Model in padded silver jacket and matching silver boots walks the runway
Model in padded silver jacket and matching silver boots walks the runway

Lucrezia Grazioli’s design on the runway

Istituto Marangoni unveiled the collections of its ten most outstanding designers in their graduate showcase this month. Trudy Ross spoke to School Director Valérie Berdah Levy and Designer of the Year Hyun Jik Yoo on sustainability, creativity, and digital fashion

If you were anywhere near Pennington Street last Tuesday 11th of July, you would have caught sight of a number of impeccably dressed young people, formidable in dark glasses, loose bold cuts and striking accessories, walking the streets of East London. There would be no need to ask where they were going.

Unit 2, 110 Pennington Street, E1, was buzzing with the sexy and stylish milieu of London in anticipation of Istituto Marangoni’s graduate showcase. The large queue was slowly brought into the dark, industrial chic venue, lit by huge digital screens and pumping with music, to await the uniquely ‘phygital’ fashion show, also being streamed live in the Metaverse.

Natalie Kabelacova’s design on the ruway

Ten students from the renowned fashion school were chosen to have their collections debuted to the audience, with each creating six designs engaging with the theme DISTORT/DISRUPT. The chosen few, all with their own unique style, were Angelynne Viorenique Andersen, Anna Savchenko, Giju Kim, Hammotal Blair Hen, Hyun Jik Yoo, Jiaxi Zhuang, Lucrezia Grazioli, Natálie Kabeláčová, Rudraksh Singh, and Ummehani Kanchwala.

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As the models, prepped and preened by The London Academy of Freelance Makeup and Unite Haircare, walked the runway, the walls behind them projected digital interpretations of the designs they wore, featuring shots and videos of the models edited into colourful and dramatic landscapes. This, compounded by the sea of mobile phones snapping and streaming the event, marked a clear step into the realm of the digital experience, even in the physical space of the show.

Design from Anna Savchenko’s ‘Not Broken’ collection

When asked about the future of digital fashion, Director of the Istituto Marangoni London Valérie Berdah Levy told LUX: “…the Metaverse is the future. We started having fashion shows on the Metaverse just two years ago. We opened the school in Dubai last year and we had the first show on the Metaverse; it’s definitely the future for this. Even at school level, shortly we will have classes on the Metaverse and in the Metaverse.”

Angelynne Andersen walking the catwalk alongside a model wearing her design

The show also engaged with sustainability and responsible fashion, with Anna Savchenko from Russia using paper as the primary material in her designs, while Czech student Natálie Kabeláčová used only sustainable fabrics in her sherpa-inspired designs, and Angelynne Viorenique used scrap fabrics and yarns from the university to create her colourful and extravagant collection ‘Shedding’. The Istituto is introducing a new MA in Responsible Fashion this October; Valérie Berdah Levy noted the importance of teaching students to be both responsible and creative.

One of Designer of the Year, Hyun Jik Yoo’s designs

The winner of the Designer of the Year Award was announced as Hyun Jik Yoo, who completed a lap of the catwalk to roaring applause, accompanied by the model wearing his favourite design. His dramatic, brooding collection was inspired by Jack the Ripper, the East London murderer who Hyun Jik told us has lived near his home in Whitechapel, not far from the show’s venue. He explained that he was playing with ideas of concealing and revealing in his designs to speak to the murderer’s desire to be known and feared, while also hidden and anonymous. This translated into the use of sheer fabric and rips in his designs, working alongside thick layers and dark hoods.

Read more: Kering’s Marie-Claire Daveu on the Future of Sustainability

Hyun Jik Yoo walking the catwalk after being announced as Designer of the Year

Hyun Jik shyly told LUX that he was “really proud” of himself, and said his next steps were to rest up and then, “if I have a chance, if someone wants my brand name, I would like to set up my own brand.”

Find out more:

Reading time: 3 min
singer wearing glitter dress
man with glitter

Fashion designer Kevin Germanier. Image by Alexandre Haefeli

As the fashion industry comes under scrutiny for its environmental credentials in an age of sustainability, one young designer is showing a way forward. Paris-based Kevin Germanier designs high-end clothes with upcycled fabrics and beads he culls from other brands. Far from being earnest and worthy, his designs have real sizzle, as Kristina Spencer discovers

The fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters. It emits more carbon than international flights and maritime shipping combined. While the high turnover and volume of production of fast fashion is a major contributor, how do luxury brands affect the environment? With some maisons producing as many as eight collections a year, it seems inevitable that the sheer amount of output must produce waste. However, as consumer values change and conscious consumerism is on the rise, a new generation of designers is paving the way for a sustainable approach to glamorous, daring fashion. Kevin Germanier is one of them.

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Germanier is only 28. The Central Saint Martins alumnus showed his first collection in 2017 and it was immediately scooped up by MatchesFashion, the London-based luxury e-tailer. It comes as no surprise: Germanier’s high-octane collections are as sustainable as it gets, with everything from zippers to buttons sourced from materials discarded by other designers and brands. His garments are covered in crystals, a deadstock (unsold stock in new condition) supplied exclusively by Swarovski, who has collaborated with Germanier since he launched his eponymous label.

Growing up in Valais, Switzerland, Germanier always knew he wanted to be a fashion designer, spending his childhood draping fabrics over his siblings. His foundation year was spent at Geneva University of Art and Design, but it was London-based Central Saint Martins he pined for. Germanier applied, having told nobody but his flatmate at the time, and after seven interviews, he was in. “My first thought at the time was, ‘Oh God, I have to tell mum and dad!’” he laughs. His parents allowed him to go, but under one condition – he must finance his studies himself. Over a summer, Germanier saved up enough money and moved to London.

model wearing glitter dress

Image by Alexandre Haefeli

His sustainable approach did not come about as the result of a practical PR decision; it was merely a way to make ends meet as a student. Instead of buying expensive calico, Germanier went to Brick Lane in east London and found old duvet covers, and his flatmate gave away her deadstock. Some classmates rolled their eyes, but Germanier thrived. “It is harder to find beauty in trash than to go to Shepherd’s Bush, where I can buy anything. I needed to be creatively challenged.”

Read more: Singer-songwriter Ruth B. on poetry, social media & BLM

The industry has changed since Germanier’s first year at Central Saint Martins. These days, sustainability is in vogue. “When I started, nobody cared, and now everyone is an upcycler and a sustainability student, which is a good thing,” he admits. “But when people use sustainability as a marketing tool, that’s when I find it problematic. It should be the norm; what I am doing is normal.” It was hard to source materials at the beginning, but as the word spread, his social media was flooded with messages. “People frequently offer 25 metres of organza or 25 buttons, and I say yes to everything – and find a way to make it work.”

Now in his sixth season, Germanier continues to create feminine, unapologetically glamorous silhouettes with a disco aesthetic. There are glitter-strewn dresses, sculptural jackets and statement coats, sparkling with rainbow-hued Swarovski crystals. There is a strict ‘no black’ rule, despite always wearing black himself, because “no customer is coming to Germanier to buy black trousers”. While fashion schools are frequently criticised for the lack of business education, Germanier has managed to strike the delicate balance between creativity and pragmatism, which, by his own admission, must be due to his Swiss roots.

singer wearing glitter dress

Björk wearing a Germanier outfit at the We Love Green Festival, Paris, 2018. Image by Santiago Felipe/Getty

His adaptability is another asset. “It is one of my biggest strengths – I am very flexible,” he says, remembering how quickly he got rid of trousers that had beads on the back. A friend wore them for a day and could barely sit. “I learned to adapt the fantasy in my brain to the reality of my customer.” Germanier has had his fair share of the red-carpet moments – he has dressed Björk, Taylor Swift and Kristen Stewart, amongst others – but ultimately, the voluptuous Björk dress cannot be worn in an Uber and even celebrities change into comfortable clothes after pictures get taken at the Met Gala. “There are two ways of conceiving your business; there are your press outfits and commercial pieces, but they can still be extremely creative. You have to play on both sides, and I love it.”

The 2020 coronavirus pandemic has exposed the fashion industry’s vulnerabilities: retailers have filed for bankruptcy, brands have sold stock with unprecedented discounts, and designers came together to decry the never-ending global tour of fashion weeks. Germanier barely bats an eyelid because he does not carry any stock. “The calendar is not relevant at all. I don’t follow seasons. When it’s hot in Hong Kong, it is cold in Alaska. And we don’t follow trends. We use leftover fabric that was trendy in 2017. Eight collections a year is just too much product, and a good product takes time… People still need to get dressed, but they don’t need seven bags per week from the same brand.”

So, what is next for Germanier? “The launch of our website, the presentation of the new collection in September,” he says. “And we have made six new looks for Sunmi, the K-pop superstar. I am also currently working on an amazing order and Germanier is going to continue its slow ascent. It is hard to predict what will be next but we are fortunate enough to be able continue what we have built so far.”

View the collections:
Follow Kevin Germanier on Instagram: @kevingermanier

This article features in the Autumn Issue, which will be published later this month.


Reading time: 5 min
Man wearing glasses
Man wearing glasses

Erdem Moralioglu by Tom Mannion

Erdem Moralıoğlu’s flagship store is in Mayfair, but the heart of this designer to the stars is in hip east London, where he lives and has his studio. He gives LUX a pre-lockdown tour of his home patch

My favourite view…

The view from the restaurant at the top of the National Portrait Gallery

The most romantic spot for dinner…

St John on Commercial Street

The best spot to read a book…

The London Library

The best place to take a selfie…

No selfies!

Where you’ll hear the coolest music…

The Glory in Dalston

The only coffee I’ll queue for…

Violet on Wilton Way (they also do the best cinnamon bun in the world)

The perfect spot not in a travel guide…

The stacks at The London Library – I could spend hours getting lost in all the books

A tourist destination that’s worth the hype…

The Turbine Hall at Tate Modern

The best spot for some people-watching…

Broadway Market on a Saturday

The taste that reminds me of my childhood…

Mangal 2 on Stoke Newington Road, which is my favourite Turkish restaurant in London

My favourite museum/gallery…

The Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum or anything at Maureen Paley

The shop I never want to leave…

My shop in Mayfair. I spend a lot of time there and many of my clients say it feels like home

The best place to soak up some nature…

In the pool at London Fields Lido in winter

The perfect weekend brunch…

Allpress Espresso on Dalston Lane

I’m prepared to make a detour for…

The National Portrait Gallery

I’m at home in….


View the designer’s collections:

This story was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue, out now.

Reading time: 1 min
Eccentrically dressed artists pose in Bicester Village luxury retail destination
Eccentrically dressed artists pose in Bicester Village luxury retail destination

From left to right: fashion designers Mei-Hui Liu and Anne Sophie Cochevelou, stylist Daniel Lismore and Sue Kreitzman pictured at Bicester Village

Today marks the beginning of luxury shopping destination Bicester Village’s springtime campaign featuring artists and designers from East London

If you happened to be at Marylebone Station this morning in London, you might have noticed a gathering of vibrantly dressed individuals waiting on the platform for the next train to Oxford. This was the starting point for artist and designer Sue Kreitzman‘s ‘Colour Walk’, which led a group of East London‘s creatives deep into the heart of Oxfordshire’s countryside and along the paths of Bicester Village.

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The practise of ‘colour walking’ is to encourage like-minded artistic people to dress up in as many colours as possible, and meet to walk and discuss ideas; usually beginning in Old Spitalfields Market, today’s walk kicked off a new artistic campaign at Bicester Village. Inspired by artist and LUX contributing editor Maryam Eisler‘s book Voices East London , ‘Spring Fever’ aims at supporting the work and practises of artists and designers from London’s East End. Amongst those involved is artist turned fashion designer Meihui Liu, whose pop-up art-inspired concept store will feature limited-edition artworks by the likes of ‘post-it poet’ Andy Leek (the man behind the ‘Notes to Strangers’ series), French fashion designer Anne Sophie Cochevelou and celebrity stylist Daniel Lismore.

Read more: President of LEMA Angelo Meroni on business with a soul

Meanwhile Bicester Village itself has undergone a transformation, with a VIP building resembling the club lounge of a particularly luxurious hotel. Shoppers can relax in marble-swathed private rooms while being served cocktails and snacks by butlers; fruit bowls overflow and the experience is enhanced even further by the hands-free shopping service that is also offered, meaning you can wave your Amex Black in Prada and Dior and have the butler carry your bags back to the lounge, where you can sip a glass of champagne before reluctantly setting out for home. LUX loves.

For more information on the upcoming events and experiences visit:

Reading time: 1 min
Bird's eye shot of Canary Wharf, London at night with a sunset sky
Bird's eye shot of Canary Wharf, London at night with a sunset sky

The Canary Wharf Estate is now one of London’s most recognisable views

Once an industrial dockyard, Canary Wharf Estate is now home to London’s most famous skyline of angular glass towers, but thanks to the vision of property developer Canary Wharf Group, it’s also a highly desirable residential area with a thriving Arts + Events programme, high-end dining options and plenty of luxury developments underway. LUX speaks to the group’s Managing Director Camille Waxer about creating a lifestyle destination, the importance of public art and her vision for the future
Colour portrait of Camille Waxer, the managing director of leading property development company the canary wharf group

Canary Wharf Group’s MD Camille Waxer

LUX: What’s your vision for Wood Wharf as Canary Wharf’s newest mixed use district?
Camille Waxer: Our new district is designed to provide a residential led, mixed-use, waterside community defined by the quality of its public spaces, the diversity of its activities and its exemplary architecture.

The finished development will have the buzz that currently exists at Canary Wharf complemented by the tranquil setting of waterside living. Boutique shops and neighbourhood restaurants will be part of a thriving community with entertainment and leisure activities within the gardens, parks and squares and along the waterside boardwalks that line to the north and south side of Wood Wharf. As with Canary Wharf, art will be an integral part the community, in addition to a gallery there will art dotted throughout the development. There will also be a primary school, nurseries, GP surgery and play spaces for children.

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LUX: How do you select retailers for Canary Wharf? Have you noticed an increased demand for independent businesses or are high street names still dominant?
Camille Waxer: Initially the vision for the retail and food and beverage provision was to serve the working population but it was clear from very early on that the area wanted more, we started out with 6,000 sq ft of retail space and we now have over 1 million sq ft and Canary Wharf has become a destination. We evolved and we will continue to develop to meet the needs of the many visitors who come here – we regularly survey our visitors in the malls to deliver the shops, cafes, restaurants, services and amenities that people want at Canary Wharf. Our aim has always been to deliver what our customers want; it is a simple yet winning formula. Know your market, both with the retailers and your shoppers and your customers will become advocates for what you do.

The current trend is for independents which we love, there are some really interesting brands coming through but we need high street retailers as well, you need the mix. Our choice of retailers – whether they’re independents or high street names – will continue to increase, with the addition of new brands, particularly in food and leisure, and health and fitness. We recently launched Wharf Kitchen – a street food market where we bought together seven independents together and The Ivy, Polo Ralph Lauren, Peloton and Claudie Pierlot have also opened recently.

Shot from behind the stage at a music festival looking out at the crowds enjoying the music

A crowd enjoying Nashville Meets London music concert in Canada Square Park, Canary Wharf

LUX: With Arts+Events, retail and dining, Canary Wharf has transformed in feel; it’s now much more than just a business district. How do you create a lifestyle destination?
Camille Waxer: We have 120,000 people working here each day and another 150,000 people visiting daily so it is important to create a place that people like. Our approach from the design of our master plan over 30 years ago through to what you see today and will continue to see in the future is centred on our belief that it is the consideration and integration of every part of this development that makes it the incredible place that it is – everything from the smallest detail to the largest of buildings.

We not only want to create exceptional buildings like our flagship residential building, One Park Drive, designed by Swiss architects Herzog de Meuron, but also an incredible environment for all of our visitors to enjoy. From the outset, public realm has been key to our development. We put our shops underground so we could put parks above them. When you walk around Canary Wharf you’ll will find buildings designed by globally renowned architectural practices surrounded by beautiful and award-winning gardens, parks and squares – all complemented by a culturally inspiring arts and events programme.

Read more: Why you need to see Alberto Giacometti at Guggenheim, Bilbao

LUX: Why it is important for an area to have Arts+Events programmes and what do you think are the most effective ways of building/creating a community feel?
Camille Waxer: From the outset we had a cultural masterplan that included a fully curated programme of day and evening events and activations throughout the week. The culture is the glue that holds Canary Wharf together, without it we would be like every other development.

Our year-round Arts+Events programme delivers over 200 diverse events each year, designed to offer something for all tastes, there is everything from music concerts, comedy nights, family and community shows to food markets, sporting events, dance and theatre – all free to attend. We work with many of the world’s leading art institutions yet crucially we also work with small, local community groups who are part of the fabric of our Estate. The sense of community that you feel when visiting Canary Wharf comes from the people, whilst the developer can create the place it is the people that will make it a community and we recognised this from the very beginning.

Our events are designed to appeal to audiences of all ages, from the local area and beyond and through our events programme, people engage, interact and enjoy their time at Canary Wharf. In January, we have our fantastic Winter Lights Festival which runs for 10 days and has become a must see event in people’s calendars.

Large public light installation in Canary Wharf, London

Public art installation of blue LED lights amongst an urban landscape

Here and above: installations from the 2018 Winter Lights display in Canary Wharf

LUX: Canary Wharf Group has an impressive public art collection which includes work by Henry Moore and light artist Bill Culbert. What purpose do corporate collections serve?
Camille Waxer: Art is in our DNA and has been integrated in to the built environment from the very beginning. We have always been driven to provide a destination that has a positive impact on those who use it – the office occupiers, the local community and visitors to our Estate and for us art plays a huge part in this. Our corporate collection serves the local and wider community, it is accessible, and most importantly located in places where it can be seen and touched. The art that you see throughout the Estate has helped to create a sense of place.

Canary Wharf is now home to one of London’s largest collections of public art with over 70 pieces of art across the Estate, new pieces are added to the permanent collection each year and we also host a temporary exhibition programme that champions emerging and local artists alongside more well-known artists. Our CEO and Chairman Sir George Iacobescu, CBE is the force behind the collection and I feel privileged to work with him on it.

LUX: In 2013 you launched Level39, a tech community offering expert mentors and workspaces. How does this scheme work and where did the idea come from?
Camille Waxer: With London emerging as one of the world’s leading centres of technology innovation – we launched Level39, a community and co-working space for startups and scale-ups situated in the heart of Canary Wharf. It is now home to 200 ambitious companies and has grown to become the leading fintech – financial technology – hub in the world and the largest concentration of cyber security startups in the city.

The community has helped change the Canary Wharf from a predominantly financial services district to a more technology-focused community.

LUX: What’s the greatest challenge in managing a 97 acre site with a service charge budget of over £90m?
Camille Waxer: I can only respond in saying that we have the most amazing team of dedicated people working for Canary Wharf Group. Yes we have challenges yet we are a very well-oiled machine, with a huge amount of expertise and experience.

We are all exceptionally proud of everything we have achieved, there are challenges as with any organisation yet they are dealt with as a team and as a result it is a joy to manage the Estate even with the challenges.

LUX: When Southbank Place completes in 2019 what can we expect to see?
Camille Waxer: Southbank Place has been one of the most talked-about developments in London since it was first announced, and I believe that it will really change the landscape of the local area once complete. The location is so central and such a great cultural hub, I can’t wait for us to be part of the community with merging our own arts and events programme with the surrounding venues.
Some of our shops have already opened Gail’s Bakery, M&S and Boots to name a few. The independents will follow. Southbank Place is just the start of the revitalisation of this area of London.

Read more: Philippe Sereys de Rothschild on fine wine & supporting the arts

LUX: How do you make sustainability a priority whilst trying to meet consumer demands?
Camille Waxer: Sustainability is an integral part of our strategy to shape Canary Wharf as a city of the future. With our new residential developments our Estate is evolving; from a place to work in to a place to live. And we know consumers want a more sustainable planet/environment.

On World Environment Day, June 2018 we launched ‘Breaking the Plastic Habit’, a 12 month programme designed to remove single-use plastics across the Canary Wharf Estate. As part of this programme, we have committed to becoming the world’s first commercial centre to be accredited with ‘Plastic Free Community’ status in partnership with Surfers against Sewage, a national marine conservation and campaigning charity. This is something that we are passionate about with the volume of food operators we have and it is our responsibility to do something about it.

LUX: Can we expect to see changes in consumer buying in the next ten years and will this affect leasing and retail spaces?
Camille Waxer: The retail market continues to be challenging. However, there is still a huge demand for retail stores as consumers continue to want to enjoy retail experiences within physical store environments. The trend at the moment is for independent operators and it is wonderful to see the talent emerging, I sit in many meetings and I think wow that takes guts to give it all up to open up a food stall. A blend / mix of independents and high street is important.

Pimms being served in a london garden from a trolley with a red umbrella

Visitors enjoying Pimms being served for the Wimbledon tennis screening in Cabot Square, Canary Wharf

LUX: What do you consider your biggest achievement to date and why?
Camille Waxer: My biggest achievement is the time that I have spent here. I have been working at Canary Wharf Group for 28 years, I have been part of realising our vision for a master plan that was completely new to London – the creation of a purpose built, district designed to respond to the needs of its users in an area that was unused and suffering from high levels of dilapidation and unemployment following the closure of the docks.

The early days were some of my favourite moments, at the time there were few believers in what we were doing but look at where we are now; we have gone beyond what anyone thought possible, we haven’t simply created a district we have created a destination – Canary Wharf is vibrant and thriving with over 49 million people visiting our malls each year. We have contributed to the regeneration of a large area of our city. It doesn’t get much better than this!

The passion and collective hard work of the team here is very inspiring. This is not a job for me, it is a pleasure.

LUX: When you’re not leading the group’s retail efforts, how do you like to spend your time?
Camille Waxer: My daughter and my husband play golf so I walk the courses with them which is pretty much every weekend and once a year I get my own clubs out but frankly that is probably once too many. I love going to the theatre, art galleries, dabbling in property development and sitting on the dock at my friend’s cottage in the lake area outside of Toronto; just enjoying the moment, it is magic.

Find out more:

Reading time: 10 min

Model poses on street in mid dance in pink frilly dress with designer in background

Anna Wallace-Thompson speaks to curator and artist Maryam Eisler about the characters in her latest book, Voices: East London, which celebrates the unique hub of creativity and individuality

Maryam on designer Meihui Liu (top image with Alice Pins modelling one of her creations on Princelet Street, and below Alice Pins in another creation by the designer with shoes by Natacha Marro):

“I’ve never met anyone with so much positive energy, possibility and potential for doing. Meihui is, first and foremost, a designer, and her art comes in the form of beautiful, timeless gowns made out of found and patchwork vintage fabrics. She’s also the greatest connector I have ever known. I think you can see the influence of the East End on Meihui’s way of thinking, and in the way in which she uses fabrics. We photographed her on Princelet Street, behind Brick Lane. Here, the buildings appeal with their romantic, weathered textures of bygone times: peeling walls in shades of rosewood and teal, houses dating back to the Huguenots and the Irish silk weavers of the early 18th century. The area has such a deep connection to fabric and textiles, just like Meihui’s own personal creations.”

Model Alice Pins posing in front of street graffiti wearing Meihui Liu

In Paris there is Montmartre, in New York, SoHo – and in London, there is the East End. One of the last bastions of individuality and creativity in an ever-sanitised cityscape, London’s East End remains a bolthole for artists, fashion designers, musicians and creatives. Its scrappy nature, says editor and photographer Maryam Eisler, is, “one of the key factors to enabling creativity, precisely through this tension between glitz and ‘gritz’. It’s that crack that has given birth to different kinds of thinking.” She adds, “There is a sub culture in the East End that’s been lost elsewhere – and the minute you sanitise society you lose its verve and flavour, as is the case in London’s West End.”

Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

Eisler has lovingly captured the spirit of the East End’s creative residents in her book, Voices: East London. “The whole point of doing this book was to try and find out what it was about the East End that differentiated it from the rest of London – in fact, I very nearly called it A Tale of Two Cities,” explains Eisler. “Historically-speaking, the East End has induced and empowered creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. It has fostered imagination, innovation and a more colourful way of thinking on so many levels, all a result, in my opinion, of its rich multicultural layering.”

It was towards the end of the two years of interviews she conducted for the book that Eisler met one of the most interesting people of all – 77-year-old New York native and cookbook writer turned outsider artist, Sue Kreitzman. Her apartment is a riotous explosion of colour, the most primal and genuine reflection of her inner self and something of an East End legend, as is her own personal dressing style. Through Kreitzman, Eisler then met young artists Anne Sophie Cochevelou and Florent Bidois, both of whom create wearable art from found objects mostly sourced in thrift stores and markets. Eisler also met “creative genius, chief connector, delicious ‘lace’ dumpling maker and pop-up queen” Meihui Liu.

Read more: Exclusive behind-the-scenes images from “Voices: East London” by Maryam Eisler

“These people live, breathe, eat and dream their art,” says Eisler. “When we talk about wearable art, they are their own best mouth pieces. All four of them have the ability to make something out of nothing.” It is this, Eisler believes, that exemplifies the East End spirit. “It’s such a pioneering spirit, and very much an industrious spirit, to have this hands-on approach to life, leaving your own mark on the things you make, as well as on society as a whole – adding colour to the life of the community you live in, making it a better place to be. It’s all about making something special out of very little.”

Designer Anne Sophie Cochevelou pictured in flower market holding a bunch of colourful flowers

Maryam on designer Anne Sophie Cochevelou (above at Columbia Road flower market): 

“Anne Sophie is all about opulence, layering and being off the wall. She’s a complete hoarder, of beads and pompoms and sequins and remnants of fabrics and plumes and boas. It’s incredible how many different looks she keeps coming up with; it’s better than any fairy tale. She talks about [the flower market’s] ‘texture’, and how it inspires her. When dressed and out in public, people are intrigued, wanting to take pictures of her, often asking to touch her clothes. She turns into some kind of idol.”

Designer Florent Bidois pictured in conversation with a street vendoer

Maryam on designer Florent Bidois (above): 

“Both Anne Sophie and Florent are incredibly energetic souls. Florent takes trash bags and makes couture dresses from them, which he calls ‘trash couture’. They are beautifully stitched by hand and turned into delicate creations using flowers, buttons and sequins. They look a million dollars.”

“I shot Florent on Broadway Market, which he loves for its dynamism and friendliness. He loves the water as he’s from Brittany, so he likes taking strolls by the canal. He had his first fashion show in 2006 but it was after he met Sue Kreitzman in 2015 that he says, ‘something clicked in my head’. He has praised her for allowing him to be ‘bold and beautiful. I see myself as a blank canvas. I create my own vision of beauty, a duty I take seriously as an artist.'”

Designer Sue Kreitzman pictured in her East London home

Maryam on Sue Kreitzman (pictured above in her East London home):

“Sue is actually American by origin, but is now an adopted East Ender, having been here for more than 20 years. She’s a true designer: her whole theory on life is ‘don’t wear beige, it will kill you.’ Her home is a fairy tale hodgepodge, a world of infinite possibilities – there’s not one square inch of space that isn’t painted or covered in art and objects. She lives in a world of beauty, imagination, colour and energy, a sanctuary where she finds solace and soulfulness. She is the epitome of a real ‘maker’ – she creates kimonos, jewellery, art, all from found or used objects, sought out in flea markets all over the East End. She is also a feminist, with strong opinions and a can-do attitude.”

Maryam on Sue’s relationship with Florent and Anne Sophie:

“[Sue] has inspired many young people and taken them under her wing to show them a path of possibility. When we talk about wearable art, all three – Sue, Florent and Anne Sophie – represent the epitome of their own art and thinking. They live by their own individual books and Sue has taken both Anne Sophie and Florent under her wing and, in effect, encouraged them to channel their creativity, possibly even showed them how it can be turned into a viable existence. She has proved to them that it can go beyond just wearing art themselves, and speaking about it and believing it: you can make a living out of it.”

This piece was originally published in The Beauty Issue. Discover Maryam Eisler’s portfolio of work:


Reading time: 5 min

Curator, artist and LUX contributing editor Maryam Eisler shares exclusive behind-the-scenes photographs and stories from her latest book, Voices: East London, which celebrates the creativity of the capital’s East End

Above: “Alice Pins strutting her stuff on historic Princelet Street, an original hub of its Hughenot settlers. She wears a pair of hand moulded gold leather footwear creations by French shoe designer Natacha Marro and a ‘Victim Fashion Street’ vintage patchwork dress by local veteran designer Meihui Liu.”
“Designer Florent Bidois shows off his hand-stitched trash couture,  next to the rubbish skips...this is where glitz and grit come together in Hackney heaven!”
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“A local Hackney resident enjoys a cappuccino and a croissant whilst admiring Florent’s headgear, oozing with colour and life, inspired by actress Carmen Miranda. This was shot on a Saturday afternoon when Broadway Market comes to life with street food, live music and local colour.”
“Woman power boasts the streets of the Columbia Flower Market, one sunny Sunday morning, whilst street art meets creative genius Anne Sophie Cochevelou, walking, talking and, in this case, dreaming her wearable art.”
“A mesmerizing market magician, selling his wears and tears to the Grande Dame of the Old Spitalfields Market, American outsider artist and designer Sue Kreitzman. Will she be convinced? That is the question!”
“Dancing and romancing the back streets of the Old Spitalfield Market with a creation by designer Meihui Liu’s Victim Fashion Street label, combining vintage fabric and lace. Pure pink deliciousness!”
“Row Row Row your boat , gently down the stream……Sue (Kreitzman) seems satisfied!  She may have just ‘merrily’ found that special hand crafted African wooden sculpture she’s been hunting for, at the iconic Old Spitalfields market… in place for over 120 years!”
“Designer Anne Sophie (Cochevelou) takes a moment of pause and reflection, transported by the scent of a freshly purchased bouquet of yellow tulips, amidst the Sunday morning hustle, bustle and Cockney banter of the Columbia Road Flower market.”

The photographic journey presented here is an extension of Voices East London by Maryam Eisler, co-published by TransGlobe Publishing Ltd and Thames and Hudson. To view Maryam’s portfolio visit:

Reading time: 3 min
Portrait of artist Viktor Wynd outside of his museum in east London,
Pearly Queen Doreen Golding portrait in front of orange door by artist Maryam Eisler

A prominent member of the charitable Pearly Kings and Queens Society, Doreen Golding as featured in ‘Voices East London’ by Maryam Eisler

Maryam Eisler is a busy woman; co-chair of the Tate’s MENAAC Acquisitions Committee,  member of the Tate International Council, trustee of the Whitechapel Gallery and Advisory Council member of Photo London are to name just a few of her roles in the art world, but first and foremost, she is an artist. Digital Editor Millie Walton speaks with Maryam Eisler about her most recent project Voices East London, the power of art versus politics and the democracy of social media.
colour portrait of Maryam Eisler photographer and contributing LUX editor

Maryam Eisler

LUX: You’ve worked in the art world for a long time in various guises and interacted with lots of artists – when did you start taking your own photos?
Maryam Eisler: I’ve actually been taking photographs seriously for about 20 years now; I did courses and all sorts of photographic ventures, but I never dared to go out publicly. Two years ago, I had just completed a residency in Santa Fe, New Mexico where I explored the arid landscape and the female form, inspired by nature and by the personality of Georgia O’Keefe, in particular- her life and her oeuvre; a friend saw the photographs I’d taken there and she asked me which artist they were by, to which I answered ‘It’s not an artist, it’s me!’ She collects photography herself from the 50s and the 60s and was drawn to the black and white, the classical style – in any case, she asked me to email her a few of them and the rest is history! A few days later, I received a call from the gallerist Tristan Hoare who wanted to meet with me. She had shown him the work without telling me! And that is how this adventure began. Since then, I’ve had a solo show in London, ‘Searching for Eve in the American West’, and more exposure at the Dallas Art Fair and at Unseen in Amsterdam.

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LUX: Sounds very busy – how did you find the time to make your most recent book, Voices East London?
Maryam Eisler: Well whilst all of this was going on, I was playing with the idea of producing a book of my own because I had contributed editorially in the past to several publications to do with artists, studios and creativity (most recently London Burning: Portraits from a Creative City) but I had never done a project where I was in charge of both photography and editorial. My previous projects had pulled me towards the East End on numerous occasions, and everyone I had met there, I felt, was slightly off the wall in terms of imagination, innovation and creativity; so, I embarked on a 22 month journey to the East! What was interesting to me from a photography point of view was that it took me into a kind of parallel world; with my fine art photography, I like to immerse myself in nature, such as the American West or Provence, where I loose myself in thought and in time; but a book project, is a very different cup of tea. This particular book has on offer 80 different creative personalities, many of whom are very well known in their respective fields, the kings and queens of the East End culturally speaking, so we are talking egos, time constraints, fast pace – it’s more of a documentary style approach to photography, and yet in the back of my mind, I always have this aesthetic angle and it’s obviously very important for me to convey my perspective and stay true to my style; it has been fascinating to engage with both types of photographic approaches, at the same time.

pop artist Philip Colbert photographed with his artworks in East London by photographer Maryam Eisler

Artist and fashion designer, Philip Colbert, as featured in ‘Voices East London’ by Maryam Eisler

The photographs are in colour too, which is different for me since I usually shoot in black and white, but the idea was to convey the vivacity and unique colours of that part of London. I live in the west end which tends to be much more sanitised and commercial, and going to the East End every week was like going on holiday! I’d get to meet these wonderful, energetic people, and encounter new minds in the arts, music, fashion. As you know, the East End today is also the hub of technology so it was super important to show the new face of the area. The project was an exploration into the past, delving into layers of history and culture, but also trying to think about what the area has become today and what it stands for, not to mention the challenges that it is faced with in its future.

LUX: Why did you choose to make the book now, given the political climate, and the changes that will come with Brexit?
Maryam Eisler: I’m always concerned about the future of creativity and the role which London plays in this arena – what incredible role it has played in the past, but also and most importantly what global role it will play in the future, if any. That’s the big question mark. I think one of the great successes of the East End, has been its historic ability to empower creative output, and this has much to do with a friction, in my opinion, between glitz and grits, as well as with the cultural layering and diversity of the area, from the French Huguenots to the Irish silk weavers, as well as the Jewish communities and today, a predominantly, Muslim Bangladeshi community. Spending time with Gilbert & George, I once asked them whether they ever go away on holiday and they said, ‘Maryam my dear, why on earth would we go anywhere? We have the world at our doorstep.’ I think that’s a very unique attribute of the East End.

Read next: René Magritte’s photographs and home videos on display in Hong Kong

There’s a sense today, despite gentrification (I hate that word), the cultural cleansing and the commercialisation of the area, that you still have an essence of the past. Whether it’s London or New York, there’s the classic example of artists moving into areas making it all happening and kind of edgy and cool, and then the developers move in, building high risers, destroying artistic communities, with the locals not being able to afford the price of rent, so they get pushed out; but there’s also this industrious spirit in the East End of London, this skill that its inhabitants possess for being chameleons and adapting to and adopting new situations and environments, and although some have definitely been priced out, others do manage to find ways to reinvent themselves. The people there also have an amazing ability of making something out of nothing, in a very artisanal kind of way; it’s a kind of craftsmanship of their own lives, and the sense of community and support there is still very strong.

portrait of stylist jude nwimo in his home neighbourhood of east london by artist maryam eisler

Stylist Jude Nwimo as featured in ‘Voices East London’ by Maryam Eisler

LUX: Do you think that art has a social responsibility, as opposed to art for art’s sake?
Maryam Eisler: I really believe in the soft power of art. In the crazy world that we live in, that is becoming even crazier by the day, politically speaking and otherwise, I think more and more that artistic platforms are the last remaining bastions where critical thinking and exchange can take place in an open manner. Beyond their work, artists have also become the philosophers of today, the thinkers; they are the voices through whom we are enabled to think about the world we live in, and if a work of art makes you think, if it impacts you emotionally and intellectually, then it’s done its job, good or bad. Art has the power to move individuals, to make them think but also and most importantly to make them rethink and reevaluate the issues at hand.

LUX: How do you think social media and digital technologies have impacted on the art world?
Maryam Eisler: What’s incredible about social media in my opinion, is that it has broken, the classic system of accessing and understanding art, offering a direct dialogue between artist and viewer. And that is very powerful. Artists have become their own marketers. And why not! Often what the artists say and think of their work may differ drastically from the thoughts of curators, so removing old communication barrier systems and layers has given space for a new form of engagement. Social media offers a more democratic approach to the issue at hand, with increased possibility and connectivity.

Portrait of Lyall Hakaraia, fashion designer in East London

Fashion Designer and owner of the VFD club, Lyall Hakaraia as featured in ‘Voices East London’ by Maryam Eisler

LUX: In the past art collecting has certainly been regarded as quite elitist…
Maryam Eisler: Yes, I hate the word collector actually. I am an art lover, not a collector. I like to engage with the producer of an artwork; I like to have conversations with them, to get to know their inspirations and passions, which is exactly what I would offer to the people who are interested in my own photography. I enjoy the dialogue and exchange and for me, that’s an important part of the process. Social media opens that possibility for conversation and dialogue more than ever before.

Read next: Walking in the footsteps of fashion royalty at The May Fair Hotel

LUX: Much of your work is centred around the female form – how do you see yourself engaging with feminist discourses?
Maryam Eisler: The crux of my work revolves around the Divine Feminine, in which I celebrate the feminine identity, form, beauty and intellect. I’m interested in the contrast of form and geometry vs context; I am also interested to explore where and how ‘Woman’ with a capital W fits into the world and nature in particular, hence and indirectly a questioning of my own self-identity, I suppose.

As to the current feminist discourses that are going on, I believe in equilibrium and measured approaches, and I’m afraid that I do not agree with what is going on, as I believe that we have entered a zone of revolutionary extremism and zero tolerance which gives no room to ‘ innocence until proven guilty’ ; that is always a dangerous place to be, and this can only lead to more of the same and without doubt to a backlash of greater proportion. Men and women should live in mindful, conscious harmony. Each side should celebrate the other, with respect and dialogue. Anyone can be accused, these days (on either side of the gender spectrum), but it does not mean that they are guilty, until proven so, legally and with proper evidence!

Portrait of drag artist Johnny Woo walking through the streets of East London by photographer Maryam Eisler

Drag artist, Jonny Woo as featured in ‘Voices East London’ by Maryam Eisler

LUX: What’s next for you?
Maryam Eisler: I have my first solo US exhibition coming up in May 2018 at Harpers Books in East Hampton, Long Island. Needless to say that I am very excited about this opportunity. The title of the exhibition is in fact “The Sublime Feminine”, consisting of a cross section of my work shot in New Mexico and in Provence, but it will also include new work shot in the Catskills last summer on beautiful Holz farm which belongs to the acclaimed photographer, George Holz.

I have always been obsessed with the work of Edward Weston, and I had the wonderful opportunity of shooting at his original home on Wildcat Hill in Carmel California last May, in the company of his grandson Kim and wife Gina as well as his great grandson Zach, all of whom follow in the footsteps of the man himself – all are fantastic photographers. I myself was inspired by time, space, place and history. Edward is still very present there. His darkroom is intact. His handwritten chemical recipes are stuck to the walls, and his desk and even the lamp which features in some of his photographs are all there …not to mention artefacts he returned from his trip to Mexico following his then love, acclaimed artist and revolutionary, Tina Modotti. It was like spending time in a living museum. And I think the work I produced there has more of a conceptual nature, honing in on the body and shapes. It’s to do with shadow and light, lines and forms. I will be showing these works at Tristan Hoare in January 2019 London, and given that I was inspired by photographic history and past, the wonderful US-based Martin Axon (who was the printer to Robert Mapplethorpe among other greats) will be printing this particular series in Platinum on special hand woven, hand torn Arches paper….so, I am very excited by these upcoming projects!

Reading time: 10 min
Cocktail from East London bar Discount Suit Company
Czech beers, Bloody Marys, live jazz and padrón peppers, East London’s gastronomic scene is more vibrant than ever. Digital Editor, Millie Walton picks some of her favourite spots for drinking and dining in the city’s hottest neighbourhoods
Discount Suit Company
Bar snacks at Discount Suit Company

Elegant bar snacks: Neal’s Yard cheese board

This low-key little bar hides in the basement of an old suit tailor’s storeroom (hence the name), five minutes walk from Liverpool Street station so not so far off the beaten track that you start clutching your pockets, but still safely removed from the groups of city slickers swarming into every pub in sight come 5.30. Discount Suit Company attracts a genuinely cool crowd, the type who look like they’ve recently raided a thrift shop, matching the bar’s own ramshackle interiors and Motown soundtrack. The cocktail menu is impressive, but the bar tenders will also happily whip up something bespoke to suit your mood. There’s no kitchen as such, though you can order olives or a cheese platter courtesy of Neal’s Yard.

Read next: In the saddle with Hermés 

Lounge Bohemia
Lounge Bohemia drinking spot East London

Laid back interiors at Lounge Bohemia

Everything about Lounge Bohemia is cool. Firstly, there’s absolutely no way you’ll get in without an appointment, arranged in advance via text. Then there’s finding the unmarked door and being approved for entrance (there’s a very rigid no suits policy). It can be a little intimidating to say the least, but inside the atmosphere is relaxed and causal. Water is served in caravan style plastic jug and cups, whilst the menus are hidden in volumes of classic Czech literature, pages of which are also plastered over the walls. There’s a large selection of Czech beers on offer as well as shots served in test tubes and cocktails paired with tiny spoonfuls of canapés designed to enhance each alcohol’s flavour.

Speakeasy style bar, Night Jar

Night Jar’s elegant interiors

Old Street’s once secret, underground watering hole is fast gaining reputation for London’s best cocktails. The menu is mind blowing with page after page of classic and experimental alcoholic concoctions divided into three historic periods and the bar’s signatures. Order something at random and it’s guaranteed to stun purely for its creative presentation. Hug a Wild Cat (a delicious mixture of tequila, juices and jam), for example, is served in a Peruvian puzzle jug. The bar’s interiors invoke a sense of old school glamour as does the almost nightly live performances of jazz. It’s about as close as you’ll get to Fitzgeraldian decadence without a time machine.

Read next: The art market has gone global, says Simon de Pury 

Black Pig with White Pearls
Black Pig with White Pearls dining menu

Octopus Salad

This unassuming tapas bar started out life as a one-off pop-up before planting permanent roots in the increasingly trendy Stoke Newington neighbourhood. The menu specialises in Iberican ham sourced from farmers in Spain and served in generous portions on wooden boards, though there are also great seafood and vegetarian options for the less meaty minded, particularly the sauce drenched octopus and the classic favourite, padrón peppers. Partners and co-founders, David and Melvin are always welcoming and eager to recommend.

Dinner dish at Rotorino

Clams & Mussels

The brainchild of talented trio chef Stevie Parle (Petersham Nurseries), Jonathan Downey (Street Vin Wine) and Ruth Spivey (Rotary bar and diner pop up) is a hugely welcome addition to the heaving Kingsland Road. Not only can you actually hear yourself talk (a rarity in these parts), but you can also relax in an elegant environment with hearty servings of really great Italian food and wine. The delicately flavoured gnocchi is undoubtedly the highlight of the menu, complimented by a chilli watermelon salad that freshens up the typically heavier dish. It attracts a more mature crowd to most of the usual Dalston haunts without feeling too pretentious or Mayfair smart.

Read next: Adam Brett-Smith’s on the world’s thriving wine culture

Andaz, Eastway
Make your own bloody mary at Andaz Eastway

The Bloody Mary bar at Andaz Eastway

The more informal of Andaz Hotel’s five drinking and dining spots has become a weekend brunch favourite amongst hungover hipsters. Partly due to it’s inventive menu, which includes the Spitalditch Benedict (bbq pulled pork, Sriracha hot sauce, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce) alongside more timid options like bircher muesli and homemade granola, but mainly because of it’s DIY Bloody Mary bar. With bottles and bottles of infused vodkas, spicy sauces, juices and various pickled vegetables, it’s overwhelming even to the less blurry-eyed visitors. Thankfully there’s usually someone nearby to offer gentle advice without robbing you the satisfaction of ‘inventing’ your own bloody concoction.

Reading time: 4 min