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Alexandra Hadjikyriacou and Jaimee Mckenna bring together to Earth a singular new label. The label's namesake is Kepler-186 f, a planet discovered by NASA two years ago with a radius similar to our planet and located within another sun’s habitable zone. The first collection, called simply Season 1, corresponds to neither Spring/Summer nor Autumn/Winter, and keeps itself away from fashion weeks. Through the designs, one can see an influence of traditional textile methods from a family background and a special love for materials.
How was your ‘private planet’ created?
In June 2016 when we decided to collaborate, Kepler was born. The name comes from the discovery of a cousin planet to Earth, Kepler-186f. It has been inspired by an amalgamation of both our aesthetics and creative vision, taking the idea of a new beginning on our new world.
You both studied in Central Saint Martins, how do you combine your creative ideals in this union?
We both met on our BA Textiles degree at Central Saint Martins whilst both being the polar opposite in some of our artistic approaches and research references we also quickly realised that we share a lot of common ground in our vision. We feel that there’s a strong ying and yang balance in our working methods and together we make something that we would both wear and cherish.
How would you describe a Kepler woman?
The Kepler woman is a union of a utilitarian, refined working woman. She is playful in her form of dressing, deconstructing and establishing her stylish identity. She finds new diverse solutions within her existing wardrobe. With elements of harshness and sculptural influence there is also a side of romanticism in her style.

Solange could fit this description. In fact she wore some of your designs in Don’t Touch My Hair. How did it happen? What did you feel seeing your blue knit on the screen?
Solange emailed me back last May to request a couple of pieces to potentially wear for the Met Ball. Later on, her stylist asked to borrow the majority of my collection to shoot in New Orleans for Don’t Touch My Hair. The aesthetics and vision of A Seat At The Table were incredible and I was thrilled to have my designs a part of it. 
Knit is a solid basis for your designs. Where does this fascination for craft and textile come from? Are you against the large manufacturing enterprises?
Both our backgrounds are in textiles, not only from our degrees but also from our families. Jaimee’s mother studied fashion at CSM back in the 80s and she grew up surrounded by textiles. Alexandra’s grandfather owned a knitting factory and her mother sells Indian, hand-crafted textiles. Knit will always play an integral part of our designs as it is what we specialised and trained in. We both are and feel strongly about excessive waste and cheap labour created by unnecessary fast fashion. We want to show the labour of love in craftsmanship and some dying traditional techniques.
Where do you usually buy your fabrics? Do you import or defend the National resources?
Some of our fabrics we source locally from fabric shops, others from mills to find the most organic, natural, beautiful fibres. If we are going to use a lux noble fibre we want to use the best, for example for Season 1 we used Japanese Silk top dyed yarn knowing that it was from one of the best yarn mills in the world.

What are your favourite materials?
Jaimee: Silk, silk, silk! And wool. I have a weird obsession with silk, it’s just too beautiful.
Alexandra: Wool and cotton. I love linen too, a lot.
What about techniques?
Jaimee: Pleat on pleat, draping, layers, layers of textiles, embroidery.
Alexandra: Pattern on pattern, pick up stitches, cutting in to fabric, fraying, chunky knitting, patchwork. We both could go on forever – ha! But we also like to mix all of these textiles and switch up each other’s approach.
Do you adapt the material to the garment or the garment to the material?
It depends on the fabric, shape or idea. Sometimes we literally can just have a sketch and be like “this has to be in this fabric it will look incredible” and it develops that way. Or sometimes it’s more organic, and we could be draping and knitting and then a fabric comes to mind later on down the process.

What are the benefits of not following the fashion industry’s schedule?
The benefit of Season 1 being off schedule meant we could do a presentation for our new brand without having to contend against the fashion week schedule, as buyers, press, etc., are so busy during that time, a new brand is less likely to get good exposure. It also fell into place to present in November as we were fortunate to get a great space to exhibit our work in.
The Season 1 collection seems to have different sources of inspiration. Some designs give me an African atmosphere; others remind me of utilitarian uniforms. Where did you actually find the referents?
From the mixture of combining cultures and historical references from across the globe mixed with traditional textiles, techniques and Alex’s obsession for all things military. We both have books on traditional textile methods that we brought together and we both had a lot of vintage and uniforms that we took from our wardrobes that informed our silhouettes.
Will a Season 2 arrive soon to Earth?
Touch down will be in the end of May 2017 and we can’t wait to present!

Words
Jasmina Avellanedas
Photos
Stephen Smith

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