Charlotte Yamada in her Clerkenwell studio
PHOTOGRAPHY: CARL WILSON
WORDS: SUZIE MCCRACKEN
Make-up: Nina Robinson
Production: Kylie Griffiths
Charlotte Yamada is the mind behind Cheek LDN, a brand obsessed with PVC and TLC. She’s half English, half Japanese, and 2014 was the first time she’s shown at UK fashion week, though her designs are already popular in Asia. People were “engaged” with the brand there, she told me in her Clerkenwell studio.
In fairness, it’s hard not to be engaged with Cheek LDN – everything’s incredibly shiny. And considering it’s made out of the same material people use to build piping and ring-binders, it’s also incredibly comfortable. The PVC, sourced in New York, has enabled Charlotte to create a simultaneously wearable and ridiculous range of oversized bombers, varsity jackets and Barbie-hued bralettes.
She was kind enough to model her SS15 collection herself, and took us through some of the key pieces.
"I love the movie Clueless, so I'm always thinking of Cher and Dionne together. I imagine best friends, like a girl gang – there's always a nice girl, a punky girl, a sassy girl – being able to share their wardrobe with each other. I was visualising a yearbook picture for each jacket: the tough jock girl would be in the black and white varsity; the Barbie, girly-girl in the pink.
"There are lots of nostalgic references in this collection, which come from when I watched TRL after school. Music was definitely an inspiration, too, especially girl groups like TLC.
"I always think of the fabric first. With this collection I wanted to get a liquid-y feel, so I used PVC and a satin that kind of melts. There was a Benetton ad from back in the day where everyone was in one colour, which I loved. It was almost like a gang or collective. That's why every piece is almost a uniform."
Click through for more from Charlotte and Cheek LDN.
"When I went back to my parents' place a couple of years ago I found all my Barbie doll colouring books, and I'd just scribbled one colour per page. Nothing has changed, I guess.
"I like to think about what a kid would do if they had the ability to access their adult counterpart’s wardrobe. And how would they wear it? Or, what would the adult who still wants to be a kid dress like? It's that clash between the adult and child that I want to explore.
"As a child, I always had this idea that adults are always in suits. A big inspiration was the actress Debi Mazar, who was in Beethoven's 2nd as the evil lady. She always had her hair in a bun and was in immaculate white suits. I loved that look of the tight bun. I thought, 'Yeah, that's how women should dress.'"
"I'm very fussy on my pinks – it has to be a certain type of bubblegum. When I saw this I knew it was the one. This is totally the Cher of the gang. This would look cute on a blonde. I always think I want something to be cute, but to have that tough chick mentality to it. Cher still has sass, you know?"
"I call this the baby bomber; I wanted it to have a toyish effect with the chunky plastic zips. It has to have this surreal, fake quality, but still be nice and wearable."
"I feel like a chola in this outfit, or someone at one of P Diddy's all-white outfit parties. I'm beyond ready for that party.
"Or, you know how some designers like to have their last look as a wedding dress? This would be mine."
"I based the green, red and pink jackets off MA1 flight jackets. For the green, I wanted lime instead of that military, olive colour. Then I changed the classic pocket on the sleeve into a heart shape. It has all the flight jacket details but I've switched it up."
"The bralette is shaped like a heart, although it looks more like lips when I wear it. I wanted the gold clips to be mechanical, in a way. I want to do mechanical jumpsuits next season that are more functional, but in past seasons I've done very soft and super-girly collections.
"This one is intended as a gateway; a transition to the harder stuff I'll do next time. I always use gold hardware, so I wanted to get that in there with the bralette to go with the slick, tougher nature of the PVC."
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