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Le Strange Fruit

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February 22nd, 2006

David and I left on the Eurostar for Paris at 08.12am. In Paris by 12pm. Hooray. Plans to attend Premiere Vision (fabric trade show to conduct fabric research for ‘Le Strange Fruit’) tomorrow and to conduct shop and museum research for the rest of the week. Meeting my friend Illeana who works at Comme des Garcons on Thursday. Home again on the weekend. I love Paris.

PV. Found some excellent fabrics which were rather expensive and many fabrics which required huge metreage. Saw some excellent fabrics with which we can begin to build fabric boards. After a lot of discussion, I feel that David and I have made some good fabric as well as conceptual decisions, but the first move when we get back will be to divide the work into 3 directions.

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February 21st, 2006

All day in the stores. Looking at Vionnet pieces in the morning with Vicky. And Charles James and Yuki pieces in the afternoon with Oliver. Some excellent input, but need to digest what I have seen.
Charles James dress
It was exhilarating to go through a box of Vionnet pieces all the way to the bottom of the box, a rarity that even V&A staff seldom enjoy. Analysed in particular a Vionnet sleeve detail, which I had never come across. The Yuki pieces, made almost always of polyester jersey made me realise the strength of simple cutting. Yuki achieves the most interesting drape through the use of rectangular cutting and often very few seams. No tricks at all. Off to Paris tomorrow….

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February 20th, 2006

Studio. Some excellent progress. Somehow I feel like I have rationalised the idea of the jacket as a hard outer container for softer shapes contained within. I think this began after looking at the fruit wrappers. I am excited also by the prospect of the large and clumsy shapes being influenced by a hard graphic, which also seems to have some from exposure to the fruit wrappers and the graphic nature of the Charles James marked up toiles. I like that the jackets are looking rather boxy but at the same time draw on unconventional cutting. For example none have conventional sleeve holes. I am enjoying the idea that the outerwear pieces might draw on rather aggressive detailing such as detailing on the leather biker’s jackets. Not sure how I can rationalise this yet, but David has had some exciting ideas about the direction of the work. As my business partner and creative director behind the future label, I will chat later to discuss this possibility with him.

Tomorrow I will be looking at Vionnet’s cutting techniques about which I already am well versed due to my ongoing curiosity about her cutting. It will be excellent to see some Vionnet pieces for myself. I am rather excited.

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February 17th, 2006

Studio. Derya will be giving me a hand, and it will be good to churn out some very quick jacket ideas which have stemmed from my access to Charles James especially.
Am happy with the confidence with which I have approached the jacket patterns and am happy with some of the half-toile shapes, which we have achieved, in relative speed.

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February 16th, 2006

Stores again, this time with Jenny Lister. A day for Balenciaga pieces, Charles James and a great 70’s Dior piece which I came across in the acquisition files. The James toiles were an excellent opportunity for me to come to understand the designer’s way of thinking: from his marking up of calico in different colours for weave and weft, to his excellent understanding of structure and construction.

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February 15th, 2006

Met with Nicky at the LCF about the possibility of using their digital print studio, however digital print still seems to be rather expensive even at the LCF even with my staff status. Also attended a brief lunch get-together with the LCF Centenary Chair Candidates in the LCF Fashion Space Gallery, only to realise that I still felt like a very new member of research staff and somewhat of an outsider, which will all change as time passes.

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February 14th, 2006

Finally met with Abraham Thomas who helped me out with further access within the Word and Images study rooms. Felt like less progress was made today as everything I wanted to see seemed to me to be wrongly catalogued and things that I did get to see seemed irrelevant. Perhaps I need a whole day or week in here and since it is public access, I can access these at any time. Also looked at some fashion drawings, some by Bill Gibb, Zandra Rhodes, Jean Muir, Manolo Blahnik, Victor Steibel, amongst others. Wow, original drawings.
Designer's drawing

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February 13th, 2006

LCF. This week I am anticipating the arrival of my new helper Derya who will be helping me for 4 weeks with patterns and sewing. She is from Berlin and I had been her tutor when she came to the UK as an exchange student. We always had a great rapport and she has a very mature approach to work – her last placement was at the McQueen studio. I installed myself into the Research office interview space for the day to be able to brief some students. I also had a meeting with Anthea Godfrey at the LCF, who is a specialist in embroidery techniques. We spoke about the future of such crafts and ways of finding ways of incorporating such techniques into the project.

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February 10th, 2006

Today I am meeting Sonia in the Word and Images archive to ask about the Claude mirror, about which I have read extensively. The Word and Images study rooms are also accessible to the public and can be found on the 4th floor near the public cafeteria. Sonia gave me a brief introduction to the cataloguing system and gave me some further information about what I was after, and explained about the miscellaneous section within the Word and Images archive.
Fruit wrapper
I began to search randomly for anything that might fit into the ‘Le Strange Fruit’ ideology and found a section curiously marked ‘Fruit Wrappers’. I could not let this rather obvious link pass, requested these boxes and was brought 2 huge boxes each containing items of fruit packaging, tissues of rather wonderful graphic content going back to early 20th century.
Fruit wrapper
Not sure exactly why it happened that I began to look through these wrappers nor why I they felt they might have some relevance but suddenly everything seemed to click into place: the reason for using the print, the way to separate the collection into cohesive but focussed parts. Perhaps sometimes a designer needs an obvious point of reference in order to put things into perspective. I will explain my thinking in more detail when I have put things into perspective…

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February 9th, 2006

Today David is joining me in the archives to assist me with some picture taking in the fabric stores. I have requested to see some Poiret pieces as well as continue my delve into the Bizarre silks which I was introduced to last week – today we go from proto- to high-bizarre silks. I was amazed at the fragility of the colour in the Poiret pieces. I am beginning to get a new appreciation for the softer more delicate shades of such pieces: pastels seem to be contrasted with the jet black, on the softest fabric bases.
Bizarre silk
The level of internal finishing within each garment intrigued me: each seam considered and each edge treated with such respect for the fabric choices. And how amazing to see garments that I have only ever seen in textbooks: one-of-a-kind-garments. We continued to look at the bizarre silks and I continued to quiz Clare Browne the origins of the influences on these cloths. One cloth in particular was almost an undersea scene strange sinewy tapeworm like creatures weaving here and there. Odd geometries. Again I was amazed by the strength of colour and composition. In contrast, Clare demonstrated a similar period cloth, which was Russian in origin. In contrast to the French delicacy of handling, these were brutal hard and aggressive.
Met Stephen after lunch for a discussion.

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