By Kaycia Ainsworth
Fashion is quickly becoming one of the most responsive industries to its consumer. In our lifetime, we are lucky enough to bear witness to the merging of fashion and technology through the use of social media and the internet. These elements, alongside tech wearables, blur the lines between artist and audience. The focal point of creation shifts at the will of the people, to create a garment which not only looks good and keeps us comfortable, but creates convenience in our everyday lives. Trends may fluctuate, but so do the needs of those wearing it. We only have to look at history to see how fashion has adapted to the needs and wants of women. We look to designers like Mary Quant who altered her designs to the requests of her clientele on King’s Road and produced the mini skirt. The skirt sparked outrage; it not only bared womens legs, but also represented women's desire for freedom from their oppressive gender roles. Its introduction in this pivotal time for women's rights solidified its association with the women's rights movement.
Women's lives now look drastically different to how they were back in the 1960’s. We live in a society where women make up a huge part of the workforce. We are booked, busy and find the time to look stylish whilst doing it. One of my personal bugbears in life is also one of my greatest talents. Running from appointment to appointment as frequently as I do means that spending all of my teen years reading articles about how to transform my look from day to night was never in vain, but was actually training for life as a young femme professional. There is something so meme-eqsuely “girlboss” about finding a way to do a full face of makeup using the reflection of the tube carriage window you're squashed up against during rush hour. I balance my handbag between myself and the wall and use it as a makeup desk for perfect winged eyeliner at 60 miles per hour, beat that. My bugbear, however, is the things that are a little harder to control. How am I meant to be running around for 13 hours and not look like I just left Adonis at 5am. Better yet, how the hell are my clothes meant to keep up with me and avoid wrinkling as I complete the equivalent of a pro athlete (probably), all whilst in high heels.
Introducing Rue-L. Rue-L are a street/sport hybrid brand who create glamorous yet practical clothes for people who are always on the go. Their designs are elegant, refined and intricate. Their clothes are designed to really be worn. Rue-L says their intent is to create clothes you can wear “day in, night out, over and over again.” When wearing a Rue-L piece the struck gold moment is its obvious quality and durability. The materials feel expensive and plush whilst being hardwearing and moveable. The pattern cutting is intricate and playful. It bares flesh in a way that feels sexy, yet secure.
As they launch their Autumn/Winter 21 collection, designer and co-owner Celine Kreis explains her inspiration for their new designs, saying “We created a narrative from research surrounding femme fatale characters in history - fiction and non fiction. Through this we created a character and narrative in which we designed from.” As a designer, Celine has her finger on the pulse; she not only creates for the women of now, but is inspired by them too. “We design by coming up with a story and narrative, research around it - we make and toile our pieces to get them to be the perfect fit and we produce it in Portugal. I like to have my girlfriends try on the prototype before we produce, as it is really important for me to get feedback from a range of women.”
“We created a narrative from research surrounding femme fatale characters in history - fiction and non fiction. Through this we created a character and narrative in which we designed from.”
Whilst Celine has a keen eye for modern styling, she is matched only by her creative partner, Suman Gurung. Suman is responsible for the impeccable shaping and tailoring we see in a Rue-L piece, Celine calls him a “design whizz and pattern cutting extraordinaire” before adding that “he found his passion later in life but you’d think he was born making clothing patterns. He has a natural talent at making anything! He also works on the side as the costume designer for artists such as IAMDBB, Bree Runway and Ashniko.”
They met during their studies at London College of Fashion, it wasn't until years later that they would decide to collaborate and forge their design empire. Celine tells us of their journey together: “We both did our womenswear degree and graduated together. Suman worked at Celine for a year, I moved out of London. We came back together to start Rue-L with very little experience. We did it for 3 years and then paused for 2, just before Covid happened. And now we are back!”
Together they form the perfect pair. A talented pattern cutter and a design mastermind with a clear vision to change fashion in favour of what women want to wear. “I want them to feel sexy and confident.” Celine shares, “ I want Rue-L to be this skin that they put on and gives them the confidence they may be lacking that day. I want them to feel included and a part of the brand.” Celine goes on to explain how the vision she has for the brand can change things for women societally, outside of fashion as well as inside of it. “I want to see a change and the representation of women in the media and a brand that makes girls/women feel good. I want to have a kind and supportive work culture within my studio. I want to offer great, considered, well made pieces that aren't fast fashion but not unattainable.”
“I want to see a change and the representation of women in the media and a brand that makes girls/women feel good. I want to have a kind and supportive work culture within my studio. I want to offer great, considered, well made pieces that aren't fast fashion but not unattainable.”
Sustainability is a focal point in Rue-L’s work; their clothes are so stylishly designed that the idea of them also being long-lasting and sustainable is a secondary thought, but one that is crucial to their practice. “With the way we run our business, our clothing has no “expiry date,” we don’t have seasons or sales. I think this is a good practice as I don't believe clothing should have an expiry date. I have things that I bought 8-10 years ago and I will wear today and love.” She explains how this philosophy translates into her design process, “We don’t want to release a huge collection, we want to focus on really considered products that are well made and that you can keep and wear for a long time.” She says, “For our next collection, our aim is to have 80% of materials to be recycled or 100% biodegradable - including trims. And our packaging is biodegradable.”
“We don’t want to release a huge collection, we want to focus on really considered products that are well made and that you can keep and wear for a long time.”
As well as creating a world of garments that are sustainable, wearable and beautiful, Rue-L seeks to produce a more inclusive fashion industry for women. One free from ideals which become damaging to the expectations of women. One of the ways they do this is by having inclusive size ranges and including plus size models in their campaigns. “This is so important to me,” says Celine, “I think it is truly damaging having such unrealistic beauty standards and I feel for the younger generation born with social media. It is truly, truly toxic. We have always, always had such a mix of women modelling our clothing from the beginning.” Celine closes our interview with a powerful message. “The future of fashion is diverse, inclusive and kind.”