Oh wow, I can just see myself with a whole wardrobe from Secret Lentil – textured, layered, whimsical and a bit post-punk. Sooo me, I luurv them! I would die to have the amanitas folkadelia in my wardrobe. I mean seriously, who wouldn’t want to have a “woodland frolicking tunic” for frolicking about in!?
Helen Carter started her clothing business in 2005, choosing her name at random from a pile of jumbled up words. She arrived at clothing as her creative outlet/career of choice only after living through a variety of other mediums, including writing and playing music. “When I started building this business, it just fit me perfectly,” she said. “Everything sort of slid into place.”
Just don’t ever call her a fashion designer. She says of her work, “Secret Lentil is an art project that results in clothing. I’m concerned – no, obsessed – with form, line, texture, detail … and lucky you: comfort. My work is sculpture, your body is the gallery. I’m an artist, not a fashion designer. I sculpt clothes. I don’t do seasonal lines or collections, and with a few exceptions I don’t make duplicates.” Her process starts with a variety of deconstructed and recycled materials, and she shapes each piece of clothing directly. “With most of my work I am designing each piece as I make it. Sometimes I work from a raw sketch or concept, or maybe the title of a poem I like, or a vision of a seedpod or a newt. There are no patterns.”
Helen counts Yohji Yamomoto as one of her heroes – and it is easy to see why. There are the same layered forms, use of bias cuts, and flowing drape. But Helen adds her own vision – an organic, intuitive and quirky combination of layered and reconstructed form.
She uses curved strips of fabric cut in varying degrees of bias to give the form its body and drape. Her palette tends to the plain and dark, with black, charcoal, and olive featuring prominently, but colour (and texture) are added with the overlocking of the layers. Details pop with red, orange & aqua. With that combination of quirky and intuitive it could so easily turn out to be a jumble, but there is a definite control at work here, in colour and in overall form, which gives her work an uncompromising strength.
Uncompromising AND comfortable? Perhaps it’s that contradiction that makes the clothes so intriguing. Yes please!
And she is rather fond of words (oh, can you tell by the names she gives her clothes?). You really must head over and read her blog – funny, serious and a bit mysterious – a lot like her clothes really.
I would like to thank Helen Carter for generously sharing her words, and her images.