a - M M - e was born in 2014 in Italy by the designer, Emma, at that time living & roaming the tuscan hills with her babies & a sculptor. One day she discovered some beautiful fabrics in a piazza in Lucca, and made a coat cut from one of her patterns from previous work as designer-magician for Gifford's Circus, then made a gold & chocolate velvet dress... ending up with a collection which she took to London Fashion Week & onto Scoop Fair at the Saatchi gallery. The a-MM-e studio is now based in the hills of Devon UK and follows a more mellow, small label SLOW FASHION approach; whereby some designs stay in store for countless seasons, & others may be limited editions only.
Emma actually first started out way back in the early nineties designing & making to sell at Kensington Market, Camden Market, Spitalfields and Portobello Markets in London, as well as dressing for fashion shows. This in turn led to designing and performing fashion, costume & mime performance pieces for theatre, circus and street art; on and off since then.
Fast forward to now, and the low key slow fashion label a-MM-e has become the place to go for quality and ethical cashmere knits that blend unique sass with chic wardrobe staples; as well as limited edition pallets and prints from Sicilian florals, leopards, golds & velvet chocolates hand sewn in UK.
Image - Anastasia in the coat in chocolate velvet, in pietrasanta sculture laboratorie
WHO MADE YOUR CASHMERE?
It took a long time to source a beautiful pure quality cashmere that ages well but which also has ethical credentials. So this is a unique line. Ethically this means that the herding of the goat is mostly done by small farmers around Asia who are paid very well and there is limited waste or malpractice. The factory are very aware of eco credentials : waste water is treated biologically, they invested in solar for heating, and hire mostly women from the local community, training employees from a zero skill base. Social responsibility is also a very important issue, for example employees children get free education. It’s nice to wear something that feels good on many levels.
WHAT IS SLOW FASHION?
FAST FASHION As an ethical designer wanting to make to high standard in high quality fabrics, I simply cannot compete with globalised brands that have huge financial investment, and the ability to go from the design idea to the garment in mass production within days, by people who are often working under hard conditions for little pay, with excessive environmental waste and pollution, churning out more and more collections a year, not to mention the pre collections and constant sales etc all backed up by large marketing campaigns. We live in a throw away culture where everyone wants more and more, and more and more is available.
SLOW FASHION Instead I choose to do my own thing in my own creative time. Although I present seasonal collections, some items last many seasons, some can be worn in all seasons, some are added mid season as I may have new ideas midway or find new fabrics, and some designs are made in limited edition fabrics - maybe even just 1 or 2 are made. I do not follow any rules, I just create what feels right when it feels right, rather than dictated to by a commercial machine. Can this work commercially? I believe that people want unique designer pieces which, although cost more than the high street, are far less than the more known designer brands. This is affordable designer fashion, well cut, with fabrics carefully chosen, made by individual seamstresses in UK. Slow fashion addresses over consumption and suggests alternatives - slowing down consumption, checking worker's rights are fair, ensuring quality. It's worth paying that little extra for a lasting unique designer item by an independent designer and guaranteed to be well made by happy people.
MUSINGS 2016 - A-MM-E shoot : tuscany, august & december 15 : water & marble : for the shoot i returned to a part of italy where we used to live, where some of the collection is made. we slept and worked from the only available flat in town in august above a shop with just 2 shuttered windows and a tiny ancient noisy air con unit in one corner, sharing a rickety bed with my 8 year old daughter. pietrasanta, holy stone, a place not far from the marble quarries where sculptors & artists have worked for hundreds of years including michelangelo. the other side of the via, so close you could almost touch it, was the vast duomo with its looming marble walls and steps. we would throw open the windows onto the street below, and watch the bustle of street performers in the piazza and crowds stream up and down, or hang out on the duomo steps just below us - artists, sculptors, shop keepers, billionaires, beggars, famous names, american tourists, local teenagers, small children, over dressed, under dressed, mingling in many languages in the hot night. Lots of brown skin, marble and gold. the noise went on all night every night. some nights i knew i had to rise at 6 to get the early shots in the empty piazza. my small daughter taking up the bed and squeezing me to the corner. but there was one moment of peace every night at the same time after the street noise had settled down slowly around 4 when there would be just maybe half an hour of stillness. but that would be broken at 430am with the sound of an old cart descending to stop under the flat window. and then a brush brish brish noise, water water running. Brush brish brish, water water running. 30 40 minutes. Brush bish brish, water water running, on and on in a very unhurried peaceful way. then the sun would rise the birds would sing and slowly the piazza would wake up again. the first few nights as I lay still awake anticipating the forthcoming early morning shoot & still awake, listening to the brush brish brish water water running rhythm, i would finally lull asleep with the picture in my mind of water running over white marble. after several nights of this i became aware that the faceless man scrubbing the duomo steps every morning before early sunrise was doing so with a profound dedication. i was staying in a room where many have slept over many hundreds of years listening to this same unchanged sound. the white marble duomo steps & walls have stood tests of time, from bullet holes to most recently chewing gum, fag ends, coke spillage; and yet every morning before sunrise the white marble is still scrubbed and washed by hand
photo credits Nicola Gnesi, model Anastasia Axinn
all shades by Bob Sdrunk, all clothes by A - M M - E
locations : Studio Polvierie, Villa Michaela, Villa Benvenuti, streets of Pietrasanta & Lucca