Part Two

REFLECTION

Brutalism

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PAPER GARMENT

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GARMENT

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knit

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incorporating knit into design work

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more draping

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more draping

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crossing traditional indian wear with traditional menswear

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crossing traditional indian wear with traditional menswear

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sampling

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sampling

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TEXTILES DAY 1

Today was the first day within our curriculum area and also our first day within the textiles project. Our project began before the week even started, when we were asked to visit different brutalist structures within London. I visited the south bank centre. My personal views on brutalist architecture are mixed. Aesthetically, I think brutalist architecture is usually extremely visually unappealing, out of place and, unnatural. The way in which these fabricated concrete structures look in the skyline make me think of a dystopian future in which nature is erased and no longer a matter of importance. However, I do understand the motivation behind creating such structures and the original intention. They are fabricated in blocks before being assembled on site, making it an easier construction than other types of architecture. They are also designed for absolute human comfortability, meaning ease of way and natural light and air vents. They are designed so that as many people can live comfortably within an area. This idea itself is scary to me, that everything is too perfect, too easy and too grey. What interests me are the contrasts of ease and difficulty, the contrast between man made structures and nature: brutalism takes away this contrast. What I do find interesting and appealing though, is this idea of how can we make the human experience within society as natural and as easy as possible, and how can we design spaces so they take the most advantage of the space and the facilities within them. Already being so polarised and fascinated by brutalist architecture, especially after talking to my dad who is an architect about it, I was excited and a little nervous about how this project would go. We began the day at the barbican, drawing the structures, finding textures within the building and the surrounding areas. While I was able to draw the architecture, I was a little confused as to how this would help us find textures as most of the walls were sleek grey concrete. However, on some of the facades was a very uneven interesting concrete texture which I found very beautiful and calming. We then as a group created large collages of color and texture and placed them on the alls at the barbican. I started to realise how textures could be created and added on to structures to create new shapes, new textures and interesting new ways of looking at the same thing. This part of the project really directed my way of learning in how it taught me to take something that looked simple, find a more interesting way of looking at it and then exploring that. In the afternoon, we worked in the studio to start creating collages based on shapes and textures we had found in the barbican. I really enjoyed working on the patterns and textures, but immediately found myself trying to put them on the body. I know I want to go into fashion rather than textiles as working on the body is my main interest and main concern, and as much as I tried to stay away from it during this project, there were so many interesting aspects to be draped over the body in regards to the architecture. This only reinforced my desire to go into fashion than textiles, however, I still enjoyed today and am interested to see where this project leads me.

TEXTILES DAY 2

Today was our second day of textiles, and while it was interesting and I continued to look at textiles and materials in new ways, i did not enjoy it very much. For me, what is interesting about fashion is the way that shapes and silhouette scan be manipulated on the body to create something new and unique, I like working on a large scale, and i find that textile development is often too small scale today. We continued to work on our collages, using a mixture of images, drawings, material manipulations and mark making to create textile ideas. I found shapes within pictures of famous brutalist monuments and buildings and collaged them in a way to emphasise the contrast between this very brutal and industrial architecture with the softness and vulnerability of natural life. I also used the layering and positioning of the prefabricated structures within brutalism as a starting point, exploring how some things are very much in the forefront while other things are much further in the back. This allowed me to explore layering, and I tried to have a soft aspect within, so for example a picture of a very krass building partly covering a face or a hand. I also added soft and hard textures to emphasise this idea. For thursday we have to create 9 swatches, through which I think I will continue to explore the hard and soft nature of textiles and see how I can make my mostly 2D collages into something much more 3D.

TEXTILES DAY 3

While unfortunately I was very sick yesterday, and could not attend class, I tried my best to power though it and do the swatches at home. I began by looking for materials and textiles within nature itself. However, I wanted rigid and hard textures, which would contrast nicely with the fact that it came from nature. I found things such as hardened tree sap, which had folds and layers and through thousands of years would crystallise into hard amber crystals,. This idea in itself was beautiful to me, the fact that the blood of a tree, given the right amount of time and conditioning would turn into something lifeless and hard. To me this represented barbican architecture perfectly, this idea of through time creating something that is the exact opposite of what it once was. A meadow with cows and wild animals is now a huge concrete site with large blocks of stone stretching into the air and dark grey colors covering the facade. This dichotomy continued to influence my project, as I tried to mix the hard with the soft through layering and material contrast. However, as much as I thought the concept itself was fascinating, the process of working on such a small scale still bothered me and stressed me. I was not as successful as I hoped I would be, and I think that if I could take this project further, I would like to create these textures on a much larger scale and then see how I can work them on the body because my concept itself can be manipulated and used in a fashion sense in extremely interesting ways that I am excited to explore. 

EXPLORING PUBLIC ART - PROJECT RESEARCH

For our fashion week, we were assigned to pick 3 public art pieces in London and research them in different ways such as drawing, mark making, photography and historical evidence. I picked 3 similar structures, two by the same artist - Steven Gontarski and the 3rd by an unknown artist. I picked them for their aesthetic value within their surroundings, especially the contrast that they created with the buildings around them. I specifically focused on Gontarski's sculpture at Central st Giles, which is an area of large buildings designed by Renzo Piano, who's work is fascinating in it's own sense. Gontarski's main purpose was to create a contrast with the surrounding, to add fluidity and color to an otherwise very urban and crowded environment. He wanted to trigger an emotional response within people who probably have a very regimented routine that they do not often get a break from. I sat down nearby and started to draw it, using different mediums to express the fluidity within it. What interested me was the contrast of the sculpture and its surroundings, and also the gaps within the sculpture itself. I love layering and especially exploring that through this assignment. 

FASHION DAY 1

Today we began the day by continuing to use our public art research to create marks and find shapes. This was something I really enjoyed doing as I enjoy working on a larger scale rather than on very fine details, so finding general shapes was natural for me. We did different types of mark-making and drawing such as silhouette drawings, continuous line drawings, negative space drawings and just experimenting with mediums based on our research. We then began to cut these shapes out on smaller pieces of paper and create our own little sculptures, which allowed me to start thinking about how I could place these shapes and proportions on the body. I decided to focus on the layering of paper and how holes and cut outs could be used to reveal or hide something underneath. I then cut these shapes out on large paper and we began to create paper garments. I absolutely loved this and was very proud of how quickly I created something that turned out so interesting. Just with paper I was able to create an expressive paper garment with many holes and shapes cut out which revealed other shapes underneath. Around the neck I realised that I had unconsciously created these almost cone like looking shapes which grew in proportion and size. This idea of hiding and revealing, which applies to fashion in a very broad sense in relation to identity and how fashion can hide or reveal things about people is where I decided I would take my piece. I then did some very quick life drawings of my paper garment which allowed me to practice my drawings which I am in need of as I am still not too confident in the way I draw. 

FASHION DAY 2

Today we continued on with our public art brief, using our paper garments as a guide to the direction that we want to go in with our designs. We started researching trimmings such as straps, buckles and other fastenings. Specifically I looked at the way Raf Simons used tape in his ss17 collection debuting in New York City. I actually went to this show and remember being fascinated by the way he used the tape, which is why this was cool to bring it back. I also looked at the fastenings and buckles of construction workers in Manhattan in the 1950s and 1960s when there was a monumental amount of work going on. I emphasised this idea of layering and finding gaps and holes to hide something underneath and began to visualise this through collage, drawing and other mediums. Overall I think I understand what I want my final piece to look like and am excited to make it. 

FASHION DAY 3

Today was the final day of the fashion project. I was awake all night creating my garment, which turned out to be a white felt vest with black cones emerging from the shoulders, chest and back. These cones were inspired by my paper garment, in which I manipulated cut outs within the paper to create interesting layers and silhouettes. Within the silhouette of the paper garment I had seen these cone like shapes emerge naturally around the neck. I enjoyed the way it looked visually and the way that it allowed for different proportions of cones protruding to create layers. It also fit into my concept itself, acting as an out of the ordinary addition to an otherwise very simple garment. However, I had some issues creating this piece which took away from how it could have been. To make the cones structurally strong, I first sewed fusing fabric onto the black felt. However, this structural support was still not enough, meaning that the cones would flop at their thinnest point. I ended up having to hand stitch the top of the cones to the vest, taking away from the protrusion and the layering effect that I wanted to create. It also skimmed down the silhouette which I did not want as he whole concept was to have something very unique on an otherwise ordinary garment. Also, at 5AM my sewing machine broke so I had to extract the vest from the stuck needle which ended up ripping the vest at the lower torso. While I was super upset at first, after fixing it i noticed that it had actually created an interesting pleat and folding method. During class we started by live drawing our garments and other people in the room. This type of practice is especially important for me as a i continue to build my drawing skills. I’ve noticed throughout this week that this is exactly what i want to do with my time and in school - to create conceptual garments that are unique, well thought out, well designed, cohesive and can work in a broad concept. With this project too I honed in kn the details of the garment, doing extensive research on trimmings and the type of closures that could fit on my garment and the reasoning behind it. Overall I think I was successful with this project as I believe that I could take this project very far if I wanted to, as the concepts and ideas that I garnered and created for this project are applicable to other garments. I may go on to create an entire jacket or full outfit as I really enjoyed where this brief has taken me. The project also only reinforced the fact that I want to do fashion.




RESEARCH PROJECT

This week was reading week, during which time we were assigned to fill an A3 sketchbook based on our identities, culture, language, upbringing and other influences. I began by researching my family history and drawing my closest family members, as I think any of my identity is irrelevant without beginning with my family. I then moved into my german background, specifically the history of my country and how my countries history has influence how I've been raised. Born in the 60s, my parents were part of the generation that was extremely socialist and anti-fascist, in fact my dad and his brothers used to riot against neo nazis. I explored german propaganda of world war 2 and how my dad's generational views influenced my own socialistic views and my hate for populism and generalisations. I then explored some of the cultures I've lived in- - especially India, as I spent 8 years of my life there and became very intimate with the culture and it's people. I have a close friend who is incredible at photography, especially portraits, and using portraits to find an emotion or atmoshphere that represents the subjects way of looking at life. I did not want to include superficial images of india and rather wanted to boil it down to the people and the way they experience life. I would have loved to have more time to explore the many other places I've lived in. Finally, I explored my grandfathers own work, as he was quite an important artist and printmaker in the 60s to the early 2000s. His work mainly explores surrealism, dichotomies and multiple personalities. He was a very eccentric person and I truly believe that he is up in the sky somewhere guiding my in the right direction, both within art/fashion and life generally. 

19/1

We started the day by having two workshops, 1 knit workshop and one initial draping workshop. We started arm knitting, which was something I really wanted and needed to learn as I find my work being overly 2D and not enough sampling going on in my sketchbook. I used different materials such as poplin, wire cord, fabric swatches and my scarf to create a large knit piece which I then draped and shot on my partner. We also did some draping workshop using long wooden sticks. This was a useful way to explore silhouette on the body and we managed to create an interesting drape across the body by bending the sticks around the body. As my research was focused on traditional Indian wear, much of with is natural cross body draping in Sarees and mens kurta, this was almost a more stiff variation on that. We spent the day drawing these silhouettes and developing them into our research and theme. It was nice to get out of the sketchbook for a day and experiment on the body, which is something we sometimes forget while designing, and it's a nice reminder to make sure to address how the clothing would sit on the body. 

20/11

Today we had another workshop, this time focusing on pockets. We were asked to research pockets in beforehand. Specifically, relating to my project, I thought about pockets in indian uniforms and other uniforms and what the pocket shape and structure may look like. In india, many of the rickshaw drivers, who i have spent hours an dhours talking to wear these dark beige set piece outfits that have two chest pockets. These chest pockets are simple and have a two button closure with a double curved flap. While these pockets seemed unexciting and boring to some, to me their simplicity yet elegance and usefulness was very appealing. Many rickshaw drivers would also have little trinkets or religious items in these pockets, alogn with their keys and cigarettes. They house their most important possessions in there, which is why I wanted to research them and tribute to them. During the day, we furthered these initial pocket designs and made samples in different fabrics, taking into account shape, structure, functionality and decoration. I was able to fit these samples quite nicely into my research. I also looked at a little key hanger that my neighbour gave me, where I keep my keys. Many Indian men who have practical jobs such as driving, shopkeeping or security wear these little keychains, so i also started to think of how I could incorporate this idea of chain and straps into the pocket design. 

22/11

During this week we have had a series of workshops, which was a continuation of the drapiong workshop with Koki. We were told to cut shapes, two of them, out of calico, along with the techniques of cutting into the fabric and cutting shapes out. We then had to put these two shapes on the body and pin them to create new silhouettes and garment ideas. Because I have some pinning experience, I kind of knew how I needed to pin the fabric to create the shapes that I wanted. Because I was looking at draping garments such as Sarees, Kurtas and other indian traditional wear, I wanted to use this workshop to investigate some ways in which I could drape over the body in a certain way but add a unique twist to it. I also enjoyed this draping workshop a lot more because I do believe that when you are creating clothing or are in the design development process, things have to have a real purpose to exist. There is already an oversaturation of garment and production in this world, so things must be considered and purposeful. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people throw too many things together but it is considered outstanding or unique. I think true talent and vision is being able to pick the most important things and joining them together with intent to create something new and sophisticated. Often the most subtle things are the most interesting. 

23/11

As I continued to work on my neighborhood project, I started to understand what i wanted to project and the conceptual and physical traits i wanted to use to convey my idea. I was interested in merging traditional indian wear and religious hindu and sikh wear with the modern british tailoring and knit work. When I visited my neighborhood, and thought about my upbringing, and how I experienced indians, it was crazy to see how westernized traditional communities have become. Therefore, I decided to take some of the british tailoring aspects such as pinstripe and suit fabrics and merge them with the loose drapery and bright colors of indian garments. I also researched and incorporated knit designs from indian knit vests, which are often handmade and sold on the streets. The patterns are apparent throughout british formalwear too. This is something I also want to continue to explore in the future. I see myself applying for knit, as I think the amount of experimentation within knit is endless and I love the way that knit fits on the body. I will continue to develop my idea and designs.

26/11

Over the weekend we were asked to collect and bring in 3 different plastic or manmade scrap materials within our given color. I was given yellow, which actually was perfect because much of the colour research I was doing thus far within the project was revolving around yellow/ oranges/ golds and other metallic colors so yellow fit nicely into the project and into the evolution of my research. It also worked within my theme as much of hindu traditional wear is yellow and many of the practices such as placing bindi's (small dots between the eyes) also use powdered colors such as yellow and oranges. I collected yellow sponges, which to me have such an interesting and versatile texture, a scrap piece of yellow plastic which had an interesting translucency and finally the remnants of a food package that was also yellow. When we got to kings cross, we lined up our items according to color in a long straight line, which created one of the most aesthetically pleasing gradients I have seen. Unfortunately I had to leave pretty quickly because I was sick and felt horrible. However, to catch up with the work, I made a sculpture with my materials, continuing to explore how folds can be created. 

27/11

Today we began by drawing our sculptures with a variety of mediums, choosing specific shapes or areas of interest within our sculptures. I really like the folds created by wrapping the sponge with wire, and the difference between the contraction and portrusion of the materials being wrapped up. We then gather shapes from our drawings and started doing design development on the body, looking at how the shapes could become a garment or a piece of a garment. We then started to manipulate fabrics to create swatches. Because I was interested in the meeting of indian traditional wear and mens tailoring, I created a pinstripe fabric by creating many linear hems on a yellow poplin fabric. I wanted to take a very traditional fabric but make it come alive by creating the pinstripe physically and I imagined to use this fabric for something like a draping cloak or an oversized blazer. I also used a hand stitch technique to create a voluminous swatch which drew from some layering I had seen in my sculpture. With this I was simply exploring fabric manipulation and trying to create texture in a simple yet sophisticated way. The shapes within this swatch reminded me of how a saree fits on a women's body, so I thought about how I could use this fabric to create the same visual effect but by still having a more structured garment. I also thought about how I could use quilting to create a new fabric. When I was visiting my neighbourhood, I thought about how traditional communities must protect and preserve their culture so that it does not get lost in a city where most culture is absorbed or exploited very quickly. The quilting technique reminded me of this protective effect. This is why I thought it would be interesting to incorporate this into my project and into my designs. With it I wanted to create the bottom half to a blazer, that circles around the torso and protects the wearer in almost like a cocoon, representing the culture but the modernity that is being combined when two cultures cross-seminate.  I learned the importance of moving out of the sketchbook and on to the body, which is something I used to do a lot because I was not confident in my drawing, but have stopped doing so much during foundation. it was good to create these fabrics and visualise how they could be used on a much larger sale on the body. I also learned some new fabric manipulation skills which I can apply in the future. Im starting to get a good understanding of the type of garments I wanted to produce for this project and where I see it going. 

29/11

Today we continued our design development work in the morning and then set up for a crit in the afternoon. I was nervous for the crit as it was the first proper crit that we have had since we have been separated in our new pathways. However, I got some really good feedback on my work. A lot of the comments that I received complimented my story-telling, or the ability to bring a theme into my work and continue it until the end. Also, I received good feedback on my drawing style and how I was incorporating my ideas into my designs. However, looking at other people's work and their style of exploration, I started to think about how I could improve upon my sketchbook and my design development sheets. The most improtant thing I need to work on is being way more experimental with medium, especially in my drawing. I am sticking too much to the same drawing utensils and I really need to diversify. Also, I need to continue to create swatches and other 3-d manipulation techniques as my work can be a bit boring and similar sometimes. To take this project further, I would love to actually create a garment that I have designed from my final line-ups and style it and shoot it in a very traditional indian setting. I would love to shoot in my house in India, incorporating statues and colors in the set that will promote and elevate my garment. 

03/12

Today, BA students from CSM, westminster and goldmsmiths came to show us their work, portfolio's, andswer our questions and give us advice on the portfolio preparation and interview process. What was really interesting to me was thed ifference in style of work and attitude from students from different school. The CSM work was much more experimental, avant garde and in some ways more on the fringe of society, while the goldsmiths and westminster work was significantly more commercial. I was, and still am really nervous for the application process, but seeing their portfolio's calmed me down and `i have kind of set a path and a route in which I think I can make it onto the menswear BA. I believe in myself and the christmas break will be really important in getting the work done to put in my portfolio. The only issue I have is sometimes a lack of inspiration due to the strict guidelines of the project briefs. Sometimes I feel like a lot of the work that is done within the fashion industry is useless and just adding to an oversaturation and production of goods that are not necessary and have no purpose in this world. I want to make sure that the things I design and create have a real artistic or functional worth and that they serve someone in a profound way. i do not want to design things simply because they are beautiful or decorative, to me that is a waste of time an a waste of material. Sustainability has to be on the forefront of fashion education in the future, because current design and industry practices will not be sustainable for much longer. 

personal statement

When used purposefully and with intent, fashion has the ability to reveal, hide or create identities; express emotion, and tell a story. Beyond clothing, fashion is a reference point of culture, history, upbringing and personality. Having moved countries constantly as a child, I found myself using clothing to create emotional attachments and pinpoint memories. I found my home within clothing, as it was one of the few things in my life that I could take with me everywhere, and that I could use to show people who I was without having to tell them. When I started to explore fashion in a design sense, I brought with me a diverse identity and culture, pouring out the things I have experienced throughout my time in India and the Middle East. I began to understand how if created correctly, fashion can translate an emotion in a way that words can’t, and allow people from completely different cultures and philosophies to understand each other. It breaks down barriers and creates bridges. I also see fashion as a way to tell a story, to construct a narrative. Even as something as simple as an image or a smell can turn into a collection through research, theme development, illustration and fabric and texture manipulation. By creating clothes that have meaning, are conceptual and induce passion, fashion transcends garments and becomes an art form. Some of my biggest influences and inspirations such as Iris Van Herpen, Viktor & Rolf, Christian Dior (during his time), Dries Van Noten and Raf Simons are able to turn garments into sentimental artworks that have a basis in culture, function and aesthetic quality. Iris Van Herpen’s use of 3D printing and experimental techniques of garment creation are innovative and necessary for sustainable production in a world oversaturated with cheap and meaningless clothing. Raf Simons’ early works, specifically around 00-04 enrapture youth as he experienced it, focusing on rebellion and uprising, reflecting punk and grunge themes. Dries Van Noten’s incredibly sentimental attachment to fabrics and silhouette create a nostalgic feeling in all of his collections. The importance of this type of design is enormous, as it looks at fashion as something far greater than decoration.

 

Having embarked on the CSM foundation in early September, the course has allowed me to grow as a designer and as a person. Having not taken any formal art classes before the course, my drawing and illustration skills have progressed significantly in this short time, and have allowed me to take a much more free and exploratory approach to designing. Additionally, the emphasis on research and development is something that I’ve grown to love, as it enforces conceptuality and allows me to push my ideas. Working on the body through draping workshops and paper manipulation has also helped me develop my understanding of the body and how design work moves from 2D to 3D.

 

Culture is a huge influence on my work, and I adore the fact that we have students from dozens of different backgrounds working alongside each other, as it inspires me and enhances my curiosity even more. Having lived in India for half of my life, the disparity between the poor and rich in both countries stood out to me as a child, and I use these experiences to shine a light on inequality and poverty within India and how fashion can be used to help people. The contrasts I experienced living in India inform my aesthetic principles, and I love to create garments that reflect these juxtapositions.

 

Living in London, while very different form India, has been just as valuable, as there are an infinite amount of events, museums and, exhibitions to visit. I plan to stay in London over the course of my studies, absorbing the vibrant energy and channeling it to create unique and exciting designs. Central Saint Martin’s emphasis on creativity, experimentation, process and development will allow me to build upon my practical skills and further my ideas.

22/12- Lanyard project

Since progress tutorials, I've taken a week off to reflect on how things have been going, the direction my work is going. I've realised im not happy with my work, and what I've been doing in my last projects. I decided that for the lanyard project, I would pick a topic that I was personally attached too, and take a lot more care and pride within my sketchbooks and development processes. I've chosen to take look at communism for the lanyard project, as I will be in berlin for the entirety of the break and it's where my parents lived when the Berlin wall fell. Because I am german, but never lived in germany, and always only came home to visit, Ive always seen germany from a third person's perspective, somewhat a citizen, in some way my home, but in other senses a very foreign place. This uneasiness regarding a sense of belonging has always motivated me in my work and acted as a theme, even subconsciously. I chose to look at east german socialism because it forced me to look into the depths of the city, to explore the architecture, talk to people, learn the history and maybe discover some of myself while researching my mother country. I started by looking at the city, and researching it's image in popular culture. Last night I watched Bridge of Spies with tom hanks, which had a profound impact on me as it was coming from a very american hollywood perspective, which is how i was raised in american schools. It was very anti communist and socialist, which obviously differed from what people in other states believed. It is almost interesting to see how much of the communist movement that almost swallowed up Europe (soviets, poland, italy, east germany), was loved within the countries yet has been warped and made to seem horrible by mainly american popular culture. I went around berlin , doing some observational drawing of the architecture, noticing how the east side had many huge buildings which my parents told me are called Plattenbau. Theyre basically huge uniform buildings made to house as many people as possible in exact replicated apartments with the same furniture, same wallpaper, same size, same layout, same everything. While the idea of givign everyone equal opportunity and living space, the uniformity becomes almost creepy, and it was a very very eery vibe walking around some of these buildings. 

26/12 - LANYARD PROJECT

today i went to the DDR museum in mitte, which is right near alexanderplatz, where berlin's famous tv tower comes out of, and near the most famous church of berlin. The museum was both exciting and disappointing at the same time. Exciting because they had a ton of memorabilia from the 70s-80s, including old Tubbys, the only kind of car available to DDR citizens, along with olf food packages, a mock layout of a DDR house, which i was able to walk through and draw a bunch. The best thing they had was an old wardrobe with different DDr apparel. They had police uniforms, military uniforms, mens daily wear, womens daily wear, kids wear, fireman's uniforms. This was especially good fro my research as I had been trying to figure out where i would take my aesthetic research from. Immediately I pulled out the military uniform and looked at the many beautiful pins and adornments on the jacket. That's when i saw the aiguillete, which as i found out once i got home is a type of woven rope that adorns military uniforms and shows rank and status of the officer wearing the jacket. I loved the way it was woven so delicately, yet represented something quite strong and forceful. What I really took away from being at the museum was just the atmosphere within the gloomy mock apartment. Due to the way they had done it, it looked just as it would have 30 years ago, and I could really imagine a family living there. Im beginning to understand the direction i want to take my designing; I want to create clothing for a kid like me who would have been living during these times, who maybe understood the optimistic and idealistic system of socialism but still wished he could watch american movies and had to secretly listen cassettes from west germany because it was illegal. I need to combine the contradictions, to merge something traditional with something new and fresh. Something very strong and overpowering, maybe suffocating, like an authoritarian regime, with something adolescent, playful and beautiful. 

28/12

I've been working on my sketchbooks and continuing to talk with people who experienced east germany socialism who could talk to me about what it was like. The following conversation is a rough translation and record of a conversation I had with my late-grandfather's third wife, who despite obvious early differences with my mother in the 80s has now become close to us in the last few years. She lived in west germany during the socialist era and watched the entire ordeal unfold.

*Conversation has been edited to make sense when translating, also certain personal or other comments have been left out.

 

V: wait so when you moved to west berlin after the wall had been built?

D: yes, I moved there in my early 20s, i was still living with my parents, my father had gotten a job working as a reporter for an english newspaper. 

V: what was the atmosphere like, I would assume threatening, how much of eastern life did you see on a daily basis?

D: It was not that bad usually, only when you would go near the wall, and you would see the guards in their towers, pointing rifles at the people who wanted to cross, and every now and then you would hear a gunshot, but otherwise it was okay. For a young person, i guess, in a certain way, it was exciting, it felt like the center of the world. But still, there were certain times where it was really very tense, very scary, i feared for my father and for my friends.

V: Did you ever go into the east?

D: Yes, my father didn't want us to, but a few times, me and my friends went over. The checkpoint was intense, the guards were very unfriendly, questioning people over small things like a newspaper or a notebook they had with them. Luckily, I never had any problems. I remember going into the book stores and seeing all of the propaganda the government was using, I mean, it was brainwashing. The brave people who understood how bad the situation was and tried to leave, many of them ended up dead, or had their families killed by the state. 

V: where were you when the wall fell?

D: I was working at a gallery when i first heard the news. I mean we all knew it had been coming, but I remember very clearly, i was inspecting some pieces, and suddenly some colleagues came into the room and they were cheering and yelling, it was exciting, it felt liberating, many people, especially students went to the wall and started to break it down, it felt like the entire city was there. Many people were reunited with their families and it was amazing honestly. it was decades of oppression and fear and ti was finally coming to an end.  

2/1 - LANYARD PROJECT

I have began to create my lanyard. I have taken aspects of the aiguillette which i saw in the museum, and redesigned it to become a top. I have started creating swatches with different ropes of different colors, lengths, thickness, elasticities and weaving techniques. While i have tried to be very experimental and find a new and different way of creating the aiguillette, I am almost tempted to take the more traditional route and do a simple braid with an oval shaped medium thickness white rope and rather redesign the shape of the whole aiguillette. i think i will do this because im in love with the traditional way of braiding the ropes and I think I need to retain some of the original inspiration. If my point is to find contradiction, to merge the old and the new, or too different philosophies, then this will work. I have also been really inspired by all of the colors of the socialist states, and have really been working on how to use color effectively and purposefully. My style is really starting to show and i am really proud of the way my work is looking thus far. Im also designing the undergarment or the lanyard, as I want it to be both an accessory and a garment. Since i am looking at a more traditional, stiff weaving technique for the lanyard itself, I think i want the top to have a more feminine side too it, it should flow on the body and represent the contrast that exists to every political ideology and the contradiction that the wall represented. 

3/1 - Lanyard Project

Today I've begun to construct my lanyard. I have decided upon a final design which is a 6 piece harness of weaved white rope held together by heat shrunk rubber and metal rings. The concept is that the aesthetic comes form traditional military wear but it has taken a more modern and utilitarian form. It takes elements of communism, but puts it in a modern perspective. It is a representation of Berlin in and of itself - old and new, bad and good, beauty and ugliness all combined to create a versatile garment that can be used in a variety of situation and is made for a variety of people. To contrast the very straight edge design of the lanyard and the utilitarian design of the metal rings, I have also decided to knit a long shirt with very loose yarn that will drape fairly tightly over the body, accentuating curves and giving the piece more of a feminine vibe. The reason I decided to do this was to add an element of beauty and femininity to quite a strong piece. Additionally, as the theme itself contains a lot of violence, uncertainty and disruption, i also wanted to wrap it up by creating something with a more positive outlook on the future, and i think the knit top really allows me to do that. 

07/01 - LANYARD PROJECT

Today I shot my final piece with a friend at the barbican. I decided to pick the barbican as it also ties very well into this idea of utopianism and creating an optimal society for everyone, and it is an example of how something like this can be achieved. I thought this was a nice contrast to how east german utopianism ended. Additionally the architecture is striking and very utilitarian, which i thought complimented my lanyard nicely and also contrasted slightly from the knit piece underneath. Finally, the high walls, on which I had my model walk as i took the photo represented this idea of overcoming and being free. I am extremely happy with how the photos turned out and very proud of the work I have done. If i were able to take this project further, I would like to create more garment using the weaving  technique, layering these pieces over one another and creating other interesting silhouettes. Additionally, I would like to spend more time in other post communist countries. During my research, i came across so many interesting buildings and places in the world that have been affected by similar things that people in Berlin went through so I would love to go and look at some of these places and draw inspiration from them.

10/1 - DENIM PROJECT

Today we started the denim project, and it's been really tough for me to figure out a theme or concept to follow. Unlike other briefs, which start with a place, a theme, or an object, this project begins with a fabric. I was thinking either I could start by just exploring the fabric, seeing what I could do with it and then picking a concept later, or picking a specific era of denim and then researching that to find a start on my project. Either way, today i visited a factory with a friend of mine called Blackhorse Ateliers. They are London's only bespoke jeans maker and they work with some of the highest quality denim milled around the world but specifically in Japan and Italy. They were kind enough to give us a tour of their factory which included a dyeing area, a cutting and sewing area and a distribution area. Afterwards, with their generosity they gave us each around 6m of scrap denim. This was honestly one of the biggest blessings because good quality denim is expensive and they just gave it to us for free since we took the initiative to come see the factory. What was probably the most exciting and interesting things about the factory?

- to talk to some of the people who actually make the clothes, one of them told me how the factory gave him time off and extra pay when they found out he was going through some personal issues, made me think about how people are treated in the fashion industry and how a community project like this can be a cure to a greed ridden industry.

- to hear about how the factory tries to minimise waste, provide livable wages and also to invite community members from E17 to come join in (all e17 residents get 17% off their first pair)

- to see a company that is not worried about trends, about high street fashion bullshit to be frank, but rather to perfect one single garment to the very best it can be. 

Overall I think it was a good entrance into the project and although I am still a bit unsure about my concept, this has definitely got my mind moving and I have some potential ideas i will ponder and develop over the coming days.

11/1 - DENIM PROJECT

I figure out what I want to do with this project. i just finished watching a tv show called "The Get Down" brothers, which is an extravagant production directed by Baz Luhrman (one of my favorite directors and directors of the great gatsby), and a movie called "Rubble Kings". The get down brothers follows a group of friends in the south bronx of nyc in the 1970s who basically discover hip hop (in real life the wu tang clan). The show deals with music, street art, graffiti, love, disco music, drugs and situations that were happening in the bronx in the 70s. Rubble kings also deals with the south bronx in the 70s, illustrating the lack of police presence and the neighborhood gangs that had risen up as authority figures. The main characteristic of these gangs is that they all wore denim vests and jackets with their insignias on the back. This was immediately my starting point for my denim project. i wanted to explore this idea of youth, of creativity of unity and of friendship through the lense of the clothes that they wore. Today I did some research into what these gang mnembers and kids were doing and found old photographs of bboys or breakdancers. The movement itself forces the garments to be adaptable, resilient and strong. I did some draping based on this idea, using very large flowing silhouettes, replicating if a dance was jumping in the air etc. I also spray painted onto the denim, looking for a color pallete and insignia that would correlate to the research. I thought that for this project, it would be cool to create my own "gang", and design clothing for my gang, it is called LS. I knitted a sample with the same letters on it. Today I pushed myself because I started to drape as if the body was in a different position, such as in the air turning, rather than simply for the mannequin.

17/1 - DENIM PROJECT

The last few days have been really intense, i have begun to start preparing my portfolio sheets while still working on my denim project. However, the project has taken some exciting turns. I have begun to understand where i went to head with the design, i think i want go more conceptually than traditionally design single outfits. I've been thinking about this idea of a gang, and an isignia that connects them with a bond they cannot break. In a lot of gangs, trying to leave can lead to death or being an outcast. I've been thinking about what this can mean in design. Sure, i could design a uniform for my gang, and I have been looking at this idea, but also have been looking at what can physically connect a gang or a even just a group of friends. I want to incroporate certian elements from my research such as the vest, a need for movement and in terms of color and print; graffiti. I started to design a piece for 5 people, 3 jackets in different lengths and two trousers. I've started to cut the denim which is white.

This process has been really engaging for me because Im very into conceptual fashion shows. I've been watching hussein chalayan's old work, specifically the show where the models walk on stage and take pillow covers off a furniture set and ptu them on. This type of theatrical shows are something i see myself progressing into, and something iw ant to try and work toward with this project. 

19/1 - DENIM PROJECT

Today I finished up the construction on my piece and started to paint it. I stitched all the pieces together and put it up on a wall by the 3d workshops. I asked anyone who walked past to paint on it, the idea being, that iff this garment connects people, forces them to be a unified mass, then the print should also be based in the same idea. I ahd some problems with the paint as the spray cans from the shop dont really show well on fabric, however, it turned out to be worth it in the end becuase it almost gave out an effect of an old scratched up graffiti wall. Once i started to have multiple layers with different pieces and tags, i began to spray it myself, working over it with LS motifs, along with my own tag. By the end of the day i was really happy with how the print turned out, and also the fact that I had managed to get quite a few people help me paint it in the process, i met some people from different pathways which was cool. I learned a lot throughout the construction process about patternmaking and sewing too. I have a somewhat decent knowledge of patternmaking and sewing, but especially with pants i've always had problems. Today I really understood the zipper construction around the crotch and also the construction of sleeves on some of the jackets.

 

things i still need to do tomorrow:

- put a layer of latex over the fabric, i want it to stiffen up and for the paint to look glossy, will give it some 3d texture

- finish the stitches, cut loose threads

- find models to shoot with, begin to plan out the shoot

8/1 - DENIM PROJECT

I haven't been reflecting as much as I should have over the last week, but it has been super intense and somewhat shitty honestly. I left my final denim piece on the 3rd floor because i was done with it and just waiting to find the right location to shoot. When I went in today I noticed that the construction workers had thrown away my piece under direction from the staff. It was a piece that I worked on for at least 30 hours total and one that i really loved and had a super cool shoot planned. The idea was to choose a street and take widelens pictures of it every 10 metres and then peice the photos together side by side on a laporello to create a full street. Then I wanted to have my "gang" ( a bunch of my friends), to be interacting with each other on the street with the garment, doing things that we would do a normal saturday night, like buying booze from an off license and going to the pub. The idea was to tell a story through the photoshoot, which is something i'm super interested in exploring more as I most definitely want to do FDM next year. I figure tat creating a beautiful design or garment is one thing, but being able to use photography and film to translate the idea and imager to the consumer is just as important. I had a little bit of a mental breakdown, cried a little bit and then figured out what I was going to do!! Jo was sweet enough to gift me 6 huge sacks of 10x10 cm knit samples and about a year's supply of knit and told me to make something beautiful. Considering that the idea behind my garment was to create something by and for a community, I decided that using these samples would actually work quite well within the theme. I began to stitch the samples together, aiming to recreate what I had originally made. However, I want to find different places on the garment to connect the separate people. Since I want to include the idea of movement and dance, I want to create something more elegant and something more applicable within that sphere, also something more streamlined. i could connect them by the arms and legs. I'll have to figure that out. 

Other than this whole ordeal I've been working steadfastly on my sheets, and I have most of them done now, just not the denim sheets, which is going to be hard now that I need to rethink the layout and imagery to include what happened today. The sheets themselves are hard to make because my style is quite different than what people consider the traditional csm style. I love to fill my pages with information and color, while I know that tutors and ba interviewers prefer more of a minimalistic style, But i think i will take this risk because it is important to show them how I work, and if they like it they like it, and if not, then I guess CSM might not be for me in the end. 

It's been long days and long nights for the past week, and I know I will have to continue right up until my interview, but today was a real setback, and I kind of feel like just giving up, but this knit piece could be really interesting if i manage to pull it off in time. 

INTERVIEWS

I had my interviews today, and i've got to admit that i've been neglecting workflow a bit, not purposefully, but I've had probably the most intense few weeks that I've ever had, and while they've pushed my work and my creativity more than they've ever been, I haven't had too much time to just sit and down and reflect.

I learned a lot about myself during this process. 1stly, people can really be pushed, and pushed some more. I haven't been sleeping too much, eating cycle has been messed up etc. just like all the other kids, but I've had so much motivation, and so much energy to produce work, and although I was still putting togetehr my sheets, printing final outcome images and making a jacket for the interview up until literally 5 minutes before the interview, it was so so unbelievable cathartic to just put my work on the table, be proud of it, and know that I literally gave them every drop of energy I had. The interviews itself were, well, uneventful. They asked me the same 3 standard questions, what are my inspirations, where i see myself in 10 years, and why i applied to all 3 courses. I knew these questions were coming from a few friends, but I kind of wished the mixed it up a little bit, or asked me about my work. As far as my inspiration goes, I talked about my mother, the cultures i've lived and the inspiration I draw from those cultures and reinterpret in my own style. in 10 years, I think I said that I see myself creative directing for my brand and possibly another house. I don't really remember the rest, it was really quick and passed as fast as i couldn't have imagined. i can't tell if it went well or not, but im really damn proud of what I made and so hopefully it should be okay.

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PUBLIC ART BEGINNINGS

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Neighbourhood draping experimentation

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draping

With this draping workshop, I wanted to experiment with pleats and folds to create a natural drape across the body. I attempted to keep it very minimal, basing my draping off the saree shape, and allowing simple lines to create a sophisticated look.

pocket sampling

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pocket experimentaiton

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initial design line-ups

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color and trimming research

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sculpture

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sampling

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Image

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