We're counting down the hours until fashion attention switches from New York to London for Fashion Week tomorrow. So what better time to take a look at accessory designer extraordinaire Fred Butler's Islington studio. As one of London's close-knit freelance prop designers for fashion and video shoots, Fred's commissions for Kickers, Selfridges and Patrick Wolf (she made him an aeroplane shoulder-piece) have developed into a line of kaleidoscopic accessories that she'll be showing alongside her specially-made film at London Fashion Week.
Her studio's an explosion of colour with every surface covered in some form of fabric scrap, haberdashery or inspiration. Minimalist this isn't. Elaborate shoulder-pieces, head-pieces and necklaces make up the ‘wearable art' that she'll be presenting this weekend.
What's the theme of the collection? ‘Well, I have to think about that because generally I just make things! But one of the main materials I've used is those foil jogging blankets, so I guess my theme is "keeping warm"!' Hypothermia blankets aside, metallics are a recurring theme. ‘I've been doing funny stuff with sequins, which I found rummaging in the Atlantis art warehouse in Whitechapel. I always find strange things in there for my prop-making so I like to reuse the leftovers.'
28-year-old Fred is also known on London's fashion party circuit for her head-to-toe one-colour outfits. So where did the obsession with all things playful, sculptural, colourful and shiny begin? ‘Probably from the books I had as a child. They were left over from my brother and sister who were '70s kids so the colourful graphics have stayed with me.' No kidding! Just check out her mood board, an array of experiments with sequins, sketches for disco-dazzling headwear, a giant Liquorice Allsorts work-in-progress… plus don't miss the rainbow-hued false eyelashes spelling out ‘Happy 2009'!
- Navaz Batliwalla