Michelle Lowe Holder: Eco Elizabethans

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Meet Michelle Lowe Holder, an accessories designer who does incredible things with upcycled materials
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.

It caught the attention of a few fashion bigwigs, including TOPSHOP boss Philip Green. He encouraged a collaboration with the beloved London high-street store, and soon after, a turning point came in her career.

Namely, she was invited by the Centre for Sustainable Fashion to attend a mentoring programme. After doing so, 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 Lowe Holder pays close attention to this aspect of eco-fashion. She recycles scraps from previous collections, and has made that practise integral to her label.
Her collections still include the concept of Ribbon Art, which she used in her previous work. But she has updated and perfected this technique to further explore folding techniques. She intricately intertwines with crochet and hand cut bases with ribbon weaving and tying. She puts her own unique twist on this technique by combining tapestry patterns, stripes and symmetrical ribbons to create rich shades and textures.

Classical Inspiration

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.

Michelle Lowe Holder sustainable accessory designer

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 online and in hip boutiques like boticca.com, or Hiddenart.com

Michelle Lowe Holder sustainable accessory designer

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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