- Reflect on your ways of working as a practitioner.
As a pattern cutter my normal method of working is quite literal – cutting up paper patterns to experiment with shape, fit and volume. Often used in an experimental way where I don’t stick to the conventional seam placement of side seams, straight panels or darts. I look at planes and contours of the body, manually cutting and sticking the paper pattern, exploring the relationship of the 2D pattern with the 3D form.
I also combine this with modelling and draping on the stand to create the correct shape and line. I use a lot of trial and error to make the shapes and contours. I like to use the seams as forms of decoration, unusual seam lines enhanced with contrasting textures, fabric shading or pattern.
Once the experimental stage is finalised, it is enjoyable to me to make very accurate and precise patterns, checking and re-checking seam lines, adding markings and notches for ease of production. This accuracy is vital as my pattern pieces quite often aren’t always a conventional, recognizable shape of a pattern piece.
- Who are your key influences and sources of inspiration?
I mainly start with looking at the female form, silhouette, body planes and contours. This can either be through my own artistic endeavors of drawing and photography, a keen interest on physiology, developed through forms of meditation and exercise through yoga where the mind body connection is a key element of understanding musculature and physique. I am also interested in the sensory and sensual and this translates into the shape and line of the seams often with suggestive elements of a revealing nature.
The pattern cutting techniques themselves will often inspire me alongside, couture techniques and textile practices. A technical manual can give me a thirst to try a multitude of ideas taken to further extremes of experimentation with a view to creating a sculptural quality of garment.,
In this sense I also am inspired by other couture designers, particularly designers such as John Galliano whilst working at Christian Dior, garments with great impact, intense beauty and attention to detail, combining historical, cultural and contemporary aesthetics for his designs. The Christian Dior Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum in 2019 was an astonishing display of inspirational designs.
I am also motivated by the limitations of re-purposing fabrics. Odds an ends of beautiful fabrics that I have collected, found in charity shops or scraps of fabrics left over from other made garments. The challenge is something I like to push my creativity, trying to find a way to fit that shape into a garment pattern to create the desired effect.
I am also inspired by many artists, photography and architecture. Recently I went to see a Cecil Beaton exhibition with particular interest in his fashion photography. He often created his own backdrops to the models poses with an unusual use of props to fill the negative space of the subject, such as wrapping balloons in cellophane, the juxtaposition of the smooth curves of the balloons with the crinkled, reflective transparent nature of the cellophane givinf a glow to the image.
- How would you describe your practice in relation to how you work?
My practice is an artistic way of working, developing the emergence of ideas with reflection and experimentation. Each new piece I make I would like to make another, developing the idea further. In a visual and sensory way I often sit and contemplate the ideas I am interested in developing, observing imagery, technical manuals, visual references of colour and shape, design details and fabrics and the materials to be used. The thinking and looking time enables me to absorb the references so that they can be drawn on to create the design ideas. In terms of shape, print and embellishment this is a very intuitive process, as the subconscious instinct of composition and shape allow the design to develop. This is a very creative way of working and I am often frustrated by the lack of time to emmerse myself into all the ideas I would like to explore.
- What would you like to investigate/explore in your practice?
So many things!! One of my main reasons for studying for this MA is to have the opportunity to embrace this emmersion in this thinking, reflective, organic production of my artwork through fashion.
On a technical note I would like to experiment with avant garde pattern cutting techniques such as those displayed in the series of ’Pattern Magic’. These Japanese methods are sculptural and dynamic but often not that attractive – sometimes ‘fugly’!
The anatomical seam structure of corsetry also intrigues me, I would like to explore this further with reference to historical construction, anatomy and also the supportive element – corsetry doesn’t have to be uncomfortable but can actually make you feel supported and secure.
Artistically and scientifically exploring my interest in anatomy through drawing and photography skills in reference to the female form. I exp;ored this during my degree in Textiles at Goldsmiths but this wasn’t in terms of fashion but printed fabric. I would like to essentially pick up where I left off and translate this exploration into a combination of seam exploration, contouring, colour shading, the drawn stitch and use this as a base for embellishments.
Materialistically I would like to accumulate resources and methods for producing a couture garment using ethically sourced fabrics, Natural fibres of wool, linen, cotton and silk, use offcuts and found pre-used fabrics, up-cycled garments and materials, recycled beads, and using found objects such as coloured plastic cut on the laser cutter for sequins. Couture garments have traditionally extravagant in their use of fabric and resources, so to give them a more eco-friendly element without diminishing the skill, quality or beauty. And also as a way of ‘re-valueing fashion’. Clothes to be treasured not thrown away, but also having more uses, perhaps a couture garment that can be separated into different pieces and worn individually to prolong the wear and longevity which could carry on developing through my work.
Socio cultural context of fabrics and clothing is also a background interest the meaning behind fabric, garments, colours – this also relates to the mind-body connection in how all these elements can make us feel as the experiential wearer of the pieces.
The lectures we have been having, have also inspired me to look at the context of how my major project will be displayed and experienced. The interconnectivity of disciplines could be used to create a visual display where the use of place, lighting, visuals and sound to form an experiential piece would be a way of exploring the value of fashion and transcend the piece into functional art, form and function.
At this current time I feel I am on the upsurge of the double diamond design theory, many elements signposting my interests, my main concern is the constraints of time if I will have the time to explore these elements?!