Prada SS14 was a dream. Mixing art with fashion like only a master could, Miuccia Prada outdid herself once again. And those bright coloured furs that strode the runway to Britney? Ideal.
But there’s no getting away from the fact – even as the snap of Katie Grand and Marc Jacobs in their matching rainbows tops 3000 likes on Instagram – that it used an ugly amount of dead mink.
Enter Hannah Weiland, creator of faux fur label Shrimps and champion of our moral conscience. While she doesn’t oppose its use per se, Hannah wouldn’t dream of wearing real fur, let alone working with it; “I don’t see why you would?”.
Already Weiland has received sweet words from the likes of Alexander Fury and Sarah Mower, while her initial six-piece collection is stocked at Avenue 32 and Opening Ceremony, with an exclusive navy design for Net-a-Porter available next month.
Observed on the backs and in the hands of many an editor at London Fashion Week, perhaps the highest compliment of all came at the weekend as Susie Lau wrote, “Shrimps is officially blowing up”.
“Because she loves colour so much,” Hannah says of Lau, when quizzed on the ultimate Shrimps woman, prior to Susie’s praise. “She’s been wearing a coat recently and it looked best on her. She wears it with colour as well, which I love ‘cause it’s quite hard to do.”
Of the rest she remarks, “It was so unexpected but a really nice surprise. I sort of started making up 20 for my friends, and then Avenue 32 ordered them. It didn’t happen slowly it happened very quickly, but yeah, I feel really lucky.”
With Natalie Massenet for a mascot we’re not surprised. As founder of Net-a-Porter and chair of the British Fashion Council, her support for the brand places Shrimps in a gang of few.
Despite their differences, the reference points for Hannah and Miuccia don’t vary all that much, vaguely speaking at least. “It was basically studying art that led me to (designing), because art’s basically my biggest inspiration,” the former notes.
“I wrote my dissertation on Grayson Perry and I studied his tapestries and his dresses,” she continues. “I always wanted to go into fashion either designing or, mainly designing really. I should have done it from the beginning but I also loved art, then halfway through my dissertation I definitely wanted to design, so I applied for a design course at London College of Fashion. “
And that stream of inspiration is where she hopes the brand to follow, packaging, website and social included. Already the site – a vision of pink, retro and collage – has taken the reigns, designed by her friend Tegen Williams.
“She’s still at Camberwell. The photographer who does all my look books is one of my best friends and she lives with him. During one of the first shoots she was collaging with her iPad using an app – I LOVE collages – and she was like ‘I’ll do a few things for you after this’ and then she did a few things and then she did a few more things.”
Said BFF is Oliver Hadlee Pearch, some time Clash photographer and early adopter of the rollneck. Together with the designer’s brother Max, Ollie directed the debut Shrimps film for Hannah’s AW14 collection.
“Julia Sarr-Jamois did the styling and it was all so nice. It was a very long day as we tried to cram everything in, but it went really well. It’s quiet surreal, it’s a Shrimps world but not in the kind of sugary sweet way you think, there’s an element of darkness to it I quite like.”
The video features Ollie’s mum Janet feeding Adwoa Aboah sliced gherkin, as Laura Bailey picks seeds with a safety pin. In a landscape of showy, hard sell shorts, Shrimps World is a beautiful interpretation of a subtly warped vision.
A fourth star of the show are the pugs that roam the set. Indeed, dogs are a serious part of the Shrimps equation, popping up all over the label’s social strands.
“Two of them are my dogs, I wish they were all mine. This collection’s named after peoples dogs, they uploaded pictures with the hashtag ‘ShrimpsDogs’ and then their names, which was so fun for me because I got to have all these sweet pictures coming in.”
A long time dog obsessive, she was allowed her first pet aged 11; “My dad’s allergic, but at my common entrance I got into four schools and my dad ran down the stairs with his T-shirt over his head shouting ‘four dogs four dogs’. I’ve never been so happy in my entire life.”
Pieces in the new collection – which sees Weiland adopt a wider range of shapes, styles and colourways – take names such as Dulcie, Mabel, Bailey, Pluto, Ivana, Joseph, Daisy and Agnes, while a small token mascot is called Lenny; jacket linings are courtesy of a Eduardo Paolozzi flower print.
The moniker Shrimps was Hannah’s childhood nickname, but is there an ultimate Shrimps track? “Elvis’s song ‘Song of a Shrimp’ is really good, we should be playing it in here.”
A bright space filled with flowers, grapes and complimentary juice – the temporary Shrimps showroom – she’s right, the ‘Girls! Girls! Girls!’ track would have gone down a treat. But then five minutes with London’s ‘next big thing’ (as many would no doubt define her) is hardly bad going for a drizzly weekday morning.
Words: Zoe Whitfield