On leaving Saint Martins Art School in 1972 Esme Young and three friends founded the cult fashion label Swanky Modes in Camden Town. Their first press coverage was in Nova magazine, a model wearing a plastic dress, shot by fashion photographer Helmut Newton. Clients at Swanky Modes included Cher, Grace Jones, Toyah Wilcox and Julie Christie, and the BBC made an Arena documentary about the label. Esme now teaches on the BA Fashion course at Central St Martins, makes costumes for films and is one of two fine judges on the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee.

Tide out

Esme has selected five of her favourite images shot from or near her beach hut on the North Kent coast (bought in the mid 1980's), and gives her reasons for selecting them. 

"One of my favourite things is sitting on the veranda of my beach hut watching the play of light on sky and sea. The light endlessly changes and it’s not surprising that this coast was an inspiration to Turner".

Fig. 01. "The sea is calm, there aren’t many people around and the light makes the sea look glassy and tranquil. The sound of the waves lapping gently on the shore is so inviting, perhaps I’ll go for a swim".

People on beach

Fig. 02. "Now the sun is up, the boats are out and families are having a day out at the seaside. Time for a delicious lunch in the beach hut".


Fig. 03. "Sunset is a special time at the beach, often spectacular. The colours of the sky and sea here are almost psychedelic. It looks like a stop on Ken Kesey’s bus trip across the US in the sixties immortalised in Tom Wolfe’s “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”".


Fig. 04. "You don’t have to leave when the sun goes down. Sitting into the evening with moonlight reflected in the sea is magical. No wonder ancient peoples worshipped the moon".


Fig. 05. "I just couldn’t resist including this picture – a view along the beachfront in the winter instead of out to sea. The sky is luminous and the huts stand out against the snow. It’s cold but people are still enjoying the seaside. Now back into the hut to warm up with a hot cup of tea".