Emma Charles SS18

  • Photography  Max Barnett
  • All clothing by  Emma Charles
  • Words  Abi Buller

Emma Charles captures the beauty of post-industrial terrain in a collection full of contrasts, including the untouched nature present within the derelict sites where blast furnaces used to represent an active area for the steelmaking industry. Originating from the North East of England, the designer reflects on her own heritage for the SS18 collection, with the landscape of Redcar utilised as a backdrop to the lightness and femininity of her garments. A film and lookbook shot by PYLOT’s Creative Director Max Barnett was displayed as part of a presentation at London Fashion Week in September. The presentation included live models wearing key pieces from the collection, as well as a voiceover of a young girl from the North East of England, adding a deeper level of storytelling to the communication of the topic.

Why did you choose to produce a video to be displayed during your presentation?

For SS18 I was very lucky to be selected by the British Fashion Council to showcase my new collection in the form of a Digital Presentation. The ‘Digital’ aspect of the show was to produce a short film. I found this really exciting, adding another dimension to my body of work.

Can you describe some of the key influences behind your garments?

I wanted SS18 to be a very personal collection which is close to my heart. Having been given the opportunity to showcase the film on schedule, it was the perfect chance to highlight my perception of what is beautiful outside of London. I am very proud to have grown up in an area of the UK which has a heavy industrial landscape, and the history associated with this. I was hugely inspired by the rusty colour palette of the architecture. In 2015 the Teesside blast furnace was turned off and is now only populated by security guards. The land around it is slowly being taken over with wild flowers and sea grasses adding a delicate contrast to the industrial heritage. I wanted to capture this juxtaposition in the floral prints within the collection. A pair of antique ceramic vases and some 1930’s theatrical costumes, found in the North East of England, also provided inspiration for this collection.

What do you feel you wanted the collection to say? (about yourself and the current situations in the North East of England/the UK)

I wanted to play on the emotions the area provokes in people living in the area. As you can see from the garments, the area makes me feel soft and beautiful, while still being controversial to some others. One of the biggest elements in the film is Rachel; an 18 year old girl from Teesside. She brings a romance to the film whist speaking about the closure of the industry. The presentation during LFW was held at Two Temple Place, a building built by the once richest men in the world. This offers a stark contrast to the topic of the demise of The British Steelmaking Industry.

Why is it important for you to represent your heritage within this collection?

It’s such a big part of my identity, that is seems only natural that to represent it within my work.

Is there a particular person you have in mind when designing your clothes?

Yes- she’s independent, social, work driven and loves the arts, as well as being chic and fun to be around.

What informed your choice of fabrics for the collection?

I always love to find that balance of femininity without becoming too ‘girlie’ in an obvious way.That’s why I use tailoring wools, as I feel it always add that edge to my aesthetic. Mixing sheers with leathers, and Chiffon with Wool is also a continuation of this.

See more at emmacharles.co.uk, maxbarnett.co