Accessories Fashion

Michelle Lowe Holder’s Eco Elizabethans

By Cailyn Cox

Over a decade ago, Canadian born, London based designer Michelle Lowe-Holder was your every day, run-of-the-mill, conventional designer. But after attending both the Pratt Institute in New York and the prestigious Central Saint Martins school in London, she started her own jewellery label in 2001 and  enjoyed great success from her collaboration with beloved London high-street store TOPSHOP, and soon after, a turning point came in her career.

She  was invited by the Centre for Sustainable Fashion to attend a mentoring programme, and finally, it dawned on her to start using sustainable materials in her collections. Her first accessory line to do so was ‘Ribbon Reclaim’ in AW 2010, and since then, she’s been a regular at London Fashion Week’s Estethica, the cutting-edge, eco-fashion showcase.

The practice of sustainable fashion ensures that there is no waste, and Michelle paid close attention to this aspect as she began using scraps from previous collections, a practise which is now integral to her label.  Her collections include the concept of Ribbon Art, exploring the folding techniques which are  intricately intertwined with crochet and hand cut bases. She puts her own unique twist on this technique by combining tapestry patterns, stripes and symmetrical ribbons to create rich shades  and textures.

As for inspiration,  Lowe-Holder has found a variety in her career, including the images of Edward Sheriff Curtis, an ethnologist and photographer who used his camera to capture emotional images of Native American Indians forced removal from their lands. This particular inspiration was reflected in her AW 2012 collection entitled “Tribes and Uniforms” which consisted of unique collars, bracelets and necklaces.

More recently, her SS13 collection entitled “Elizabeth” shows strong influences from the Elizabethan era, exploring British heritage and history to recreate modern grandeur, much as  Sarah Burton did at Alexander McQueen. The accessories are large, intricately woven, dimensional pieces, with metallic flourishes and gobsmacker-sized beads softening the generally linear forms. They’re mainly sold on-line and hip boutiques like  boticca.com, or Hiddenart.com

From her historical influences and sustainable methods, Michelle Lowe-Holder has forever broken convention and blazed a trail for innovative, ethical designers to follow.

 

Chere Di Boscio

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