BLACK TO THE FUTURE
July 28, 2011 § Leave a comment
(By Samantha Southern in Kensington & Chelsea Review/August 2011)
Liz Black, the eponymous designer behind the future-fashion label, initially crossed the threshold into the world of fashion in an unconventional way which is also characteristic of her edgy design style. Sitting across from me in her studio, the confident and enthusiastic Liz Black, wearing, you’ve guessed it, black – an elegant yet understated silk shirt-dress – describes the journey that has taken her to where she is today, and where she will be in the future. Talking about her childhood in Venezuela, Black explains that her mother had always been interested in fashion, and had even had a small studio selling commercial items. However, she goes on to say that in her family there were “more dentists than fashion designers.” Consequently, when Black moved to England nine years ago, it was with the intention of furthering her dentistry studies with a Master’s degree. However, upon her arrival in London, Black reveals that the dynamics of the city coupled with a sense of adventure led her to take a year out of dentistry and try to do something else that she could enjoy. That inner “passion for fashion” guided Black towards her first higher education course in fashion at Kensington & Chelsea College, where it all began. Black mentions how grateful she is to her tutor there, who was always “supportive”, and it is thanks to her perfectionism that Black now has a “fixation for high quality”. Of her studies at Kensington & Chelsea College, Black says that her technical skills were gained there, and she warmly recounts her time there, detailing how she would often have breakfast nearby in one of the numerous Portuguese cafés, followed by a wander around Portobello market. After leaving Kensington & Chelsea College, Black went on to study a BA in Fashion Print Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design. During her time there, Black became utterly immersed in the world of fashion, culminating in her winning first prize in the college’s 2007 Sustainable Ethical Fashion project. Black further honed her fashion skills with a series of internships. She worked with Kensington-based Emilio de la Morena for three seasons and cemented her style status with a move to New York’s trendy Meatpacking District, where she worked for Elisa Palomino and Diane von Furstenberg. Speaking very highly about both designers, Black says of Furstenberg that “she checks on everybody and she’s always got a big smile on her face” and that “it was a fun and valuable experience.” However, having always lived in Bayswater, West End woman Black claims that all her inspiration comes from that area, and so after three months the States, she hopped back across the pond to begin her own womenswear fashion brand, Liz Black, in 2010.
“Black’s bold, unapologetic designs are both elegant and timeless”
The first ready-to-wear collection for autumn/winter 2011 called ‘Concentric Thoughts’ is a mix of both wearable and statement pieces. The choice of a muted colour palette (black, white, blue, shades of grey and the occasional mauve) throughout gives Black’s designs a minimalistic, yet timeless and elegant aesthetic. Black describes the collection as “quite bold and quite graphic”, with an emphasis on the circular form to complement womanly curves. Pieces such as the inky blue Bubble Skirt, made from silk organza, and the Front Circle Dress, made out of wool jersey, sumptuously showcase Black’s femininity-enhancing style, and yet the “cold” colours and immaculate tailoring make these garments both functional and wearable. The Little Black Dress made from neoprene continues to establish this collection as one of sophistication, and yet Black conceives an edgy take on a timeless classic with the cut-out hole in the back of the dress creating a certain amount of mystery and sex appeal. When asked about who her collection was aimed at, Black responded with: “an intellectual woman, not just a girlie-girl that lives to be sexy”. She continues to say that her ‘woman’ has got “more than that inside, and, of course, being so strong provides sex appeal as well”. Whilst the emphasis on the contours of the circle dominates this collection, Black not only utilizes them to redefine a woman’s figure, but uses the circle in new and inspiring ways. Black juxtaposes the sensuous padded waterproof silk used for both the black Hooded Coat and black Waistcoat, for example, or the sensuede used for the Cups Coat with characteristics that give these garments an edge of toughness. In a futuristic venture, these clothes are not made just to be bought; Black creates her garments to become a part of you, almost like armour. About this, Black says that her clothes are designed to be “protective to your body…edgy, but really doing something functional at the same time”. It’s no surprise to hear, then, that Black’s futuristic pieces have already been snapped up by one particularly edgy and strong woman. In May, none other than Lady Gaga stepped out of a London hotel wearing Liz Black’s Circle Bow Dress, which immediately rocketed Black to the dizzying heights of international fashiondom. Black recounts the experience by saying that, initially, she couldn’t even understand what was being said, after being bombarded with people calling and texting her to ask: “Is that Lady Gaga wearing your dress?”. After realising the true potential of the piece, she soon went about creating the more “wearable” Panda Dress for the new collection; a similar design, but without the intensity of the backing “planet” shape. Phenomenally, this is all in a year’s work for Liz Black, who (fortunately for today’s fashion-hungry) has no intention of slowing down any time soon.
Pieces from ‘Concentric Thoughts’ will be available to buy from August at the avant-garde 127 Brick Lane, with the full collection being stocked in Notting Hill’s Wolf & Badger from November. Black admits that: “I haven’t had time in the last year to think much about my personal life”, but explains that: “I feel this is my baby, and every new collection is a new child”. And the fashion world will be eternally thankful for this, as Black gave the Kensington and Chelsea Review an exclusive look at the designs and sketches for the next collection. Continuing to showcase her fashion futurism with a wearable style, Black describes the spring/summer 2012 collection as “more sharp”, working “away from the boldness and away from the circle” patterns of autumn/winter 2011’s designs. “This time, it’s more about angles and corners”, so expect to see pieces inspired by vintage suitcases, with an abundance of 3D structures and leather on display.
Liz Black may be the new kid on the fashion block, but her futuristic take on timeless elegance has already firmly established her as a cult favourite. Watch out wallflowers, the futuristic Liz Black and her conceptual fashion art” is here to stay: an ultramodern hybrid of strong, beautiful, intellectual woman and, hell, she’s got the clothes to back it up.