Thursday, 22 August 2013

Katei Roze talks bags, berets and bizarre inspiration

To say that Katei Roze is a busy lady would be an understatement. She juggles her own fashion label with her latest venture HYC (the pop up boutique I visited earlier this month), and has just finished a stint as a jewellery specialist at Fortnum and Mason, as part of the team setting up their new jewellery department. Since graduating with a first class degree in Fashion Design, Katei has built up an impressive CV. She studied at Cordwainers London College of Fashion and trained at St Martins ‘Immersion’ course for entrepreneurs trying to carve their own niche in the creative industry.

Following work experience at Vivienne Westwood, Basso and Brooke, Alexander McQueen, PPQ, Georgina Goodman and Julian MacDonald, Katei worked as retail manager and assistant designer at Johnny Rocket London. She started selling Swarovski crystal berets in 2008 and established her vintage label House of Lalka, which has since merged with HYC. Any precious free time is spent travelling for inspiration but I managed to pin her down to talk about her beautiful bag collection.

What made you decide to start your own handbag line?
I have never been a ‘handbag person’; I’ve always been drawn to shoes, jewellery or clothes. I went to India in 2010 and needed a large hand luggage bag, so I designed one on the plane over. I bought some sari fabric as lining and gorgeous maroon coloured leather and it became the first KR handbag.
Back in London I used it every day for work and people began asking where it was from. I went back to India in 2012 and had 10 more made in carpet fabrics. I took over vintage florals and also used traditional Indian fabrics. I realised that I wanted to design bags because there was nothing currently on the market that excited me.

Is it a big leap from berets/footwear?
Berets were an easy way for me to start my label as I could work from home. Liberty made a huge order and sold out, and I will always offer them as part of my label. I studied footwear because I have always had a passion for shoes. I really enjoyed the course but in reality, making footwear is a very complicated and expensive process requiring machinery and financial backing. I learned a lot about leather and how to manipulate it, which fuelled my obsession for statement accessories. I love designing anything linked with body image and self-expression, so handbags were a natural progression. They perform a function but they can make or break an outfit, and express what kind of person you are or what mood you’re in.

What fabrics do you use and where do you source them?
I use a lot of one off vintage fabrics, mostly from upholstery or homeware. I source them from my Grandmother’s house, vintage markets, Portobello Road and my favourite vintage fabric shop in St Leonards. I love to use wet-look leather, unusual tones and shades of leather and nappa, which I get from my leather wholesalers in East London. I also visited Lineapelle in Bologna last year to source leather and findings. I love using studs, crystal zips and bright binding to set off the fabrics. The bags are made in Hackney at a very well established factory that I trust implicitly.

What inspires your current designs?
I am inspired by movement. I think it’s lovely to have a bag that moves in its own way. The tassel clutch articulates very well. I am currently designing bags inspired by medieval shapes, strong female warriors and a hint of the 90s. It’s a bizarre mix but I find blurring elements that I am passionate about, which aren’t usually combined, results in a strong design.

 Who do you design for?
My ideal customer is a strong woman who wants to get the most out of her life. Her bag is her ally; she uses it as a weapon against the world. She carries her most important ammunition for the day – it is her home away from home. My customers want to make a statement with what they are carrying. They appreciate the avant-garde, and the unique and eccentric qualities in life and themselves. They are warriors of the modern world.

Where can you buy KR bags?
They are currently available at SHOP in St Leonards Norman Road, and from my Facebook page. If you see something you like you can contact me and I will get it posted out to you. I take bespoke commissions and source and suggest fabric for my customers.

What is it like to design bags for London Fashion Week?
I have a love/hate relationship with LFW. I have worked there many times for other designers – Vivienne Westwood, PPQ, Basso and Brooke, McQueen – and it’s a buzzing place, like a beehive of creativity and egos. Sometimes it’s all a bit loud and the stingers on some people involved can be pretty nasty.
Last September I designed a range of bags for Jayne Pierson, which was showcased with her collection. I really enjoyed the process of designing for her brief and using her images as inspiration, which were different from what I would have chosen myself. It’s always challenging to create something for another person’s vision but I was proud of what I produced.

What are your goals for the brand?
A trade show in Paris next year, Premiere Class/Tranoi, and I’d like to get stocked in boutiques in the UK, Europe and further afield and have my own showcase at London Fashion Week. I’ll be travelling to source fabric and interesting clothes/homeware to use on my bags and sell at HYC, which I plan to re-open in London. I would love to have a well-rounded brand like Cath Kidston, but a very eccentric, rock and roll version, where everything is a little more exotic and edgy.

Top 3 songs for your studio soundtrack this summer:
Iggy Azalea – Work; Avicci – Wake Me Up; The XX - Crystalised


Thursday, 15 August 2013

Top 5 Sunglasses

It's that time of year again... I'm clinging desperately onto the end of summer and refusing to believe that it's almost at an end. And although bikinis and flip flops will soon be stored for another year, sunglasses are the one little vestige of summer that we can enjoy all year round – because even in England the sun still shines in winter! Occasionally.

So here is my top five: A mix of high and low-end to suit every mood and outfit, from classic Ray Bans to Top Shop's slightly outlandish cat eye (or should I say cat ear!) frames.

ONE: Pink perspex magnifique, £226 by Dita
TWO: Clubmaster half-frame acetate, £125 by Ray-Ban
THREE: Sheba eared cats eye, £20 by Topshop
FOUR: Green metal square, £16 by Topshop
FIVE: Animal print acetate, £146 by Stella McCartney

Friday, 9 August 2013

Today's Soundtrack: The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – Face Down

Today’s soundtrack is Face Down by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. It’s a song that I had actually forgotten all about (shame on me!) when the other day my good friend Grooveshark suggested that I might like it. That little dude knows me so well…

For those of you who aren’t familiar, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus formed in Florida in 2003 and four studio albums (and one or two line-up changes) later, they are still going strong. If you like Face Down then I suggest you track down the album, Don’t You Fake It.


Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Hotter. Younger. Cooler.

“There is always somebody Hotter, Younger, Cooler” states the press release for this unique pop-up shop in Rye, East Sussex. Well ain’t that the truth! But if you fancy your own little taste of something HYC, I suggest you take a trip to what may well be the historic town’s first pop-up boutique.

 HYC is a joint venture between my good friend and handbag designer Katei Roze, and her good friend Britainy Rae, a former London-based events planner. It showcases apparel, homeware, accessories and artwork at both high and low price points and all stock is limited edition or one off. This is particularly appealing when, let’s face it, we’re all a bit sick of the generic overpriced stock being churned out by high street chains.

I finally had the chance to pop in last Friday and the shop looks great. It’s a rather fabulous mixture of bags, vintage clothes and shoes and customised denim, alongside designer jewellery, beauty products and some beautiful cushions, neatly embroidered with poetically offensive slogans. (Britainy assured me that the most offensive ones were kept out the back! I’m intrigued and very tempted to commission something obscene…)

Thanks to Katei and Britainy’s impeccable taste and natural creative flair the shop is a treasure trove of all things HYC that are beautifully merchandised, with something new to discover in every corner. I was impressed to find that in addition to Katei’s handbags and Britainy’s T-shirts and customised denim, they are pioneering emerging designers such as Serbian jewellery designer Milena Kovanovic – some from London and some right on the boutique’s doorstep in East Sussex.

I’m currently under a self-imposed shopping ban which is painful to say the least, but I couldn’t resist one of the wooden letter rings (below) which are a guilt-free £3.50. The boutique will only be in a Rye until the end of the week but when HYC pops up in its next location I will be well prepared for my plastic to take a battering.

If you adore Katei’s leather bags (below) as much as I do then stay tuned, because I will be featuring an interview with her very soon, where she reveals the inspirations behind her gorgeous designs and shares her hopes for the brand’s future. In the meantime head down to HYC, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

HYC Pop Up Shop, Turtle Fine Art Gallery, 26 Landgate, Rye East Sussex

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Jack Daniel's Swiss Liqueur Chocolate

I’ve successfully managed to go almost an entire year without letting my passion for Jack Daniels infiltrate this blog (and I still maintain that my Jack Daniel's Honey post constituted hard news), but I feel this discovery is worth sharing with my fellow enthusiasts.

My husband returned from a business trip to Switzerland recently with a little gift for me – a bar of Jack Daniel's liqueur chocolate. Who knew that existed?! I think the Toblerone has overshadowed this one...

I’m not usually the biggest fan of chocolate liqueur because it doesn’t really satisfy either craving fully. If I want chocolate then I want to eat a solid bar, and if I’m in need of a whiskey fix I want more than the miniscule amount that can be crammed into a square of chocolate. But Jack is Jack, and therefore this is different... and it’s divine. One minute you’re eating a delicious piece of chocolate and the next you're tasting Jack Daniel's – and it’s not a stingy amount either! It’s amazing, and if I have one complaint it’s simply that the bar isn’t bigger.

Please accept my apologies, I know this is a pretty pointless blog post if you’re not a Jack Daniel's fan. But it is potentially life changing for those who are and that, my friends, is a risk I am willing to take.
© Rock & Runway

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