August 20, 2015 

Archive Artefacts: Percy Savage Bow Ties

London College of Fashion has a range of weird and wonderful items held in its college archive. The archive contains pieces of the college’s history, from its original trade schools at Barrett Street, Shoreditch, Clapham and Cordwainer’s School, as well as some particularly inspiring, special collections.

The special collections include the likes of the Mary Quant Make-up Collection – 30 items of make-up from her 1960s range; Menswear Collections – including suits by Tommy Nutter and Savile Row tailors Hunstman and Henry Poole; and Women’s Dresses – from the 1920s to 1990s given to us by the Korner Family, the Ann Barr Estate, Miss Hester Borron, and Jenifer Rosenberg.

Each academic year I am fortunate enough to choose a selection of pieces from the archive to reside in my office for the year. I thought I would share this process with you in the hope that I will highlight the fascinating items we have hidden away here at LCF.

I usually pick four or five small items to go in my glass cabinet, then a piece of clothing to hang on my wall. Each week I will reveal one of the items I have chosen for this year and a bit of background behind it.

Every year I try to choose a theme on which to base the choice of the items. This year after writing an article for Harper’s Bazaar on the importance of a working uniform, I was thinking about the importance of having an individual, working style, and as my style is usually dominated by black and white, I decided to theme the pieces around ‘monochrome’.

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Glass bow ties by Andrew Logan.
Percy Savage Archive: London College of Fashion Archives.

The first item in my cabinet this year were these couple of beauties. These original, quirky bow ties were designed by Andrew Logan but belonged to Percy Savage, whose collection makes up the Percy Savage Archive.

Savage was a flamboyant figure in the world of fashion, and a key figure in the London fashion media during the 1980s having invented himself as the original fashion publicist.

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He was a close friend of Christian Dior – who named his iconic scent Eau Sauvage after him – he played a pivotal role in the career of Yves Saint Laurent and launched Mary Quant onto the US fashion scene. Savage also paved the way for London Fashion Week after initially setting up the London Collections fashion shows. He was known for his eccentric style and especially liked unusual ties

These are two of six glass bow ties made by Logan and owned by Savage. Made from glass mosaic set in resin, both are signed by the designer and date to 1997 (white) and 2002 (black). With their sparkle and shine, they look so unique and really stand out amongst all the standard bow ties, I can see why Savage would have liked them. Together I think they form the perfect foundation for my theme!

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Hope you like them!

August 17, 2015 

HARPER’S BAZAAR: Working uniforms

Today’s woman is overloaded with choice; which job, where to live, what to buy. What to wear to work is yet another decision to make. Such choices give women a level of freedom that should not be taken for granted, but they can also place a psychological burden. How can we make clear decisions on what to wear to work and what is the benefit of doing so? Find out in my article written for Harper’s Bazaar here…

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Picture: Pamela Hanson

August 13, 2015 

Sustainability: CSF Consultancy

Changing what we teach and how we learn is one of the greatest contributions an educational establishment can make. Although we want to change outlooks on education here at LCF, making sustainability a key part of the curriculum, we also want to influence change in the industry.

Our Centre for Sustainable Fashion aims to not only set new agendas in government by driving legislative change, but also work with businesses, small and large, to guide sustainability strategy.

CSF offers a range of consultancy services to external organisations, ranging from the development of sustainability strategy at an executive level to the delivery of products and services, in partnership with design and marketing teams.

Since it was established it has collaborated with Oxfam, Tabeisa, Unilever, Arup, Defra, and the Indian government. It aims to work with all levels of the fashion industry to educate, innovate and create momentum for change.

One of the major businesses CSF have worked with is Nike, who came to CSF with a question: How can we de-couple successful design from the degradation of nature?  They wanted to improve their material choices to decrease the effect they have on the environment, whilst still maintaining their honed aesthetic.

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The launch of the MAKING app July 2013. Image via CSF

The result of the collaboration between CSF and Nike was the development of a new app: MAKING - a tool to inspire designers and creators to make better choices in the materials they use.

Whether you are a designer, a product creator, or just interested in the impacts of the materials you use, the app provides the information to help you make more informed material choices.

The first version of the Making app was launched in July 2013 and you can download it here

But it’s not just large companies that CSF work with, they also recognise the importance of working with pioneering start ups to uncover and evolve creativity and innovation.

To showcase the unique network of creative small businesses who have been supported by CSF, the team conceived i-Sustain, a year long collaboration with i-D magazine.

Each feature in the magazine was inspired by the work of a different designer linked to CSF and set out to question the way we purchase and wear fashion and promote considered consumption.

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Image from i-Sustain project via Kerry Dean

The CSF are complementing our educational offer by influencing change in the industry. Their work shows how we might future proof our industry, by making it responsive, adaptable, profitable and ultimately sustainable.

We are  educating our students on the importance of sustainability , but until they graduate, it is CSF educating the industry on how we can create Better Lives.

August 10, 2015 

SHOWSPACE Gallery

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Images via Francesca Tye

A few pictures from the recent exhibition: SHOWSPACE at Live Archives for those of you unable to see it yourself, and a small glimpse of what it was all about. Intimate venue, live models and a chance to get up close with Yamamoto’s garments, a unique experience.

For those whose Yamamoto appetite is still not fulfilled, hear more via my “In Conversation” piece with him…

 

August 7, 2015 

Rénee Cuoco on BBC Breakfast

For those of you who like to catch a bit of early morning TV, you may well have seen LCF’s Rénee Cuoco on BBC Breakfast this morning.

Rénee was representing The Centre for Sustainable Fashion on the sofa, talking about how we can make our clothes last longer, after British menswear designer Tom Cridland recently produced a T-Shirt with a 30 year guarantee.

Rénee spoke about the importance of building emotional relationships with our clothes and thinking about the future of our garments before we buy them. Are they going to last more than a couple of months? If not, what are we going to do with them?

She also mentioned the college’s work with Kering, Nike and H&M, in support of the upcoming fashion recycling week.

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BBC presenter Naga Munchetty got involved in the debate by starting a conversation on Twitter by asking ‘What’s the oldest item of clothing you own? Would you buy a t-shirt designed to last 30 years?’

Many people tweeted in to the show talking about their treasured old clothes, such as a woman who wore her non-conventional wedding dress for her 25th wedding anniversary, or a t-shirt a man had worn for over 18 years, and Rénee herself mentioned a jumper she had inherited from her grandfather.

In what has become a throw-away culture, it was very encouraging to see people engaged in discussing the value of their clothes, seeing their long-term use, rather than being destined for landfill after a few months.

It is also brilliant to see our staff featured as leading experts on the UK’s most watched breakfast show, getting our message to the wider public and demonstrating our research is a vital part of creating ‘Better Lives’.

August 6, 2015 

Yohji Yamamoto: SHOWSPACE

“Are you listening? The fabric has so much to teach us.”

Summer is always a great time to explore the latest exhibitions as the demands of academic life slow down for a few weeks.

I was particularly pleased to hear that a new exhibition exploring the work of one of my favourite designers, Yohji Yamamoto opened on Friday at Live Archives.

Although Yamamoto is one of the most exhibited living fashion designers – his work has featured in almost fifty museum presentations since 1983 – he has famously declared “I hate exhibitions” and that “museums are where fashion goes to die”.

Fittingly, this show run by former LCF PHD student Jeffrey Horsley, is not your usual fashion exhibition. Set in the intimate Mare Street venue, the garments were not hung on mannequins, but worn on a live model.

Jeffrey, inspired by Yamamoto’s appreciation of the golden age of Paris couture – evident in explicit references to the work of Madame Gres, Dior and Chanel in his collections – created a contemporary couture salon, where visitors are invited to try on clothes or select ones to be presented on the live model.

When speaking about his decision to show his pret-a-porter collection during the Paris couture schedule Yamamoto said:

“I had been thinking to show my clothes in front of a comfortable number of people, allowing them to smell the fabric in a very intimate way. This has been my dream for a long time.”

This desire for intimacy is at the heart of the SHOWSPACE exhibition. Yamamoto’s vision of a sensory and emotional association with garments is realised as we experience first-hand how his garments fit a moving body

One of Yamamoto’s trademarks is to incorporate multiple options of how a garment can be worn, and SHOWSPACE enables us to explore these options and participate in Yamamoto’s creative process.

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The exhibition also highlights the sophisticated design of Yamamoto’s garments and how he reconstructs Western dress conventions, highlighting his technical ability as a dressmaker.

Dropped armholes and displaced shoulder seams give a new softness to the shoulder. Notches in the offset collar reveal more of the crucial neckline and vertebrae.

Jeffrey explains how Yamamoto always likes to focus on the body’s two key curves: the neck and back. He said, when Yamamoto is imagining a woman to dress, he sees an older woman walking away from him, picturing the back of her neck and body, he calls at her, but she keeps on walking.

The sense of an empowered and individual woman runs right through Yamamoto’s clothes. There is a real sense of fluidity and undress almost – his clothes are not tight, never forced on the body, but work with it, they are loose and often just need to be clutched closed.

His clothes might be fitted round the waist or sleeves, but you’re not having to struggle to pull your skirt down, or sit in tight trousers, he understands clothes need to have a relationship to the person wearing them, it’s about freedom.

His focus on liberation is only highlighted further by the fact that, as Jeffrey also points out, almost all his designs include pockets. According to Yamamoto, putting pockets into a woman’s garment releases her, she should never have to carry a bag.

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Over 60 pieces from the LA collection are featured in the room, a mixture of archive and retail pieces, all from different collections which makes it a unique presentation.

SHOWSPACE focuses on clothes to be worn, not showpieces destined for magazine pages and institutional showrooms. There is a real focus on understanding how the pieces relate to their body and how they function as wearable pieces.

Just like Yamamoto himself, this exhibition is about the garments, not the fashionability. It’s not a show-stopper, it’s understated, well-informed, simple and highly enjoyable.

For those that want to see more of the exhibition, I will be posting a few pictures from the show tomorrow!

Yohji Yamamoto: SHOWSPACE

31 July – 8 August 2015

Live Archives

81 Mare Street

London E8 4RG

 

July 30, 2015 

SALT Magazine

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This week I wrote a post for SALT magazine about the environmental issues the fashion industry must address.

In a world with rapidly depleting resources and increasing insecurity both politically and environmentally, I discuss what role, if any, the fashion industry can play in changing our course. Have a read here.

SALT is a new magazine exploring compassionate business thinking. It provides a platform for business leaders to change the collective mindset of the global business community and promote a more compassionate world, where business is a force for good.

Over the next few months, in the lead up to the UN Climate Conference, our Centre for Sustainable Fashion will be submitting pieces on a monthly basis setting out our work and vision on sustaining the environment.

Have a look at the rest of Salt Magazine’s offer – it’s an intelligent and thought provoking magazine and one that we at LCF hope to be working with on a regular basis going forward.

 

July 29, 2015 

Sustainability: Kering Partnership

One of the most important developments in our support of sustainability is our partnership with fashion conglomerate, Kering.

Kering own some of the world’s most recognised brands, including Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen, so the partnership presents a fantastic opportunity for our students to learn more about how sustainable practices can be implemented into the industry.

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Both Kering and LCF recognise that sustainability is the greatest imperative of our time and share a sense of urgency to utilise our creativity in order to transform fashion’s practices and culture.

Kering have already taken steps towards improving sustainability within its brands, such as Gucci’s zero-deforestation handbag, Volcom’s 100% organic cotton denim collection, and the Kering Environmental Profit and Loss Account, a tool which calculates the monetary value of any environmental damage caused along their supply chains.

This is why we have agreed to work together over the next five years to support further sustainable practices and innovation. Engaging LCF students, as well as designers, teaching staff, researchers and industry experts, the partnership plays an important role as an incubator for new ways of thinking about sustainable fashion.

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With François-Henri Pinault, Chief Executive Officer of Kering. Image via LCF News Blog  © Alex Maguire

One of the key ways in which Kering is supporting LCF over the next five years is in co-creating our curriculum.

This is equipping a generation of our graduates with ecological literacy and skills for design, which we hope will create new habits, practices and values.

The partnership also includes The Kering Talks, which take place every October, where business leaders from the fashion industry will speak on the latest developments in the area of sustainable fashion, sharing new thinking and breakthroughs in best practice.

The final aspect of the partnership is the Kering Award for Sustainable Fashion, an annual competition, which I recently blogged about here, open to third-year BA and Masters students. Two winners are awarded a monetary grant and an internship placement within Kering brands, a fantastic prospect.

This partnership offers an unparalleled opportunity, not only to create new ways of educating our students, but also encourage discussion around the issue of sustainability, and honour student work which demonstrates sustainable innovation.

Together we plan to build Better Lives.

July 24, 2015 

Sustainability: Research

Research is vital in any educational setting, as it is ultimately what challenges preconceptions and expands our imaginations.

At LCF, the pioneering research of staff such as Dr Kate Fletcher, Professor Helen Storey and Professor Lucy Orta, is challenging fashion’s environmental footprint and inspiring dialogue around the issues of sustainability.

Dr Kate Fletcher, reader in Sustainable Fashion at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, is responsible for the Local Wisdom project, started in 2009, which explores resourceful practices associated with using clothes.

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Local Wisdom portraits. Image via Centre for Sustainable Fashion by Paul Allister

She aims to challenge the fashion industry’s dependency on continuously making more products, by encouraging the sustained use of garments, giving them substantial attention and encouraging their longevity.

Local Wisdom gathers stories and images from the public of how people use their clothes and tries to integrate these use-practices into new business models.

I took part in this project myself, when the project came to London, I spoke about alternative dress codes and how my style has evolved over the years to involve key peices of clothing that I always return to.

Kate’s research is ultimately making us re-examine our relationship with what we wear and challenge the ease with which we discard our clothing.

Another member of our Centre for Sustainable Fashion, Professor of Fashion Science, Helen Storey, has been using fashion and technology in revolutionary ways with the aim of improving our wellbeing.

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Helen Storey’s catalytic dress. Image via Centre for Sustainable Fashion by Trish Belford

Her current project, Catalytic Clothing seeks to explore how clothing and textiles can be used as a catalytic surface to purify the air around us. Her pioneering work, has brought the worlds of art and science together, producing hybrid products which challenge the status quo.

We believe that collaboration between the arts and sciences will be critical in inspiring progress in environmental and social issues. Fashion can no longer be exclusively for the young and glamorous, with an ageing population and pressing environmental concerns, future fashion needs to become more practical; Helen is paving the way for this to be the case.

Finally, Professor Lucy Orta, Professor of Art and the Environment at LCF, in creative partnership with Jorge Orta, is another eco-pioneer who uses art as an agent for awareness and change on issues of sustainability.

Together, they have exhibited projects such as such as OrtaWater which highlighted the corporate control over clean water, and Refuge Wear, which involved creating temporary shelters that could be transformed into clothing to offer protection in emergency situations, in a bid to highlight the plight of the homeless.

Their international shows, have called a global audience’s attention to environmental or social problems and encouraged constructive dialogue around these issues.

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Refuge Wear. Image via London College of Fashion Research Publication

Our academics’ projects have already begun to enhance public awareness and understanding of major sustainability issues. They have proved that by asking original questions, together with creative and rigorous research, we can bring Better Lives to life.

July 23, 2015 

Savage Beauty with Claire Wilcox

On Monday I was treated to a tour of the V&A’s brilliant Savage Beauty exhibition. I was guided by our own Chair of Fashion Curation at LCF, and the V&A Museum’s Senior Curator of Fashion, Professor Claire Wilcox.

The exhibition, showing the work of the late, visionary designer Lee Alexander McQueen, only has a couple more weeks to run, but there were still hundreds of people queuing for tickets.

The exhibition has proved so popular the museum has decided to open its doors for 24 hours during the final two weekends of its run, but already most of these tickets have gone, so I felt fortunate to be getting my own private tour.

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Claire’s knowledge and insight made the tour a fascinating experience, hearing her thoughts on McQueen, his relationship with art, and her vision for curating the show was a real privilege.

The exhibition itself was also a real visual treat, and testament to one of the most innovative designers and creative talents in UK fashion history.

Although the show began its life at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, it seems apt that the exhibition was expanded and edited to be brought to London, where McQueen was born and learned his craft.

As McQueen is quoted saying in the exhibition : “London’s where I was brought up. It’s where my heart is and it’s where I get my inspiration.”

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Claire mentioned that McQueen used to come to the V&A archives regularly and he was very knowledgeable about fashion history.

This is easy to see in his designs, which often had multiple influences and layers, attempting to make their own mark on fashion history

He is also quoted stating: “I want to be the purveyor of a certain silhouette or a way of cutting, so that when I’m dead and gone people will know that the twenty-first century was started by Alexander McQueen.”

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During his lifetime, McQueen managed to combine an eclectic range of influences with a mastery of tailoring and respect for traditional craftsmanship – a combination that often led to such thought provoking designs that were close to being works of art, not just items of fashion.

It becomes clear walking through the exhibition that McQueen’s work was not only beautifully crafted, but that the narrative was also very carefully considered. He was interested in exploring the potential of fashion to be theatrical; to stage an event, much like a performance art.

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Savage Beauty is a very moving exhibition, not just through its theatricality and intense creativity, but because you are left feeling both sadness at the loss of such an inspiring artist, and also celebration of such incredible talent.

I will be returning to the topic of McQueen later in the summer as Claire has agreed to write a guest post on his relationship to art which I am very much looking forward to.

For now, the exhibition at the V&A runs until 2nd August, and LCF’s Fashion Space Gallery are hosting Warpaint: Alexander McQueen and Make-up, a satellite exhibition to Savage Beauty, focussing on Alexander McQueen’s catwalk make-up, until 7th August.

For those unable to see the exhibition, you can also read Claire’s beautifully produced book accompanying the show, Alexander McQueen, available at the V&A Shop.


© 2015 Frances Corner