Time to be bold: Eley Kishimoto are finally stepping into the fashion limelight

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Eley Kishimoto's south London studio is not what one might expect of a fashion label whose specialty is bright, bold prints. Or at least not from the outside. But behind the austere plain-white façade lie three floors crammed with objects and people that embody the spirit and aesthetic of Mark Eley and Wakako Kishimoto's brand more faithfully.

Pots of brightly coloured dye and fabric samples bloom from every surface while rolls of fabric and printing screens line the walls. An enormous wooden three-piece suite and standard lamp, stencilled with a kaleidoscopic geometric pattern, lend an Alice In Wonderland feel. In the midst of all this, the Eley Kishimoto team work away happily in an atmosphere of organised chaos, as a mini-brood of unfeasibly cute children belonging to various staff help themselves to a tableful of cakes. Like one of their signature designs, it's vibrant, friendly and a little fantastical.

Nevertheless, the unassuming exterior is a fitting visual reminder that this is a label that remains astonishingly low-profile outside fashion circles. "A lot of people are still under the impression that Eley Kishimoto is a young Japanese girl," admits Bridgend-born Eley, who looks after the business side while wife Wakako holds the creative reins. In reality, you probably know more of its designs than you think, given the huge number of projects across diverse media that the husband-and-wife team have collaborated on since founding the business in 1992.

Besides supplying print designs to fashion's biggest names, from Alexander McQueen to Louis Vuitton, the pair have turned their hand to sportswear for Ellesse and Converse, a car for Volkswagen, furniture for Habitat, interior design for the "House at..." boutique hotel chain and several architectural projects. Most recently they made their mark on two modern classics, the Eastpak backpack and Medicom's cult Japanese be@rbrick miniature teddies, emblazoning both with their abstract "flash" print. "We never had a big plan to do all this," says Kishimoto. "We just said yes to every opportunity to do something different."

Now poised to present their first Paris catwalk collection in their second job as creative directors of Cacharel (they took the role at the French fashion house earlier this year), the couple will soon be embracing the limelight they have largely eschewed while building their eponymous womenswear line.

And in that limelight, they are keen to stress that, despite their wide-ranging body of work, Eley Kishimoto is first and foremost a clothing label, producing beautiful, wearable pieces that have won them devotees from Paris to Tokyo (it was the French artist Sophie Calle, who wears nothing but Eley Kishimoto, who match-made the couple with Cacharel).

Their autumn collection, whimsically titled Bonny Bunny, is inspired by the idea of an old-fashioned travelling entertainer. Kishimoto's prints – vivid harlequin designs and bold patterns worked from animal and feather motifs – are applied to ruffled dresses and blouses, interspersed with skirts and jackets in cosy tweed and primaries. It's classic Eley Kishimoto: clothes that are friendly and inviting. But that isn't to imply blandness – it is their unashamed prettiness, regardless of trends, that makes them in their own way bold.

Furthermore, Eley believes their position in the London Fashion Week schedule, as an established label that remains committed to artistic experimentation, makes them unique. "It's our tenth year in London and some people now classify us alongside the likes of John Rocha, Betty Jackson and Paul Smith. But I don't think those people are pushing the boundaries in the same way as us, certainly not with the frivolity we have."

But are their insistently pretty clothes preventing them from being seen as heavyweights? "When we started it was all about black and deconstruction – Jil Sander, Comme des Garçons – really dark stuff," admits Eley. "And there we were with yellow flowers on white poplin. But people just got it really quickly." So quickly, in fact, that the Eley Kishimoto look paved the way for, among others, Orla Kiely and the resurgence of Marimekko.

And it's that accessibility that is the key to the Eley Kishimoto enterprise. If you like their designs, the chances are you'll like them forever, regardless of passing trends. "Every season people ask us, 'Why do you think print is in fashion again?', but it's really always there," explains Eley. "It's been our key tool in creating our identity because of Wak's ability to draw, paint and make patterns. And not many people can touch us on that."

Eley Kishimoto (020 8674 7411, www.eleykishimoto.com) will show at London Fashion Week on Tuesday. The range is stocked at Liberty (020 7734 1234)

Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
books
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

    £28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

    C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

    Clinical Negligence Solicitor

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

    Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

    £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

    Day In a Page

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference