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The Little Brand That Could – We get the skinny on Eleanor Dorrien-Smith, founder of eco-friendly fashion label Partimi.
It was when Anthropologie, the US store known for it’s desirable and quirky ensembles, took note of her final show at Central St Martin that Eleanor Dorrien-Smith knew her eco-friendly label Partimi was something special. The graduate fashion designer produced a capsule collection of 6 designs that were sold in stores across America before winning a prize at the CSF Fashioning the Future Awards and catching the attention of ethical fashion platform Estethica. Partimi is best described as dreamy; featuring oversized tee-shirts printed with palm tree laden beaches, loosely structured dresses and gathered wrap-around shawls for the coldest of days. Partimi is fashion at its simplest and most wearable: for days when you dread having to put together an outfit and all you want is something gorgeous to slip on over your head. And, it’s not just Partimi’s design that makes it a desirable brand on the up but Dorrien-Smith’s desire for making it as eco-friendly as possible. We asked Eleanor about her inspirations and dedication to the environment.
When did you first encounter environmentally friendly fashion and what made you want to start a line with this philosophy at its core?
I became aware that there were groups of designers out there focusing on environmentally friendly methods while I was still at University. I was really interested in new “smart” fabrics that could be infinitely recycled and after researching these, the doors were opened to a whole host of other designers that were aiming to find the best method to produce fabrics and fashion in a sustainable manner. Once I saw that it was something I could pursue in my own work, I never looked back.
Do you succeed in living environmentally friendly as the notion is so entrenched within your work?
I take great pleasure in introducing ‘greener’ living into my daily life. As with my work, if I discover a way I can do things that would be better for the environment and those around me then I take it up. Having said that, I’m far from perfect and still have a long way to go.
How did your childhood help create your taste in fashion and label today?
I was certainly influenced by my family. Firstly my mother and grandfather are architects and so the ‘considered’ design approach was always a feature. On my father’s side there were a fair number of women who were actively part of the ‘green’ movement in the 60s and 70s and who had a sense of style that definitely fit the ‘hippy’ sensibility. As a result my style is an amalgamation of the two: soft, delicate and flowing matched with strong design concepts and modern details.
Day to day what inspires you to create your pieces?
It can be anything from a pattern I notice on the ground, on a building, on the beach. I have got into the cycle of taking note of the things around me and automatically allocating them to a design; it’s become a bit of a habit. I also really enjoy the process of researching and learning about different fabrics, new developments and ways I can use them in my work. It really is so much more than just aesthetics.
Partimi will show its SS12 collection in September at LFW as part of the Estethica exhibition. See www.partimi.com for information.
by Karla Evans, photography by Nicole Maria Winkler