Just a few years out of Central Saint Martins, Albanian designer Nensi Dojaka and her eponymous label are positioned for praise as a rising London talent and for good reason, too. Saturday, during London Fashion Week, Nensi held a rock solid first runway show at Fashion East, the non-profit, young designer showcase founded by Lulu Kennedy. The sensual and sophisticated collection that the 26-year-old served earned oohs and ahhh from from eager onlookers. Backstage before the show, her carefully constructed 11 pieces of tricky sheer cuts that wrap and drape were in the veteran hands of stylist Francesca Burns. Introduced to the designer through Kennedy, Burns had previously handled her clothes styling them into editorials and was happy to work with Nensi for her first Fashion East show. As she does, the stylist documented the process by polaroid. Models.com spoke to both designer and stylist on the collaboration and collection.
See both the images and interview below!
How did you meet Nensi?
I met Nensi a little while after I met her clothes. When she was selected to be part of the Fashion East collective this season, Lulu Kennedy asked if I would be interested in styling the show and we met in person after that.
What attracted you to her work and what was the most interesting part of this collaboration?
I immediately fell in love with Nensi’s work when I saw her in the Saint Martins show last year. It is exciting to see a young woman designing in this way. The work is incredibly sensual and complex but at the same time gentle. There is a softness and a strength which I find very appealing. I started using pieces in shoots and I was so impressed by the quality and the attention to detail. The clothes got a lot of attention on set––models loved wearing them and they make great pictures. For me working on the show was such a pleasure. Nensi’s brand is just beginning and her team is tiny; she does everything herself from draping to production. It was exciting to be a part of it to help in any way I could to bring her vision to life. It’s fun being part of a small team and everyone is doing everything. There is no job too big or too small, we are all working together to make it the best it can be.
Did you have any favorite pieces and why?
I love every single one of the looks in the show. Each piece is so carefully constructed and the fabrics are beautiful. I find it deeply feminine. I loved seeing Nensi bring tailoring into her dialogue. The oversized jacket is something I can’t wait to own. The silk, asymmetric shirt sliced up the back is an instant classic. But my favourite of all, if I had to chose one thing, is the first look. The draping is so beautiful and the fabric so tactile to me.
How would you describe the collection, its aesthetics and the inspiration behind your work?
The collection is a showcase of the softness and severity that characterises women. It juxtaposes the softness of drapes with severe cutouts and twists. I always start from 90s pictures, mainly from magazines. But for me, research is just a starting point. I develop most of the collection while draping on the mannequin and directly on the body.
What was the take-away lesson from your first show at Fashion East?
This show was my debut runway show and I learnt so many things during the process. Lulu [Kennedy], Natasha [Booth] and Raphaelle [Moore] have taught me so much in different aspects and their support was crucial. It was the first time I introduced certain products into my collection. It was the first time working with a stylist and I realised how much that can bring. Of course, I wish I had more time to develop more looks to complete the story.
How was it working with Francesca?
I always loved Francesca’s vision and when she agreed to work on this together, it was definitely the best thing that happened to me. She has such a unique vision and she is a perfectionist. She elevated the collection to another level by considering every single detail. She was so involved and so passionate and kind and I admire her so much for it. She also introduced me to Slim Barrett, who did those beautiful pieces for us for the show. I am very grateful to have on board such a talented and passionate person like her.
Having completed this process, what surprised you?
I was very pleased with the end result. You only see it when the models are all standing in the lineup before the show. I thought that we achieved the message we wanted to convey, which is the intricate nature of women and the beauty of that.