The Theme and Venue
The Estonians chose an interesting idea – creating a ficticious Ministry of Cultural Affairs to showcase their four Creative Ambassadors. The venue is a quirky choice, last time I was at The Horse Hospital there it was an exhibition about the woman who swallowed a fly. This time Helen Sirp transformed it into really interesting and immersive mythical and mystical space (think Narnia but warmer); divided it into distinct sections and decorated with tonnes of yarn and white wood features. It was white as the Estonian snow and worked really well with wooden drawers and planks creating separate areas. It looks like they deserved their London Fashion Week International Fashion Showcase 2013 Winner’s trophy:
Helen Sirp was also responsible for the short movie showcasing the designers’ work. The story in brief: a model wanders through the snow wearing one design by Kristina and later reveals she is sporting one of her slightly less practical hand-knitted gowns. I am not surprised the model is not smiling and has ice crystal lashes. I heard it was MINUS 20 degrees during filming. The male model/hunter character was wearing the menswear woollies and eventually a pair of the fab Karl Annus specs he found in the woods…
Two out of the four featured designers were on hand to talk about their craft:
Karl Annus / Wooden spectacles
Karl is a humble and quiet creative type. He told us about his journey from student and furniture maker to the perfectionist designer he is today. Originally starting with made-to-measure pieces that would take up to a month to create and has a waiting list of a year, he presented his new collection of eight ready-to-wear spectacles – eight styles available in seven different woods – including some I’d never even heard of. Later we were staggered to find out the RRP is 300 Euro whereas adding a “0” to the end might have made more sense. Everyone who tried them on seemed to look good and they were so light to the touch and smooth that you would hardly know you were wearing them. Apparently the rather elegant Estonian First Lady (Evelin Ilves) wears a pair and sent good luck messages to Karl and the team.
Kadri Kruus / Leather Accessories
Kadri is a bubbly and friendly lady who passionately spoke of her hand-made handbags and clutches on display. I was not the only one to ask about whether she specialised in black, apparently this collection fitted the design and theme much better. Attention to detail again is really striking – with studs and tassles and great fastenings that simply work. Again I was surprised that the RRP is in the region of £185 and all made in Estonia too. Nice promo material using the Layar Augmented Reality App to make it really impactful!
Also displayed, but not by the designers were:
Kristian / Menswear
I was taken through the collection by the knowledgable Sara Kietzmann and it was a fantastic journey of textures and colours. The quality and attention to detail were amazing with “50 shades of grey” on a single shirt, chinchilla furs (ethically sourced from farms in Germany), bright orange trousers and the thickest of wooly jumpers.
Inspired by architecture and definitely taking into consideration the climate, Kristian has a distinctive take on fashion and comfort with a quality and attention to detail that I have never seen before in Men’s clothing.
Kristina Viirpalu / Womenswear
Bridal gowns: beautiful and intricate. Universally admired for their elegance, but also feared by the clumsy who might unwittingly catch a thread and unravel; or those who would categorically have to wear a full body cat suit underneath to hide their modesty and keep the excess body bumps in place. The hand-knitting is phenomenal and exquisite and apparently most of the pieces are one-of-a-kind. Apparently it takes three women a whole week to create just one dress and you can see the detail is amazing. Again the surprise is the price tag of £1,500 almost sounds a little on the ‘cheap’ side.
Canapes were lovely, drinks a-plenty and a variety of rather strong but tasty traditional liqueur chocs were offered throughout the evening. I admit I did look Estonia up on the Internet before I went – just so I could place it geographically, identify my host (Kristel Oitmaa) and not be totally ignorant. All I knew was that Skype was born there (a friend of mine used to travel to Tallinn when she worked for the company).
So after having met some “natives”, seen the video, eaten the chocolate and flicked through the brochures I totally want to go there!
Well done Estonia – douze points! LFW winners for me!
More pics here.