London's taste for the eclectic and avant-garde keeps it firmly at the frontiers of fashion - creating the perfect, fertile environment from which an abundance of new designers can emerge. The energy and diversity of the city has been a constant source of inspiration for generations of London-based designers and indeed, anyone interested in fashion, and this new series of STYLEist celebrates the amazing talents of the capital's up and coming style-setters.
Elisabeth Hamyln - Knitwear designer
From an early age I wanted to become an artist like my grandmother and I was fascinated by the bold and colourful paintings by artists such as Matisse, Van Gogh and Mark Rothko. During my education at Art school I discovered a real passion for textiles and in particular the technical possibilities of knitwear. I graduated with a First Class degree in Textile Design specialising in knitted textiles from Winchester School of Arts. I also achieved a Masters Degree in Fashion Knitwear with Distinction from Nottingham Trent University.
I launched my designer knitwear and accessories label in 2008. I am based in London working from my creative studio at Cockpit Arts in Holborn. I continue to experiment with innovative knitting techniques and always endeavour to create exciting, special pieces. All my products are manufactured in the UK to ensure quality and preserve British heritage in craftsmanship. I have exhibited Internationally and sold knitted textile designs to renowned labels including Yves St. Laurent, Calvin Klein and Armani Exchange.
Describe your brand
Innovative and contemporary with an element of sophistication. As a knitwear designer I place a strong emphasis on fabric development. Instead of working from patterns, I manipulate and drape fabric directly on the mannequin to create unique garment designs. My latest collection, which was shown at Alternative Fashion Week, was inspired by the twisted designs of Celtic Knotwork. I translated this by knitting strips of fabric and wound them around the body to create sculptural and dramatic shapes.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion gives me the opportunity to be experimental and expressive but also offers a real technical challenge. As a designer you have to keep progressing and developing or you will be left behind, which I find that really motivating.
Who epitomises London Fashion for you?
It has to be Alexander McQueen for his cutting edge and sometimes shocking designs. He tailoring was brilliant and he definitely pushed the boundaries of what is considered tasteful. His loss is a real tragedy.
How has London inspired you or your designs?
London has an amazing creative vibe, which is really inspiring. As a designer, I wouldn’t want to be based anywhere else. I try to visit as many galleries and exhibitions as possible like the recent Van Gogh exhibition at The Royal Academy of Arts. I’m going to make sure I make the time to see the Martin Margiela exhibition at Somerset House.
Where do you hang out?
I love being in my studio at Cockpit Arts in Holborn. I also enjoy taking a break in Covent Garden and often go to Candy Cakes to get one of the brightly iced cakes with sweets on top. My favourite bars are Gordon’s Wine bar in Embankment and Bar Kick in Shoreditch, which has table football and makes great Mojitos.
What's the worst outfit you've seen someone wearing on the tube?
I did once see someone wearing leather Lederhosen on the tube. I wouldn’t say it is the worst outfit I’ve seen but it was definitely one of most unexpected. The cultural diversity in London is part of what makes it so vibrant.
What was the first thing you designed?
For my label a black Italian Merino Wool jumper with a polo neck and diagonal panels inspired by graphic Bauhaus posters.
Which designers inspire you?
Hussein Chalayan for his thoughtful, conceptual designs. The Japanese designers, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto, also inspire me because of they experiment with unusual garment shaping and construction.
Where can we buy your clothes?