drawing – live sketching at the Design Museum

Thanks to a friend I met at Prick Your Finger, I got a heads up about an after-hours event at the Design Museum. The fashion illustration exhibit there is in its last weeks and a few activities have been scheduled around that. This evening was lovely – there was a live sketching event. The instructor encouraged us to use our left hands (above) and both hands at once (below) as we drew some lovely (if somewhat sleepy) models.

After the sketching session, I was lucky to join a guided tour of the exhibit by curator Colin McDowell, who incidentally, is one of my favourite fashion authors, someone who takes the long view of fashion, and with a great sense of insight and humour. I was too shy to introduce myself to him at that moment, so I went downstairs and participated in a little typography workshop, painting letterforms with gouache.

From that vantage point I noticed Mr. McDowell picking up a glass of wine at the bar and sitting down alone, and I knew it was up to me to say hi. Feeling somewhat nervous, I calligraphi-ed “HI” on a piece of card and introduced myself. Instantly I felt like I had met a tribal leader or fairy godfather or something – McDowell is a lovely man, fascinating and funny and interested in fashion from a very similar angle to my own, with a truly visceral connection to the past that is incredibly rare. Being a writer, he disarmed me by asking lots of questions. I showed him my loose sketches from earlier in the evening and he told me he thought they had potential – coming from a well-known collector of fashion illustration, to say this was a great validation is a huge understatement. Now one of my sketches is part of his collection. Wow.


my first London Fashion Week – day 3

Sunday, February the 20th started off at Jayne Pierson (lower left), a welsh designer who showed lots of hard-edged, black leather stuff riffing on 18th century styling. Unfortunately for Pierson, at this stage in the week I felt like I was seeing the same shapes, fabrications and references over and over, piled on top of one another in different combinations. There was one piece that I truly liked – a simple asymmetrical black leather shift with a zipper over one arm, and that was the one I drew – everything else just seemed like too much stuff.

What is with this rush to the middle of the pack when it comes to references? The next presentation I attended, Designers Remix (above left), featured the same type of rococo beehive hairdo, though at least the clothes themselves were modern in flavour. This designer used another technique I kept seeing over and over in London – cartridge pleating. Its an extremely archaic effect, and difficult to update – its a lot of fabric, its heavy, and it adds weight wherever it is used. Although Designers Remix managed to use it more effectively than most – just a little cartridge pleating goes a long way – every time I see it, I wonder, why even try?

(Side note: I almost forgot to mention a fashion week highlight from day 2 – I got a haircut from the Toni&Guy salon in the tent! The stylist, David, cleaned up my ragged edges and made me feel cute. It was the only bit of “swag” I got all week, and without a doubt one of the best fashion week treats I’ve ever received.)

Jazz Katze was the next show (above left), and although the styling was interesting, when the most memorable part of a show is the hair, that’s a shame. I can see Katze’s designs having a market, its cute stuff, maybe that market isn’t a fashion show audience.

The last show I saw was Fashion Mode – an organization that selects and incubates up and coming designers. The triptych of designers couldn’t have been more different from eachother. Florian Jayat (above center) showed quilted cocktail dresses, and the peaked shoulder detail that was definitely a trend throughout the week. Then there was a menswear designer who mostly showed variations on pagoda shoulders, I didn’t get a decent sketch. Carlotta Actis Barone (above right) created a suitable climax with dramatic, feminine gowns and fantastic hair and makeup to match.

That was it for me – after so many lineups I was all queued out. I didn’t have any push left in me, and I had work to do, so I hopped off the London Fashion Week bandwagon. It was a lot of fun, but ultimately I had the luxury of calling it off when I had enough – and considering that fashion week in London is such a too-much-is-never-enough affair, enough came sooner rather than later.

a word from… February 2011 sponsors


A word from… is a monthly news post contributed by the kind sponsors who support Final Fashion.

This is the final regular sponsor post on Final Fashion – though there will still be occasional sponsored posts in the future. The sponsor program was a total experiment and unexpectedly successful. However, as the site is going through a transitional phase (like me) I felt it was the right time to phase the program out. Thanks so much to all the sponsors who voluntarily and generously offered their support to Final Fashion.

Christina from rock-it promotions says…

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my first London Fashion Week – day 2

My Saturday, February the 19th morning started off at Georgia Hardinge (below left), an award winning designer with the designs to back it up. It was the emptiest show I went to all week, which was too bad because it was also one of the highlights. Getting the fashion crowd up after Friday night is a no-go… though on the other hand, those in attendance were attentive. Hardinge showed Geiger-esque digital prints, crisply aerodynamic shapes in jackets, body-conscious dresses with amazing cut details, and jackets with undulating cut edges and dimension suggesting topography, or dunes, or the patterns that waves make on sandy beaches. Truly incredible execution, confirmed when seen up close at the exhibition upstairs later.

It was a very dull, rainy, cold day in London. My next two shows were both from the PR company that scatters “e-vites” like confetti. I walked past insanely long lineups of people waiting in the rain with damp computer printouts and thought to myself: I don’t love fashion shows as much as these kids. Instead, I whiled away the afternoon in bookstores.

The last show of the day was Bryce Aime (above right), and the first time (out of three attempts) that I actually got to see the inside of the On|Off venue. Aime showed a series of sharply cut leathers and leggings, and over the course of the show the models got encased in acrylic crystals printed with satellite photos of snow-covered landscapes. It was the most successful gimmick I’ve seen in a long time, and not in a small way because the beauty was so subtly done – simple eyeliner and a softer version of the mohawk/quiff  created a lighter shade of punk. So many designers try and fail to do anything new with black leather and hard edges, it was great to see it done with a defter hand.

Two out of two shows that exemplified what I had hoped to find in London – designers that manage to be interesting and sophisticated, at the same time – not an easy thing to do by any means.

Skipped the after parties again!

my first London Fashion Week – day 1

After working Berlin fashion week, I dropped the ball a bit for London Fashion Week, with no freelance project obligations to encourage me. My application for accreditation was slow to go through and before I knew it, it was already February, and I hadn’t done any show requests or anything.

Then I kicked my own slack self in gear and made calls, dropped like a hundred cold emails. I’m only in London for a limited time, and I’m here to meet people – its not like I can let the first fashion week get away from me. Its true that fashion weeks can be a painfully vast amount of bureaucracy for a very limited amount of showtime. The truth of it is that the queuing, the emails, the invites, the rejections (silent or polite, rejections were the norm, I am nobody in London), is a sorting process, an extremely elaborate people-mixing machine. There really is no better way to meet a lot of fashion people than through the shared subhuman tedium punctuated with brief flashes of disappointment and awe that is a fashion week.

The week started off stillborn on February 18, with a long outdoor queue (where I met up with my euro-gig-buddy, Barb) for the Jena Theo show. I prophetically gave us a 50:50 chance of getting into what was rumoured to be a small venue at On|Off… and I was exactly right, as we got cut off by Health & Safety just as soon as we reached the door. Seemed like from then on, I should be putting pounds down on my bets.

The truth is, I had nothing to expect – I was familiar with none of the designers whose invitations I received. The first show I managed to actually attend was Prophetik. A sketch from the show is above. The show started with a really long powerpoint statement that I didn’t finish reading in time – this is obviously a brand that subscribes to Philosophy, as well as taking inspiration from historical costumes especially 18th century revolutionary styles. The effect was somewhat like a costumes for a cult. It was extremely well made, sturdily crafted stuff, but also heavily literal. The show succeeded, with live music and a total vision in styling, in transporting the audience to another time and place – however the clothes seemed to belong in that time and place, and not in fashion, here and now.

I was supposed to attend Jean-Pierre Braganza next, however, I made a rookie mistake about the venue. So instead, I saw the Ones to Watch show, a collection of promising designers sponsored by Vauxhall, a car company.

Kirsty Ward (above left) was one of my favourites of the week so far. She took a very standard material favoured by young designers – sheer sparkle organza – and made it interesting, shaping it into freeform loops with wired, bound edges that suggested discarded, airily inflated clothing, and paired it with extreme hardware in the form of necklaces made literally from hardware. Anja Mlakar (above right) did colour and texture, playing with oversized woven effects, laser-cut windowpane patterns, plush velveteen contrasted with moire and sheer, and padded rings around the body.

Tze Goh (above left) did a post-modern version of Jackie Kennedy – wools and neoprene that stood away from the body, careful seams and rounded forms. A fitted capelet created the suggestion of shoulderblades underneath. In a week where there was so much muchness, Goh’s designs were refreshing. Sara Bro-Jorgenson (above left) did gauzy, gothic knits that still managed to be modern – including intarsia trompe-l’œil effects that fooled some editors into thinking they were merely printed.

After a bit of a break, I went to line up for the only proper tent show I was invited to, Bora Aksu. Well, I use the term invited loosely – this particular PR company simply told me to show up with a printout of my emailed invitation… and of course, I wasn’t the only one who received these peculiar instructions. It was a mob scene. There is a man who does the difficult detail of herding cats into their separate holding pens – priority, seated, and standing. I don’t envy him his job – it seems very stressful and somehow he manages to be somewhat good humoured about it. The hordes of standing people with their printed invitations crushed and carried me along into the runway room, or I guess maybe the catwalk cave? I ended up in a high corner where I had a distant view of Bora Aksu, which from far away seemed like so many tubular leather corselets, chunky cable knits, and green lace bridesmaid’s dresses, all smashed together.

After that, I went to Brick Lane to take in a couple presentations, including one by Christopher Beales, whose sharply pointed, glamourous gowns had a linear sensibility to them that made them a pleasure to draw. This was my favourite, emphasizing and echoing hipbones and shoulder blades.

There were after parties that I didn’t go to. I am more of a daytime girl, at this stage in the game I think its OK to admit that big beats and open bars don’t really draw me.

click click – 16-02-11

Welcome to click click, the sporadic review of what I find worth clicking on the internet.

At a cute little yarn shop called Prick Your Finger on Globe Road, there is a knitted literary (kniterary?) window display by artist Tom Van Deijnen. He created sets of gloves inspired by passages from his favourite novels, including Lady Chatterley’s Lover (above) and Anna Karenina (below). I was lucky to attend the launch event and met so many friendly folks there.

Plus plus plus! Karma for incoming linkers and commenters.

  • Annabelle Cosmetics’ Blog“M A K E U P , T R E N D S , B E A U T Y”
  • Just Goods
  • page sixxx “just another fashion obsessed 22 year old”
  • Phreshly Squeezed“Barb is a twenty-something year old university student from Toronto, Canada who is constantly on the move.”
  • Think CONTRA“a collective of thought purveyors who believe controversy and contrast are good, but creative freedom is even better.”
  • On Fashion“your daily fashion fix”
  • Head in the Clouds“musings of a serial daydreamer…”
  • The Magic Square Foundation“The specialist field of study I’m working in is critical fashion theory, with an emphasis on contemporary political context.”

wearing – Triumph 1914s, star skirt, and a story

New Dr. Martens! This time the Triumph 1914 boot, with the plaid flannel lining and the satin ribbon laces. There’s three sets of rivets on this thing and about a million options when it comes to lacing. Still playing around with it. Looking forward to getting some wear onto these, they’re made of a nice soft leather so breaking in is easy.

Wearing it with a new skirt that I got from Jude. I’ve been looking for a knee length wool flared skirt with a lining, and this one fit the bill. It has stars screen printed on it, which would normally be a deal-breaker for me, except the pleating breaks them up into something tolerably abstract. Who is Jude? Here’s the story.

It was a beautiful day in London at the beginning of last week. Things were beginning to look up in a lot of ways – not the least is that my tenancy situation got resolved in my favour. I was cleaning the flat but the sun was too gorgeous to stay inside, so I stepped out, thinking I’d get a hipster coffee and hang out on Brick Lane for a bit.

Feeling good, I was walking tall on top of a wall, and this man yells out to me, “you’re the tallest girl in the world!” We struck up a conversation as we walked down Cheshire street and I gathered he was in the fashion business. Impulsively, he asked me if I wanted to walk with him, and impulsively I did. His name is Jude, he is a total character, and he is like a key that unlocks East London. In just a couple hours, he introduced me to like 30 people – a ton of scenes in quick succession – a basement where his leather workers sew his bags, gossip about rents on Brick Lane, a tattoo parlour where we watched gang members get branded with their area code, a Gypsy-caravan style coffee shop lovingly decorated with mismatched furniture and objects (procuring unique decor is one of Jude’s businesses), and finally, the logical conclusion, an empty alcove with dumpsters in it.

Jude explained that he had convinced the owner of this alcove to rent it to him on the weekends – giving him an impromptu storefront on the ritzier side of Shoreditch, Redchurch Street. He sells his own bags, fine vintage menswear (procured from his connections on Savile Row) and also designer samples for women. So I returned on the weekend, and bought my skirt.

That weekday walk is for Jude what Final Fashion is to me – its a critical part of being entrepreneurial. Its not on the clock, but the practice of doing it keeps possibilities open, makes face time routine and keeps a million loose connections alive. He doesn’t have business cards or a sign. I really dig the informality of his method, and the open quality of it. He is a great example of what Gladwell called a “super connector”. As someone who is working on developing connections in a new city, starting from zero, I’m grateful for the serendipity, and also aware that it really isn’t all that accidental.

If you’re in London, you can visit Jude yourself – he is here on the weekends:

paper doll – Vionnet part 1

As per my resolution, I have been working on a new paper doll project. This one is inspired by 20th century designers, especially ones I feel are under-appreciated. Everyone knows about Chanel and Dior, but there were so many other designers who offered significant contributions to fashion design and for whatever reason, haven’t won the legacy they deserve.

These dolls are very time consuming to make, and are taking longer than I anticipated. They’re very detailed, based on research, and have a greater than usual number of garments per doll.

The first doll, inspired by Madeleine Vionnet, is a departure from paper doll conventions – a back view. Vionnet’s work was created by draping on a small wooden mannequin, and as a designer she very much conceptualized a total look in 360 degrees. Vionnet was a contemporary of Chanel, however she was a modernist not only in attitude but technique. At the beginning of the 20th century, fashion was very much dictated by detail rather than form – Vionnet turned that on its ear by creating designs inspired by geometry and the natural human form. Her work was often shown on models without underwear – something incredibly revolutionary at the beginning of the 20th century.

This paper doll, with her sisteris available as a high-resolution, printable PDF file for $12 USD. Purchase this pair of paper dolls, and you can print them out as many times as you like for personal use – to cut out, play with and display.


drawing – live sketching at All Walks

Thanks to Ben Barry, I heard about a neat event at the National Portrait Gallery being produced by an organization called Allwalks. A number of activities were offered, including a live drawing session, and of course I signed up.

All Walks promotes diversity in fashion images, and so the model we were drawing was a gorgeous, curvy girl named Lucy, with hot red hair and a slamming body in a tight green dress. Drawing her was delightful – this girl was born to model, a subtle cock of the hip and she was instantly a fashion image. So inspiring.

The instructor was also excellent – Sue Dray was brief and enthusiastic and spot on with her suggestions. She encouraged us to start with pure shape and colour and then bring in the linear stuff as an afterthought – a tip that I took to heart and was pleased with how well it worked. I rarely use chalk pastels, so it took me out of my comfort zone and even though we only had time to do about half a dozen drawings, I was surprised and pleased at the results.

That wasn’t even the highlight. I didn’t know to expect it (this was probably a good thing or I would have been too nervous to draw), but the man I consider to be this century’s greatest fashion illustrator, David Downton, was in the house and offered his comments after the session… DAVID DOWNTON specifically pointed out and complimented my work.


I introduced myself to him and awkwardly blathered something, and it was truly a life highlight.