After moving to the Cotswolds little over a year ago, Outsider’s Noorin Khamisani has been cooking up a creative storm. Her latest collaboration with organic beauty salon, Tabitha James Kraan, features a sustainable makeover for two mother-daughter pairs. We got a first-hand insight into the project.
Late 2013, and I find myself in rural England, privy to the ongoing collaboration between ethical fashion label, Outsider and organic hair-stylist, Tabitha James Kraan. A faint whistle of hairdryers echoes in the background, as photographer, Rachel Manns and designer, Noorin Khamisani discuss whether the antique travelling chest would look best to the left or right of the shot.
They settle for off-centre, before Khamisani is ushered to a makeshift dressing room to finalise looks for today’s models. Born of a will to create ‘ethical fashion that looks just like fashion’, the clothes at the very least are Outsider’s own designs. Yet, armed with a desire to showcase local independent designers, our accessory options for today include jewellery from Sarah Pulvertaft and footwear by Yull Shoes.
With a few selections hanging serenely on the nearby clothes rail, our first mother and daughter pair enter. Frances and Alexandra (“Allie”) Welch are radiant from Tabitha’s hair and beauty chair. Full of laughter and stories from their life in the USA, they have an uplifting energy which blossoms behind the lens later. With Allie now living in London, and Frances (alongside partner William) busy running cutlery design company, Studio William, today is a rare opportunity for the pair to spend time swapping style tips together. And considering the delight from both mother and daughter about a particular hooded dress, their tastes intertwine happily.
Indeed, this interchangeable approach forms a cornerstone to the collaboration’s philosophy. “It’s all about versatility,” Noorin gently states, “not only for us as creatives, but also within the lifestyles of the women we support.” Accordingly, the team have decided that our mothers and daughters will be exchanging outfits for the latter half of the shoot, perhaps highlighting how the pieces interact with one another, yet also hinting at this diversified approach to style.
As our models dress, I glance through the pieces – it’s clear that the designers selected share a similar ethos. Focus here, lies on creating contemporary, yet timeless design rather than partaking in our more common throwaway culture. Both Sarah Pulvertaft and Sarah Watkinson-Yull are now based in Oxfordshire, which compliments the local aspect of this collaboration wonderfully.
Nevertheless, though local is pertinent, the decision to choose local design is driven by Tabitha and Noorin valuing sustainability and ethical practice. It is a value system that prompts using antique pieces from Jonny Williamson, a Cotswold-based collector; and a value system shared with upcoming photographer Rachel Manns, who chooses to work specifically with ethically driven businesses. With some still believing that ethics and fashion don’t belong in the same sentence, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this emphasis affects the process. Yet, surveying the scene, it operates much like any other fashion shoot – frantic steaming, lighting checks and helping hands being lent wherever needed. The approach is decidedly more personal though, and Rachel guides the photo-shoot fluidly, so that even the adjustment of set and props, passes relatively calmly.
Soon the team wave goodbye to their first model pairing, and the afternoon sees our second mother-daughter duo, Susan and Milly Wall, taking the spotlight. It’s dusk before the final photograph is taken; and in amongst the dress changes, poses and eagle-eyed detail checks, we can quite plainly see what the team are trying to say – that ethical values, local design and a versatile approach is the new vogue.
Clothes: Outsider – outsiderfashion.com
Photography: Rachel Manns – rachelmanns.com
Hair & makeup: Tabitha James Kraan – tabithajameskraan.co.uk
Jewellery: Sarah Pulvertaft – sarahpulvertaft.com
Shoes: Yull – yull.co.uk
Props & location: Jonny Williamson – jonnywilliamson.com
Frances Welch – Studio William, studiowilliam.com
Susan and Milly Wall