Dance, fishing and neon: the Dalston fashion link

Models photographed by Sarah Brimley
All models photographed by Sarah Brimley

EVER BEEN to a rave and wondered where people found their neon-coloured, architectonic clothes in those strange shapes and fabrics? Chances are they’re JAU Label.

Fashion designer Jessica Au’s spring/summer 2013 collection, Veov — Greek νέον (neon) for “new one”, as some readers will no doubt know —  draws inspiration from those described by Au as the “curiously and haphazardly dressed residents of Dalston”. In keeping with her ethnic background, Au’s clothes are also influenced by Chinese fishermen’s garments.

Coming from a “very Chinese household” in Edinburgh via Newcastle and after taking a fashion design degree at Middlesex University, Au says that Dalston is the first place into which she feels she has really fitted in.

“There is undeniably a real creative community around here,” she says. “The neighbourhood is thriving on independent energy.”

Being a fashion designer still in her twenties is not easy: Au works as a full-time manager in a Spitalfields furniture boutique during the day, and runs her label in her flat near Dalston junction at nights and weekends.

Her work is quickly gaining recognition: during last year’s London Fashion Week, JAU presented and sold as part of the VV Vintage stand in Somerset House.

For now, Au makes her clothes in her “tiny bedroom” with the help of a friend. The teams Au works with to create her professional photo shoots and films do iton a Time for Print basis.

She tells me: “We all chip in together so that we achieve great shots that we can all use for publicity in the future.”

Sustainability is important to Au, and many of the materials she uses have been upcycled. Her latest collection features an Incredibles duvet cover and a hi-vis jacket. 

You can find her creations in a few London stores, and soon you’ll be able to pick up JAU accessories from ASOS Boutique.

Au is fascinated by Nineties rapper Tupac at present – and by medieval Japanese armour. So look out for blinged-up chainmail next time you go to a rave.


* All pictures supplied.

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