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December 12, 2017
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Page from Lost & Found's Spring/Summer 2009 Lookbook. Source: lostandfounddesign.net.

Lost & Found Men's A/W 2012.
Source: lostandfounddesign.net.

In a recent Business of Fashion article, editor-in-chief of StyleZeitgeist magazine, Eugene Rabkin, critiqued the recent trend of fast fashion collaborations, describing them as "assembly-line knockoffs" that have little resemblance to real fashion or design. Well-known throughout the online avant-garde fashion community, Rabkin regularly champions understated design aesthetics and artisanal craftsmanship, a sentiment shared by many stylezeitgeist.com members who regularly debate the ethics of fast fashion, identifying many lesser-known designers for their high quality garments in the process. One label that often comes up is, Lost & Found, an edgy yet accessible label, wholly made in Italy.

Founded by Canadian Ria Dunn, Lost & Found's studio is discreetly tucked away in the Tuscan countryside, a natural place to tap into old world artistry. Dunn began her creative journey in art, photography and other artistic avenues, seemingly stumbling into fashion. Having initially studied art and sculpture at Vancouver's Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Dunn began working in the Canadian fashion industry as a stylist, before finding an expressive outlet in fashion design.

Working in the industry, she became despondent with disposable fashion. Regarding her move to Italy, Dunn told Chinese retailer, Water Stone, "I really needed to empty my head with what I had learned and experienced [in the fashion industry] and needed to do something much more instinctive and, if I may say so, more meaningful." By relocating to an area that only knows traditional Italian production methods, Dunn was free to pursue her craft of artisanal fashion design.

 For example, the wool Paper Jacket from Lost & Found's A/W 2011 collection is coated with paper designed to deteriorate over time: a living garment that changes texture and finish as it ages.

Lost & Found's approach can best be described as what Rabkin refers to as "subdued elegance," a beauty that is understated, rather than "oversexed logo-ed bling." Using natural wools, cottons and cashmeres, along with personally chosen blends and finishing techniques on raw materials, Dunn creates pieces that intertwine both the classic and modern. In many of her garments, calculated cuts create the illusion of layers; her distinct silhouette deftly combines tailored fits with draping. Many of her designs have a luxurious yet raw quality about them, with imperfect edges and fits. Working almost entirely in grey scale, the rugged beauty of the garments are further drawn out.

Much of her design process has come about from creating clothes for her family. Her children's line - created for her own kids - has progressed through several seasons. Taking this approach with her brand, Lost & Found produces clothes with individuals (and families) in mind, rather than the mass market. Says Dunn on her website, "This intimate work is designed and made entirely in Italy and is produced by the old hands of those still carrying with them the spirit of 'hand made' craftsmanship. Each piece embraces the intense labor and human element that goes into it's [sic] creation, rather than rejecting it."  

Far from the fast fashion approach described by Rabkin, Dunn experiments a great deal with each piece - nipping here, draping there, or scraping it all and starting over again. Rather than being disposable, designs are built with the notion of time at the forefront. For example, the wool Paper Jacket from Lost & Found's A/W 2011 collection is coated with paper designed to deteriorate over time: a living garment that changes texture and finish as it ages. This sort of tactile experience with clothing attracts those who believe style and dressing to be an important experience unto itself.   

Lost & Found Women's S/S 2010.
Source: lostandfounddesign.net.

Lost & Found's collections work easily with the avant-garde designs of JuliusRad HouraniGuidi and Yohji Yamamoto, all of whom were included in an editorial shoot for StyleZeitgeist. Having a distinctive, yet approachable character within the avant-garde and high-end market can make all the difference. Pieces coagulate together to form distinctive outfits, that can bring to the surface different qualities within each garment. It seems Dunn has a firm grasp on this concept: a trait that may come from the way that she designs through her own personal experience.

Rather than giving in to the demands of fast fashion, Lost & Found is a refreshing example of an independent line that is using an old world approach. Built from Dunn's fascination with form and shape - along with her lack of interest in overt, consumer culture - the clothes speak to those who place great importance in the feel and depth of their stylistic persona. Beginning with its launch for A/W 2009, the line has shown a progressively hands-on approach to design and manufacturing, and is poised for a strong future.

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