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VFS Exhibition: Chelsea Rebelle

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Some say that he’s the result of secret genetic cloning research carried out by a mad scientist using DNA extracted from hair samples stolen from Henri Cartier-Bresson and Annie Leibovitz. Or that he has a mortal fear of rabbits and hides behind the sofa when Watership Down is on the telly. All we know is he’s called Jack G and, whether it’s stowing away on a ship bound for the South Atlantic to photograph penguins or hiking 16 miles through a slot canyon river to photograph the Narrows in Zion Canyon, he’ll do whatever it takes to get that elusive shot.

So, when both Myles and Mr. Big failed completely in their attempts to get passes for the Vauxhall Fashion Scout exhibition at the Freemason’s Hall in Covent Garden, there was only one thing left to do. We don’t know whether he parachuted onto the roof and abseiled in through a skylight or tucked his left trouser leg inside his sock and gave the man on the door a funny handshake but he succeeded where the rest of us failed and made it inside, wielding his Nikon and a dictaphone (rumour has it he can’t write).

Vauxhall Fashion Scout, sponsored by the eponymous car maker, targets emerging talent, providing mentoring and sponsorship to selected designers. During LFW, they host catwalk shows, presentations and an exhibition, providing young designers with the opportunity to showcase their collections.


And they’re not just local designers either. Sarah, who designs under the Chelsea Rebelle moniker, has come all the way from Los Angeles because she’s decided to relocate to London later this year.

“There’s not much happening in LA, fashion-wise,” she told Jack. “There’s a handful of really strong designers there, like End of an Era, who do really amazing menswear, but I just don’t find it a very inspirational place to be for fashion. I find London very inspiring and creative. I lived here before for a year and I’ve always been keen to come back.”

Sarah’s been designing since 2005 but suffered an early setback after just three months, when a fire in her studio destroyed everything. More recently, the recession in the US has thrown her a few more curveballs. “Most the stores I sold to closed down and the ones that didn’t close down didn’t pay their bills. But I’m going to persevere through it.”

Like most designers, she has a day job in LA, doing styling jobs on the side but she’s not yet lined up anything here in London. “I’m just going to wing it!”

Her perseverance and optimism are obviously paying dividends. “I’ve had some really good press recently. Kelly Osborne wore one of my dresses to New York fashion week and that generated a lot of interest, and here in London I sell to a new concept store called Wolf & Badger in Notting Hill which just opened at the start of the month.”

“As far as target customers go, it’s fairly young – girls in their twenties and early thirties, who are looking for wearable things but still unique, with a bit of an edge, a bit of a twist. I wouldn’t mind filling the gap left by Luella.”

The collection she’s exhibiting here is titled EXLOVERS, which hints at the reason why black is the dominant colour. “This collection is probably my darkest one yet,” she admitted. “There’s a lot of black going on. I tend to go for quite feminine, girly colours and shapes. This one is still feminine but it’s a little bit more edgy, a bit darker, inspired by suburban punk rockers.”

When asked to pick out a piece to be photographed, she chose a dress made from silk and crocheted lace (left). “The printed silk is hand-batik’d so that the pattern is inconsistent throughout the entire bolt of fabric, it’s a different colour. I really like the idea that every piece is going to be totally different because of that. It was a horrible, difficult piece to make but I really like it! It’s got the feminine thing going on, it’s a little bit grungy and a little bit edgy as well.”

We hope Sarah’s move to London goes well and that she keeps perservering because we’d love to see her work on the catwalk – this dress is self-evidently designed to be worn instead of left on the hanger!

Written by Myles

February 21st, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Posted in Chelsea Rebelle

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