Student

New Beginnings: The Move To Manc

The summer celebrations are coming to an end. Among other important jobs like sobering up and trying to make an appropriately sized bowl of pasta, the last few weeks have consisted of preparing for the move to Manchester. Once all of the cardboard gets slung out the flat will be a cosy little Bohemia, with a bay window overlooking the local park and a few too many boxes of flavored tea scattered across the counter – exciting times ahead.

To add to this all new flower-child existence, I have finally fixed my sewing machine. After eventually recovering from the 2 year headache that fashion design brought upon me, this year’s work placement has given me the much needed opportunity to get back into the world of sewing. Truth be told, I’m really looking forward to rediscovering my passion – nothing beats the rewarding buzz you get from making something from scratch and seeing it being put to good use. Who knows, maybe this new fairy-like version of myself might be the final evolution.

Alongside the sewing aspect of the work placement, there is also the chance to use other creative mediums. Getting stuck into some painting and photography has been on my to-do list for a while, but other commitments have meant that it’s been months since I’ve even picked up a brush. Being able to explore a new city and find the time to be creative (whilst actually getting paid for it!) is the absolute dream.

So in the light of this brand new chapter, this blog will be re-purposed for a year. Instead of documenting my university progress and the occasional brain fart, its new function will be to record everything that happens to me whilst on my placement. I hope any readers will enjoy this journey as much as I’m going to – let the mini adventure begin!

Manchester

 

 

 

Tale of a TV Screen

God. If the reflections bouncing off of this blank TV screen were an actual show, I would have changed channels long ago. Staring at my expressionless, painfully average features against the white wall behind me, tinted grey against the cold black glass – it makes me realise how much editing must go into a shot before it is worthy of the big screen.

But then again, I’ve had a very similar reaction when I‘ve watched episodes of Geordie Shore or Big Brother. For me, it was a struggle to watch for more than a minute. Watching people go about their day to day business with almost obsessive interest, picking at the very fabric of their being like a starving vulture. Not really my cup of tea to be honest – I’ve got better things to do than watch So-and-So off of that reality TV program go for their morning poo.

But having said all of this, maybe there is something beautiful in studying the mundane? The more I stare at this reflection in the TV screen, I start to notice minuscule and interesting details: The way the light radiates gently from the florescent lights above, the fact that the wires holding them to the ceiling are invisible in the reflection, the way that all of the hues and colours of everyday life are transformed into an array of monochromatic shadows through the black glass. With no airbrushed augmented reality to compare it to, it looks kind of pretty.

Maybe it’s all right to turn off the TV and be okay with the image that is still sitting on the screen? It’s kind of sad that my first thought was that the unedited version of my face wasn’t good enough to be there. I bet people all over the world feel exactly the same way. Taking a million snaps and only putting 1 of them on social media is daily practice, because nobody will love us if we put that one up where we look like we’re trying too hard.

Also reflected in the TV screen is the window to my right. It’s pouring with rain outside, tinting the scenery grey, just like the black glass of the TV. I remember walking through the sleet this morning, agitated at the fact that my hood wouldn’t cover my entire head. My mood worsened when I finally reached shelter and had to wipe mascara from my cheeks, which I had so carefully applied an hour earlier.

Having taken the time to stare at this TV screen, I’ve made a promise to myself. I will walk home today with my hood down. I will jump in every puddle I see and let the icy wind blow my hair back into its natural, chaotic state. I’ll get home, pour a cup of tea and settle down to some rubbish TV. Only this time, I’ll remember to see the bigger picture – in full colour.

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Fashion & Freedom

Fashion & Freedom, an exhibition displayed at Manchester Art Gallery, explores the profound effect that the First World War had on women. The onset of war in 1914 brought many significant cultural and social changes across British society. As men left home to fight on the frontline, the women of Britain joined the industrial workforce, taking on jobs as bus conductors, ambulance drivers and window cleaners, as well as in offices and factories. New responsibility gave women new freedom and led to new ways of dressing, as silhouettes and social codes changed. Spanish director Rei Nadal unites with designer Phoebe English, to explore ‘The Fall of the Corset.’

As the film begins, we are greeted with a slow and harmonious orchestral melody – the music instantly struck me with sad undertones that made my soul sting. As the motion picture progresses and the music continues, we are introduced to a young girl who is wearing little else but a corset, being tugged and pulled into it by several men. A lot of the threads are bright red in colour and very frayed, instantly conjuring the subconscious image of lacerations. The makeup choice is also very poignant, the pale complexion and red-rimmed eyes tell the tale of a woman who is tired and in pain.

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The girl’s expression is world-weary throughout the film, portraying a character who has been in pain for a long time and is too tired to fight what she is being subjected to. Once the corset has been tied, the men tie strings to the girl’s limbs. They begin to pull and manipulate her, as if they are puppeteers and she is a puppet, further conveying the girl’s lack of power over herself. Scenes of the girl sat on a child’s rocking horse and a swing are pictured, all the while the men are still acting as puppeteers and the girl is still looking weary. By this point, the robbery of the character’s innocence and lack of her control is so hard hitting that I have to wipe tears away.

Despite the character’s obvious fatigue, she eventually pulls the threads from the puppeteers’ grasp and begins the arduous process of removing the corset, concluding with her exhausted naked body sprawled across the floor. I love how this part of the video is choreographed. To me, it reads as a metaphor for the women of the war who began their journey to freedom and independence. Although the act of removing a corset may seem like a simple task on paper, it is portrayed as a long and soul wrenching process that is a great struggle for the already drained young woman. For me, this is an accurate and respectful demonstration of what the women’s suffrage had to endure – a lonely, gruelling battle that wasn’t always appreciated for the heroic act that it was, to get to the point at which we are at today.

 

Discount Creatures

When the price is a crucial distinguishing factor among products, competition doesn’t necessarily lead to innovation of better products or to a stronger, more highly evolved industry. Price wars too often lead to a decline in the status and power of craftsmen and creativity ends up taking a back seat. Emily Cheetham explores Rita Britton’s stance on discount culture and what Nomad Atelier’s practices are as a result.

Technology-powered globalisation has made bargain hunters of us all. This means cheap labour and cheap materials are repeatedly turned to, so that customers can be offered the lowest prices. Neither of these tactics are innovative or sustainable and they certainly don’t contribute to long term growth. One result is the cheap materials get thrown away. In the UK alone, 1.8 million tonnes of textile waste are produced each year. If companies are looking to produce more clothing for less money, this figure will only increase. Another result is low-wage workers end up with an erosion of income, which leads to debt and decrease in spending – a vicious and ultimately destructive cycle.

It is also not unheard of for companies to factor in discount prices before the garment has even reached the shelves: “I’ve got 50 years of experience in the fashion industry and never have I seen [discount culture] as bad as it is today” says Rita. “Companies will now put prices up. For example, if your coat was meant to be £100, it will be sold for £120 instead, so that it can be discounted at its original price.”

Joshua Ellis & Co Ltd, located in the heart of West Yorkshire, supplies cashmere for Nomad Atelier and the company can trace the origin of their raw materials right back to individual herds. “Some people think about clothes in the way they think about food” says Rita. “They think they can only afford a MacDonald’s for tea. But it is entirely possible to make an affordable meal from fresh, locally sourced food. The same goes for clothes.” Processes centred around heritage and sustainability are fine examples of how to breathe new life into a stretched and creativity-starved market – by producing clothes of premium quality that will remain at the forefront of the wardrobe for decades to come. By extending the life of clothing by just an extra nine months, our carbon, waste and water footprints would be reduced by around 20-30% each.

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Joshua Ellis – preserving skills and specific craftsmanship is a main priority

 

Also, the shortage of passion and creativity that comes with discount culture can make a store feel lacklustre: “Discount culture has led to the dumbing down of designs” says Rita. “Young people can’t advertise anymore, because only the big boys have enough money to do it.” When put next to a genuine desire to give customers the best possible experience, discount culture really pales into insignificance. A genuine love for what you do can be infinitely rewarding and in-house design teams can often be the answer to adding a sprinkle of passion and personality to each stitch. If customers are worked with closely, designers can produce new and wonderful things that contain a warm authenticity and a sense of pride.

With garments that are made with so much devotion and commitment, it would be a sin to cheapen the craftsmanship. Nomad Atelier has belief in its ethos and its clothing – this, to me, is priceless. Discount culture may make us part with our money, but belief in your product and craft simply can’t be bought.

The Revival of the Piguet Perfumery

Perfume can do a lot for a brand – the identity can be strengthened with a signature scent and it allows the consumer to get involved with a brand at a fraction of the usual cost.

In the 1940s Robert Piguet met perfumer Germaine Cellier, who created fragrances that coordinated with the brand’s signature elegance and glamour. The first scent to be released was Bandit in 1944. The fragrance had a heavy, dark scent and a name that conjures images of pirates and sea voyages, made for the daring women of the decade. It was released along with Piguet’s runway collection that featured women in masks, with toy guns and knives, conveying the image of the “femme fetale.” In 1948, Fracas was launched, referred to as ‘The Noir Perfume’ by Lizzie Ostrom, author of Perfume: A Century of Scents. This name pays homage to the 1940s noir temptress, portrayed best by Rita Hayworth as the terrifying seductive Gilda.

Piguet worked until his retirement in 1951. Although this signified the end of Piguet’s fashion house, his brand continued to launch fragrances right up until the 1960s. The brand is now owned by Fashion Fragrances & Cosmetics, who have made Piguet’s original scents available for purchase once again, updating them slightly with modern formulas.

All of Piguet’s scents come in the same classic bottle design, all of them black, elegant and timeless. The price also catapults Piguet’s perfumes into the higher end of the market, ranging from £135-£160 for 100ml. The combination of design and price helps to develop Piguet’s luxurious and sophisticated profile, finding itself on the same shelves as Miss Dior and Chanel N◦5.

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The brand image of both Dior and Chanel has been shaped by their fragrances – Chanel N◦5 has developed into an indisputable icon over the decades, using its versatility to move on from its beginning in 1921 and adapt to the current cultural climate. Dior has released various fragrances, but Miss Dior is particularly poignant. It was launched in 1947, to symbolise hope and regeneration after the war. This was launched alongside Christian Dior’s iconic ‘New Look,’ so the Miss Dior fragrance is a very powerful symbol. It represents where Dior came from and all that it stands for, the perfect way of paying tribute to the brand’s origins in 2016.

Some other brands that have released iconic fragrances are Moschino and Viktor & Rolf. Bon Bon is a caramel scent, which comes in a bottle resembling a pink candy wrapper. This is in line with Viktor & Rolf’s abstract and artistic brand image, playing with the ideas of fantasy and femininity. Moschino’s surreal and witty character is renewed with the ironic Fresh fragrance, sold in a bottle resembling a household cleaning product.

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I Refuse to be a Part of Barbaric Journalism

​It is often said that to be a successful journalist, you have to be hard nosed – in short, be as sneaky, rude or manipulative as you need to be to get to the juicy bits. Instead of wrapping up this topic in a nice hearty fuck you, I aim to start as I mean to go on and explain why respect is the most important thing in any job, especially journalism. 

Now, I understand that in areas of journalism, the whole point is to get to the truth. I wholeheartedly think that this is a good thing. It is an important role that provides a voice for topics that wouldn’t have otherwise been brought into the public eye. What I have an issue with is the industry’s attitude towards going about this business. I would love to be a journalist and I am working extremely hard to get there, but one thing I don’t agree with is the compromising of integrity and asking inappropriate questions just for the sake of media attention.

“Take a nap and get a red bull” – are you kidding me??

Last year’s Good Morning Sacramento interview with Cara Delevingne is a perfect example of the point I am trying to make. The anchors questioned how hard she had worked for the Paper Towns movie, and even went as far as to ask if she had even had time to read the book. Rude. 

In the wise words of Rik Mayall: “We are all equal so nobody can ever be your genuine superior.” If you feel that somebody is being disrespectful, you have every single goddamn right to stand up and walk out. You don’t owe anything to anybody, least of all your time. It’s a precious thing and you don’t have to waste it trying to please people who don’t appreciate it.

Summary – it all boils down to respect. It is so easily forgotten when the going gets tough. But I strongly believe that if you treat people in the way you would like to be treated, you can’t go far wrong. 

What About Piguet?

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Robert Piguet is the designer I have chosen for a well overdue brand revival, set to launch in the coming years. So in a bid to pinpoint the essence of his character and understand the mind behind the masterpieces, I’m going to make sense of all of my research by telling my own version of Piguet’s life story …

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Once upon a time in a faraway land (also known as 1898 Switzerland…) Robert Piguet was born. 17 years later, intent on becoming a dress designer, Piguet made the journey to Paris to work under John Redfern and Paul Poiret. Both designers were very important in the early 20th century – Poiret was famous for his artistic inspiration and dressing of theatrical pieces, whilst Redfern was one of the first designers to produce sturdier textiles for the increasingly active woman.

Piguet remained with these influential and innovative couture houses for many years, before founding his own house in 1933. Whilst there, despite his training with Redfern and Poiret, he became involved as a businessman rather than a designer. Piguet employed talents such as Dior, Balmain and Givenchy to produce designs for his collections, before they rose to fame. Although the pieces came from multiple designers, Piguet embraced theatrical 1930s romanticism. Talkies were revolutionary during the 30s and they played a big part in the glamour and escapism surrounding the decade. A lot of Piguet’s work incorporated staples of this glamorous culture, such as high collars, high capped sleeves and large yokes. This theme was a constant, portrayed throughout all of his collections and he became known for dramatic, refined womenswear with exemplary attention to detail and fit.

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In the 1940s Piguet met perfumer Germaine Cellier. They worked together to create fragrances that mirrored his elegant, post-war fashions. The first scent was named Bandit, a heavy brutal scent launched in 1944. It was released along with Piguet’s runway collection that featured women in masks, with toy guns and knives, conveying the image of the “femme fetale.” In short, this was a fragrance for the Cruella De Vils, rather than the timid innocent Cinderellas of the decade. This was followed by Visa (an autumnal fruity fragrance), which was redeveloped in 2007 by Aurelien Guichard. In 1948, Fracas was launched, referred to as ‘The Noir Perfume’ by Lizzie Ostrom, author of Perfume: A Century of Scents. This name pays homage to the 1940s noir temptress, best portrayed by Rita Hayworth as the terrifying seductive Gilda.

Piguet found producing collections very strenuous and felt it necessary to take a break after each one was completed. He worked until his retirement in 1951. A less than fairy-tale ending for Piguet’s fashion house, but his brand continued to launch fragrances right up until the 1960s. The brand is now owned by Fashion Fragrances & Cosmetics, who have made Piguet’s original scents available for purchase once again, updating them slightly with modern formulas.

This would normally be where they all lived happily ever after and ‘The End’ would be printed in whimsical swirly font. But in the wise words of Yves Saint Laurent: “Fashion fades, style is eternal.” So I aim to keep writing Piguet’s story by mixing modern topics and culture with the traditional qualities of his brand, to bring his extraordinary ideas and clothing style back to the forefront.