Maria Soromenho teamed up with Teneil Throssell, the cool voice and guitarist of London based psychedelic shoegaze band Dark Bells, to shoot the lookbook for her latest collection. The outcome of this music-fashion collaboration are some amazing punk-inspired pictures that givea raw and haunting portrayal of East London’s outstanding female lead singer whilst showcasingMarias’s impressive new fashion designs. Although the singer prefers her signature self-tailoredvintage two-piece suits, she appreciates Maria’s designs and had a great day working with the young designer.
However, on asking her if she is planning on some more modelling the answer came with a chuckle:
Modelling is not something I’m particularly pursuing as a career choice. I think bone structure is a major player in that one.
Up-and-coming fashion designer Maria Soromenho from Portugal, who was organising the shooting with Teneil, lived and studied Stage Design in Lisbon and Paris before deciding to relocate to London in 2011.
For her the connection between fashion, music and art is as important as the quality of her work. With new techniques in textile modification and by using unexpected materials, she hand-crafts exceptional one of a kind pieces that drip with her distinctive rock and roll chic.
We spoke with Teneil, as one of the few female psych-rock lead vocalists, about the connection between rock and roll and fashion and its importance to her. She regards fashion as an empowering tool that can make you feel more comfortable to do things, like in her case getting on stage in front of an audience. Not as much that she is avidly following fashion trends, but more in the way that it can be used to create your own identity. Teneil’s ‘70s inspired look and her passion for velvet vintage suits is one of the singer’s signature features:
My favourite suit is a red wine coloured one that I wear if I want to feel a little more snappy. It’s always my failsafe!
On being asked which band masters style and music Throssell unhesitatingly paid tribute to her friends from Temples, calling their sound sublime and commending their way of dress. The British band surely knows how to get their style right as they may just have stepped straight out of a time machine from the ‘70s with muted fringed leather jackets, statement pendants and velvet shirts. ‘Steam punk’ however could not really convince Teneil. Check it out – we are sure you will have a laugh.
I was recently introduced to a trend called steam punk. Wow.
As important fashion can be for one’s individuality, the down sides of it are undeniable. Teneil commented on this quoting an upsetting fact about the fashion industry:
A study showed that doubling the salary of sweatshop
workers would only increase the consumer cost of an item
by 1.8%, while consumers would be willing to pay 15%
more to know a product did not come from a sweatshop.
Although there seems to be a widespread belief that sweatshops are a thing of the past nothing could be further from the truth. Sweatshops and child labour are in fact more active than ever before with the fast fashion industry driving Third World workers into starvation.
The fact that global textile companies can still exploit chil-dren, immigrants and the poor is just nuts.
With music, not fashion being Throssell’s primary passion, we wanted to know more about Dark Bells. The band, including Teneil Throssell, Ash Moss and Geno Carrapetta on drums, combines both shoegaze and psychedelic influences, culminating in rich, swirling sonic layers not shying away from creating a huge scape. The formerly Sydney based group released their debut single ‘Wildflower’ in May last year and are currently working on their debut album which is due to come out this autumn. The answer to the question where they take their cues from is simple:
We take our inspiration from all over really but our common interest is our love for ‘70s music.
Teneil is also riveted by a couple of ‘70s Zambian psych/fuzz bands and is fascinated by some early Indonesian psych groups. However, she also enjoys listening to smoother sounding groups such as Air, David Axelrod and Connan Mockasin. Hence, some of the records she could not live without are ‘Dancing Time’ from The Funkees, ‘Give Love To Your Children’ from Musi-o-Tunya and ‘Fever Ray’ by Fever Ray. With this broad taste in music we wanted to know if Throssell can still remember the first gig she went to. In detail she recalls going to Alanis Morissette’s ‘Jagged Little Pill’ tour at Perth Entertainment Centre on April 23rd 1996, where Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters was drumming for Morissette. This was Teneil’s first real trip to the ‘big city’, wearing a denim overall and a white cut-off T-shirt underneath. It seems like she always had a sense for fashion:
Think I was going for ‘motor mechanic chic’ or ‘bad girl from Neighbours chic’. Can’t quite remember… or perhaps it’s been blocked out for situations like this, ha!
Throssell gave a surprisingly humble answer to the question how she has adjusted to the life as the lead singer by saying that she was never really thinking about it:
In our group all the instruments, voice included, are of the same importance. Which I guess is why I’ve never really felt like a front person per se.
Still there is a substantial expressive side of it which Teneil learnt to appreciate over the years, given that she has been living this role for quite a while now. What she enjoys most is to make other people happy with the sound of Dark Bells. This motivation is also reflected by the positive experience Teneil Throssell made with the East London scene:
The scene is great. It seems really supportive; there are a lot of different club nights and mini-festivals that create a great platform for new bands. There are also a lot of great new venues that have opened that allow for a more diverse scene which I think is really important.
By Frock & Roll