Epic image of the year so far goes to Amanda Palmer, wearing Rachel Freire on the cover of her new single Machete. The gown is one of two showpiece couture gowns from SS11 remade from WWII parachutes. The collection is titled 'the girl I never was' and this is EXACTLY how it is meant to be worn.
Photo by the brilliant photographer and film maker Allan Amato. There's an wonderful story behind this beautiful image, you can read it here and listen to Machete on Amanda's blog:



Rachel Freire and Alexandra Groover launch their new accessories collaboration at Paris Fashion Week AW16. AGxRF is designed to compliment Alexandra's timeless flowing robes which are 100% zero waste as well as sustainably and locally sourced and manufactured.
The collection uses the innovative and sustainable new material Piñatex alongside remade leather items with nearly all styles offered in a leather or vegan option.

AGxRF will be available for buyers and press alongside Alexandra Groover black label ANCESTRAL collection in Paris 3-9th March. More information after the cut

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the tempest

Incredible underwater photographer Zena Holloway recently got in touch with an enquiry about mermaids.. she was shooting dancers from the Birmingham Royal Ballet for their upcoming production of the Tempest. The brief was unconventional, abstract and neutral, maintaining the full outline of the dancers bodies. Rachel made cascading organza seaweed tendrils especially for the shoot, and also provided an existing mermaid corset (because who doesn't have one of those, right?).

It was such a pleasure to be involved in this wonderful shoot. The Images are exquisite!

Rachel is shortlisted for the Arts Foundation award for Materials Innovation

Rachel has been shortlisted for the Art Foundation 2016 award for Materials Innovation. Should she win, this funding would allow dedicated time to work on development of the e-textiles version of the gloves and the accompanying open source documentation. Keeping the gloves open sourced and working towards accessible technology in the future is a key aim of the project, so keep fingers crossed! The award will be announced on the 28th January at the 20th Century Theatre in London.

Read the full shortlist here:

Below images show the current design direction. Hannah Perner Wilson's initial woven e-textile glove (left) and Rachel's latest bonded e-textile glove (right). This experimental glove will be developed by Hannah and Rachel alongside the current high performance gloves which use bend sensors and are released in limited batches here. If you are interested in buying a pair, there is a small run being produced in the spring! We are also launching a residency program so follow us on social media or sign up to our newsletter for updates.

For more information on the gloves project: gloves dev blog:
Hannah's incredible glove flickr: eTextiles | V1  |  DIY  |  glove archive  | 
Rachel's manufacturing prototypes flickr: RachelFreireStudio

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downtime: terminator/potato face

In late october and early november I had two major operations on my face to reposition my jaw. Big thanks to the brilliant teams at Guys and Kings hospitals! This was not cosmetic - I had no idea what I would end up looking like - but to correct a class II malocclusion anterior open bite and cross bite. This basically means my lower jaw was recessed and I couldn't bite my front teeth together. The other potential change is quite daunting: I may become less stressed.. I've spent my whole adult life unconsciously pushing my lower jaw forwards as it won't sit properly in a resting position. Imagine being in a constant state of tension. It may explain my workaholic behaviour. Hmm. The potential outcome is I may be more inclined to relax, switch off and sleep like a normal person. The worry is that my cyborg mojo might be due to this physical anomaly. Dangerous times.

After extensive train track braces shenanigans, the operations set both my upper and lower jaw into their new positions, and I will now spend a few months looking like a dribbling bruised potato while I heal. Between operations 1 and 2 I managed to crack out an outfit for Empress Stah, but have decided I need real downtime for this second round. So things will be quiet for a while..

Below left: terminator face. Right: 7-days post-op portrait by genius artist, friend and muse Manko

leather fingerwaves for a Rebel Heart

Last month we received an exciting request for leather headpieces for the flapper finale of Madonna's Rebel Heart Tour. Commissioned by the brilliant Arianne Philips (costume designer of Hedwig and The Angry Inch and Tank Girl <3), we made an exclusive piece from the Concrete Roses collection. A fingerwave hairstyle which can be styled in under a minute is ideal for the military precision of dancers' quickchange. The particular design Arianne chose was not in the lookbook.. for some mysterious reason. It was clearly destined to be exclusive to the tour and will now be known as the Rebel Heart headband.

This original design sketch was featured in a 'first look' article on WWD alongside her formidable roster of designers.  Big love to Arianne for including us in her epic design!

Rachel and Rebecca were joined by the talented Christian Warren Landon and made twelve pieces by hand in East London: 6 in polished black and 6 in pearl white. The carved and moulded leather fingerwaves are made using only European veg tan leather, water, traditional swivel knives and bone folding tools - and infused with a lack of sleep, an excess of swearing and a noble quantity of vodka.

These sculptural pieces were never intended to be made en masse. Instead the collection was designed around super minimal use of materials and tools, with all the emphasis on craftsmanship and human touch. How viable this is in the modern world is questionable. It is fascinating how we as consumers perceive the value of ornate craftsmanship, and how this in turn influences design practice. The collection was originally presented with this in mind. It was offered bespoke from the atelier and no wholesale orders were taken. So making a dozen in quick succession to a tight deadline was a baptism by fire as the process is tiring and intense, even for us maniacal leatherworkers.

However, you don't say no to Arianne and Madge! ;) So thank you ladies. The result was a perfect commission: pushing the material - and ourselves - to the limit.



Last spring we designed the costumes for Karel Van Bellingen's debut movie The Leap. Rachel worked on the initial phase of design and locked in the costumes to commence shooting, then handed over to Rebecca who handled everything on set and designed for additional scenes. You can read the synopsis and watch the 30min film in full below. With 100k views and climbing on Vimeo, The Leap is a stunning testament to the talents of it's director, who is also responsible for the writing, production design and editing. Huge congratulations to Karel and the whole team for a truly stunning sci-fi film!


The Leap: In 2069, New Earth is declared open for civilian migration, a decade after its discovery. As tales of wonder and opportunity reach the Old World, taking ‘the leap’ becomes the dream of millions. Unable to afford the journey, many of the less fortunate risk their lives being smuggled aboard cargo ships. The inter-planetary Migration Administration, or IPMA, deals with human trafficking on a biblical scale. Fifteen years later, Jacob Reiss, a disillusioned IPMA veteran, has a fateful encounter with a young cartel prostitute. A meeting that forces him to confront a dark chapter from his past in order to save them both from a bleak future in one final, violent shot at redemption.

eTextiles summer camp and wearable prototyping accessories

eTextiles summer camp is a week-long gathering of expert practitioners in the fields of eTextiles and soft circuitry, founded by Hannah Perner-Wilson and Mika Satomi of Kobakant. It is an wonderful place to share ideas, collaborate and prototype at Moulins de Palliard arts centre in rural france. There was an public exhibition of our pieces, workshops to teach techniques, focus groups to explore ideas in more depth, presentations to share and discuss findings and lots of home cooked food and local wine. A perfect summer holiday and a hotbed of future collaborations and inspiration.

I worked in the 'Make your Tech and Wear it' focus group and explored the aesthetic language of wearables and how this can/will affect our response to tech on the body. The image below is a pair of leather prototyping cuffs made using only textiles and soft circuitry (and - full disclosure - four sewing pins). The right cuff has an eTextile breadboard, power source and thermochromic coating to warn the wearer if a component is drawing too much power. The left cuff is a continuity tester with interchangeable output slots, a pouch to hold small components, and pin cushion. This is a working sketch for an idea to make a rapid prototyping kit which will be presented as a fashionable accessory. It also asks the question: would someone want wear it without knowing of it's inherent purpose and could this pique their interest in making/wearing tech?

The idea was inspired by Irene Posch and Hannah Perner-Wilson's 'Tools for Practitioners' project, developing the aesthetic aspect to pose questions. The final prototype will incorporate all the ideas from the pair of cuffs into one refined functional object and I will make a small run for people to wear and test. I would be fascinated for someone to want this accessory without knowing (or maybe even caring) of its purpose.

If you would like to follow the prototyping accessory project, purchase one of the test run or make your own, the patterns, techniques, circuit diagrams and materials will be compiled and posted on Hannah and Irene's tool website


Peaches just released her new song 'Light in Places', a collaboration with the inimitable Empress Stah, written for her lazer butt plug show. Leather outfit and headpieces by Rachel Freire, bodysuit base by Claire Ashley. Face corset by Patrick Ian Hartley. It's amazing to work with such strong, brilliant, badass women. Watch Stah's performance, directed by Peaches, below: