Saturday, 1 September 2012

One to watch: Q&A with Rebecca Desnos

Rebecca wearing one of her scarves
Rebecca Desnos launched her line of eco-conscious textiles this summer, with each piece handmade and dyed using only natural plant dyes and sustainable fibres. The scarves are made from sumptuously soft bamboo fabric that has a lustre akin to silk, and since bamboo is a sustainable resource that thrives naturally without the need for pesticides, it fits well with Rebecca's commitment to ethical practice.  Here she tells us a little more about her new label:

Describe your label in three words...
Luxurious, Natural, Unique

What inspired you to launch?
My range of textiles was born out of a fruitless search for luxury, cruelty-free scarves. I discovered some bamboo vegan "silk" that had a beautiful drape and lustre and I realised it was the perfect fabric to make into scarves. I'd recently started working with plant dyes and found the bamboo fabric took the colour beautifully. After much experimentation, I developed my first collection.

Where does your design inspiration come from?
I'm inspired by the traditional Japanese technique of Shibori which is a type of resist dyeing involving shaped wooden blocks. Using this as a starting point, I've developed my own personal methods and variations. My scarf designs are based around the idea of slightly "imperfect" geometry. I embrace the variations between the depth of colour, texture and pattern of each piece resulting from the hand processes and natural materials used. I'm inspired by my own experiments that I've carried out, and since the results can be quite unpredictable it has spurred me onto developing new ideas. My designs develop through a natural process and I allow the materials to inform the designs from the very beginning.

Does your background in spatial design inform your work?
Previously I worked as an interior designer, but now have the opportunity to function on a smaller scale where I have the satisfaction of shaping my creations in my hands. At university I was keen on designing spaces that communicate their own story to the visitor, and I'm now able to loosely explore this notion of "communication" through my textiles. Each scarf is ever so slightly different with small traces left from the process. These traces remind the wearer that the scarf is natural, was made by hand and has a tale of its own. Each of the plant dyes leaves a slightly different and subtle fragrance on the fabric which is a wonderful and surprising outcome of the process.

Who would your dream person be to wear your accessories?
Liz Earle - the founder of a range of natural skin care products.

What do you see the future holding for your label?
I'm eager to develop the range of colours and start producing dresses made from my hand dyed fabrics. The possibilities with plant dyes are infinite so it's all a matter of experimentation.

If you could only wear one fashion brand forever, what would you choose?
I'd wear Chinti & Parker - they produce beautiful and ethical garments.

What made you choose to operate in an ethical way vs any other model?
When you work for yourself you have control over every decision and I couldn't imagine operating in a method other than an ethical and sustainable one. It's important that I source my materials responsibly, so my fabrics are produced sustainably and I use only natural dyes. I invest time in each piece, focusing on quality over quantity to create something beautiful and long lasting. I think we need more compassionately and thoughtfully made things in the world. I'm passionate about supporting other businesses that manufacture in Britain, especially independent companies and artisans.

Are there any fellow ethical business advocates you admire and why?
I admire all that Safia Minney has done to promote Fair Trade fashion. Her line of clothes, People Tree, is the perfect example of beautiful, sustainable and compassionate fashion. Komodo and Bibico are two other companies that I really admire.

What tips would you give others keen to run their label or company as a successful ethical business?
For me, the most important thing has been to have absolute conviction in my idea and the reasons behind it. Whenever I need to make a business or design decision, I refer back to these reasons to make sure I keep on track.

To see Rebecca's first collection, visit

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