Studio Visit with Colenimo


The last (but no means least) studio visit of our East London tour took us to the work space of Colenimo. We find out more about her latest collection inspirations, cupcakes and various moon related things! All her latest stock can be seen online by clicking HERE


September 2011

Aya Nakagawa, Colenimo, Hackney E8



Your favourite piece from Colenimo AW11 collection?

The Vintage Melton wool jacket, my concept was Aviatrix, aviator jackets are always in leather so I wanted it to be different by using wool with a sheepskin collar. I have also lined the jacket with a vintage map print.



Your inspiration for the collection?

Pioneering female pilots of the early 20th century. The collection has a definite focus on strong females.



The bestselling piece from the collection?

The Vintage Melton wool jacket, I am so happy!



At what point did you realise you wanted to be a fashion designer?

At around 16, growing up my father loved painting and my mother played the piano and was very musical – both were very creative. It was a creative upbringing.

I decided to study fashion in Japan at the Tokyo Mode Fashion University. Whilst there I was also in a band. I was the female lead singer and played guitar. We were called Poussin*. I found this name from a color sample book-I guess it was similar to a Pantone reference, a bright yellow colour. One of our tracks has recently been used in a US teen drama series called Joan of Arcadia, a track called ‘Boyfriend’.

After graduating I designed for a Japanese fashion company for a long time. When I came to London and started to work at Rubeksen Yamanaka I felt this was it, it all fell into place and I knew this is what I want to do for the rest of my career!




Design by hand or on the computer, what is your favourite drawing tool?

I design by hand and my favorite drawing tool is a charcoal pencil.



Can you define your design identity?

20th century women are my inspiration. But I don’t want to simply make copies, I want to make new and wearable versions inspired by females from the past.

Good quality fabric and materials are really important. Simple garments with lots of hand detailing. I have a passion for garment construction and detail. Strong women are always a recurring theme within all of my collections.




How has living in London changed your working life and design approach?

The main difference between Tokyo and London is that here I am working on my own label.

I realised very quickly that I need to be much stricter in my work to meet the demands of the factories and suppliers which at first was different to Japan. I really enjoy London, so many new and inspiring things surround me and lots of new challenges. In Japan I wasn’t so free as I was within a company. Here designing Colenimo I feel very free. I love to include details like areas of hand beading etc which is totally possible here.



What do you love most about your studio space?

My studio is a live work space. We have been here for about 10 months. I much prefer working here as opposed to a shared studio as it is private. My creativity and work are a part of my everyday life, it happens naturally – there is no separation between my work and home life.

Sometimes I can feel a bit lonely or stuck, but most times I really enjoy it. If I feel a bit creatively stumped I’m so close to so many interesting places and people that it is easy to become inspired once again. And I have so much work space here it’s great.



Cut flowers or plants?

Pot plants, I love Columbia rd flower market, I especially like all the sellers characters and personalities, all trying to outdo one another when they shout out at the top of their voices ‘£5 a bunch’ ha ha..


Night owl or early bird?

Early bird – I like the morning time with really strong coffee. I like to sit at the window watching what’s going on outside.
It has become Tom (my husband’s) morning routine to make us both really strong coffee for breakfast. We are both freelance so our days can vary and sometimes he has to be up really early, but we always try and spend half an hour together for breakfast every morning.



Favourite local shop/café?

Violet on Wilton Way E8 I really love it there, and their coffee is really good. I always order their mini cupcakes for my private view parties – they are so pretty.

I also like the E5 bakehouse
Which is just down the road from me, they do really good bread. Their soda bread is delicious. They deliver to the area on a Dutch bicycle, lovely!

My favorite shop is the London Starlight Supermarket on Mare Street, such a dynamic name! It’s really amazing. I think they wholesale so sometimes I can tell they get annoyed when I go in to buy just one packet of instant noodles.



Favourite soap?

I like to change my soap all the time, so I’m not loyal to one particular type or brand. I really like l’Occitane products, but annoyingly so does Tom, and so when I do buy their soap it disappears so quickly. He steals all my nice products. Men!



Fizzy or still?

I like fizzy drinks, I really like Orangina in the bottle. I grew up in the country side of Japan, on an island called Shikoku just south of Osaka which is famous for its oranges. It’s like a slice of home – it reminds me of my childhood.



Current bag in use?

My current everyday bag is this tote, it’s really hardwearing and really useful. I like its vivid colour. I never really wear colour like this, it’s not very Colenimo, but that’s why I like it – a burst of orange.



Dream getaway?

If I could go anywhere at the moment it would be the moon! We were watching a documentary on iPlayer about going to the moon and I think the price was millions, impossible. I will have to get saving! I would love to look at the earth from the moon. This actually leads me to your last question, so enough on this for the moment.



Current music, book/magazine, film?

I have been watching and listening to the soundtrack of a film called Paper Moon recently, it’s a black and white film from the 1970’s.
And I have been reading lots of Lula magazine. I really like it. It’s becoming very popular in Japan right now.


Spring Summer 2012 sneak peek?

The collection is inspired by Papermoon (if you haven’t already guessed!)I have lots of images from the film that I’m using as reference at the moment.

The young girl in the film is a real tomboy and in one scene you see her smoking in bed! I really like her spirit. So I feel confident the collection has a good strong starting point. I’m also planning to use hand indigo dyeing for various pieces. I have found an amazing factory in the North near Leeds where they dye everything by hand. Watch this space!