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HIVE OF ACTIVITY Before any fashion show can take place, multiple model fittings are needed. Hien Le (in white T-shirt, left, and in black, main picture) suggests adjustments while his team busily sew, cut and fix Far away from the glamour and runway applause, long nights and early mornings are spent in studios with pencil and paper, needle and thread For many, the spectacle of a catwalk stage flaunting the latest international collections represents what fashion is all about. But from a designer’s perspective, the final show is often considered a mere deadline, the first act of this creative process beginning long before. Behind the scenes, far away from the glamour and runway applause, long nights and early mornings are spent in studios with pencil and paper, needle and thread. Laos-born but Berlin-raised Hien Le’s eponymous fashion label is a great example of a new generation of designers pursuing an inspiring fashion story to global acclaim. His brand’s identity emphasises craftsmanship, simplicity and detail. Some in the media have lauded this uncluttered approach as a possible consequence of his Asian identity and roots, but Le actually perceives more influence from Europe. Either way, far from the extreme haute couture of some other fashion designers, Le conceives very wearable clothing characterised by minimalist tendencies, alongside colourful accents and unusual fabrics – sometimes chosen for unusual reasons too, as he explains: “I’ve been working with more layering and transparent materials in different weights, such as silk and high-tech materials like neoprene. I find them interesting because of their unique feeling and even the sounds they make.” The 34-year old’s career path was sealed at the age of 12 after being inspired by an interview with Karl Lagerfeld in a 1990s documentary. Rising through the ranks, Le’s professional journey saw him learn many aspects of the fashion business. He’s trained as a tailor – like his grandfather – studied fashion design at Berlin University, worked at Marie Claire magazine and a fashion PR agency as well as taking an internship with Belgian fashion designer Veronique Branquinho (who he cites as an influence). Establishing his own label in May 2010, his clothes now sell across the world, but between initial inspiration to Le’s pieces arriving on retail racks there’s a large amount of work that seldom gets seen. When J-Magazine meets the designer at his small basement studio in a converted old factory in Berlin’s hip Kreuzberg 36 district, the space is overflowing with fabric samples and sewing machines, boxes full of thread, rolls of fabric, ironing boards, sewing machines, measuring tapes and mannequins, as well as countless colour-coded racks of finished pieces. It’s an air of ordered chaos, as Le explains his choice: “The space is welllocated, not far from home and really affordable. It has two beautiful backyards, so I have a lot of light for a studio which is under the ground floor. All the furniture is white, as well as the walls, but it’s cosy. And it’s like my second home as I spend most of my time here.” Before any fashion show can take place, multiple fittings are needed, models auditioned and selected and music and mood decided upon, but despite his heavy workload and pressing deadlines, Le’s working atmosphere appears subdued and peaceful. The development of a collection is broken down into stages with differing crescendos of intensity: “I start with research and brainstorming”, begins Le, “developing colour schemes and primary sketches which then lead to fabric choices and patternmaking.” This is followed by the development of a sample collection and preparation for the show. Each phase is intuitive he suggests, with part of the process involving, THE PERFORMANCE ISSUE j 67

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Jaguar Magazine celebrates creativity in all its forms, with exclusive features that inspire sensory excitement, from beautiful design to cutting-edge technology.

In this issue, we explore the art of creativity from the Brazilian masters who devised the graceful art of Capoeira, to the Irish artists mixing new culture with old. You will also discover the creative line that links Victorian wallpaper to the iPhone. While the multi-talented actor and performer, Riz Ahmed, explains why it is the right time to reveal his true self to the world.


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