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New fashion label looks at the circle of life

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Mary-Ellen Prendergast launched the label Shen earlier this year, drawing inspiration from Asian design and a sophisticated European aesthetic. The talented designer began her career as fashion assistant to New Zealand designer Patrick Steele, and was a long-standing designer at the label Obi. For her own label, she went for a name laden with meaning: Shen translates as "encircle" from ancient Egyptian, and awareness and consciousness in Chinese Mandarin, while a shen ring represents eternal protection in hieroglyphics.

Drawing on these ideas of eternity, the label's logo references a life cycle symbol and the debut collection for winter is called Forever Lasting: all the more meaningful as Prendergast was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago (she has had a clean bill of health since). Her elegant debut range combines sumptuous fabrics - hand dip-dyed silk patterns, heavy cable knits and faux fur - crafted details, like standout plaiting, and interesting silhouettes. Prendergast talks us through some of her favourite things, from her mother's sewing box to jewellery bought on her travels, "a great reminder of where I have been".

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