It's quite a journey from organising raves in fields to being awarded an MBE for services to fashion. But Lulu Kennedy, best known for her work for Fashion East, the not-for-profit initiative that supports emerging designers, is unfazed by the path her career has taken. "I've been sacked from loads of jobs," she says at Fashion East's headquarters in the Old Truman Brewery in east London. "Fashion East was the first proper job that I've ever had much interest in apart from doing raves."
Since its inception in 2000, Fashion East has supported some of the UK's most talented young designers. Providing them with a London Fashion Week platform, it kickstarted the careers of Jonathan Saunders, Henry Holland and Roksanda Ilincic, to name a few, and earned Kennedy the moniker 'Fashion's Fairy Godmother', though comparison to a workhorse might be more appropriate.
Last year, the project's 10th anniversary, Kennedy launched an eponymous clothing label Lulu & Co, which brings together some of the enterprise's alumni and creates their designs in a more accessible, affordable way. Not quite as mass market as a high-street collaboration, Lulu & Co provides a middle ground of commercialisation that appears to benefit all parties.
And now Kennedy has signed up as editor-at-large of Love magazine, the Katie Grand-helmed, Condé Nast-published biannual first launched in 2009. She jumped in with both feet, despite being a publishing novice. At first, she admits, she didn't even know what an editorial meeting was.
One of her first projects was working with newly appointed Love editor Alexander Fury on a portfolio of profiles for the new issue. "I took my laptop in with some ideas and a piece of paper with some notes I'd made. I suggested a few people – some of them aren't even walking the earth any more. The reaction was: 'OK Lulu, dead people. It might be a bit hard to interview them.' But nobody said I was an idiot and we had a laugh."
Sølve Sundsbø, the Norwegian photographer whose creative use of digital manipulation caught the attention of future mentor Nick Knight early in his career, took the photographs, which were shot on location at his Hoxton studio. "He's insanely talented and great at interpreting the characters," Kennedy says.
LOVE 8 'A Costume Drama' autumn/winter 12 goes on sale on 30 July thelovemagazine.co.uk
Since graduating from the fashion MA course at Central Saint Martins in 2010 Rocha has been hailed as part of a new minimalist movement among young London designers. The daughter of veteran designer John Rocha, she has worked hard to establish herself outside of her father's shadow.
"Simone was so good on set - she would just do anything. She's wearing her own clothes, and a Piers Atkinson feather headdress - she looks like an exotic bird. She was just giggling the whole time, we've caught her in a serious moment there, peeking out, but she was just a bundle of laughs. I think she's having her breakthrough time right now. Hers was a standout show at London Fashion Week and it felt exactly right, that direction - the plastic and that blanket stitch - craft meets futurism. She's the most down to earth person, a lovely, happy, beautifully brought-up girl. I think she handles the pressure of expectation given who her father is really well. She's got an amazing appreciation of craft and textiles and an understanding of fashion through her father's work. And her mum, who she works really closely with, is just inspirational."
At the end of last year, Grimes was touted as one to watch in 2012. And the Canadian producer and performer has lived up to the hype, taking her unique brand of psychedelic, electronic music around the world to huge acclaim.
"I first heard Grimes in [Fashion East designer] Maarten Van Der Horst's studio late at night. He was playing this lovely twinkly music that sounded like fairies over techno and my obsession grew from there. We decided to get Grimes in because she's an exciting girl that seems to have lots to say – she's got opinions on everything as well as being a brilliant musician and performer. I love what she stands for. Anders [Solvsten, fashion editor of Love] and Kimi [O'Neill, associate fashion editor of Love] styled it, but it all happened really fluidly. Katie [Grand] came along and hung out, it was a team effort. She said "let's paint her hands pink" and we cut her fringe, dyed it pink and bleached her eyebrows, which she was totally up for. She was great, she came straight off the plane and was bouncing around having so much fun. She left us all presents and CDs at the end, it was kind of like a little dream."
The producers of HBO’s adaptation of George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones had little choice but to cast Christie in the role of Brienne of Tarth after loyal fans proposed her as the perfect fit. The role has catapulted her from a successful stage career – including playing the Queen in the RSC’s Cymbeline, and Mag Wildwood in Breakfast at Tiffany’s – to stand-out star.
"Gwendoline is a really incredible character. Everyone is going to know her as Brienne of Tarth but she’s bigger in real life than she is playing the part – and that’s a pretty big part. She’s a huge personality, but full of old-school charm. She’s got the best manners and that incredible way of making you feel like the only person who matters. She’s very provocative, hilariously witty, all in the most fun, warm way. We’ve got her as a warrior woman in this beautiful vintage mask, a Gucci cape and Louis Vuitton shoes. She’s comfortable being naked, and is the ultimate professional model. She’s incredibly tall and then wears six-inch heels because she doesn’t care."
The Scottish designer made her way through the Fashion East initiative and has gone on to achieve NewGen sponsorship funded by Topshop. Later this year she will collaborate with the high-street brand on a range of make-up and clothing. In the meantime, her innovative use of textiles and extraordinary sense of colour makes hers one of London Fashion Week's most hotly anticipated collections.
"I was particularly keen to have Louise in the magazine because she's a really good friend and I care very passionately about her. She divides the critics and I found myself at loggerheads with some of the people who were against her. She eventually showed them and now they're all [mimes begging]. I felt that needed celebrating. She's such a fiercely independent woman and an inspiration. She's wearing one of the bubble wrap bra tops from her autumn/winter collection - we gradually undressed her and she just looked better and better. I love the way she's looking off camera – she's the girl that you want to be friends with that sits at the back of the class and creates havoc. But with a little good-girl bow at the front of her hair."
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