As many of you should hopefully know: the X to Bellisa stands for our openness to collaborate in any direction with talents, creatives and ideas that compliment or relate to our label. So to end this year with something really special , we are SO excited to announce our first ever collaboration with another hand-made local clothing brand: Kingdom on Badmen (KofB.) Over the last few months we’ve been working extremely hard to bring you a limited-edition Christmas collection that perfectly captures both our styles: velour tracksuits, our exclusive bellisa print AND sequins. And with launch day just round the corner ( 06.12.18 @ 7PM GMT) we think it’s time to let you in on the behind the scenes details we’ve kept secret for so long…
THE BACKGROUND INFO
Cast your memories back to the summer; we held a poll on Instagram asking for what you guys wanted to see in the future for tracksuits and obviously the top vote was… sequins. Who doesn’t love abit of sparkle? Following on from this, I instantly thought of Romy (owner of KofB) and without hesitation slide into her DM’s and popped the question. At this point I hadn’t even properly thought out anything, but ideas were whizzing round my mind at million mph so I just had to propose the idea before I got carried away, to see if it would be something she was interested in. And she was! (If you don’t know how I first discovered Romy’s talent back in 2017, then please read our previous blog here.) During the following next few months we exchanged messages weekly discussing and developing our ideas for the collection. September 2018: is when the magic started to sew this idea into a reality. From September to November it went like this: I’d make up a couple tracksuits at a time, package them up to post to Romy who on receiving would start sequinning with her decided colours. During this whole period Romy and I worked on trust – since we’d only met once back in 2017.
With nearly all tracksuits sequinned it was time to do a final exchange and return everything back to Bellisa X HQ so that I could finish attaching the lining on the jackets. For this we met in Frome (half-way between us) to put the bin- bags containing safely wrapped sequin tracksuits into the boot of my car. Thinking back on it now, if a member of the public had happened to catch a glance of this transaction it may of looked abit dodgy to the suspicious eye…With our creations safely locked in the car we headed to The River House Café to discuss the fine details that had got lost in our creative excitement. We sat and talked for hours. Folders, pens and paper out and coffees on stand-by we discussed everything from pricing, packaging and marketing to picking models with their outfits and photoshoot ideas. We also took the time to properly get to know each other. And since you guys don’t know as much about Kingdom Of Badmen as you do about Bellisa, we also took the time to do a Q/A style interview! Since this is a collaboration between 2 brands and personalities, I feel it’s so important that you understand who we equally are. You can learn more about Bellisa through our previous blog posts but for KofB let the interview commence…
B ( Bella/Bellisa): Right, so lets start with the basics- who are you?
R ( Romy/ Kingdom of Badmen: Romy Badman-King, born in Bristol but have lived in Glastonbury for most of my life
B: Ah Glastonbury is such a unique town, and the festival too, do you think this has inspired your work?
R: Definitely. I am a huge fan of festivals and have been going to Glastonbury festival for many years now. I’ve always been fascinated by the change in fashion throughout the years there and even more so now. I think we are in a time of personal creativity where showing your own style is becoming more accepted. I want to support this idea and advertise that being yourself, wearing what you love because it makes you feel good.. because it’s a beautiful thing isn’t it?
B: Yes! Hit the nail on the head there! Exactly why I wanted to work with you and your brand so that we can create such unique and exciting garments together to encourage individuality and the confidence to express yourself. Asides from festivals, what else inspires/motivates you?
R: Ah so many things! Living in the countryside with such beautiful colourful surroundings and organic textures that I can experience with my close friends and family who motivate me every day. I am also massively inspired by music and dance – it’s why my pieces are made to reflect movement. And more specifically cabaret and burlesque. This inspires me to make clothing that makes people feel exceptional when dancing the night away.
B: I’m getting the impression that you love a dance yourself, I defo do to! How did you come about finding a way to channel your inspirations into a form of creativity that others could enjoy too through Kingdom of Badman?
R: Well I originally studied in London for a year at Chelsea Art College and from this went on to study music and drama at Liverpool Hope University and then went back to London to work at Proud
B: What is Proud- I’ve never heard of that?
R: Ahh its this most amazing cabaret club where I worked behind the bar and as PA for Alex Proud the owner
B: That’s cool and explains how it has inspired your work so much! So from this experience how did it lead you to an ambition to sew?
R: I’ve always enjoyed sewing from such an early age as I learnt this skill from my mum and was especially intrigued by shiny things so when I was moving about and trying different skills, it was always something in the back of my mind. Fashion and the art form behind it combined with textiles, textures and colours always intrigued me and has been a large part of my life. I find sequinning by hand not only an enjoyable process with a very rewarding finish that can’t be made by machine but also allows me to be very creative and make beautiful colour combinations which make every item I make completely unique.
B: Definitely agree there, it makes the end garment much more special and you can tell its been made with a lot of love, care and time when you’re wearing it
R: For sure, and I believe that if people buy items that they really love , then they will treat them with care and will last them many years rather than discard of the item when it’s hardly been worn. So that means I personally hand sew each sequin to make sure it falls elegantly and it’s in exactly right place to ensure perfect overlapping
B: Wow, you must have a lot of patience to do that – I tried that once with bigger sequins on a catsuit and it took f-o-r-e-v-e-r
R: Yeah it is very time consuming, but the end result is so worth it. As I briefly mentioned above I’m also very passionate about minimising waste, so by using individual sequins this saves waste of actual sequin fabric made on such a mass scale and yeah again, to make something that the customer will cherish forever
B: I’ve noticed this summer that the large sequinned mass-produced fabric has become very popular in the high-street—how are you going about tackling this in the future?
R: I know, its really disheartening to see so many large brands copying smaller designs and selling them made with much cheaper fabrics, but for the future I’ve started looking into using recycled plastic sequins to keep my work as ethical as possible. And again to minimise waste, I use any scraps for headbands and hoods
B: I love the idea of that! I feel like I’ve learnt a lot more about you and your aspirations of KofB. Before we finish is there any other fun facts you would want to share?
R: Hmmm.. well that’s tricky one on the spot but I’ll give it a go! ** thinks for couple minutes ** Well as I spent a fair amount of time in London, I was also an intern at Abbey Road recording Studios and I also got pulled into the busy London lifestyle and found myself spending £20 a day just on fashion magazines which as a result I found myself on more than a few occasions going without money
B: Wow, now that’s a lot of money on magazines but I can understand how easily done that could be. Anything else?
R: Ummm, I was the Wookey hole witch for a day and I actually really loved it!
B: Haha, I definitely wouldn’t of guessed that- that is indeed a fun fact
R: And also, when I met my partner I told him I would sequin him an entire onsie with a hood… 7 years later I still haven’t, as at the time I didn’t realise he was 6ft 6!
B: Yeah fair enough, that would require A LOT of time and patience haha. Don’t worry my boyfriend’s still waiting for his tracksuit a year on…. Well thanks for sharing- and what can we expect from KofB in the future?
R: My main goal for 2019, is to release a full collection inspired by nature contrasted with festivals where each item will be unique one-offs
B: Amazing- I can’t wait to see it all, and add a 3rd piece to my own personal collection from you!
Fast forward 10 days from the café, we meet for the 3rd time but this time joined by 6 other models, 2 photographers ,7 make-up artists, further help on hand with Jade, Romy’s partner , Mel and… the 7 wonders: the final sequined outfits. It was show time. All our hard- work of planning and organising everything up to and including this day, was starting to fall in place and come to life. Obviously nothing is ever as simple and smooth-running as you hope ( few last minute cancellations which can’t be helped, also why I ended up having to model) but fast -thinking with minutes to spare is all part of the fun. The student make-up artists at BAMM had been practising their looks all week with their tutor Gozra Lozano to match our moodboard of ideas we’d previously submitted. They worked their magic and within a strict 1hr 30 minute deadline had transformed everyone into a squad of glamourous grunge models- when scrolling through our look book please take time to appreciate all their artistic hair and make-up skills. From here it was pack up, jump into cars and go, go, go off to our location. 20 minute drive and we’d all arrived... at my local pub ‘The Three Horseshoes.’ Guy, BAMM’s photographer had already set up all the lighting so that as soon as we got there, had all the models changed and accessorised asap for the photos to commence.
The day went considerably quick (perhaps aided by a pint or two…everyone, including myself, definitely made use of the pub location!) Models constantly swapped between both Guy and Liz ( 2 photographers;) with MUA’s on standby to retouch makeup inbetween; to get a mix of single shots, group shots and a contrast of staged and candid photos with all different props and backdrops. I definitely feel very lucky and grateful that we could operate at such free- reign across the pub that was also open to the intrigued public the whole time! At about 3pm we wrapped up with a final group shot, round of applause and headed our own ways.
With the launch of our collaboration VERY SOON, it’s time to reveal our exciting twist that makes this collection so much more meaningful. In Bellisa X style, we’ve decided to create a story to go with, but instead of a fictional one, we’re presenting every tracksuit with very short true snippets of each of the models. Why? This links back to our previous blog post, addressing some issues of social media and our felt responsibility as a brand to ensure we are positively influencing our followers. Both myself and Romy, feel so much passion to encourage individuality through what makes you different as a person: your interests, beliefs, strengths, weakness, attitudes, experiences etc as we believe this reflects in your creativity with your personal style. This means on introducing our models/tracksuits we will add info on their unique personalities, experiences and aspirations for you to read. Whilst all models will be beautifully made up and photographed at their best -we hope that you will be able to relate to, and understand each of the models as real people from the captions, rather than compare yourself to them. A ‘comparing’ attitude on social media can be poisonous to our mental health therefore instead we hope for you to see and feel a part of yourself in each of the outfits. Even though all our tracksuits follow a similar collection style all our models appearances and personalities are completely different; we want to show you that you can feel accepted into society by being your unique self. Through the endless love, time and trust that has gone into the craftmanship of this collection; the care we have taken to add real personality to the clothes and artistic flair that has been weaved into the stitching at every step of the journey; we hope you will love and appreciate this collection as much as we do.
We are so excited to present Bellisa X Kingdom Of Badman launching December 6th @ 7PM (GMT). In the meantime stay tuned for our daily release of our 7 wonders and please view the full lookbook here.
B & R XXX