It's all the things that mean something to me, things that I love," says the former journalist/stylist/photographer and suitably impressive fashion Renaissance man, Iain R Webb, about his latest venture.
Currently taking the form of a pop-up shop off Old Street in East London, orangesnowstore – Stevie Wonder's "Saturn" is the inspiration behind the name – is stocked with found objects all of which have been customised by Webb and epitomise the contradictory nature that the moniker might suggest. From the end of this month, the shop will reinvent itself online.
And so, the words "BORED NOW" might be stencilled onto a pretty and determinedly gentle antique lace doily as so too is "REI IS ACE", a tribute to perhaps the most pioneering and least doilly-loving designer. Both are then captured for posterity in a white, 1970s-style frame. Sometimes sequins are employed to more razzmatazzy effect. Some of these are new, others date back to the 1930s, and it is a measure of Webb's eye for detail that he instructs any visitors to run their fingers over these to feel the difference between the old – harder and more metallic – and the new – more flexible and clearly acrylic – in flavour.
Alongside these are clothes which balance a utilitarian, American-sportswear informed aesthetic with couture workmanship and finish. Original army green military parkas are embroidered with more sequinned slogans on their backs, everything from vintage dresses to bolts of fine furnishing fabrics is dissected (Webb calls these "autopsies") and then applied in a fresh new way to form everything from a dirndl skirt with a tie waist that owes more than a little to the functional designs of Claire McCardell to "glamoraks" – warm, quilted jackets with opulent, antique linings. Then there are oversized T-shirts – from short to ankle-length – in the type of sludgy colours that are, once again, a personal favourite and beanies in material that ranges from the unashamedly chintzy to the utilitarian again.
Betty Jackson, Barbara Hulanicki and Maria Cornejo (Webb has known the designer who is famously favoured by Michelle Obama since she started out in the 1980s) have all paid a visit and if the "sold" stickers by more than a few items are anything to go by it seems fair to say that Webb has struck a nerve. Fast fashion, in fashionable circles at least, has had its day and this type of hand-made, labour intensive merchandise with a deeply personal vein running all the way through it seems just right for now. Not only is emotional content in clothing valued once more but also everything is recycled, so anyone with a conscience about landfills full of non-biodegradable items (Lycra, anyone?) can rest safe in the knowledge that they are helping the environment too. Orangesnowstore.com