Presentation at the LCF. Research ‘away day’. Gave a presentation about my journey and the residency so far. The talk went well and it was good to hear about other active research work that is happening at the V&A.
Archive for March, 2006
Spent the morning looking retrospectively at some pieces, which I had already viewed, namely some Yuki and a couple of Vionnet pieces which I needed to see again. This would be the last time in the North Court Store. In the afternoon, I went with Kate to Blythe House to look for some pieces that were stored there. Was not really sure what to expect since Blythe House is a shared storage facility for many museums, and is so vast, each corridor looks the same as the last. The stores were rather different to those in the V&A proper – open spaced, with interspersed rails of fashion items. Rummaged through some collections donated by wealthy patrons, and had a look at the wardrobes containing items from the Street Style exhibition.
Kate then showed me cupboards of finished and half made shoes from the Rayne archive, some still in their original lasts. Was surprised to hear that these have rarely been viewed but it struck me that they might be of interest to Cordwainers. I also discovered a Louis Vuitton box by sheer accident. This contained a mass of toile garments, dating approximately from the 1950s. Discarded, ignored and dirty these pieces seemed to epitomise my search for the unknown and understudied. I am hoping to further my studies of these items. For me they encapsulate the idea of the maker and the work in progress and are crucial in my search for the unknown. I left Blythe House feeling rather rejuvenated after this discovery with my mind set on seeing these pieces again.
Studio. Resolving fabrics. Following the range planning, the fabrics have now been allocated. In the afternoon, popped to Joel & Son to buy some of the fabrics that are meant for the showpieces and to spend the allocated fund for fabrics before the end of the financial year. Feel confident about our fabric choices. I love that most of the collection will be black. I am giving an overview of my residency at the LCF on Friday and need to prepare for this. Tomorrow I am in the archives and for the first time will be at Blythe House looking for some Yuki pieces, which are there. Am not sure of what to expect of these archives, excited to study more Yuki cutting techniques.
Deadline day. David was happy with the development and now everything seems resolved and the collection line-up is finalised. I think I have made great progress since a week and a half ago when I was feeling rather lost. I can tell that my exposure to the archives has had an effect on my overall vision of the collection. There is a greater emphasis on detailing in my work unlike anything I have ever done. Still not entirely sure about the print aspect of the collection, the overall idea is resolved but not sure about the content as such. I am interested in the dot but not sure how or why this interest has arrived. Also interested in colour. I am surprised at the absence of colour within the collection, but am happy with this decision. Perhaps the prints need to be the only colour in the collection?
David has set me a deadline for Saturday to edit, complete and refine all elements of the sketchbook and pull together all the design work so that we can begin to finalise fabric requirements, orders etc. I need to go through all the toiles made so far and resolve which ones work best, how to take some further etc. I need to submit my expenses to the V&A by the 28th, so really need to calculate all expenses before then. Tuesday – spent the day in the archives with Kate in the morning and Antonia in the afternoon. This time I went in search of items within the flat-packed section of the archive. Saw a Kansai Yamamoto piece that I have been interested in since I first spotted it in the acquisition albums at the start of the residency, a jumpsuit.
The jumpsuit consists of 2 sides brought together by a zipper that closes the garment around the crotch, centre front and centre back. Kansai was the designer responsible for David Bowie’s elaborate stage costumes in the Seventies. Also saw a simple, cleverly engineered Lanvin piece consisting of silk chiffon with brick-like radiating panels applied to its surface. Also saw another Poiret piece, a delicate opera coat with metallic tassels and fastenings. Drew some patterns for some of the more interesting pieces and analysed some internal construction. Spent Thursday and Friday editing the collection and resolving the overall designs.
10.00am meeting with students has been postponed because one student has a tummy bug. 11.30 met with Eiluned – Senior Research Fellow at the V&A to talk about a presentation, which we must give at the next departmental meeting. Was good to hear about her progress, and she has put me in touch with a possible embroiderer in India who may be able to complete some sequin work which I need to have done. Departmental staff lunch (a rather belated staff Christmas party) at 13.00pm. Was great to meet some members of staff who I have seen in passing, but not yet met properly. Will follow up. My ex-colleague Stuart Aitken is having a retrospective private view of his work in Rochester tonight, but not sure that I will be able to attend.
London College of Fashion. Library. A meeting with Anes from Kokon-to-zai to talk (amongst other things) about a window display for their Soho store. Also met some students today to discuss their next stages of work and work over Easter. At the weekend, went through the sketchbooks so far to try to make sense of the scale of the project and to begin to try to focus the work into realised pieces.
A lot of running around today. Meeting with Rob at the LCF at 10.30am to update him on the developments so far and discuss the future of the project. Some library work in the morning, 12.30pm meeting at Hand & Lock – embroidery company since 1767. Had lunch with Alistair and Frances, and was then shown me around the embroidery workshops – felt like a step back in time. I spoke at length with Frances about the possibilities of incorporating stumpwork into the collection and she gave me the contact details of some makers to investigate. I am very excited by these prospects. Hand & Lock are currently involved with an international embroidery competition annually and it was interesting to talk about the future of their competition and embroidery in general. Today also was the last day of the Textile Forum (London fabric trade fair), and I sent Derya and Stephen to follow up on some fabric leads. Sadly today is also Derya’s last day; I look forward to having her help me again in summer. 16.00pm meeting with Chris Breward to update him also on my progress. Received email from Hilary who will arrange a visit to the porcelain and ceramics collections. Since the robberies of several Meissen pieces these galleries have been closed except for the first Tuesday of every month when they allow public access – I am trying to arrange a visit to these galleries to investigate the idea of the maker’s mark. I need to see their collection of porcelain pieces and have some questions answered that arose at the start of the residency, which might aide in the conceptual progress.
V&A Stores all day. Today I decided to investigate the contents of some of the wardrobes in the Fashion stores. Worked through a lot of storage wardrobes today, whilst selecting pieces from each wardrobe to analyse in greater detail.
Aimed to go through wardrobes one at a time and pick out pieces, which had any relevance to my own current pattern cutting interests and surface detailing. Found some Dior and Balenciaga pieces, mostly ball gowns and eveningwear pieces, which incorporated the frill or pleating in peculiar ways. Also saw an Ossie Clark gold leather jacket, which made me think about the detailing of jackets within the collection. Also looked more closely at work by designers Zandra Rhodes, Schiaparelli, Yuki, Katherine Hamnett and Pam Hogg, amongst others. Was happy to spot a John Galliano dress that I did not realise that he V&A owned. One of my favourite Galliano pieces ever.
An interesting pattern consisting of surface applied frills, effectively bias cut strips, each sewn on individually and where even the bias strip seams add to the decoration of the surface. Derya did some investigation for me in the National Art Library in the V&A, looking mostly for interesting graphics and surface treatment ideas.
Studio. Working through more ideas for dresses, collars, frills and details. Things really have become clear since David and I had our brainstorming session over the weekend. I feel like these discussions have fuelled our journey forwards.