Fashion Week Fury…

 Frocks, Style, Wednesday March  Comments Off on Fashion Week Fury…
Sep 182016
 

It’s my favourite time of year!  Fashion Weeks all over the globe.  Lovely.  Inspiration and fun everywhere.  Autumn issues of proper fashion magazines are heavy with beauty and ideas.  The press is full of glorious and mind-blowing takes on how to clothe bodies.

And the inevitable whining about “aspirational” body images, the potential for exacerbating eating disorders and models who are “too skinny.”

As Hadley Freeman points out in this Guardian article,  it’s a bit simple to point to Vogue as the cause of a mental illness but seriously, why all the hate for designers using models who make their clothing ideas look good?  The creations that go down those catwalks aren’t bought by – or even manufactured for – the high street.  They are inspiration, and couture; key elements of what is shown there filter down to the mainstream over the coming weeks, months and seasons.  Take away the aspiration, inspiration and the beauty, and you’ve pretty much buggered up the clothing industry.  Let’s all shop at Evans* and camping stores and feel no joy in the garments with which we choose to clothes our bodies.

The protestations that the unattainable standards are adversely affecting women’s views and care of their bodies don’t really hold water when the majority of people in the UK (and let’s not start on America) are overweight, with a frightening proportion actually being obese and morbidly obese.   No, it isn’t pretty and no, it shouldn’t be comfortable to look at – or the norm.

Ladies on catwalk in 50s frocks

Some of my models from a fashion show I did with People & Gardens back in 2014. A very diverse selection of lovely models, who strutted their stuff and did me proud. Cost me a fortune and not one single sale or order off the back of it, but I’d happily do it again for the sheer joy. Picture stolen from the Cornish Guardian.

 

As a clothing designer and maker and one-time owner of a shop that sold other people’s designs as well as my own, I learned the hard way that larger size models don’t sell the clothing.  Those images won’t appeal to the customers who would otherwise be in the market for the clothing and because larger size people don’t actually want to see an image showing what they’ll look like in the garments; everybody wants the inspiration and aspiration.  Ask other designers and they’ll tell you the same.  Many “vintage style” designers have explored the “plus size” market, after being badgered and badgered to enter it.  We have pretty much all lost money and ended up with garments we couldn’t sell and promotional photography that didn’t help our business in any way.  Sad but true.

Teach children that all bodies are different but equally wonderful and that a healthy body is the thing to strive for rather than a certain size or shape but please stop demonising the slim and the “coathangers” who promote the fashion industry’s wares.  They show off clothing better and are therefore appropriate for the job they do.  Take the ideas and inspiration and put your own twist on it.  Make it your own, for your own style, image and body shape.

We all have a duty of care to children – hell, to other people of every age! – whether our own or in general, to teach that diversity is right and proper and health is the thing to aim for.  As such, we are better placed to do that by example, ie taking care of our own bodies, eating properly, not overeating, getting exercise, mental stimulation and taking an interest and care in the world and everything that makes it.  Less time spent running down others and more time promoting real positivity would be a good start.  As would be boycotting the reprehensible media like the Daily Mail and other similar “institutions”, with their clickbait “sidebars of shame”, who love to promote unpleasantness and hate in so many forms and set us against each other.

Grrr.

*And don’t for one minute think that Evans aren’t guilty of playing with sizes to mess up your head and make you shop there rather than elsewhere. They just do it in the opposite way to other retailers, ie their sizing is smaller than average, to convince the larger people who shop there that there’s no point even trying elsewhere if they have to squeeze into the clothing in Evans.  Unpleasantly manipulative and high time it stopped.

It’s all go in Goodwood Revival Week and beyond

 Frocks, Style, Wednesday March  Comments Off on It’s all go in Goodwood Revival Week and beyond
Sep 142014
 

As you may have gathered, I make a fair number of frocks for customers attending the Goodwood Revival.  When I say, “a fair number”, I mean “a lot”.  Truckloads.  Although that doesn’t really give the right impression, as they are all individually created for each customer rather than by me using production line methods in an attempt to produce lots of the same thing.  Last year I actually had a stand at the Revival and I’m hoping that plenty of the ladies who ordered frocks then will be wearing those frocks at the event this year.  I know – and have already seen some pictures – of those attending in my frocks, including one of the new Bardot frock.  There will be more pictures for me to share with you soon, I’m sure.  Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend this year – either with a stand or as a punter – but hopefully next year I’ll be there.  Please send me pictures of you in your fabulous frocks so I can enjoy the atmosphere vicariously!

This year has been so full of change and exciting developments that I made the decision back in the winter that I wouldn’t be attending this year’s Revival.  I had to close the shop in Looe, find a suitable new workshop, move, create lots of frocks for existing customers, create an entirely new website, which involved learning WordPress web design, not to mention all the usual guff involved with running a business, sourcing fabrics, notions, etc.  I had hoped to attend as a punter but have been so busy with everything that even that wasn’t possible.  But it’s all good.  And there are even more exciting times ahead.

I think most people know that I’ve been sewing for a long time.  A loooooong time.  Mother started me on embroidery at a very early age.  By the time I was about four, I think everybody in the family had a dressing table set – whether they had a dressing table or not – and I remember very clearly thinking, “Bugger this, I’m going to make a frock!” as my older sister was making some beautiful things for herself.  I’ve sewed on and off throughout my lifetime, mostly when ready-to-wear fashion just didn’t float my boat and I’ve made a lot of frocks in that time.  I love making frocks.  Obviously.

But what I have always wanted to do is create amazing tailored numbers, like Christian Dior’s New Look.

Woman wearing 1947 wasp-waisted suit

A suit from the 1947 ‘Corolle’ collection by Dior.

I’ve drooled and sighed over pictures – and occasionally the real thing – and dreamed of creating such things.  Mother’s favourite aunt, my Great Aunt Gladys, was a tailoress, which is a major step up from a humble dressmaker.  She was very skilled indeed, although she died when I was still quite young and I never got to learn from her.  Mother did, though, and Mother produced a creditable “Chanel” suit for me when I was 15.  Admittedly, its birth wasn’t without some complications and I swear there was a footprint on the inside of the jacket where it had been thrown on the floor and stamped on, but it was a joy to behold and wear and clearly said, “Bespoke” in its workmanship.

Every year, usually when the Autumn/Winter collections start appearing in Vogue and the like, I go through a period of longing for beautiful tweeds from Harris, Linton and other top-notch sources.  I have made myself many a skirt in tweeds and boucles but somehow my nerve always fails me when I’m looking at paying out £35 a metre for fabric that’s been carefully hand-crafted by artisans in England and Scotland.  I want and need to learn more.  Especially about hand-finished jackets and the like; I want to do those fabrics justice.

So I’ve enrolled on a tailoring course.  A proper City & Guilds certificate in fashion Tailoring.  And, having spoken to the tutor already, I’m really rather excited.  I just hope it goes ahead.  Located, as I am, in the wilds of wonderful Cornwall (although Bodmin Moor is also known as “The Arse End of Nowhere”), there’s no telling what call there will be for the course and it may not entice enough people to be viable.  It’s not a cheap or quick undertaking, by any means, but the tutor said that apparently there have been others enrolling so I am hopeful.  And really, really excited.  Did I mention that already?  Really excited.

Watch this space.