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One Stop: Reggae in London’s East End

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Pictured, the Crown Sweater, part of our Bella Freud X Fred Perry collaboration

We recently launched our AW14 Blank Canvas collaboration with British knitwear designer Bella Freud for our Laurel Wreath Women’s Collection. With the Bella Freud X Fred Perry collection heavily influenced by reggae and dancehall music we recently met up with Gio Di Stasio - DJ and promoter of East London-based Reggae, Rocksteady and Ska night “One Stop” to find out more about the scene that gave inspiration to the collection.

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Gio Di Stasio pictured above DJing at “One Stop”

Originally from Rome – Italy, Gio initially got into reggae music through the Italian Mod scene - he heard Reggae, Rocksteady and Ska played alongside R&B, Soul and 60s and started to investigate further – “It started me off buying records. The scene wasn’t always huge back home, so everybody would come together on the Mod scene and it helped me to discover different music”.

Moving over to London in 2004, Gio discovered a broader scene with more variety compared to what he was used to – “London is a huge city, with so much history behind it. The Caribbean community moving over to England in the 1960’s meant a much wider scope for access to reggae music. Not just in London – but in places like Birmingham and the North too. Meeting and talking to people you discover new music and things, my record collection started to grow”.

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Gio soon started to DJ on and off in Italy from the late 90’s to through the early 00’s, guesting at nights but never quite establishing a regular night.

Over the last few years he has come back to DJing in London, and soon started to look for venues to start a night of his own – “It can be tough to get venues to take new nights on at first. The weekends are the busiest time, and Friday and Saturday nights are when venues want guaranteed crowd pleasers to make sure they are busy.” 

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Ridley Road is a famous market street located right in the centre of East London’s Dalston area. Ridley Road Market has strong roots within the East London West Indian community, famous for selling exotic produce from around the world. Ridley Road Market Bar located right in the middle of Ridley Road seemed like an ideal venue to approach with the possibility of starting a Reggae, Rocksteady and Ska night says Gio – I always lived in Dalston since I moved to London in 2004, and it’s amazing how the area I live in has both today, and in the past a very strong connection with reggae music.

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Back in the 60’s Ridley Road Market had a large West Indian population and record shops were very popular in the area as well. “Muzik City”, one of the first record stores in London was originally located on Ridley Road – “Muzik City” had direct links to the prolific reggae label “Trojan Records”. There was also a “Roy Shirley’s” shop on Birkbeck Road, “The R&B Record Shop” (owned by Rita and Benny King) in nearby Stamford Hill, “The Four Aces Club” on Dalston Lane and many other places where music (reggae in particular) were a key aspect of life.

For me being Italian - and therefore coming from a different background - it seems amazing to be able to run my own night in London, a night which is now getting recognition from people that have being doing these things for a long time”.

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Gio was soon offered the choice between a Thursdays or a Sunday night slot at Ridley Road Market Bar. Choosing Sunday’s “One Stop” was soon born, and runs every second Sunday – “So far it’s going really well. We’ve been going nearly a year now and the night seems to get bigger every time. Reggae nights aren’t all about the dancing, it’s more about the music and the atmosphere, and I think “One Stop” has a really good atmosphere about it.     

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Running the night takes a lot of effort too, as I do everything by myself - all promotion, the design for flyers, planning everything - but there’s nothing as rewarding as seeing people coming down to my night and having fun, truly appreciating the energy and passion that I put into it”.

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Every month has a different guest DJ from inside the community – Sammy D played most recently. Gio says “running a night can be really competitive. London is a huge city with so much choice. I’m really pleased “One Stop” has had a good run so far. Ideally I’d like to it run for many years, becoming a regular fixture on the scene”.  

We asked Gio for his Top 5 favourite records to DJ, a task he didn’t find easy – “I don’t really have a top 5 as such as I like loads of tunes and always try to discover new ones - I like to say that the best tunes are the ones I don’t have yet.

Some tunes that I always enjoy playing are:

The Viceroys – Promises

Delroy Wilson – Somebody has stolen

Don Drummond – Smiling

The Paragons – Memories by the score

The Kingstonians – Put down your fire

Thanks to Gio and http://www.camillacandidadonzella.it/ for images

ONE STOP – Every second Sunday at Ridley Road Market Bar, Dalston. Facebook/Instagram/Mixcloud

See the Bella Freud X Fred Perry collaboration online HERE

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The Tipped List - Sapphire Lewis

Photographs from behind the scenes with Sapphire Lewis, Manager at Bleach Salon London and member of the Tipped List - young creatives Fred Perry are tipping for success. Read more about the Tipped List HERE

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Find out more about the Tipped List HERE

Send us your best Fred Perry Shirt style through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the #WEARETIPPED and tagging your location. Find out how to enter #WEARETIPPED HERE

Behind the collection with Bella Freud

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Pictured above - Bella Freud with collection model Adwoa Aboah

 

New for AW14, we are proud to launch our first collaboration with British womens knitwear designer Bella Freud. The Bella Freud Blank Canvas collection is available in Laurel Wreath Collection stores and Fred Perry online now. 

We met up with Bella to discuss the collection, and discover the influences behind it -

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Born in London and studied in Rome, Bella Freud has established herself over the past 20 years at the forefront of British women's knitwear design. 

Launching her eponymous label in 1990, Bella quickly went on to win Most Innovative Designer Of The Year at the 1991 Fashion Awards. She is perhaps best known for her signature "Je t'aime Jane", "Ginsberg Is God" and "1970" jumpers, alongside her work in fashion film collaborating with John Malkovich, Lara Stone and Anita Pallenberg amongst others.

Bella, hello its lovely to meet you

Hello, its lovely to meet you also

I'm really interested to hear about the influences behind the collection, I get a strong sense of dancehall and reggae music influence when I look at it

Definitely. I've always loved how people look and dress on the reggae scene - they always look so stylish and well turned out. I remember being 10 years old and being in Dalston in East London where there is a large West Indian population, and being intrigued by how people dress - they always looked so cool! I kept this in mind when designing the collection and it was definitely a direct influence. 

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Is reggae and dancehall music, and the scene around it something you are personally into?

I love reggae music! Growing up my favourite band was called Matumbi who were one of the biggest British reggae bands of the 1970s and 80s. If you look at pictures of them now they always looked so smart and turned out. They are a great band.

Not just the music, I love the scene too - from the hardcore rastas to people really enjoying dancehall music - its got such a great vibe. As a designer I find the whole aesthetic endlessly appealling and I wanted to incorporate this into my collection for Fred Perry - a brand that also has roots in this scene. 

Ah yes, the collaboration with Fred Perry - how did this come about. Obviously you are a well known British women's designer...

It was suggested to me and I was really keen. I've always admired Fred Perry as a brand, I've always found it to be quite a personal brand - people get really involved with it, and it's never ever bland. I see it as being very honest, bold and British so I thought it was a good match for my ideas.

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Alongside the knitwear in the collection, you also got to reinvent the iconic Fred Perry Shirt - how did that feel?

Initially quite daunting! I love the Fred Perry Shirt - I wear the Fred Perry Shirt! I think as a piece of clothing it is quite perfect as it is. However it was really fun to get to put my own stamp upon it. I made the collars bigger to reflect the era I had in mind, and played with the tipping. Something I really enjoyed was translating the reggae influences into my collection. Stars feature throughout, and these are a direct reference to reggae artists - I always found them so flashy when growing up wearing all their jewellery and pins. The stars are about taking the Fred Perry Shirt and adding in that element, adding that flashy reference to the collection.    

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The model used in the shoot for the collection is extremely striking - did you choose her personally? 

Yes! The model is Adwoa Aboah. Shes gorgeous isn't she. I've known her Mum for years and I've seen her grow up and get more and more beautiful. I thought she'd be a great fit for this collection, and it was an honour to involve somebody I've known since a child in my work

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There is a Fashion Film to accompany the collection also, I know you had a background in film alongside design - did you direct it?

I didn't direct the film this time around, but I did come up with the concept for it. It's all about dancing, but dancing for yourself. Everybody dances in their bedroom at some point - even if they don't want to admit it! 

I love the song featured in the film

Yes, its called "Girlie Girlie" by Sophia George. Its a reggae classic from the eighties. I think the collection is very feminine, so it seemed like the ideal choice to soundtrack it. 

(see the film online here > http://bit.ly/YdY3Uk )

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There are also accessories in the collection..

Yes, hats and scarves sit alongside the main collection. I wanted to convey a sense of fun. Going back to what I said earlier about making the collection flashy - the accessories are an extension of that. I wanted to make the collection feel special, and adding a hat or a scarf feels a bit like adding a bit of flash to your outfit - it adds an extra something. I really like that idea.  

Bella, thank you for your time

No problem, lovely to meet you.

 

Pictured below, Bella Freud at the Bella Freud Blank Canvas Collection launch at Celestine Eleven in London.

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Our women's Blank Canvas collaboration with Bella Freud is sold in Laurel Wreath Collection stores - find your nearest store > http://bit.ly/1ojcdgu

View the collection online here > http://bit.ly/1rNUqkU

See the fashion film that accompanies the collection here > http://bit.ly/YdY3Uk

Thanks to Bella Freud and Celestine Eleven