The Isolated Heroes label, founded by Samantha McEwen, has dramatically risen in profile and success since it's first s/s 2011 'Voodoo Zumbies' collection was launched at the Heriott Watt BA Fashion graduate show in June of this year.
The premise behind all of Samantha's designs is the Voodoo religion from it's roots in African slavery to it's relevance in modern Caribbean culture. Samantha found this inspiration after visiting Cuba for a holiday. The designer was fascinated by the roadside shrines she saw in rural areas and the elaborate dress of some of the Cubans sitting next to these shrines. After speaking to the locals, Samantha discovered that this was part of the common practice of the Voodoo religion and was astonished at the fact that people continue to practice the unusual religion today.
In the 'Voodoo Zumbies' collection Samantha took influence from the sense of identity and fierce optimism running throughout the religion to create wearable, durable yet delicate pieces, with a view to the items reflecting the creativity of the African people who practice voodoo. The first collection was indeed innovative and did evoke a positive feeling with bright colours, clashing textures and oversized printed, tribal pieces with the embroidered voodoo style faces.
Following the success of the initial collection which resulted in much media attention, with Samantha's pieces featured in blogs and publications such as Slave magazine, the second Isolated Heroes collection explored a deeper and darker side of the voodoo religion.
The Isolated Heroes a/w 'The End of the World is Nigh' collection is inspired by the practice of Voodoo healing powers in the modern day multiple murders, which is the sacrifice of a human with a look to the body parts being used by witch doctors in their potions used to create wealth, power and prosperity. When I caught up with Samatha at the In the Company of Wolves fashion show in Glasgow in October she said, ‘I became quite intrigued by these ideas, particularly the open practice of multi-murders in South Africa and the rise in witch doctors and ritual type potions in the UK.’
These influences are prominent in the highly impressive collection, particularly in the use of the statement red woollen chocker style pieces around the neck and head and the sequined skeleton dress. Samantha said, 'the hand sequined skeleton dress is an obvious symbol of the idea of the death of the victim and the spandex printed bodysuit with raffia neck pieces symbolises images of the spirits that are worshipped at these sacrificial ceremonies.'
(photos from ITCOW fashion show)
The designer is still currently in the early stages of developing the Isolated Heroes label with a view to having an official launch in early 2012. Isolated Heroes has already been met with much popularity and success in 2011 with Samantha's pieces showcased in catwalk shows such as the annual Glasgow In the Company of Wolves fashion show; interns working under her label and with her collections sold on ASOS marketplace, in LA LA Land and various other Glaswegian boutiques and runway pieces sold to European and Japanese stocklists.