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August 28 2014

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5 posts tagged "Maia Norman"

Mother of Pearl Is Heading For Fashion Week

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Mother of PearlBritish label Mother of Pearl is getting back to its roots this season by joining London fashion week’s Fall ’14 calendar. Until now, the brand, which was founded by Maia Norman, has quietly presented its collections to press and buyers. And, considering MOP has steadily amassed a high-fashion following (it’s stocked by such luxury retailers as Moda Operandi and Net-a-Porter, as well as on Farfetch.com), that method has served Norman and her creative director, Amy Powney, well. But as their business continues to evolve, the pair wants to expand their audience.

“The brand is growing season after season, and we felt it was time to maintain the support of our current clients and customers whilst using the presentation to introduce the brand to those who are not yet familiar with Mother of Pearl,” Powney told Style.com. “We are hoping many national and international press and buyers will be able to view the collection up close and in detail for the first time. Simply being on the London schedule will introduce the name to new viewers.”

Powney hinted that MOP’s London debut on February 17 will offer “romance paired with clean lines and a hint of sport.” That sounds right in step with the artistic prints, playful embellishments, and bold color palettes that have come to define the brand. Norman has strong ties to the art world (it’s worth noting that she’s Damien Hirst’s ex-partner of twenty years), and each season MOP teams up with a contemporary artist to create its prints. Gary Hume, Mat Collishaw, and Jim Lambie are recent collaborators, so we’re anxious to see who’s been tapped this time around.

Photo: Courtesy of Mother of Pearl

The Norman Invasion

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Mother of Pearl’s Maia Norman—surfer chick-turned-fashion designer—always puts Mother Earth first. So for her dinner in London last night, she chose Senkai, the Japanese restaurant that sources all of its food locally and abides by a sustainable and ethical menu. “You have to respect nature and heed its power,” Norman said over salad and sushi. “When I design, I think of the elements. When I am out there surfing, I need to be insulated from the wind and the water. When I am on my motorbike, I need to be well protected and padded if I ever fall off. I think there are so many of us whose clothes need to conform to their lifestyle, not vice versa.” That may explain why her profile is growing swiftly in Asia and the Middle East.

Norman’s clothes—leathers and cashmeres in Smartie candy shades—conform to the less sporting part of her own lifestyle: her long relationship with husband Damien Hirst. Artist collaborations have become a calling card of the line (in the past, she has worked with the likes of Jim Lambie and Fiona Banner), and last night she offered a glimpse into the the Fall ’12 collection she’s currently preparing: its visiting artist is New York sensation Fred Tomaselli. “Fred is a good friend and his work is wild, inspiring. I asked him once, twice, and three times to collaborate—each time he said no. Finally, years on, he had a change of heart and said yes.”

Reason enough for friends like Lulu Kennedy, Polly Morgan, Richard Mortimer, and Pam Hogg to raise a glass. Hogg had something to celebrate, too: One of her pieces just made the cover of British Vogue. Gisele is wearing “leggings I made eight years ago!” she revealed. “It’s amazing that they liked them enough to keep them that long.”

Photo: Courtesy of Mother of Pearl

Damien Hirst’s Art Collection—Now In Dress Form

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The family that rents together, sticks together. So Maia Norman borrowed her partner Damien Hirst’s bookstore/gallery, The Other Criteria, on London’s New Bond Street, emptied it out and, voilà, an instant pop-up for her own clothing line, Mother of Pearl. “Business is booming in every corner of the world, Colette and others like that can’t get enough of us, but we don’t have a London stockist—ironic, isn’t it?” Norman deadpanned. “This was the perfect way to bring the collection to the city, see what the public wants and what they respond to.”

If last night’s opening cocktail was any indication, they’re responding quite well. An A-list crowd came out to celebrate at the shop (wrapped in vinyl for the occasion), including co-host Hirst (in a suit, no less), the Clash’s Paul Simonon, Moda Operandi’s Yasmin Sewell, Mary Charteris (above right), and model Sara Blomqvist (above left, with Norman, center, all in Mother of Pearl). Guest DJ and good buddy Jarvis Cocker manned the decks. Even Norman’s collaborator of the season, reclusive artist Jim Lambie, showed up. (“Actually,” Norman says, “he is not as reclusive as he is shy.”) “It stimulates in a different way,” Lambie said of seeing his prints—wildflowers, duct tape, and, no joke, eyeballs—on fabrics like nappa leather and washable silk, rather than on gallery walls. “It is much more evocative because it places itself directly onto the body. It becomes the body in many ways; it reinterprets our understanding of the body. It’s shape, movement, and overall sex appeal.”

Artistry, for obvious reasons, is part of Mother of Pearl’s DNA, but equally important is freedom of movement. “The clothes have to be easy,” says Norman, famed for her love of danger sports, like motocross, riding, and boarding. (Earlier in the week she was surfing in Devon with her new toy: a heated wetsuit.) “I need things to be unrestricted as I am always on the move, but the clothes have to be interesting as well. That’s why Jim Lambie was an easy choice for us. Damien has been collecting him for years, and he was part of our circle, so to speak. I had been loving his works for years now, seeing it in galleries, and then the next thing was just to convince him to do it. I think the results really excited him.”

Speaking of exciting: good to know whom Damien Hirst is collecting. And now on New Bond Street, a Lambie can be yours—at a fraction of the price.

Photo: Courtesy of Mother of Pearl

Eye-Popping Prints At Mother Of Pearl

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In London, Frieze is in full swing, and the art/fashion set is in heavy competition to see who can draw the bigger crowd. (This week, Christie’s and Sotheby’s faced off for the party award: Christie’s had Vanity Fair as a lure, but Sotheby’s had Jerry Hall, who took the occasion to debut her new boyfriend—point, Sotheby’s.) But the biggest ticket in town last night was an installation by Maia Norman—a.k.a. Damien Hirst’s missus, if not necessarily by law—at Mayfair’s Haunch of Venison Gallery for her Mother of Pearl line. The Kills’ Alison Mosshart, Josephine de la Baume, Polly Morgan, and, of course, Mr. H. himself dropped by the surreal exhibition to check out her Spring ’11 collection.

This time, Norman (with Hirst, left) worked with the Scottish artist Jim Lambie on a series of prints, including flowers in burnt orange and reds, a loony eyeball-and-gaffer-tape motif, and rock ‘n’ roll images of Grace Jones and John Lennon, all of which appear on fabrics like leather and organza. “I thought they were demented, confrontational,” Norman says of Lambie’s prints. “It was perfect for me, because it seemed like everything fashion-wise has settled down, with the camels and the neutral thing going on. I felt strongly that there was a gap for something wild. When I go shopping, I am always looking for that something really extraordinary and can never find it. It’s usually just this sea of black, and Lambie’s prints provided the perfect antidote.”

Judging from the retailers she’s picked up for the season, it’s clear she’s not alone. Colette will now be carrying the collection, alongside longtime supporter Liberty of London and new shops as far afield as Egypt, Switzerland, and Hong Kong. With all the focus on her own line, we wondered, does she have designs on any other booths at the fair? “Actually,” she said, “I am kind of hoping that all my friends will come and see me here at the installation.” Somehow, we don’t doubt it.

Photo: Alistair Guy / Courtesy of Mother of Pearl

Undergoing A Fitness Revolution With Damien Hirst’s “Missus”

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Maia Norman, long-term girlfriend of Damien Hirst (he calls her his “missus”) and mom of their three children, describes herself as a “live wire.” That explains the whippet-thin, sinewy frame and the glowing skin that sets the diminutive surfer/motocross freak apart from the crowd. It also explains why she opted out of retiring and just happily surfing away when Hirst’s infamous sale at Sotheby’s last year fetched him roughly $150 million. Instead, the Orange County, California, native launched her own collection of “high-technology performance clothes” under the name Mother of Pearl. “Speed is my thing,” she said at an intimate party at art dealer Jay Jopling’s sumptuous London home last night as she mingled with guests like Serena Rees, Erin O’Connor, Saffron Aldridge, and, of course, Hirst. “I need to go fast and so cannot wear anything restrictive or constraining. I need fabrics that breathe, absorb a lot of sweat, and have the visuals to look like I have speed in mind.” And the clothes are flying off the racks at Liberty of London. Yasmin Sewell, the store’s buyer, said, “Maia’s pieces are not only very architecturally designed but also technical. She uses fabrics no one has heard of, like Texfin, which is waterproof and windproof, and she is conceptually at the top of the heap of designers who are increasingly doing this stuff. I put her next to Balmain and Alexander McQueen in the international room, and we just can’t keep the stuff in stock.” Norman, who is also branching out into the music world by managing a band, explained, “There is a fitness revolution going on. We are finding outdoor activities that we love—everyone is getting bored of the gym. It’s a different way of staying fit and strong. We need the clothes for that, and voilà, here I am.” In her skintight orange dress with cupola shoulders, there could be no better model for the collection than Norman herself.

Photo: Jonathan Hordle / Rex USA