Today I gave my presentation on my personal philosophy. The presentation features designers that I think my work relates to and why, and discusses the subjects around fashion that are beginning to shape my personal philosophy.
Former model, Ulyana Sergeenko has turned from being an avid Moscow-based buyer of haute couture, into a couturier herself. She uses local Russian artisans to adorn her glamorous gowns with traditional details and techniques. At a preview a couple of days before her latest show, Sergeenko was keen to point out the hand-painted beaded fringe suspended from the back of a silk gown, or how the wool appliqué blue cornflowers employ a special technique normally used for carpet making. I really like how her collections are often inspired by traditional and historical dress too for example her latest collection was a reimagining of a ride on the Orient Express, crossing the borders of the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Orsola de Castro started and her sustainable fashion label, From Somewhere in 1998, upcycling 2nd hand clothes made from luxury fabrics. She has now become more of an environmentalist within the fashion industry. “I’m always asked by journalists what are my tips for shopping ethically. Find a young designer whether they call themselves sustainable or not. You are encouraging local production, pieces made with quality and creativity. Young designers work in such a way, buy whatever you can but because you’re not willing to compromise. You use your creativity. Very often, the collections are produced locally using scraps – that’s a need rather than a commitment.
When I visited the Paul Smith exhibition at the Design Museum at the end of last year I was really interested to learn how Paul works in a similar way to myself.
Although I already admired his designs for their wearability with a sense of fun, it was exciting to learn about the man himself, and his office full of quirky objects, that can spark off an idea for his next collection. What Paul Smith does well, is to take historic and traditional inspirations as a reference, but develop them into something contemporary, unexpected and quirky.
I always draw inspiration from historical designs and traditional clothing from other cultures, I am an avid collector of beautiful things, and in truth a bit of a hoarder, but like Paul smith the things around me help me in my design process.
What I need to work on, is how I can successfully develop my historically inspired designs, to make them more contemporary, in a similar way to Smith.
My collecting habit also feeds my love of craft, it often introduces me to skilled textile techniques, and I often marvel at the time and skill involved in creating such beautiful pieces. From these pieces I can try and incorporate or reimagine the techniques in my own designs, in a similar way to Ulyana Sergeenko.
I am often given unwanted antique or vintage textiles from family members, or can be seen rummaging around in house clearance boxes at car boot sales, where I rehome unloved and unappreciated clothing, pieces of fabric, hand-made lace or embroidery. Often people today fail to value the old, which to me - often means high quality and well made, with love.
As you can probably tell, I hate throwing anything away and this is one of the reasons why I am keen to include the ethics of sustainability in my my design. Like Orsola de Castro, I can use my collection of 2nd hand textiles to make my final collection, to make beautifully crafted one off pieces, but it is also to important for me to explore how to make use of waste textiles on an larger scale, so I can produce larger runs of designs, if need be.
Giving my presentation went better than expected. I didn't use notes, and I kept within the time allowance. Of course there where lots of little bits that I missed out and forgot to mention. Next time, to help jog my memory, I might write down a list of technical and descriptive words that could help give a more professional tone to my presentation.