EXHIBITION| Hellen van Rees S/S13

Norwegian-born Hellen Van Rees has impressed everyone this year with her fascinating take on classic Chanel tweed with a nod to sustainability along the way. Her architectural block additions to the designs give the collection a more contemporary edge and combining the tweeds with more futuristic textures such as silicone-coated cotton with sand and glitter brings the whole concept into an almost space age dimension. Chanel to space age – it has got to be impressive. Vauxhall Fashion Scout caught up with Hellen in her exhibition space following her show this morning to find out a little more about the collection and how she is finding the week so far.

VFS: Hi Hellen, how did the show go this morning?
HVR: It went well, I didn't see much as I was backstage but I was happy.

VFS: So what was the starting point and inspirations for this collection?
HVR: It's about the Chanel tweed and trying to develop my own fabrics because with the Chanel tweeds I find it really interesting that they use all these different types of yarn in their fabrics which makes their garments really rich and interesting. So I started collecting all these yarns from remnants and scraps from factories and I've recycled them and woven my own fabric by hand into the shape of the garment so there's no seams at all. Of course I didn't want to do literally Chanel, I wanted to do a modern version of it so I also looked at art installations by contemporary artists Anish Kapoor and Rachel Whiteread who have done big rooms filled with lots of cubes so that's how the idea came about.

VFS: You've talked about using yarn remnants, why is sustainability so important to you?
HVR: I think that if you are making something very luxurious and beautiful then you need to think about the materials that you are using as well and make it as beautiful as possible and I think that sustainability is part of having something beautiful.

VFS: You've done internships with some great fashion houses, did you learn a lot from that?
HVR: I think you need to choose an internship that fits with your style of work. I've done internships with Giles Deacon and Iris Van Herpen and because they are also into detail, lots of hand work and they are quite feminine but also a bit strange, that's what I'm into as well so it makes the experience much nicer.

VFS: Do you have any advice for students going into their final year?
HVR: I think that the most important thing is to be as original as possible and do your own thing because sometimes you can be pushed to a familiar thing a bit and you can always tune it down a bit afterwards but at graduation it's all about standing out.

VFS: What do you think of Vauxhall Fashion Scout as a platform to emerging designers?
HVR: It's been really great because this is only half a year after I graduated with my first proper collection and I am standing here at London Fashion Week with the show and then afterwards going to Paris so it's amazing. Also all the advice really helps because we are trained only as designers and everything else you sort of go with it.

Interview by Katie Agar (@katie_agar)
Images by Rebecca Andrews, and Daniella Farrow