Isla & Eve Spring/Summer 2013 is Catherine Bell’s debut collection which was launched at Boxpark Shoreditch this May. It is her first venue for offering her highly regarded designs to the public. Due to popularity and success of the pop up, Catherine has been invited back to Boxpark and will be found in unit 8 from Saturday 25th to 31st May.
Isla & Eve is a range of exclusive one-off pieces that promote the skilled craftsmanship of a couturier, at affordable prices. Each piece is handmade in England from a mixture of antique trims and luxurious fabrics. Isla & Eve maintains its ethos as a British brand with local sustainable manufacturing and a low carbon footprint.
The Rockoptika collection features 10 fabulous designs; five for the girls and five for the guys, in bespoke colours with luxurious 5 barrelled pin joints and fittings, expect punk-tortoiseshells and antique french lace alongside classic blacks and clarets.
Where did the idea come from for ‘Isla & Eve’?
Having worked in British couture sampling for the past 6 years I felt it was time to release an affordable collection of pieces directly to the public. I had often been commissioned to provide friends and strangers with bespoke designs, but although successful invariably this was a narrow market. Isla and Eve was born out of the demand for high quality crafted pieces at affordable prices and a belief in nurturing the growth of a small British brand. I wanted a distinctly British name that conveyed both a ready to wear and a bespoke aspect. The combination of names represents the RTW- Isla, after my Italian Greyhound, and the Bespoke- Eve, my middle and mothers name.
What made you decide to collaborate with ROCKoptika?
Tom, (Director and Designer of RO), was one of the first people I met when I moved to St Leonard’s and also one of the most inspiring. He encouraged the confidence and aspiration to present my designs to the public. He quashed any fears I harboured of an over saturated market, distinctively upholding a simple ethic for quality British designed products. It felt only natural to then collaborate in my first season with a company that offered a similar disposition.
How important is it to you that manufacturing is local and that you maintain a low carbon footprint?
It is extremely important that in a time of unprecedented unemployment, slow GDP and a dwindling infrastructure to provide jobs for future generations, we as a nation, consider our responsibility in where we buy and source our goods from. Localised manufacturing not only brings in significant income to our neighbours but also engages positive stories in sustainable practices and production, with the transference of technical skills to younger generations.
How would you describe your style?
I am a cool romantic at heart, so my designs usually blend floaty ethereal shapes in silk, lace and jersey mixed fabrics. Comfortable and loose structured with drape, I stick to a muted colour palette and delicate details that hark back to my origins of couture techniques.
What do you think about clothes that are mass produced? Is it important to you that pieces are unique and one off?
The frustration that much of fashion has become mass produced and manufactured outside of Britain, let alone the EU, has meant a market that has been saturated with a uniform of garments that lacks the attention to quality over quantity. It is too easy these days to quickly look like everybody else and as a sense of individuality is important to me, my designs are noticed for subtle detailing and / or luxurious fabric combinations which enhance the overall
elegance of each piece. By producing designs that are unique and individual, identifies, with a renewed interest, skills in craftsmanship and heritage, often bringing a story behind the product, how they have been made and by whom. Knowing that each Isla and Eve design is lovingly crafted in a small atelier bestows a natural sense of quality and support for British made products.
Why did you choose to debut your collection at Boxpark?
The heritage of individual designers producing and selling their work at the nearby Spitalfields Market and Columbia Road lends itself to the pop-up shopping collective at Boxpark. The series of shipping containers provides a unique and clean space of which designers can easily display their wares for a professional look and a direct retail experience with their consumers. Boxpark is a great opportunity for me to debut my collection to
gain immediate feedback and reach a diverse and contemporary clientele in one fail swoop.
What’s next for you after Boxpark?
For the short term hopefully more pop-ups! They are a great way to quickly build initial contacts with consumers and build brand recognition in many different areas. The convenience of shopping online and making your company global is increasingly important to promote through the internet, so I will be concentrating on the e-commerce side of my business with views to be involved in collaboration under larger umbrellas.
For the longer term I have aspirations to expand my atelier with apprenticeships and a local work force that is proud to be involved in the development of a fashion house that has it’s roots in British manufacturing.