s what I love about it.

LPA: For it’s 125th anniversary, Drapers has re-launched with a new look. What particular changes have you made to the magazine and why?

CN: We re-launched both the magazine and the website with a new look at the end of March to better reflect the style and pace of today’s fashion industry. The magazine design offers a mix of bite-sized news and views with some in-depth interviews and reports that readers can kick back and spend some time on and we have injected a lot more Drapers opinion to give our readers a good filter on what they really need to help them in their businesses. The look is very clean and modern, and we use our own photography as much as possible.

LPA: Why did you decide to announce the nominees for this year’s Drapers Awards via twitter?

CN: Twitter is a global phenomenon but within the fashion sector in particular it seems to perfectly fit the culture. Our @Drapers account has 30,000 followers and we get a lot of our news tip-offs through Twitter now so what better medium to use? It also creates an immediate buzz around this year’s nominees and starts a conversation around the awards.

LPA: What are your thoughts on the relationship between print and online journalism? Do you think online will eventually replace print or the two can continue to co-exist?

CN: I am quite unusual in that I’ve worked as a journalist across print and web since the mid-1990s so this is not a new issue for me. I genuinely believe the two can co-exist, particularly in the fashion sector where, for the time being at least, there is still a strong love of the tangible paper product. However, our job is to provide our subscribers with information and analysis through whatever channel they choose to access it, be that a magazine, a website or a social media feed. We need to evolve as they do.

LPA: Do you think the rise of online magazines and blogs has forced print magazines to structure and approach their content in a different way? I imagine that the instant nature of online journalism could be an issue, especially when it comes to news and fashion week…

CN: I think the rapid advance in technology and speed of communication has massively impacted the way journalists work – but this has been happening for 20 years so I doubt its come as a sudden shock to any current magazine teams. Most of us now work over both mediums. I actually think it has made our jobs much more exciting. We are able to give our subscribers news as it happens, literally, and also get the industry’s feedback on it instantly. It’s something that I will never get bored of!

LPA: When you’re adding to the Drapers team, are there any particular qualities or qualifications that you look for in potential employees or interns?

CN: Personality and inquisitiveness. Everything else can be learned. I look for people with bags of energy, enthusiasm and a penchant for asking a hell of a lot of questions!

LPA: What advice would you give to someone hoping for a career in fashion journalism, or maybe even aspiring to one day be an Editor like yourself?

CN: Be the first to suggest changes and improvements. Good ideas can get you a long way.

Love Ella. X

Ps) The entry deadline for this year’s Drapers Fashion Awards is just 2 days away (friday 27th) and nominations are announced next month so if you think you, or someone you know, deserves one then now is your moment, nominate away!

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5 Minutes With… Kate Nash

In the five years since she burst onto the music scene, we’ve seen Kate Nash go from doe eyed, MySpace ingenue to chart topping, style setting, award winning star. When she’s not making hit records she’s gracing the Fashion Week FROWS, founding charitable organisations and nurturing her blossoming acting career. I caught up with Kate to talk… You’ve guessed it, fashion.

Kate Nash

LPA: When I posted about you a while ago several people commented on how much your style had changed since you released your first album. Do you agree? If so, why do you feel this is?

KN: I think it’s a natural thing to change and develop. I think it would be pretty weird if I were still wearing the same clothes I was wearing when I was 18. I can understand why some people that don’t keep track of me might be surprised, but really it would be far more surprising if I was some freaky ghost child that didn’t age – like that freaky kid from resident evil – the first movie.

LPA: Do you dress very differently when you’re performing or attending an event to when you’re, say, going for a night out with friends?

KN: I like to dress differently during the day when I’m on tour to when I’m on stage. I like the transition, the feeling of going from casual to dressed for stage. It’s part of my preparation for the show. It helps me get into a certain mindset. There are certain things I would wear on stage that I would wear on a night out, but I like the way being on stage gives you a freedom to do things you might not do regularly. For example I wore a wedding dress on stage in Dublin and that felt really good. It’s not really the sort of thing I would pop down to the pub in…although I guess that depends on my mood.

LPA: Over the past couple of seasons you’ve been something of a front row regular during London Fashion Week. Has this exposure to the industry changed the way you feel about fashion?

KN: I think it showed me how the fashion industry embraces the freaks and individuals in the world and I really love that about it. It celebrates the unique and people doing whatever they want to do – just having fun with what they wear. But, on a deeper level, having fun with what you wear and dressing how you want gives you an identity. It can totally change how you feel about yourself and how the world sees you. I think it did change my perspective a little bit.

LPA: You work with top stylist, Rebekah Roy. Do you think this has made you more open to taking risks with your wardrobe? Have you had any major disagreements over what you will and wont wear?

KN: We don’t really disagree that much. I can’t really remember a disagreement. Rebekah is one of my closest friends and she understands my style and how I want to come across. I have a lot of fun creating mood boards and sending them over to her and then we have extremely girly meetings in vintage shops and drink coffee and eat cake and decide whether we should have things like “kittens in pink or yellow”. She helps me put together looks that I want to achieve and I love working with her. I think a stylist should be like a bestie who makes you laugh and comfortable and confident and encourages you to embrace things and know when to rock something.

LPA: Who are your favourite designers and why?

KN: Georgia Hardinge and Gemma Slack. I like strong interesting fun women whose clothes are fun and strong. I also like Felder Felder, Cooperative Designs and William Tempest. Dagda are extremely fun and experimental and I like Tatty Devine for jewellery.

LPA: Vintage, high street or designer… What kind of shopper are you?

KN: A bit of everything really. I think I’m becoming more aware of designers. I think it’s really amazing what some people come up with and invent, I LOVE vintage shopping and always will. I love the fact that a piece of clothing has a history and was worn by other people at other places that you don’t know about and just wondering around vintage stores aesthetically pleases me and gives me a sense of nostalgia. And, you always need the high street for essentials.

LPA: What’s the biggest fashion mistake you’ve ever made?

KN: Combats with tassels. Terrible. Although I really enjoy how much those kind of awful looks can encapsulate a time period – a generation of kids and a time in your life. I think it’s fun to look back on that stuff.

Love Ella. X

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