Thursday, 31 October 2013

Fired Up Portmeirion Competition 2013

During our second year, there is a strong focus on us entering industry based competitions. Some of the competitions have been worked into our modules, but we also have to enter at least two independently.

I have just submitted my design for the Fired Up 2013 competition run by Portmeirion. My design was inspired by the photos I took inside the beautiful Cloud Forest conservatory during my visit to The Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.

I really loved the juxtaposition of the organic foliage and the harsh geometric lines of the hard landscaping within the conservatory and wanted to recreate that in my design. I initially began working with ink to sketch from my photos, but decided that using hand cut paper helped me to reproduce the clean lines of the landscaping the silhouettes that the light through the leaves. I'm really apply with my finally design, It gives a nod to the sketchy black lines of 1950s print design, whilst looking contemporary. I can see it sitting happily on an Ercol dining table in a mid-century inspired home.

image via

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Club to Catwalk @ V&A

The Club to Catwalk exhibition at the V&A didn't inspire me hugely, although it was really interesting to see how the the 1980s youth subcultures had expressed themselves and made their own clothes, and either became fashion designers themselves, or inspired the trends that made it onto the catwalk.

This quote from Vivienne Westwood, really rings true to me. I love looking to the past for design inspiration, my challenge is to try and incorporate the traditional elements whilst giving them a contemporary edge.

'Dragons' print dressing gown, Georgina Von Etsdorf, 1984

I adore the print on this dressing gown, it looks like it was inspired by the avant garde, soviet constructivist prints of the 1920s-30s.

I have always admired Paul Smith use of colour and the unexpected secrets his clothes hide. His method of teaming an otherwise somber navy suit with a bright printed lining, or hiding a 1950s style pin-up girl print on the underside of a turned back cuff, make his clothes wearable for the office, but desirable to the person who has a fun side.

After I finished with the Club to Catwalk exhibition I had a look at the permanent fashion exhibition. As well as historical detail, I get really inspired by traditional costume from other cultures. The turn of the century saw a taste for the orient in Britain, influencing designers such as Paul Poiret and Liberty & Co.

Printed silk evening dress, Charles James, 1938.

 One of the most amazing designers I have come across during research for several project is Charles James (1908-1978),  an american couturier the construction of his garments are exciting, interesting and beautiful, and they still look contemporary today, some 60 years on.

Coat, Yohji Yamamoto (born 1943) A/W '04-'05

I think that Yamamoto has successfully taken inspiration from a military great coat, but given a contemporary edge with the use of oversized pockets, not only stylish, but practical too.

After the V&A I took the opportunity to take a trip down Berwick street and have a look in the fabric shops for inspiration for my new studio module. Although I haven't finalised my colour palette, it was good to see the huge range of fabrics available in London, as Colchester and Braintree's offerings on the fabric front can be a touch limiting, and buying fabric online can sometimes be tricky, as it is difficult to show a true colour on a computer screen and you can't feel the texture and weight of a fabric, which is always important.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


The first lecture of the year 2 has raised it's ugly head and as set the tone for the year ahead - complicated! It was quite a lot to deal with on the first day back, and quite a lot of it went over my head, but I think the main things that I came out of with was this:

Semiotics is the study of signs, A sign is a recognisable combination of a signifier with a particular signified.  
  •  signified: the concept a tree
  •  signifier: the sound or spoken word 'tree'

  • All things have a symbolic meaning - things or images are the signs.
  • Culture is the giving and taking of meaning between people - people create meanings.
  • Words change between languages and cultures, but concepts remain the same.
  • The meaning of a word is dependent on the word being in a system. e.g. traffic lights: Red means stop in a set of traffic lights, but only because it is in a system next to amber and green - it only means stop when in this system. Out of this system the meaning disappears.
Following the lecture, we were able to put this theory into practise in relation to fashion. In groups we had to deconstruct the a fashion magazine advert featuring a white shirt, each group had a different ad, and the task was to identify what connotations the advert was trying to project to the reader about the shirt/brand through both subtle or overt signs used in the advert, including: written text, pose of model, surroundings. It was surprising how different the connotations were, for the same item of clothing - a white shirt, a classic wardrobe staple.