New design: Atelier Bâba at Hostem
The jewel in East London's crown, in my opinion, is still Hostem, independent purveyor of directional brands that follow a particular aesthetic and value system. Craft is key at Hostem, as is individuality, where the offer ranges from international labels Rick Owens and Yohji Yamamoto to the defiantly niche. Sebastian Tarek, MA+, The Elder Statesman and Raag are some of the names you'll encounter here.
Now, in its atmospheric basement, Hostem hosts an installation to mark the first collection of the latest label on its desirable rosta: Atelier Bâba.
Founded 2013 by Central St Martins graduates Gabriella Massey and Melissa Thompson, Bâba offers a conceptual footwear for women, suffused with history, made through craft techniques in rarified natural materials.
Forget about spiky five inch heels and novelty detailing. The small but perfect collection, 'Timiditine', includes a dramatic thigh boot in midnight suede, a low boot in indigo calf leather or raw silk appliqué and three slipper shoes in indigo-dyed - a major theme for the brand - cordovan, raw silk and Sahara suede with sharp crocodile toes. The silhouettes are sculptural but organic, inspired by menswear but undeniably feminine.
At the launch last month, Thompson showed me one piece. 'We don't like seams,' she murmured, running her fingers down its smooth side. 'So this shoe has been cut from a single piece of leather, with only a single join at the heel of the shoe.'
Each shoe is unique and the result of long experimentation and rigour. Skins and raw silks are dipped multiple times into a slow fermented bath to yield an increasingly dark spectrum of blues. The heels are built in stacked leather and then polished with natural indigo pigment.
At the moment, the shoes sit in an installation created by Thompson and Massey that includes a collection of things they love. There are antique linens and furniture from Christopher Howe, rare indigo textiles and clothing from Molly Hogg, painted fragments from Christopher Page, Rock-Crystal spheres from Ben Gaskell and plaster casts by Clementine Keith-Roach.
The installation is set to the haunting soundtrack of Wodaabe: Herdsmen of the Sun, a documentary by Werner Herzog (see it here). The display is perfumed with rose and tea from the Sahara desert to create a dusky, dusty scent.
Hostem, 41-43 Redchurch Street E2. Tel:020 7739 9733, www.hostem.co.uk, www.atelier-baba.com