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TRIBES AND UNIFORMS BY MICHELLE LOWE-HOLDER

AW12 is an accessories collection inspired by photographs from the early 1900’s of “tribal” Native American Indians and the “uniforms” of the European settlers of that time.

The collection develops last season’s newest style “ribbon links” into complex necklaces and cuffs mixing tapestry patterns, vintage stripes, metallic military trims and American Indian geometric ribbons and colours.

The technique of military braiding (used to create uniform epaulets) has been made into leather and suede detailing to give more texture and tactility.

Metallic military “lace” is sourced from one of the few British military uniform trim companies still existing today supplying to no less than her majesty the queen herself. The braid is used in her personal coterie of guards, horsemen, marching bands and formal palace uniforms. Colours for AW12 embrace the deep earthy hues of the natural materials worn by the Indians with rich oranges, deep cobalt blues, sienna and lively reds of their patterned weaves. Gold metallic braid is complimented by warm sunshine yellow, apple green, and chocolate brown.

Silver metallic braid and links are complimented by uniform blue, elemental forest green and aubergine striping’s.

Double sliding wing cuffs are shiny camel leather with apple green suede alternatively camel and inky black leather create a more classic combination.

New AW12 ”basket cuffs” are silver metallic and orange woven ribbons.

New folding techniques were explored this season and include the abundant use of metal diary edges in black and silver. Like pages in a book, the pieces open and create dimension as they go around the cuff and neck. The pieces look modern and have a colder urban feel.

Edward Sheriff Curtis was an avid photographer of the time and his iconic image of the “Wishhan Girl” from the Wishhan tribe displays her elaborately beaded shirt and gorgeous headpiece of coins. The ancient and common idea of using coins as a trim adds another layer and dimension to the concept of “tribal”. Coins embody value and worth. It is no coincidence that military medals feel coin-like. In “upcycling” pre-euro coins and seeing them with their diverse visual and sometimes lyrical imagery of national identity (as compared to the new homogenized modern Euro counterpart) we return to the basic concept of “tribes and uniforms” and those beautiful details that represent them.

Michelle Lowe-Holder is a eco-hybrid label – practicing sustainable and ethical practices when possible End of line materials, vintage textiles and cut-offs are upcycled and is intrinsic to the esthetic. The collection is handmade and produced in London, England.

Photography from the "Self Portrait Series" by Polly Penrose

About Michelle Lowe-Holder

Born in Canada and having accomplished an Honours degree from Pratt Institute in New York, Michelle Lowe-Holder worked for several years in the industry before attending Central St. Martins program in 1999.

Having finished an MA in Knitwear - the Michelle Lowe-Holder own label collection was presented at ” Browns” 2001.The BFC sponsored several New Generation catwalk shows shortly after, followed by sales in boutiques worldwide.

2007 saw the collaboration of TOPSHOP and Michelle Lowe-Holder with 4 collections sold in over 100 shops in the UK and abroad.

In 2009 LCF's Centre for Sustainable Fashion invited Michelle Lowe-Holder to attend a year long mentoring program and AW10 “Ribbon Reclaim ” collection marked a big change in direction.The Michelle Lowe-Holder label reformed with more sustainable practises and as an accessories only collection, after 10 years of designing and producing women’s wear clothing. The collection's focus shifted , whereupon the handcraft detail (often vintage and heritage ) which would have been a part of the clothing and often the inspiration - became the design or piece itself. Sustainable and ethical practises of zero waste , upcyling by using ends of lines and “cabbage” (scraps from previous collections) with UK production has become integral to the label.

Collections from AW10 develop and explore “ribbon art”, a kind of antique folding technique interlaced with crochet and hand cut bases. AW11 also includes the idea of taking "thrift shop finds"- including old discarded accessories of bangles, necklaces and rings and covering them in the zero waste process of “flocking ” to velvetize, revive, recolour and regenerate.

AW10, SS11, AW11 and SS12 collections were all exhibited at “Estethica”, Somerset House, London Fashion Weeks.

AW12 “TRIBES AND UNIFORMS” and SS13 "ELIZABETH" was exhibited this season in Paris "Premiere Classe" March and Sept. 2012.

Michelle Lowe-Holder has just finished a project with NIKE and LCF Centre for Sustainability as a mentor in the "MAKERS CHALLENGE". Handpicked students were chosen to work on a project with NIKE and their "MATERIALS SUSTAINABILITY INDEX" -A revolutionary way of measuring the carbon footprint and environmental impact of materials , developed after 8 years of research.

Designers Alina Moat, Matthew Miller and Christopher Raeburn joined the mentoring teams and students to create products and collections utilizing the new app.

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Designer. MICHELLE LOWE-HOLDER

Photographer. POLLY PENROSE

Published on November 3rd, 2012

by Stylnk

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