Fashion exhibitions have never been so popular. Although it’s the blockbusters that garner most attention, what really excites me are the growing number of smaller exhibitions popping up in London in recent times (Hardy Amies, Molly Goddard, Cabinet Stories), that may be more understated, but are nevertheless equally fascinating and often more accessible.
A great example of this, is the exhibition ‘Jessica Ogden: Still’, which explores Jessica’s archive of designs, alongside her current work and features a series of related workshops.
The exhibition is an autobiographical display based on ‘curatorial conversations’ between the fashion designer/artist and Professor Carol Tulloch, who visited Jessica in London, Paris and her homeland Jamaica.
Jessica is something of a cult figure in fashion for her creative use of repurposed textiles. Patches and patchwork are signature details of her designs: “Motifs that she has often said were partially inspired by the way market women in Jamaica patched and repaired their aprons.
“Contrasting cloth, haberdashery and applique all feature prominently in her work, which suggest the repair of beautiful, often delicate garments” Tulloch explains.
Her exploration into repurposed fabrics began with her work for Oxfam’s NoLoGo project, customising donated clothes to be resold.
Following this work, she launched her own label in 1993, featuring delicately deconstructed clothes, hand sewn kimonos and customised quilts. She quickly established herself as a regular member of London Fashion Week from 1996 until the closure of her line in 2006.
Jessica’s work continues today with French label A.P.C., with whom she creates quilts made from the brand’s fabric remnants, continuing her obsession of making discarded textiles into beautiful objects.
The exhibition itself features donated fabrics from A.P.C, which have been used for workshops, where visitors have the opportunity to customise T-shirts or garments from the brand.
Visitors are also encouraged to get involved in the free-hemming of a scroll of fabric, which has resulted in a touching ‘patchwork’ of different hands producing many stitches.
It’s apt that a vacant shop in Church Street, Marylebone is used for the location of the exhibition, as this nicely reflects the reuse and repurpose aspect of her design philosophy. It also gives the show an unassuming and welcoming feel, unlike the sometimes intimidating museum.
The exhibition is curated by Tulloch and designed by Judith Clark, Professor of Fashion and Museology at LCF,. Judith has also, in a way, patched together Jessica’s distinct archive pieces to create a coherent and really stunning installation, whilst also allowing the hand-crafted clothes, loaded with memory and meaning, to speak for themselves.
The idea of craftsmanship and sustainability is becoming increasingly relevant in the modern fashion landscape, and in this sense, ‘Jessica Ogden: Still’ is timely exploration into one of slow fashion’s pioneers.
Jessica Ogden: Still runs until 23rd of June 2017 at 31-33 Church St, London NW8 8ES.