For AW13 I wanted to create a collection about the confidence I felt as a 17-year-old when I was discovering artists, musicians and designers for the first time.
Eleanor Dorrien-Smith is the creator of PARTIMI, a young brand that was born under the roof of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion in London in 2010. Since then the brand has grown with Eleanor at the front developing sustainable concepts and refining her design aesthetic. But from the beginning prints have been the main protagonists of the line. And its no wonder, since after graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2008, Eleanor worked for cutting-edge designers like Taka Naka, Eley Kishimoto and Galliano, but also for Mary Katrantzou, whose digital prints have been like a breath of fresh air. We chatted with Eleanor about her idols, her philosophy and her latest collection.
Tell us about the beginnings of PARTIMI.
The first ready-to-wear collection for PARTIMI was created in September 2010. I had graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2008 and had spent time working for other designers, creating capsule collections and researching sustainable practices in fashion. When I graduated my ambition was to start my own label and so after two years of working and experimenting, I decided to go for it.
What are your role models in and outside fashion?
Within fashion I really admire both Isabel Marant and Acne. I love their effortless aesthetic and the stories behind their brands. Outside of fashion I am obsessed with the sculptor Brancusi and his disarmingly simple renderings of natural forms.
Tell us about the creative process involved in the making of each collection.
My inspiration is always derived from personal experience. Environments I have grown up in, or places that mean something for my family. I don’t go out looking for inspiration, I just keep my eyes open and if there is a texture or a pattern that catches my eye then I make a photographic record. Whenever I have gone against this grain, the results somehow seem forced and not so instinctive. I then collect these images in groups which could form the basis for a collection, so I have a bank of ideas to choose from at any time. Once the concept for the collection is decided I then choose the imagery for the prints and those are developed into either photographic, or painterly digital prints. We then create all the patterns and work with a factory in Stratford to create the samples. All the printing and sewing is done within an hour and a half from the studio in London, so we get to work pretty closely with our suppliers. For AW13 I wanted to create a collection about the confidence I felt as a 17-year-old when I was discovering artists, musicians and designers for the first time. The prints are from my surroundings at that time, so they include the cliff face of the Guernsey coastline, the painterly textures of the underside of fishing boats and then a little watercolor I made, which was inspired by the covers of all my favourite books at the time. The silhouettes of the clothes were derived from old photographs of Brancusi, Rothko, Salinger, Kerouac and Hemingway.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Since a young age I have always been drawn to nature, and so running both design and sustainability together is very important to me.
What’s your first fashion memory?
I was convinced I was going to be a painter until I was 18, so my early fashion influences were certainly derived from old photographs of early 20th century painters in their smocks and their paint splattered suits.