location independent limbo

London,thinking,toronto — Danielle on November 18, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Toronto welcomed me back with warm hugs, a sweet solo sublet, and a polished new surface. Being back in Toronto is like seeing an ex years later and they’ve had a makeover and look better than you ever remembered, and guess what, they’re sweet and steady and still like you too. London is like the more recent, exciting, high-maintenance ex who looked so sophisticated on your arm and made all your friends jealous of you while emptying your wallet and playing football with your heart.

Perhaps it’s obvious that I’ve been reading Great Expectations.

When you’re going through a transition is everyone wants to know what your plans are. I’m not great at planning so I was reluctant to announce them, but initially my intention was to apply for a French visa so I could spend 2013 in Paris. This plan was not conceived with any real idea of how I would accomplish it. As I took the first steps to assemble the paperwork required it became clear that the combination of two national bureaucracies was creating tangled logjam of arbitrary requirements that would take almost a year to sort out.

This discovery was somewhat discouraging, and yet overall I felt nonplussed. I’ve noticed something in myself as I get older, that I don’t understand how I really feel about anything while it’s happening. Realizations that explain my own behaviour tend to unfold in my consciousness a few weeks later at the earliest. This also reveals why I can’t write about topical things in a timely manner.

So I’ve been slow to sum up this change in my life. I’m still not sure yet how I feel about where I am, and where I want to be. I’m in the rather wonderful position of having created a ‘location independent’ career. I have zero familial, social, financial, or professional obligations to be at any particular place at any particular time. I am reluctant to squander this unprecedented level of freedom that has been granted to me by circumstance and technology.

I do still want to go back to Paris, whether for an extended vacation or for a bit longer if possible. I also want to spend more time in New York. I don’t have the intention to settle in either of these places, but I feel that the experience of London was an expansive one, and a necessary part of my continuing education. Spending a longer period of time in a fashion capital genuinely changes the way that you think about the subject. Being in a international, culturally dominant city makes you up your game as a creator and a careerist. I feel that I escaped a certain provincial ignorance and developed greater humility by abandoning my local identity. My work is more sophisticated and confident now than ever, and now I have a much more realistic sense of what level I am at relative to my contemporaries, my craft, and the total arc of my life and career.

Continuing to pursue the unknown, to throw myself into the milieu of fashion capitals will always be a necessary part of defining my career. I will do this; I just need to figure out logistically, how.

Another upside of being location independent is that there is no need to sacrifice all the comforts of life to location either, especially as I enter my thirties. Fashion capitals are exciting, and also expensive, snobby, exhausting places to live. I don’t want to live life trapped in a platinum champagne bucket full of pretty perfect popular people. All I need is a modest yet gracious space to work and sleep, and a variegated social life full of many types of friendly people who don’t take fashion too seriously. All of these things can be found in places much less competitive and demanding than London, Paris or New York.

The downside, if it could be called that, of location independence is the overwhelming array of options available. Having so many choices open to me doesn’t make figuring out what I want to do any easier. I’m following my own advice now – embracing the void, and letting the answer reveal itself in the absence of anything else. How profound, to be in the powerful position of designing my physical life to accommodate a career that has become utterly intangible.

goodbye, London

London — Danielle on October 20, 2012 at 6:55 pm

My time in London is ending. Right now I’m a bit sick, and have spent days dealing with moving stuff. I can’t think clearly enough right now to write anything eloquent yet about the city of many skylines. It’s been good to me. I’m glad I lived in London.

invitation – 30 on 30 – a fond farewell to London and my 20s

events,invitations,London — Danielle on September 23, 2012 at 10:12 am

This is it. My last month in London. In a week, I’ll be turning 30. To celebrate these losses, I will be spending a long Sunday afternoon at my local pub, eating burgers and drinking pop & pints. If you are in London, please consider yourself invited – come and say hello before I go!

Sunday September 30 2012 from 2pm until whenever

Sebright Arms in Bethnal Green

 

so far, so london – redux for Ryerson Folio

education,London — Danielle on May 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Ryerson Folio is a student-run magazine published by the university I attended in Toronto. The founder and Editor-in-Chief Trung Ho invited me to revise and update a post I wrote about adapting to life in London. Seeing a blog post make it to print is a special treat. Also, I’m glad to have the opportunity to share an honest take on freelance life with students who are in the same position I once was, considering their next steps after graduation. Read the full text at Ryerson Folio.

drawing – Fashion Futures 2012 entries

drawing,education,London — Danielle on March 28, 2012 at 12:42 pm

This was a serendipitous opportunity – I happened to run into a flatmate of an acquaintance in Rome while I was on vacation, and a classmate of theirs referred me to an organization in London called Fashion Awareness Direct. FAD is a bit like the Passion For Fashion in Toronto (where I taught an illustration session in 2009/10) – offering free fashion education and career-building opportunities to young people. If you’re a fashion professional interested in mentoring, or a young person curious about pursuing a career in fashion, you should check out FAD.

I was invited to sit in and sketch on a jury day for their Fashion Futures 2012 competition. The entrants were presenting their creative process, their sketches and muslin toiles of their designs. To sketch their ideas, I took a look at the toiles and guessed how they would look on models, so these drawings are from imagination except for the linear details of the garments.

From top left to bottom right, the designer’s names are Jakita, Randa, Robin, Sophia and Hazar.

 

Somerset House studio

live drawing,London — Danielle on February 23, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Photos by Matthieu Da Cruz

LFW sketches and confessions

drawing,fashion shows,live drawing,London — Danielle on February 23, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Tuesday was the last sunny day in the courtyard, and my last day street style sketching. As far as fashion weeks go, this one in London has been a bit adverse. I got food poisoning on the weekend and lost two days, missed a couple of the few shows I did get invitations for. Since then I’ve been operating on an empty stomach and Fear Of Missing Out.

Once I was sketching in the yard, I forgot how bad I felt. Tuesday was much busier – a lot more action. More people to draw, more people who came and said hey. It was non-stop until the sun disappeared around 3:30pm and I felt shivery.

At that point I was kindly handed an invitation to Aminaka Wilmont and got to go inside the big tent for the first and only time this season. As I sat down in my fourth row seat, I felt a veil of negative emotion settle over me. I don’t like to think of myself as much of a downer, but I think the effort I had asked of my shattered constitution had broken me down too far.

In that moment I understood that love is not the only intention you can channel into creativity. You can also use the negative. As I absorbed the show (it wasn’t like watching) I let my arm go like a limp automaton, not even trying to avoid spraying paint on my unlucky seat mates. The music and the beauty was appropriately dark, though I don’t remember much about the clothing.

The resulting sketches were wet and sticky, and without a doubt the best I had done all week. I put them on one of the big speakers at the end of the runway to dry as the audience was filing out. It was in this very conspicuous position, where the catwalk meets the doors backstage, where I felt as if all my years of hopes and dreams were dripping off of me like so much wet paint, and I burst into tears. I had been working all week, trying so hard to do good work, to get attention and appreciation, so I was both devastated and relieved to be completely alone and ignored in the blind eye of the hurricane.

I stuffed the sketches into my Sainsbury’s shopping bag, smudging and ruining most of them, and got on the bus to go home, disappearing into the crowd of London’s uncaring commuters.

On reflection, that must be how so many designers must feel in that very same physical position. Except they must feel it exponentially, because the stakes are so much higher. Imagine working so hard, season after season, long after your status as the hot new thing has cooled off. Any recognition you get stops feeling good, because no matter who says you’re great, you’re still struggling and any progress is so incremental. And no matter how much effort and money you spend, you could still experience a career-ending reversal of fortune on the fulcrum of fickle fashion.

An emotional hangover after fashion week isn’t uncommon, this one felt deeper and darker than usual.

 

sketching street style at LFW

drawing,live drawing,London — Danielle on February 21, 2012 at 11:47 am

When my invitation count ended up being, in spite of my utter lack of importance, pitiful, I decided to do something a bit different this season. I went to the art store and bought a travel easel so weather willing, I can set up studio in the courtyard of Somerset House and make my marks alongside the photobloggers as the beautiful people enter or exit or go blithely wherever they’re invited. This setup allows me to sketch bigger than I ever can on my knee at a fashion show, and unlike my fellow courtyard rats, I’m not chained to reality.

The sun has blessed me with a couple beautiful days and I’ve been burning through more ££s of paper than I care to contemplate. Here’s a selection of what looks good enough to post so far. Show sketches are on their way too – and I’m getting ready for another courtyard session this afternoon.

twenty eleven redemption

adoring,best of,blogging,illustration,London — Danielle on December 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm

This has been an incredible year, full of adversity and transcendence.

What follows is a redux, final fashion‘s finest for the year. Thanks so much to everyone who visits, reads, comments, emails and reaches out. Friends and colleagues, you inspire me. You are all wonderful. Thank you.

 

My favourite blog posts

Paper dolls

  • Vionnet – both back and front views. Braless, just the way Vionnet liked it.
  • Agyness Deyn – the first of a model series, I have a wishlist.
  • Anna Dello Russo – for the Hudson’s Bay Company. She is such a perfect fashion phoenix, delightful to draw.
  • Pink Martini Collection – my first completely hand-rendered, watercolour paper doll.

Incredible encounters

Fashion weeks and events

Extraordinary projects

Print appearances

Portraits

London life

This was a year that started hard for me and then turned around in the second half. While I didn’t tick every box, I feel like I got the gist if not the gamut of my 2011 goals.

I’m looking forward to 2012. How about you?

drawing – London skyline from my flat

drawing,London — Danielle on December 21, 2011 at 11:29 am

Landscapes and architectural drawings – not something I do often. This is my second stab this year at a London skyline, this time tracing a photo I took from the front door of my flat this summer. The slavishness to photo reference means that this time the rendering is a proportional one. I quite love the view from my flat – you can see a half-dozen major East London landmarks very clearly, and of course the ever-changing sky.

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