Today I spent my day at the library finishing my A2 sheets and printing final outcome images. Once the library closed, I went home and continued with everything. It was a jam packed and stressful day, but I managed to get everything done exactly to my liking. What REALLY helped was my portfolio session with Danielle. Because of this, I had a great foundation to work from, allowing me to work with efficiency.
I was very happy with my finished A2 sheets and felt ready for the interview in the morning!
Today I went out to shoot my garment on the streets of Shoreditch near me with my beautiful friend Paula from Graphic Design. The streets of Shoreditch felt like the perfect and convenient place to shoot because of their fun and graphic street art, but more importantly, how their grit and animosity contrast with the regal feeling of my garment. The vibrant buildings and cobblestone streets reflect the grunge aspect of my inspiration, alluding to Fremont, Seattle, the colorful and extremely eccentric neighborhood of the city that birthed some of the best grunge/rock music talents.
Paula’s styling was simple- I did not want extreme makeup to take away from the garment and the setting in which I was photographing. I pinned her hair into a clean low bun at the nape of her neck so that the back could be beautifully exposed, and lined her eyes with some purple eyeliner to subtly reflect on the two pops of purple in the dress- the back ribbon attachment and the pleated corduroy in the front.
Another great surprise and great shooting location we found was the Browns Fashion store! They had a temporary balloon installation outside their store that was so fun and intriguing and contributed a whole new and unplanned narrative to my garment. I got some of my favorite shots at the installation- the bright and whimsical décor offsets the serious regality of the dress, yet it also contextualizes the gown into a party setting; you could imagine this being an over the top celebration party, and the dress being the outfit for the night.
Paula did a great job modeling the dress and looked absolutely stunning. Her strong facial bone structure and delicate features worked beautifully with the romantic aspect of the dress.
When I got home, I worked on editing four of my favorite shots to prepare for my A2 portfolio sheets, and I continued until the wee hours of the morning on finishing my design development illustrations for Corduroy (skin color, hair, faces, shoes) and creating a final illustration for Color in Your Environment. I made an illustration based off two photographs of the photoshoot I did in NYC with my friend Alex using chalk pastel, charcoal, and pencil. The chalk pastels really communicated the sparkle of the bouclé of my jacket, and charcoal really expressed the fluidity and slight translucence of the silk appliqués from the NYC garment district that adorned the wrists and neck of my jacket. I knew I would be heading to the CSM library on Sunday to finish my A2 sheets, so I made sure that I had everything ready to go for Sunday morning to complete the sheets efficiently… from finished illustrations, photographs ready to print on the good printers, etc.
January 31st and February 1st
With the bodice finished, I moved on to finish the skirt part of my gown.
First of all, I started by pleating the dyed purple corduroy. The corduroy did not hold my pleating technique just with an iron (synthetic fabrics hold pleats much better), so I sewed in the pleats with the machine. The pleats allude to the stacking and proliferation of my plexiglass structures, the meticulous stacking of each individual piece and the visual effects that come as a result of stacking the plexi.
With this fabric manipulation completed, I was able to flesh out more or less how I wanted to continue with the skirt.
I experimented with using the pillows again just like I had when I created my muslin toile. But in the end, I did not like the way they were sitting on the body- they looked bulky and clumsy, and did not keep with the aesthetic of a refined yet dramatic silhouette. I also experimented with removing the poly fill from inside of the pillow, and attaching the poly fill to an elastic to wear as an underskirt to provide volume. This actually was not bad, but I was unsure if I actually wanted to use it with my skirt. I could leave that decision till later.
I played around with draping different configurations of my damask, purple, and black corduroy to figure out what looked the best- what was the best color distribution, etc.
I settled on a back would be a long (dragging on the floor) and shirred, making a cape-like dramatic train that moves beautifully along with the body. This would then wrap towards the front and meet a damask section with experimental gathering done by moving the self in different directions and gathering it without randomly as it moved on the machine plate, and then a purple cord section would meet, providing a pop of color, without being overbearing. Everything then attached to the gold elastic waistband I sourced from the garment district in New York, with a bra closure in the front to secure an easy on and off since there would be no zipper. Another fun aspect of the front of the skirt is that it is organized by different panels, so it lends itself to diverse and fun ways of styling (e.g. exposed and extended leg) and also provides an ease and comfort to the wearer, contrasting the often restrictive and constraining codes of French Court apparel, and embraces the free spirit of the grunge movement.
I finished off the look by slipstitching golden brocade trim I bought at home in New York for the last finishing touch to bring the garment.
I was very pleased with my productivity in these four days; without a final garment, corduroy would have felt like an incomplete project. I worked so hard and was happy with my design developments, concepts, research etc. , so it only felt natural to cap off the project with a final outcome.
Only using one packet of machine dye did not make my fabric my desired shade; one pack of lilac dye turned the cream fabric into a slightly purple grey. Thus I headed to the art store to buy more Dylon machine dye. I bought two different shades of purple- one lilac and one in a more standard dark purple. The mix of these two shades worked out perfectly. The fabric took the dye according to plan and I was extremely happy with the results once I took my fabric out of the washing machine! Having the purple corduroy in the exact shade I wanted felt very reassuring and having accomplished this, I felt like I could move on with the rest of the design.
I spent the rest of the day working on the bodice. The bodice took a long time to complete because of all the technical design elements that I had to sort out in the pattern stage. I eliminated the bottom bust dart in order to not disrupt the color blocking- this whole process took a while, but I am glad I manipulated the pattern in this way in order to have a perfectly tailored fit whilst keeping the design details undisrupted. I had to do all of the obvious things such as adding seam allowances to every small piece, notches, etc etc. Standard procedure, but as always, things take time. I also knew I wanted to place the bodice pieces on the straight grain to optimize the tailored fit and reduce any natural stretching that would happen on the bias.
I meticulously sewed up the bodice, with small baby hems for nice finishing.
I wanted the back of the top to be bare, to have an elegant and sexy décolleté that alluded to the codes of court dressing and promiscuous grunge, and to also offset what would be a very fabric heavy bottom skirt.
I decided to use a bra closure and layer lilac ribbon for the back strip. The layering of the lilac ribbon evokes the layers of stacked plexiglass.
I also inserted elastic into the armhole of the sleeves to ensure proper fit, and created a channel with the seam allowance of the top side seam of the sleeve to insert thin metal wire to hold the shape of the sleeves.
I was very happy to have completed the top in such short time with proper construction and meticulous attention to detail. I seek as much attention to detail as possible when I make garments, and I’m glad that I was able to stay loyal to this precedent whilst working on a tight timeframe.
I spent all day draping my muslin toile for my final Corduroy dress. I did not have a set vision for the final outcome. Since I had finished rendering and illustrating all of my design developments, there were different elements from each design that I wanted to play around with when draping and incorporate in the design, but not staying rigidly attached to one design.
The one part of the dress I had a concrete vision for were the sleeves and the bodice. One of my favorite elements from my design developments were the low plunging bodices with alternating color panels and the big sleeves that I had worked on the week before with Danielle. So I began directly with the top section, and then moved downwards.
To drape the bodice, I worked with style tape on the dress form to create the exact shapes I wanted for the color-blocking. With these shapes mapped out, I could then proceed to drape the bodice tailored to the body. I did not want to use any boning in the bodice because I didn’t want that inherit rigidity and associations with restraint, so I had to make sure that the pattern I was drafting would lie correctly, as if there was boning.
As I was draping the bodice, I also realized how I would need to manipulate my pattern after I took it off the dress form because I did not want a dart under the bust. A dart under the bust would interfere with the fluidity of the color-blocked sections, so I would have to eliminate it and make the necessary adjustments in the flat pattern cutting stage after I took the toile off the mannequin.
I was glad that I already worked on the sleeve with Danielle- having this done expedited the draping process and was helpful because then I was able to places notches on the armholes to know exactly at which points I wanted the bodice and sleeve to connect.
With the bodice and sleeve draped and marked, I started to experiment with the bottom. I knew I wanted to make a voluminous skirt with different colored sections just like in many of my design developments. I also knew I wanted to incorporate some type of pleated section that would be reminiscent of my architectural samples, imitating the stacking and layering of the plexiglass.
I wanted to experiment with a very voluminous bottom, alluding to the silhouettes of dresses from the French court of Versailles. Traditionally these dresses have cages and layers and layers of fabric to create the voluminous effects. I decided to experiment with cheap poly fill pillows I had at home and bubble wrap placed on the body for shape and volume. When draped on the mannequin, the pillows created wonderful shape that was quite reminiscent of the big volume in my drawings, but I was unsure that they would actually work when it came down to making the real garment on an actual body. But nevertheless, experimenting with them was a great way to get my ideas flowing in my mind about how the skirt of the final dress in the self fabric would actually be.
Once I got home I began the process of machine dyeing my cream colored corduroy into a lilac shade of purple. I knew I wanted to include a hint of purple somewhere in the design, because the purple naturally became such an important shade in my sketchbook, and I knew having the pop of color would be a fun addition to offset the more serious feeling of the damask black and gold corduroy that I bought in New York. I also liked the idea of using the same fabric in two different ways- one in its natural state, and transforming the other with a process as simple as dyeing the fabric. It is a hidden nuance that feels personal.
These days I have been working on rendering all of my illustrations. These take FOREVER. But like I said, that’s what it takes to make them look the way I want.
I had an illustration class with Connie Lim today. I have been following her work for a while now, so it was so exciting to actually take a class with her! I got some good skills out of the class, and I was really happy with one of my illustrations, which I will paste into my sketchbook.
Portfolio review with Danielle was great- it really helped me know exactly what to focus on accomplishing for the rest of my time until my interview. I was really happy with the potential layouts we worked on, and seeing everything laid out on the table felt very reassuring.
In class this morning, I made a textural sample for corduroy, using purple, black and gold, the main three colors of my research and project, and mixing different elements that I planned on using in the final outcome. I wanted the little sample to be fun, yet delicate and elegant.
After the lunch register, I went to Kings Cross to continue working in my sketchbook and to photocopy all of my work to have it ready for my portfolio review with Danielle. A lot of work to get accomplished, but time is ticking!
I continued with design developments based on the collage, extracting different silhouette and shape outline ideas.
My portfolio review with Danielle was coming up in a few days, so I wanted to at least have one illustration fully rendered so that she could get an idea about how the rest of them were going to look.
The rendering takes FOREVER… But I guess that is the price I pay for making the illustrations exactly to my liking and evocative of the flow of fabric, three dimensionality, strong yet delicate…
I also worked a little more on my Color in Your Environment sketchbook development, working into more of my research photographs and creating fun collages.
I began extracting silhouettes from the collages today- these initial croquis take a very long time, but they are essential to my process. Making very detailed and three-dimensional sketches feels like a natural way to communicate the aesthetic of my project, and also the most natural way for me to illustrate. I love making fully rendered and detailed drawings, so the initial outline sketch of silhouette personally is so important for my process.
I also attended the Lumière London festival- I went with my friend Paula. Seeing all of these incredible and awe-inspiring installations outside of CSM was so much fun. Last year I had a phase where I was obsessed with light installations and spatial set design (I still am though), so seeing these felt like an extra special and inspiring treat. I was sad I missed the lights at Westminster Abbey though- they looked exquisite, but with all the constraints of finishing my portfolio on time, I had to pick and choose and plan my time adequately.
Today I started collages on the body using photocopied research, screenshots from Rhino… Having these always helps me figure out interesting silhouettes and design details, and make sure that the development of silhouettes has definite and direct correlations with my research. It is also so fun to recontextualize and actually USE the compositions I made earlier- they really help me come up with some fun results.
Today we had our three dimensional abstract draping workshop with Chris. As much as this workshop was very fun and spatial, I felt that with the deadlines looming and so much work to get completed, I did not get much out of it. Yes, I had a fun time, but maybe a workshop that focuses more on technical aspects, like some of Danielle’s workshops, could have been more useful and relevant to my project.
Today I had the drawcord workshop with Danielle. Drawcords and the whole of that are not unfamiliar to me, but I still enjoyed re-learning about these- you never know when certain things can become useful to you!
But since we were half the class and I had a good mannequin to work on and a sewing machine, and Danielle to ask for guidance, I decided to start my 3D draping work.
Danielle helped me figure out how to draft the pattern I had in mind for the sleeves. It only took one proto and then a second proto to get the exact shape and fit that I wanted. Success!
I worked the rest of the day on some more 3D experimentation. It was a relief to start this process, as it was helpful to spark ideas for design development silhouettes.
I spent the day again, working in my sketchbook. I began to pull more references from the Versailles theme, juxtaposing them with the grunge music movement. Interestingly, the grunge band Pearl Jam has a song called “Corduroy” that is all about how it is to deal with the spotlight and becoming famous yet wanting to maintain a low key life and profile. This tied in perfectly with all of the Princesse Palatine ideas, about her being almost appalled by the actions and people around her in Versailles, but she coped with these feelings of displacement by making fun of the situation and knowing she had more dignity than the gossipers and ridiculous drama starters. Both situations detail situations of wanting to live genuinely despite life’s tribulations, and being yourself.
A bit more about the grunge inspiration- grunge came to me because I personally am a huge fan of all of the big 90s grunge bands that mostly hailed from Seattle, Washington, and other areas of the West Coast such as California. I spent an entire month in Seattle in 2015, and I absolutely loved the happy go hippie feel of the city. Back then I was not educated in the greats of grunge music L but I happened to visit many of the famous areas that these bands got their start, notably the area of Fremont. I visited many incredible vintage shops, record shops…corduroy is a very common occurrence amongst the lazy and comfortable wardrobes of icons such as Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder (they both owned iconic brown and shearling corduroy jackets). So this inspiration felt perfectly fitting, as it plays off the regality and rigidity of Versailles and architectural models, yet it compliments the OTHER alternative side of Versailles, and feels personal to my interests and own experiences. (still extremely jealous of my uncle who went to Nirvana’s Nevermind tour in California and crowd surfed on television…)
Today I shot and filmed a film for the Sara Kiani project- seeing and participating in this aspect of fashion communication was also such a fun and great learning experience. I wish I could keep the gorgeous garments we filmed in!
I spent the rest of the day continuing with my collages. I also experimented loosely with the same idea of topographic models, this time using watercolor and fabric in my sketchbook. The waves I created with the watercolor and echo the potential fabric movement I want in my final garment.
Today I edited the final image of Alex with the NYC street art background on Photoshop. This took a very long time, but I am so happy with the results. The graphic and fun nature of the NYC streets echoes the final jacket design marvelously. Alex’s attitude in the photograph also feels like a genuine New Yorker serving New York City sass.
I continued with my sketchbook work, combining elements of research such as the Argentine mountains with dissections of my architectural models in Rhino. I spent a while working in Rhino taking screenshots and using different commands to get different views of my architectural models to make the process more transparent of the architectural references. Also, working within Rhino itself is so interesting, and it is essential in the process of getting to a final physical model. I spent countless hours on the computer working on those models, so providing a glimpse of that process in my sketchbook felt fitting.
Printing on tracing paper was also very interesting- it echoed the sentiment of the clear plexiglass and was a fun way to make my collages more seamless and interesting.
Today I continued bringing in more of my personal architectural plexiglass references while working independently in class. I want to get going with more of my research pages so that I can move into developing silhouettes for my design developments and not get backlogged.
I continued with my project today- I had to miss class on Tuesday with Danielle because I woke up feeling extremely sick- but I went to class with Fashion 2 on Wednesday to make up for the lost day. In class, we worked on the color workshop. I really enjoyed this project- it was very interesting to analyze the sketchbook work that I had completed and whatever research I was currently looking at, and try to extract the colors. As Danielle said, when working in a fashion house, people will want you to have an eye for detail and color; knowing how to use the eyedropper tool on Photoshop will not be sufficient.
I enjoyed extracting the colors and then thinking about them on the body and distribution of color. I am unsure about continuing this palette throughout the project, but nevertheless, it was a very useful workshop that I can definitely use in future projects.
I continued working in my sketchbook with my inspiration. Now, architectural references were making their way into my work. The geometric lines of the corduroy got me thinking about topographic plan models and how they mimic that line action whilst building height and indexing different environmental conditions. I decided to make my own mini version of a topo map using museum board to explore this concept ( it is also a very good material to laser cut ! )
Naturally, with this architectural inspiration, my own architectural past projects worked perfectly with the project… A technique that I employed heavily was the stacking of plexiglass to create different interesting optical effects, as well as a way to index and visually communicate the ideas associated with each prototype. Many prototypes I created were based on the idea of proliferation of a base unit, and what results come out having a primer and the capacities within the assembly of parts to cohere into a unifying system of relationships, ultimately creating a whole, essentially identifying finding coherence in a system of relationships between parts.
And Side note- I modeled for the Sara Kiani project today for two friends that are in fashion communication. Her collection is gorgeous, and it was so fun to get an insight to the world of fashion communication and be a part of that whole other aspect of fashion, and take mental notes from the way the photoshoot worked to use for my final projects.
I am finally back in London. I got off the plane very early Monday morning, headed back home to shower and leave my suitcases, and then went straight to Archway for uni. When I got back, I spoke with Alice and she explained that we had to begin working and researching in our sketchbooks, as standard. I was excited to begin! I had already collected corduroy samples in New York and sourced material and trims, so I already had ideas brewing in my mind.
The immediate first inspiration that came to mind were the Argentinian region of Salta that I had visited over the summer with my family. The mountains in this area are just unparalleled anywhere in the world. The most famous mountains in the area called “El Cierro de los Siete Colores” in Purmamarca, Jujuy, Argentina are formed by seven different colored rock sediment, ultimately creating what looks like a rainbow mountain. It is so utterly breathtaking in person, and with the whole idea of stacking and geometric lines with corduroy, the mountains felt like a perfect fit. Other canyons and famous spots in the region were also very inspirational- I included these in the research as well. The region also hosts many varieties of cacti. Cacti have similar parallel line structures like corduroy; I was intrigued by the waviness and structure of these desert plants.
Another inspiration point that came up in this initial point was Louis XIV and the French Court. I have read many texts from this era, a few actually written by Louis XIV where he invites the reader through his Palace of Versailles, through his golden gaze as the dubbed “Sun God”. He would throw extravagant and subliminal parties for the French court- extravagant shows of theatre, fireworks, dance…. Coupled with even more extravagant clothing to wear to the events, and drama that naturally occurred at these events. I have also read many texts (letters in particular) that highlight the dark and sneaky side of the French Court, mainly letters by the Princesse Palatine, married to Louis XIV’s younger brother dubbed “Monsieur”, to her family members in Germany where she would detail all of the drama and craziness that would happen in the court. She would emphasize how nothing could be kept a secret and how ‘snakey’ everyone was, how ridiculous and excessive life was in Versailles, as she referred to it as a prison.
I want to bring this historical aspect to the forefront, as I believe it has a large correlation to corduroy, known as “Corde du Roi”, literally the cord of the king. Clothing of this era was made out of the most sumptuous and luxurious fabric, often being fabrics such as velvet, silks, with gold being a very prominent symbol of wealth and royalty.
Before heading over to Alex’s apartment, I went to Mood Fabrics and M&J trims to pick up some fabric and trims to use for the corduroy project. I really liked the approach of letting the fabric inspire the project, so I thought why not use this same approach with this new project? Mood kindly offers unlimited free swatches, so I picked up as many as I could. I finally settled on three different corduroys- a plain black with a thin rib, a cream colored cord that felt ultra soft and with large ribbing, and then a velvet from Ralph Lauren with a beautiful gold damask print. I knew that these were great base fabrics that did not limit the project, so I decided to go ahead and buy them. I knew that if I needed something else, I could always buy more fabric in London.
With the fabric, I then went to buy some gold trims at M&J. The two that I selected really stood out to me and worked well together whilst being different, so I went ahead and purchased these. I could already feel my project going down a regal and elegant path.
I headed up to the Upper West Side to shoot at Alex’s apartment. First it was so great to see her after a long time. Catching up with friends is always such a great feeling. My father has a side hobby of photography, so he gave me a short crash course on how to use the professional camera and the accessories he provided me with, such as a large flash extension, the different lenses, modes… etc. I had never used a professional camera before, so I was really excited to see how my photos would come out. It is fun to be involved in the process from start to end and learn how to handle every part of the process, versus leaving it into the hands of others (especially at my young age.)
It was a relief though to have phenomenal Alex modeling my garments. When shooting, she is just such a natural in front of the camera, and I did not have to give her any instruction. She knew exactly how to pose, all different poses that highlighted and made the garments look stunning. It felt so amazing to have my garments brought to life by her!
The hallway of her apartment was actually perfect. It was kind of dark and dingy (old pre-war building), but the flash extension worked very well and dispersed the light in a really nice way. And what turned out even better were the yellowy walls- for my Fruit Machine shirt, the wall color worked beautifully with the neutral tones of the shirt, almost as if I had a paper backdrop with that color on purpose. For the Color in Your Environment jacket, I knew that some easy Photoshop editing could make the walls white to fit in better with the aesthetic of the jacket.
It felt great to leave her place with photos I was so happy with, and having someone as amazing as her model my garments. I had to go home and pack up for my return to London, I was leaving the next day in the afternoon.
Even though the shoot location changed because of the terrible winter we suffer every year in New York, I was actually so glad that I ended up shooting at her place, because it placed emphasis on my the garments, and not the location and overall mood. And I knew that for the Color jacket, having a blank slate background could be great, because I planned on photoshopping some of my favorite street art into the background to complete the final image.
I finalized all details of the jacket today, including the draped portion in the back. I wanted to subvert the classic shape of the jacket with the protruding and slightly architectural “hood” I placed in the back of the jacket. I wanted to experiment with the fabric in different ways- from its classic usage in a cleanly finished jacket, to a hand draped section that allows the fabric to behave naturally and show its different aspects, such as the black interior, its beautiful fuzzy selvedge, the way it drapes gorgeously despite being a heavyweight fabric)
I also inserted a wire (a cheap metal hanger from the dry cleaners!) into the back section so that it would stand up in the shape that I draped)
My original plans for shooting my garment from this project and Fruit Machine were to shoot outside on the NYC streets… But the temperatures are literally lethal, you do NOT want to be outside longer than a few minutes because it is so cold and you will get frostbite and get sick… The temperature is just plain disgusting and I personally do not want to subject myself to shooting in that weather (the streets are covered in dirty snow piles/trash accumulating), neither will I subject my friend Alex to be outside in such cruel weather.
So we decided to shoot in the hallway of my friend Alex’s apartment- she told me she has a nice corner with plain offwhite/yellowy walls that is perfect for the purpose of my shoot.
I am also so pleased to shoot with Alex (Alexandra Waterbury!)
We have known each other since we were little… We went to ballet school together and have been there for each other through it all!
She is signed to Wilhelmina Models in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and is signed to international agencies in Bangkok, Paris, Germany… I can’t wait to have her beautifully and effortlessly model my creations. And not only is she just gorgeous… she is also so intelligent, she is a student at Columbia University. It makes me happy to have inspiring women model my creations, as I feel a duty as a budding designer to empower women and represent these values.
Another -17 Celsius day, so staying in and working on my jacket was the answer. I spent the whole day working on it, from finishing all the hems, attaching the facings, machine sewing and hand sewing the black tulle trim. I tried out a few different configurations on my mannequin- from placing the ruffle on the front opening, neck, sleeves… I settled on the neck and sleeves because I wanted the front décolleté to remain undisturbed and clear like the plunging Studio 54 necklines, and I also did not want to overburden the jacket with too many extra additions. In my work, I like to make every design decision intentional, and have meaning behind every detail and stitch I place. I appreciate value in the smallest details. I also had to make the decision between the lace trim or the black trim with chain. I decided on the chain trim because it had a more striking contrast when placed against the self fabric, and felt a little more edgy, which felt like a perfect choice considering my inspiration comes from the wild NYC streets and crazy nights at Studio 54.
Today I had a wonderful and inspirational day with my mom, despite the freezing temperatures. We went to see the David Hockney and Michelangelo exhibits at the MET, which were both so utterly inspirational… From the bright and vibrant colors in all of Hockney’s work (some of it relating to my California side and my fun experiences in Los Angeles- my mom grew up in Los Angeles and my uncle and his family, and other relatives still live there), to the godly talent of Michelangelo that is just unparalleled and awesome (awesome in the sense that it inspires awe..)
We saw more beautiful NYC sights on the Upper East Side, more Christmassy sights on Fifth Avenue, the completely frozen fountain at Bryant Park (yes, it’s freezing here)
We also visited one of my favorite trim stores in the garment district that I frequented a lot during my summer internship to source trims for my jacket. I wanted something black to offset the brightness and vivacity of the pink bouclé and also pick up on the underlying black tones that come through the face of the self from the wrong side of the self.
After an extensive search, I settled on buying two different trims- one with a delicate ring chain, and another with delicate lace and a sparkly center strip. I knew I would have to decide between both, but I knew I would use the other in another project at some point. I also wanted to extend the dramatic and balletic theme of the jacket, picking up on the fabric codes of the Waltz of the Flowers tutus. I found this amazing silk ruffle trim that came in various sizes and configurations at M&J. I knew it would work perfectly with the design and provide some fun drama. Shopping day= successful, and I felt completely ready to finish the project !
Continued with the jacket! It is too ridiculously cold to do anything outside (literally -17 degrees Celsius....) , so being forced to stay inside of my house because of the weather is a blessing in disguise to get my work done.
So there was a HUGE blizzard, the infamous Bomb Cyclone that was filling up all of the newspapers… I cannot leave my house. Common problems when you live in New York… WHICH forced me to finish up my project!
So in the end with the accumulation of my inspiration, I decided to make a jacket with the self that I sourced at Mood. The jacket silhouette would be a nod to the terrible weather conditions that are associated with New York weather, and people’s common usage of layered and different types of coats and jackets in this city. The jacket silhouette with an open front with no button closures is also an allusion to low neckline silhouettes worn by celebrities such as Diana Ross at Studio 54, and suiting worn by men at the club. The sparkle in the wool bouclé ends up working perfectly in conjunction with sparkly disco fabrics worn at Studio 54.
I kept working on the jacket, from the pattern cutting stage, making sure everything fit perfectly… I wanted to make this jacket as immaculately sewn as possible, because as always, garment construction and finishes are so important to me (and I can mentally imagine my boss from over the summer at The Row looking over my shoulder and wanting something done as well as possible!)
Christmas Eve! I ran some last minute holiday errands in the morning and I really felt the amazing Christmas spirit. I was early for an appointment in Soho, so I had time to walk around and see more interesting street art, revisit some of the work I had seen earlier, and I even found someone’s old journal on the sidewalk. The streets had a beautiful feeling of quietness and happiness that early in the morning- I reveled in the Christmas spirit and took in the happy feeling of being in my city.
One of the best street art I found today was on Spring Street near Sant Ambroeus Soho was a mural with Andy Warhol, featuring a bunch of bright marks and colors. This got me thinking about the iconic Studio 54, and all of the fashion inspiration I could derive from this iconic New York hotspot, ranging from the personalities that frequented Studio 54 (Andy Warhol being a regular), to the attitude and mood associated with the club… In NYC, taking a different turn can always bring you to something new and exciting ! And thinking about it now, there is a big correlation between Studio 54 and the Standard Hotel’s Le Bain club!
Today I decided to go fabric shopping in the garment district at Mood Fabrics. I really miss having a centralized garment district here in London… Within the span of four streets and two avenues, you can find EVERYTHING you need… stores specializing in ribbon, to zippers, thread, embroidery ateliers, stores just for spandex, stores just trims and notions, stores that sell dirt cheap fabric to expensively beautiful and exquisite fabric… all in one place. It is so much easier than running around from area to area trying to find what you need… During my summer internship, I really learned exactly where everything can be found, which factories are on which floor of which building… etc
I knew I wanted a fabric that was pink and vibrant because of the predominance of shades of pink in the NYC streets and other sites I visited/researched.
In my sketchbook, another bout of inspiration that came to me naturally along with the colors in my NYC environment was New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker choreographed by George Balanchine. When I was little, I performed nearly every children’s role in this production- over the four years, it amounted to over 100 performances! As a ballet dancer, the Nutcracker is synonymous with the holiday season… The pink long tutus from the Waltz of the Flowers meshed in perfectly with the color palette I picked up on the streets, and I have a very personal connection to this inspiration. From years of performing this ballet and watching it eagerly from the wings, taking a bow nearly every night… Every section of the choreography is engrained in my mind, and like many little girls, watching this ballet was one of the decisive factors that made me want to become a ballet dancer.
Since I decided to take the NYC inspiration further and literally be inspired by the current winter season and terribly cold weather conditions, I decided to look at different types of wool, hoping that a fun fabric would catch my interest and inspire the rest of the final outcome (keeping with the pink shaded palette)
I ended up finding a beautiful sparkly pink and black wool bouclé from an old Marc Jacobs collection (turns out to be from his Fall Winter 2012 collection). This fabric spoke to me, so I decided to go ahead and buy a few yards. The approach here was quite different than other projects I’ve done in past where I have a set design and then go fabric hunting. Here, the fabric would drive the outcome, and I was really excited to experiment with this approach and see where it would take me!
Another fun side note and connection is the fact I went to see the Louis Vuitton exhibit a few days ago, and now I found a fabric from Marc Jacobs, who was the former creative director of Louis Vuitton, and at Louis Vuitton, he used a lot of hot pink (notoriously the hand bags with hot pink handwritten writing on the heritage Louis Vuitton checker print)
Today I spent the day with my two best friends from ballet school, Jen and Rachel. Seeing them was so special- I am very grateful to have such irreplaceable people like them! The happiness I feel in New York radiates through even the people I know.
We spent the day catching up, laughing, having fun… But in this day, I did gather some amazing research. We walked around the Meatpacking District, another one of my favorite NYC neighborhoods, full of classic and old NYC meets new. The cobblestoned streets, old loft buildings, designer stores, views on the Hudson River are all stunning on a sunny and nice day. The best part of the day was going to the Standard Hotel’s rooftop… I have been a few times in the past, and it is safe to say, the Standard has the best view of New York in ALL of New York. You can see the view in 360 degrees, perched atop the rest of the area, and watch the sunset set upon the city. We managed to get into a part of the rooftop (Le Bain) that was closed at the time we arrived- it usually opens later in the evening. Because of this, we were all alone, with nobody disrupting the experience (we probably weren’t allowed to be there, but whatever!)… Just three best friends watching the sunset with New York City’s best view for free! They say, the best things in life are priceless. I had witnessed this view in the past, but it NEVER gets old. And seeing it with my friends felt all the more special again! The stairs leading to the rooftop had some amazing and sexy graffiti art by Japanese street artist AIKO, all in the shades of purple and pink, and red mood lighting as well, given this space becomes a club at nighttime. The millennial pink theme continued on the rooftop as well- the floors were large concrete slabs painted various shades of pink and red.
Experiencing this view with people I love reminds me of how much I love New York and the special feeling I receive when I’m in my city. I definitely want to communicate this feeling through my final outcome, and share the fun spirit of my city.
I spent today with one of my good friends from high school, Peyo. We walked all around downtown NYC together, catching up and taking in the beauty of the streets. Since this is Color in Your Environment project, and I know that Soho, NoLita, and parts of the Lower East Side have some of the best colorful and vibrant street art that the city can offer, I knew that these were the prime areas to photograph the vivacity and buoyancy of my city. These areas are so interesting because they are a mix of traditional and ungentrified New York and contemporary future time. The areas have come a long way from what they were years ago, but they still hold their traditional roots, evidenced in things such as family owned Italian businesses that have been in Little Italy for generations and still own brick and mortar shops with vintage fonts… Classic walkup New York buildings reminiscent of West Side Story with winding firescapes and exposed brick walls. We made our way together around the streets and found some amazing stuff, ranging from large murals, stickers being placed in multiple locations, smaller drawings, posters stacked on posters stacked on graffiti stacked on peeling stickers, handwritten pungent notes… The variety of exciting finds was riveting. Searching for these was even better with my friend, because he pointed out different moments that I overlooked; getting a fresh set of eyes was so helpful!
Some of the best overarching themes amongst the street art were themes of positivity, empowerment, and inclusion. New York is known as the ultimate melting pot; all of the things I scouted on the street really echoed this beautiful sentiment, and walking on these beloved streets really reinforced this feeling.
One overarching color that was present in many artworks was pink- shades of hot pink, bubblegum pink, storefronts exploiting the dubbed “millennial pink” (ChaCha Matcha, Pietro Nolita, By Chloe…)
It will be interesting to see where this takes me!
Wow, it felt so good to be back in New York. In New York, I immediately feel at home- after all, I have grown up there my entire life; the city and its complexities have helped me define who I am- to this I feel eternally grateful. I spent the day in the city with my mom hitting up delicious food places, walking around, having a fun time. We went to the Louis Vuitton exhibition, Volez Voguez Voyagez at the old New York Stock Exchange building. The exhibition is an extensive survey that retraces the history of the House of Louis Vuitton from 1854 to the present. “This historic journey is divided into ten chapters, one of which is entirely devoted to the United States of America and New York City. The tour opens with the most symbolic object of the House: the trunk, a model fashioned with contemporary flair, embodying the iconic hallmarks and bold spirit of Louis Vuitton. The exhibition features objects and documents from the Louis Vuitton heritage archives, as well as select articles on loan from the Palais Galliera and the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris. The exhibition concludes with a display devoted to the savoir-faire of the artisans in the Louis Vuitton workshops.”
It was so amazing to see all of these historical items in person, especially many of Marc Jacobs and Nicolas Ghesquière’s most famous celebrity red carpet looks. Seeing the beautiful craftsmanship from up close was inspiring, especially since Ghesquière is currently one of my favorite designers on the fashion map.
Walking around the city presented a whole new host of fun surprises, from seeing Santiago Calatrava’s marvelous Oculus building for the first time, to seeing an exciting free interactive sculptural installation in Soho (which turns out to be Katy Perry’s head), seeing water vapor being fuming out from the subway through big tubes (a classic New York sight), fun street art downtown, grabbing food at one of my favorite West Village spots… It felt incredible to be back home, and assume the role of Baudelaire’s flâneur once again in a city that always refreshes itself with new meaning at every turn.
We put our finalized touches to whatever we had to display for crit today. I did not have as much drawing work as I would have wished, but I was glad with the strength of what I presented, and also very pleased with the garment I created. Like always, I prefer to have a few less pages in my sketchbook and make sure the ones that are present are well thought and worthy, versus having an exploding sketchbook with mishmoshed and messy work. And I knew what I needed to add and wanted to continue working on over the weekend.
And today was also the White Show! It was so inspiring and motivating-seeing the breadth of work presented by the first year BA students. The work ranged from extremely conceptual and crazy, to more refined and wearable, garments that struck the balance between both, some garments with definite more attention to detail… The production of the show by FCP students was also exhilarating. Seeing all the first year creations gave me the motivation to stick it through this weekend and delve into the continuation of my projects and accomplish whatever I could within the constraints of 3.5 days.
Today I worked on design development all day in college. Patricia from textiles was our tutor for the day. I really was happy to get her perspective on my work. She really liked the strength of my research pages in my sketchbook and suggested at how using those and collaging pieces of those into my garment development pictures on the body would help the process. Using the garment I worked on as a starting point and drawing into the images, abstracting them further with all of the research I did earlier… Using this type of technique felt very natural and helped me produce some really interesting results that can stem more and more ideas. Through this process I found it beneficial to make conceptual collage, and then reuse them and combine them with research on the body such as with my garment, to connect both even further on a meta level and a concrete and visual front. Nevertheless, I still feel like I do not have enough drawings- with extra time, I know that I can develop them further. But I knew that by Thursday’s crit, what I had would be what I had, and I had to continue working further to develop more drawings beyond Thursday’s constraints.
I spent today working on the garment to use in my design developments, and experiment directly on the body. I worked on fabric manipulations to later aggregate on the body (different ways of shirring, cascade ruffles, etc). After completing these manipulations, I started to work on the dress form. I bought a lingerie corset at the charity shop that would be my starting point for the garment. The corset stood out to me because I knew it would be a great way to anchor the entire garment to the body, acting as a great base for development. I also liked how it is reminiscent of promiscuity that is often associated with Peggy Guggenheim, and the sexual freedom that she exerted. The bra extended bra closure in the center back also stood out to me as interesting because it reminded me of ballet costumes that I have worn in the past; I associate the corset hook closures with performance, whether it be ballet or theatre, or period dress as well.
I absolutely loved working on the body, and having the corset, dress, and men’s shirt to work with really helped my process, as it allowed me to convey certain design details, such as a collar, without going through a painstaking process of actually sewing and creating a perfect collar.
I am really happy with the final outcome of this draping experimentation. It feels evocative of the dramatic nature of performance dress, has aspects that feel strange and surreal, yet has certain details that contextualize the garment into the realm of a shirt.
We began the morning with self-directed study, so I continued to develop some drawings based on my research. I worked on one page that was based on mark-making in response to Dada Performance costumes, emulating the shapes and designs of these garments through marks. The final outcome of this page I worked on was very fun and graphic, and I think it can be very useful to use for future design developments, applying the print I developed onto the body, the extracting shapes created through drawing and applying those onto the body.. At this point, I felt very ready to work on the body and develop a garment that would be a great starting point for design developments on the body through drawing and collage. I wanted to convey the surreal/dada performance aspects through the garment, and play with volume. I went to a charity shop and picked up three garments to use in conjunction with my own fabric manipulations I developed on the sewing machine to then experiment with on the body. I knew that if I bought the garments after school, I would start Tuesday on the right foot, as I would spend the day working with the sewing machine on fabric manipulations, and then on the mannequin to do some design exploration.
The portfolio workshop was also very insightful. It really got me thinking of what I need to be preparing and how to continue my work in the sketchbook to then translate to portfolio sheets… One challenge that I will face I think is editing between the sketchbook and what will actually go on the sheets. I always abide by the quality over quantity rule when I work, preferring to have fewer but strong pages versus scrambled messy pages that have no conceptual and critical depth. So knowing how to strike the balance between how much strong work from the sketchbook will be on the portfolio sheets, versus what stays inside will be a challenge I think, personally. It also got me thinking of how I really to be working in a more tactile sense, working on adding some textile developments into my work and having those be well integrated to narrative of a project.
We spent today continuing our work in the sketchbook, developing our ideas. I had a constructive conversation with Alice. I explained to her all of the research I had been collecting and developing the whole week. She really liked the references I had been pulling and the ways in which I tied the different elements of Peggy, Roald Dahl, personal experiences, and how I had gone further and explored beyond the confines of those elements. So basically at this point, she saw how I have all of the ideas I want to continue working on quite concrete, but I haven’t developed them visually enough yet. I needed to get this going and faster to not get lost in the research phase and then have less time to think about design development. I went into the weekend knowing what I had to work on, and delved into the process. Another good point she gave me was to not use certain references going forward literally in the sketchbook- to look at references critically and conceptually extract elements from them, or transform them somehow and ultimately gain new traction and meaning.
Today was our ruffle and pleating workshop with Danielle. I really loved this workshop, because personally, I am very interested in garment construction and technical design. My technical design development internship at The Row in New York really consolidated this interest. I love analyzing a garment and thinking exactly of how I would develop it technically, down to the topstitch. I knew a lot of the techniques that Danielle explained, especially in the ruffle, pleating, and shirring departments (did a lot of research over the summer for my boss about creative ways of shirring, or looking at old references from fashion archives and figuring out how to recreate such effects.) Over the summer I would always go to the main pleating studio in New York that has been pleating fabric in the family for generations… I learned a lot by talking to the people who worked there, and also with the conversations between my bosses and the workers on how to develop certain ideas (such as a 1mm embossed pleat on silk from the 1900s in France…)
So yes, I was excited to get on the sewing machine and experiment away, although the info was not exactly new to me.
Personally, I really like working with volume, so creating disparate pieces of ruffles, pleats, etc is a good starting point for me in my design process, because I like getting ideas from draping on the body. Having these pieces allows to try different things and play with volume in various ways.
I spent my independent study day continuing my research and starting some drawings in my sketchbook based on this research. A revelation that occurred to me this day was how to further the presence of Roald Dahl’s quote about characters and their defining characteristics through my work. I have always been a devoted aficionada of any work by American filmmaker extraordinaire, David Lynch. His work of surreal cinema and television is so intriguing and always leaves you pondering at the meaning behind it all; he illustrates complex issues about goodness, darkness, evil, inner feelings through his surreal and strange work. In Twin Peaks, there is a character, BOB, who comes from an alternate and dark dimensional world and is literally the incarnation of all things dark and evil in the world. His character is unequivocally evil, and wants to spread his evil throughout the world. Other characters are supposedly incarnations of goodness in the world, lights to combat the darkness… Or so it seems. Nevertheless, his surreal works fit in very well to the whole conversation I had been starting earlier in the week. His work always has such interesting visual compositions that have transportational powers; these will be great to think through drawing in my research.
The entirety of today was spent on workshops led by Alice and Chris. I started off the morning in Alice’s workshop. I was excited to learn new techniques to employ in my work later. I had never tried macramé, and its always been something of interest, so I found the workshop very informative. It could be fun to build upon macramé knowledge in the future to become better at it, because obviously it is not a skill that is one and done, it takes practice to gain proficiency in. I also liked learning the new embroidery techniques. It was interesting to see the proper names of stitches I had experimented with in the past without knowing the proper name.
I absolutely adore intricate embroidery and handiwork that you see in French Haute Couture houses, so I really really want to build upon this knowledge in the future and learn more haute couture techniques to bring into my work. I personally love working on things that take painstaking attention to detail and culminate in a beautiful product that evokes the hard work that was put into it, yet is ethereally beautiful as an outcome.
I also enjoyed Chris’ workshop. I was already familiar with the techniques he presented, but nevertheless getting them reiterated is helpful. The thing that I really took out from this workshop was the usage of existing garments to create something new, whether you make the smallest change to the integrity of the garment, or completely deconstruct and subvert its identity. Another important point that Chris was making was that a lot of successful designs are ones that have the spirit or contain familiarity, because in the end, clothing is clothing. Keeping, say a collar on an abstract torso development contextualizes it and can possibly then give the garment a stronger value, because it is a departure from the basic aspect of a shirt through creative abstraction, but retains familiar and classic value.
I started to look into Peggy Guggenheim’s life, as it was an extremely exciting, riveting, tragic, and eventful one. I started off by watching filmmaker Lisa Vreeland’s documentary, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict (2015) that examines this wealthy socialite’s life who developed and devoted her life to creating an extensive art collection that is now one of the most critically acclaimed in the world. What is actually quite crazy is how she was so involved with literally every famous modern, abstract, surrealist artist from the 20th c. You could literally name an artist, and she could be linked to them, professionally or romantically… J
She is an incredibly inspiring and powerful woman, turning the tides and dedicating her life to her work at a time no women were doing the same.
I was also very particularly intrigued by her involvement with the Dada and Surrealist movements. This involvement led me to research these further, and when researching at the CSM library, I fell upon a book about Dada and Surrealist performance art. This book was almost like a revelation for me because it tied in my personal experience and interests in dance, performance, and the artists and movements that Peggy was involved with. I continued looking into these experimental performances, as well as extrapolating these Dada and Surreal performances and linking them to my personal experiences dancing in neo-classical ballets by George Balanchine.
I have a great love and interest in 17th c French Literature. These stories of tragedy and comedy by authors such as Jean Racine search for ideals of purity and equilibrium. Yet, tragedies present characters that are prey to violent passions. This comes to show how classic theatre cannot be reduced to just purity and equilibrium that is most often associated to this movement. Thinking about this in the context of my project is interesting, because I feel like Peggy had the explosive passionate spirit of characters found in such works from the 17th c.
The morning today was dedicated to putting any finishing touches on the work we would be “presenting” during the crit. I was extremely happy with the development work I had done with my paper manipulations on the body with Danielle, and how I developed those overnight. If we would have been in Fashion 2’s schedule, I feel like I would have had way more development drawings, since I would have had my photographed developments ready to work on that entire Wednesday. All I can say is it is what it is… half of fashion has to deal with the same disadvantageous situation, so I am trying to make the best of it despite the change complicating a dynamic workflow.
I worked on another collage development to include along with my drawings to continue the conversation between the design development drawings and the narrative, history behind my research.
During crit, people really liked my style of illustration and felt a large correlation between my historical research and outcome drawings. Through all of the drawing exercises we have been working on, I realized that I usually gravitate towards placing a large emphasis on rendering with detail. I have tested working in a faster and messier mode, but I am always happier with the drawings that come through a process of layering different materials and detailed penmanship. I like working in this manner especially if I am trying to portray a certain level of depth, or represent the type of fabric I could be using in a look, or truthfully represent the nuances of the draping and garment construction.
I was very happy with those outcomes, but definitely want to continue adding more in the future when I get time, and add more pages to my research section of the sketchbook, as creating great graphic pages can be helpful for collage design development processes on the body in the future when I work on this project again.
I also received my quote and image for Culture Swap- an image of Peggy Guggenheim, and the following quote by Roald Dahl
I find that the only way to make my characters really interesting to children is to exaggerate all their good or bad qualities, so if a person is nasty, very bad, very cruel, you make them very nasty, very bad, very cruel. If they are ugly, you make them extremely ugly. That, I think, is fun and makes an impact.
I am excited to work with these random elements as research starting points, and seeing where they can take me for the next two weeks!
Class time with Danielle today felt very productive. It was nice to have more space to work independently and the room felt chilled, quiet, and conducive to productivity. Danielle guided us through some timed collage and design development exercises. The time allotted was quite short which can be challenging. I ended up actually making one of my favorite collages within this time frame, only being able to use one image and paper for the rest. I literally made it in under 10 mins but I was very pleased- the time limit pushed me to work instinctively and not over calculate a decision, or overcharge my compositions with unnecessary elements just to fill space. We also did some quick silhouette drawings- these obviously are not finished illustrations that feel presentable or feel like my best representation of my drawing skills, but they did contain some useful observations or instinctual mark-making that would be useful for future drawings.
Photographing my paper manipulations on the body was the best and most exciting result of the day. I absolutely loved this experimentation technique. My paper manipulations worked beautifully against the body when I would photograph from different perspectives and angles. There were unintentional moments when amazing optical illusions would occur with the manipulation against the body, where it really appeared as if the manipulation was fully sized and fit perfectly to a certain contour of the body.
With these strong results from paper experimentations, I spent my night (and early morning…) working on design development based on the manipulations and Argentinian traditional forms of dress. I was really excited that through my design developments I was thinking about new ways of challenging traditional silhouettes and bringing my own experimental twist to these forms. Or thinking in another way- working from the shapes created by my manipulations, and working with this as a base to then figure out how to incorporate aspects from Gaucho dress. The starting point could begin either way, and both feel like equally efficient ways of driving design developments.
I also loved the continuity of my color palette- hot pink, red, gold. The colors were very vibrant and evocative of the Argentinian culture I was putting on the forefront, as well as reminiscent of colors present in Cloud’s research (such as her red spices from China), and the colorways I picked up around Westminster.
Due to humanly time constraints, I was not able to do as many design developments as I had hoped. But I’m glad that I have developed a methodology to build off of to come back to in the future (i.e. preparing more drawings for portfolio and assessment, closing off and adding further development and experimentations to the project as a whole.)
On my independent study day, I worked on some research drawing pages based on my field research in Westminster. I wanted to do more of these drawings, but I needed to divide my time between what was due for Wednesday and things I wanted to add to the sketchbook to add fluidity to the conceptual description of my work. So then I started to make some new collages that explored Westminster, my culture, and Cloud’s culture. I really liked working with the idea of vitrines in my collages, as literal window into images posed under the window, and as figurative windows into the different meanings of all the info that is put into a collage.
As I was working, I felt quite constrained by the A5 size. At times, it feels good as it forces me to be more selective and precious with my composition, but at other times, it just feels too small and constrictive. But essentially, this is a challenge that can be posed with any sized paper, so it is good to challenge myself to work with the restraints of certain sizes to work in new ways.
When I was working on collages, I was thinking a lot about color palette. The overarching colors I took out of my research around Westminster were the regal colors of gold and red, visible all over the Abbey and all over the neighborhood, whether it be the color of a light sconce, the paint used to decorate a lamppost, the colors on the tombstones of past royals, the sigils and crests of royal houses and families… In my images from my Argentinian heritage, prevalent colors in traditional regional textiles from the north of Argentina are bright and expressive and earthy/natural, with colors ranging from the whole spectrum. I visited Salta, Argentina this summer and it was the most amazing experience, from seeing the natural colors of mountains, rock sediments, to the products made by indigenous peoples, real gauchos on their horses in the pampas. At home I have always grown up with regional products and items from Argentina, and feel very connected to the artisanship in Argentina. In Argentina there cultural pride because we have such a wealth of breathtaking cultural currency that is unique to our country. So I decided that I wanted to communicate and work upon this spirit of Argentinian pride, building upon traditional gaucho dress and textile, print, and color designs unique to Argentinian culture and indigenous peoples.
I also started to work on a paper manipulation- folding the paper over itself and making a sort of box spring that revolves in color because it is formed by two disparate strips of paper. I really liked this paper manipulation due to its easy manipulation into different shapes, and how you can easily build it on a larger scale, and a micro scale for different effects. The manipulation worked well for high and low relief work, whether it is part of a collage, or a piece to be photographed on the body.
Today, we spent the majority of the day working on collages with specific instructions that Alice directed. We were asked to extract colors from our research and work on mark-making to be used later for collages. We had to use a limited palette- in class I found myself working with red, blue, green, black because these colors were quite prevalent in the details of Westminster Abbey and other research imagery I collected.
To be honest, I was not very happy with the work I produced this day. First of all, I did not have my images printed out and ready to use to collage purposes. If we would have been forewarned, I would have known I needed them, and consequently would have prepared them. I felt like I could not advance and sophisticate the quality of my work without the images.
I feel like when I collage, I base collage a lot on telling a story and communicating a narrative. The work does not have to explicitly reveal the story or be prescriptive, but to me, my personally successful collage works have narrative and evocative communication.
With this exercise I realized I like working with combinations of collage and expressive mark-making- fusing the narrative aspect with the communication of colorways extracted from research.
Nevertheless through this work that felt less successful, I extracted a paper manipulation/cutting technique that was fun to use. I was very interested in the spiraling columns of the Abbey, and the designs produced in the joinery of ceiling and column. I experimented with cutting endless circular spirals from paper and then abstracting the circular shape by repositioning, taping, weaving into other pieces of spirals to ultimately become a web of interweaved pieces. What is interesting as well is that for a cascade ruffle, you cut a similar pattern piece to achieve the same effect. It could be fun to experiment with this cutting/weaving/compositional technique with different types of fabric and other materials.
It was good to take a step back from the classroom and work on the collages independently to really access the decisions I was making and think about the narratives of cross-culture I wanted to express through the work.
At home, with access to a printer… I was able to begin making collages that felt much more successful in combining aspects of my cultural heritage and Cloud’s.
In the work I did at home, I kept gravitating towards the idea of your geographical location, where you call home, Where you live, essentially, influences your whole being and who you are as a person. One minimalist collage I produced contains slivers of every place that I have lived for an extension of time: New York my whole life, Cambridge, Massachusetts for one year, and London now. Experiences are obviously associated with a place- you learn, explore, grow up in a place. Finding a sense of place is one of the essential questions and perusals of philosophers and normal people alike… Each of those places holds special value to my sense of myself, and every place helped define who I am. They all come together to this moment in time and inform everything I do. They say, once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker… Cambridge, MA made me unsusceptible to winter, but jokes aside, made me a more considerate, illuminated, and intellectual person. And London is evolving my persona and everything to a greater extent.
I am going to continue working on more collages and think more about the research elements I want to come forward through the collages. Time constraints are difficult though- as much as I work, it is still not enough time to as much as I’d like done, especially with the new Wednesday schedule that makes it difficult to get a good work flow streaming since the week is cut off abruptly and the turnaround from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday morning feels very rushed.
I met up with my partner, Cloud, today for coffee. Since we did not go on a research trip together, getting together for coffee was a fun way to get to know each other. We shared stories of our respective backgrounds, families, interests, hobbies… I loved hearing about her background. She is from Chonqing, China. It was interesting to hear about how life was for her on the other side of the world. I have lived my entire life in New York, with my father growing up in Argentina and my mother growing up in Los Angeles with purely Spanish parents.
I loved that we share very similar interests in performance and theatre- she is a Broadway/West End aficionada (she has seen Les Misérables eight times if I remember correctly), and I have always been interested in musical theatre and surrounded by people involved in musical theatre (and went to high school with kids who performed on Broadway). I have done a lot of musical theatre style jazz dance in the past (like Bob Fosse choreo, Jerome Robbins West Side Story). We both got mutually excited by this common interest; certain aspects about musical theatre and drama are definitely something to consider incorporating into my research and design developments.
My field research had more of a focus on the lavish architectural details found in Westminster, I think stemming from my previous classes and experiences with architecture in the United States (architecture never leaves you!), yet Cloud’s research focused more on the West End theatre scene, clearly stemming from her love for theatre.
We exchanged our six images- her images gave a good sense of who is, her background, and interests. They included pictures of her home city, a band she loves, Chinese spices that remind her of home, etc.
My photographs also had that type of focus- they describe my multi-cultural background that is rooted in being born and raised in New York City, with deep ties to my Argentinian and Spanish heritage, and my personal and very invested interest in ballet that really defines me as a person.
I worked on classifying my research and doing some drawings, but I need to work on them more. I felt kind of sick, so I didn't get to work on them as much as I wanted to.
Today was a very exciting day- I am finally in my final group for the rest of the year, Fashion 1. I am beyond excited to begin working and settling in with the group and develop a steady work dynamic.
After getting briefed for “Culture Swap”, we were paired with our partner for the project, and randomly assigned our area of London to explore. Our assigned area is Westminster. Upon receiving this area, I was ecstatic. Westminster is objectively one of the most classically beautiful areas of London- it hosts some of the most iconic and historical landmarks of London and the entire world and varies extremely from area to area since it is so large. The caveat that comes along with researching Westminster though is its size- the city of Westminster spans a large portion of London, so it is difficult to narrow down the options/choose where to focus since there is so much to see. But to me this is better than being depleted of options and feel a lack of inspiration!
My partner was not feeling well so she did not come to walk around Westminster with me today… We settled that we would meet up for coffee on Saturday to talk about our cultures and get to know each other better, and we would conduct our research independently. I did not want to get behind and lose an entire day of productivity, so I went along and made the most of my Thursday to collect research.
I got off the tube at Westminster, as this would leave me in the middle of every iconic landmark of Westminster. Of course I have been quite a few times over the course of my time in London (it is the area that comes to mind when someone says London). As tourist-filled as this area can get, the architecture and beauty never ceases to amaze me. And for this day, I was a tourist again, looking at my surroundings with a new lens directed by my project.
When walking by the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, etc, what stood out to me the most is the jaw-dropping architectural details of all of these landmarks. I have always been drawn to Gothic architecture, and all of these buildings are prime examples of such architecture. The intricacy of and overload of detail in these buildings inspires me.
It is also not only about the marveling architectural details- it is the extensive history that lies within the walls of these landmarks that fascinates me…Hundreds of years of history that have defined the modern world of today- and the buildings are living evidence and proof of these times past.
This project was the perfect excuse to finally visit Westminster Abbey. Visiting the Abbey was just the most ethereal experience. Its magnanimous scale and architectural details were befuddling. The moment I walked in I was taken aback by the characteristic Gothic pointed arches, vaulted ceiling, sculptural details. The height of the ceiling was equally as perplexing. The Abbey transported me to the dreams and tales of history it harbored. Also just imagining how this wondrous cathedral started its initial construction around 1000 years ago is just so amazing. In the age of technology, thinking about how such beauty and architectural precision was reached in construction without all of the info and tech we have today is even more inspiring. The light radiating through the massive stained glass windows, reflecting upon the tombs of past rulers and historically influential people was a metaphor for the transcendence of history past and how its influence remains as important today as the moment when history was created.
I continued walking around the area, exploring the palatial architecture that commands attention and reveres respect- the area is saturated with governmental workers, so at times the area can feel quite stale and stiff due to this. But to me that feeling is so interesting and insightful, as it provides a taste of the world that lies within the buildings of Westminster. Seeing everyone dressed in their business attire- immaculately tailored male and female suits, sumptuous wool overcoats, polished shoes, crisp button downs, neutral palettes and briefcases- these rituals and dressing patterns are essential to understanding the area and its history.
I continued walking and walking- near Trafalgar Square (which was interesting since I had actually visited Trafalgar in Spain when I was younger), and continued wandering around the streets. I directed myself towards Saint James, where you could definitely feel the sense of wealth flooding the streets- it is after all one of the most expensive areas in the world. I loved the architecture of the buildings- it was clean yet had a strong presence. I also loved how buildings conglomerated around green spaces, inviting interactions between human and nature. In fact, there were some public art sculptures in Saint James Square Park that were an interesting surprise.
I later walked along the eponymous Jermyn Street and Savile Row and saw all of the beautiful tailoring stores- it was so lovely to pass by the ateliers and see the couturiers and tailors in action.
I also walked around Old Bond Street- overflowing in beautiful Christmas lights, luxury storefronts that are the epitome of perfect visual merchandising.
I collected so much beautiful imagery and I am excited to delve into it and keep working!