Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Backstage at London Fashion Week: Rachel Freire

Rachel Freire is a hot talent to watch: her live and interactive presentation "Future Noir" was thrilling. The models cascaded down the runway with equal parts glamour and grunge. And the hint of renaissance frill that marked her previous collection, was sharpened into a more futuristic and abstract interpretation of femininity. There was something overridingly girly about the collection, with elements of 1920s (the headdress; the long swishing gown), 1990s (the catsuits; the gothic leather) and intangible sci fi and naturalistic overtones. I definitely found myself mesmerised by the synthesis of so many diverse influences. This was heightened by the magic accents of reflective fabric, which means in photos or lights the outfit comes startlingly alive. I would totally wear the creations: the clothes are dramatic but not at the cost of becoming impractical. My personal favourite was the sequinned bolero.

I was lucky enough to be backstage and had a chance to talk to the Head Makeup Artist, Jack Saundercock, and his wonderful team.

Jack talked about his inspiration for the makeup, which included looking at ancient armour! The look was matte but natural skin, and nude lips, with all the drama on the eyes - a dark black and silver kind of 80s but kind of Space Age concoction. To hear his thoughts in depth, click here for the video.

I talked to the Key hair stylist, George Akkad (Toni&Guy Art team) who informed me that the hair was 1920s inspired and side swept. I also talked to the marvellous Lako Bukia who designed the fantastic shoes.

And I managed to grab the star of the show herself, Rachel Freire (pictured left with her models below)
Here is our conversation. Unfortunately I left my dictaphone at home so have to rely on memory and notes...! (But as I did not partake in the skull beverages I feel reasonably confident.)

Your designs seem to revolve around a contradiction between the flowy renaissance hyper feminine, and caged, S&M, masculinity and functionalism. You have been compared to early McQueen. Who are your inspirational designers/ Fashion Houses?

My favourite designer is Thierry Mugler. I'm inspired by all sorts of things: films, comic books, classics, theatre. And, you know, my friends - I have a lot of wacky friends, just strange everyday characters. I get inspired just looking around and seeing immediate things.

There’s something very wearable about your designs, almost in spite of the creativity! But, do you have a specific idea of the type of person or the type of ensemble your clothes should go with?

Daring people, definitely. I grew up in Liverpool where over there it's the norm to want to really fit in, so someone who wants to stand out. I am happy for people to wear my clothes and adapt it: wearing one of my jackets just with T-Shirt and jeans is fine. Look at me (gestures to her black ensemble, replete with mandatory reflective leg straps)

What do you think of the trend for High Street collaborations with High Fashion designers/ celebrities; Should fashion be an elitist art form and an investment, or can it be made for the masses?

Well I don't think that's the way it can be brought to the masses - it's been watered down, with all the marketing and everything - it's not anything like the real thing. I'd rather buy one piece than buy into all the High Street marketing. Making it direct and at a competitive price takes all the art out of it. I'm in this position now myself, and the closest I can get to a making a T-Shirt is a leather threaded top, or combining things, not just a simple T-Shirt. I find it really hard [to constrict my creativity].

How involved are you with the makeup your models wear on the catwalk; Do you allow the makeup artist free rein, or do you have set ideas? – Your clothes can go either way, as they have both the ultra feminine and the ultra androgynous: what is your personal makeup preference?

I pick a person who fits, and trust them. Jack has been really great - we were totally on the same wavelength. I gave him free rein. I'm really picky so it's rare for me, but he just nailed it. We had the test shot and it was exactly right, I just told him to make it dirtier and that was it, he got it exactly right.

P.S: My outfit, and the queues outside before the show started.

EDIT/// Check out these spectacular shots from the photography prodigy, Grant Thomas!



  1. wow fabulous!Love your blue dress!xx

  2. Gail, you always manage to look so effortlessly chic with a twist of uniqueness and a pinch of avant guard. That is my style, I just can't seem to get it back lately. You rock those looks honey! xxNadia

  3. @LoveLipstickandLime
    Oh thanks! very kind, love your style!! Great minds etc xxxx

  4. Oh, what an interesting post! How nice to be able to go backstage to catch all the action!

    Thanks for sharing with us the interview with Rachel Freire and some insight into how she as a designer thinks.:)

    Love your stylish outfit there! :)

  5. @Witoxicity
    Thank you! Yes it was very enriching hearing about a designer's point of view, I had only ever had seen things as a consumer before! xxxx