OPINION: Ravenous Belle & Don

Ma Mignonette creative director Joon Haque talks to Lingerie Insight about new designer collective Ravenous Belle & Don, which launched last month on London’s Commercial Street.

"The Ravenous Belle & Don – a group of new blood designers – launched with a private showcase in September to an ecstatic crowd of fashion and lifestyle press, buyers and industry leaders. The showcase was followed by a week long pop up artspace and shop open to the public in London’s inarguable creative centre, Shoreditch.

The concept was created by four labels, Ma Mignonnette, Arlette Ess, Candy Baker and Trevor & Susan, spanning lingerie, accessories, objects of desire, hosiery, fashion, jewellery and homeware respectively. We’re all new designers, each with a very distinct style, and we had the vision of creating an amazing space where people could view our pieces and interact with each brand, as well as being able to sell directly to the public in an inspiring environment. It was important to us that the space we created complemented the uniqueness of each label whilst not distracting from our individual identites.

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Living in London, we’ve all been overexposed to too many pop up shops that stock a hash of designers that don’t sit well with each other. They’re often presented together in an unappealing way or they merge into each other. These were all things we tried to steer clear of as it’s such a discredit to all the hard work each of those designers has put in – it must be very disappointing. If you slave over every detail of design in your product and marketing, it’s a shame to then be let down at the point where your product reaches your potential customer.

Also for the customer, we wanted to create a pleasurable experience where they could feel at ease to browse the products, but also engage with each brand in a relaxed atmosphere. So, we decided to host evening events such as DJ nights and movie screenings, as well as inviting people to look at the art or just sit on the sofas for tea and biscuits during the day. The designers also work on the shopfloor, so are always on hand to chat people through their products and explain how materials or certain features work, which customers have responded really well too.

We carefully selected other designers that we love and understood what we were trying to create. We wanted to assert an integral point of difference from other designer groups; each label we feature has its own tale to tell, presenting a counterpoint to interchangeable brands that don’t engage. We believe it’s not enough for fashion to just look nice; people fall in love with stories and characters that mean something to them. Each label in the group offers beauty in layers: some charming, some subversive, some awe-inspiring. Curiosities all.

We were delighted with the labels that we collaborated with on the launch and the breadth of products we featured, ranging from Mark Fast’s cool body-con cut out bodysuits, to Silja Manninen’s ethereal silk and bondage rope dresses, or Emma Franklin’s stunning gold and black pearl jewellery to Christianna Ibikunle’s gorgeous leather bags.

We were overwhelmed with the positive feedback from both industry and the public to the first Ravenous pop up and we’re looking forward to the next artspace that we’ll be hosting closer to Christmas. We’re also planning to take the concept to other countries, presenting exciting creative hubs in cities across the globe, offering beautifully stylised spaces for people to drop in, hang out and explore each label. Each space will also offer a range of art events to showcase the diverse creativity each country has to offer, from screenings and exhibitions to live music and performance art shows.

The way we engage with brands is changing rapidly and we’re excited to be exploring new ways to present our collections to the public. It’s an interesting time and we’re thrilled to see where this project takes us all.”

For further details or to get in touch about future collaborations, visit: www.the-ravenous.com.

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