London based PARTIMI, was founded by Central Saint Martin's graduate, Eleanor Dorrien-Smith. As well as having Mary Katrantzou, John Galliano and Eley Kishimoto on her CV, she managed to get a pretty amazing head start when her graduate collection in 2008, was spotted by Antrhopologie. The firm liked her work so much, they commissioned Eleanor to create a capsule collection for their stores. The latter was met with such success that in 2010 Partimi the brand was born.
We chat to Eleanor-Dorrien Smith in her studio in Stepney Green. That's just a few tube stops down from the small factory where all her pieces are made. Endearing, shy and humble, it is pretty hard not to like. Her work is always personal and open a magical
Your inspirations the Spring/Summer 2013 collection…
For the last few collections, PARTIMI designs have focused on British landscapes and childhood memories of the Isles of Scilly and the Channel Islands, and so for SS13 we wanted to do something a little different. This collection was to evoke my American mother’s hometown in Sarasota, Florida; the sparkling gulf, pelicans, 1960s architecture and the sun-baked tiles of the Ringling Bros waterside mansion
The Partimi girl is...
She would probably be a bit more organized and professional version of me. It’s what I’m aspiring to be myself! The type of girl, who in her spare time, goes on a sailing holiday, she loves the beach as long as it’s rocky and rustic, and her favourite thing is cooking by the sea and going on endless walks. She’s also a bit of a tomboy who doesn’t take things too seriously and isn't afraid to get scruffy.
Creating a home in a big city…
I think London for me is more calming than New York, there are more communities and movements. A city is made more wholesome through architecture and green spaces, in theory it would be amazing to live by the beach, but there are drawbacks to every dream. In order to cultivate the place you live in right now, you need to become a part of community, bring nature and greenery into your surroundings and bring a piece of something special into your home. For me it’s the reclaimed boats that became my kitchen sofas.
On eco-fashion and whether at times it feels like a branding exercise:
It’s really tough to brand yourself ethical or eco. As with any designer, you’re all different from each other so you all have different answers to the same issue of sustainability. It’s really hard to label anything and definitely not something you can sum up in a sentence but the press needs to package it neatly. I don’t think it’s intentional but the press has to simplify it for their readers. At the same time it’s really good to spread the awareness. People are going to H&M and asking for their organic range and it’s great. Personally I’m kind of shying away from labeling myself that way. I will always include that as a part of my mission statement, but I won’t be screaming from a rooftop that this is what I am. I don’t actually believe there’s a perfect way to do it (eco fashion). I’m a researcher.
On the complexity of Eco – manufacturing …
Even at the fabric sourcing stage where the factories / printers usually stock material I discovered that it’s far more efficient and less wasteful to use their rather my own selection. At one point I was killing myself to get super ‘angelic’ fabrics, but I was losing 30% or more of the fabric through the process just by different machines I had to go through. It was getting a little silly with the energy used to do reprints. When I received some of the printed fabrics one roll would be okay, but the other was misaligned. So there isn’t one solution to the sustainability issue, but I hope as a designer I can iron out the different problems and find solutions as I go.
How should we style your pieces?
They’re quite versatile - a good Mexican girlfriend of mine styled a shoot where she paired it with a silk maxi-skirt, which looked awesome. The tops also looks great over jeans, but you can also really dress them up. The fabric is super soft and has a luxurious look and feel to it that can take you from day to evening. I gave them dry-clean labels, but you can also hand wash them and dry on a towel.