Saturday, 29 September 2012

Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared

One of the reasons the DIYcouture project sprang into being was that I was frustrated with the outdated look of sewing patterns - both the clothing they allowed you to make and their packaging looked old fashioned. I wanted DIYcouture to help show that homemade clothing could rival the clothing seen on contemporary catwalks.
 
Because of this driving goal, for the past couple of years I have looked to trends in high fashion to inform the seasonal reincarnations of the DIYC garments. In summer 2011 it was the orange and blue oversized stripes of Prada. That winter, it was the bold spots seen at the Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney shows. For summer 2012 it was the pastel dip dyes paraded down the House of Holland runway.
 
Personally, I have never given two hoots about trends. I started making clothing precisely because I couldn't find what I wanted to wear in the shops, as they were swamped with whatever was fashionable. This season, I wanted to get back to this idea of independence. I decided to ignore fashion altogether and design a collection all my own.
 
The starting point for the collection was a green dress I made years ago. It is a version of the grecian dress, the instructions for which are available in my big DIYC book. Here is my generous and patient sister modelling the dress in the first ever DIYC photoshoot in 2009. I have never used this photo as the bottom of her feet got chopped off.
 
 
I still had the leftover fabric from making this dress and decided I would create a collection based upon this colour. I also decided to try to use fabrics that I already owned. I was hoping that I could make 50% of the collection with fabric from my - frankly, embarassingly large - fabric stash (which my boyfriend calls my fabric library).
 
These are the fabrics I eventually gathered to make the collection. The flowery wool, the gold rectangular print fabric and black and white block patterned wool (the more exciting fabrics, it must be said!) were all new purchases from Goldhawk Road. The rest had been gathering dust on my shelves, hoping for the day they could fulfil their potential.


Having organised the fabric, I drew out my plans for the collection. You can see that at this point I couldn't decide what fabric to make the gathered dress from.


I had fun working with this beautiful, thick wool. Here is my tip for inserting a zip in the pleated skirt; push a hard back book into the skirt, so you have a nice flat surface for laying out the zip and so that you don't pin both sides of your skirt together.


After about six weeks of sewing in all my spare moments, I completed the collection. I used a navy and green spotty silk for the gathered dress. It had been forlornly sitting in a bag in my basement for years.


With the garments finished, I concentrated on planning the styling. You can see from my scribbles below that serious thought went into this. I managed to get most of the bits I needed from local charity shops, but I was fixated on the idea of having a silver shirt and didn't have any time left to make one.

After sending out a desperate appeal for one on Twitter but receiving no leads, I bit the bullet and headed to the shopping mall. It was a horrible experience and reminded me once again why making clothes is better than buying!


I transformed some plain black charity shop shoes...


... into shining silver beauties that look like they landed in my yard from outer space! Unfortunately, the shoes were lying about their size and when it came to the shoot my kind and determined model Rachel could not squeeze her feet into them, no matter how hard she tried.


I borrowed these gorgeous gold leather boots from my ultimate favourite shoe brand, Miista, whose studios happen to be just down the road from me. I made a little shoe shrine for a private moment of worship. Golden shoes, you rule.

 
As this was a winter collection, wool was certainly in order, and I asked my pattern cutting, underwear designing, machine knitting wizz of a friend Kerrie Curzon to make a scarf to go with the clothing. She found some recycled wool in a beautiful shade of slatey mint.
 
 
 

Here is Kerrie at work with her machine.

 
On a whim, I bought a plain white mask at a local stationers and sprayed it chrome silver, to potentially add a little bit of fun and drama to the shoot.


With all the elements coming together, the winter collection began to speak for itself. Whilst designing the pieces, I hoped I would be creating a collection for grown ups, something that looked more powerful and less girly than the collections I had previously designed for DIYcouture.
 
Looking at all the pieces gathered together, a sentence describing the Green Lantern comic books rang out: "Bubbling with a powerful green force, shedding light over dark evil." Meeting Rachel for the first time at the shoot, having spotted her on her sewing blog, this sentence sang even louder as she is a bubbling, positive force. She is the inspiration for the title of this blog post, for her energy is formidable and deserves to be described in scientific terms. Massive thanks to you Rachel for lighting up these images with your vitality!

In true DIY style, Rachel did her own make up in my bathroom.

 
Here you can see the very simple set up for the shoot. I hung a piece of white fabric from the curtain rail in my front room to create a clean backdrop, and taped more white fabric to the floor. Here is Rachel having fun with the billowing folds of the gathered dress.


Here is Kerrie's scarf in action , worn as intended and also as a belt. Rachel is wearing the scarf over a long version of the grecian dress. The fabric was given to me years ago and is wrinkly because it was crumpled in a cupboard for years before that. I love the rumpled texture and am loath to iron this piece, even though the side seams would benefit from a good bit of steam.

 
There are loads of musical instruments lying around my flat and Rachel ended up playing a keyboard, an electric guitar, a drum machine and a snare drum during the shoot. Here she is having fun with the mini synth and wearing a short pleated skirt with the cursed shop-bought shirt!
 


Rachel makes a great model as she is full of ideas as well as full of motion. This makes for some dynamic poses. However, I am told this is her ultimate, trademark pose!
 

Oh beautiful golden boots, can you not be mine? My shallow lust for these shoes conjured up Robert Frost's deep and honest poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay:
 
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
 
Indeed, after the shoot, I did return the boots to Miista HQ!


 
I took about one thousand photos of Rachel in just a couple of hours. We've got fun poses, heroic poses, sexy poses, silly poses, scary poses (the ones with the silver mask) and plain, simple DIYcouture poses! In order that these not go to waste, a London based artist is going to be incorporating some of these images into new work in the upcoming weeks. More on that at a later date.



For now, please do explore some of the more sensible images on the DIYcouture website : ) 


 
And what about the original green dress that inspired the collection? I decided that using it would make the collection too green (!) so it remained, rejected, on a coat hanger! However, without it this collection would not have come into being, so I must say that the green dress wields a powerful, mystical force.

8 comments:

  1. I has a blast and I loved the pleated skirt and big chunky coat....

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  2. That's absolutely amazing! I know Rachel pretty well through sewing, and boy, is she one hot mama! I'm so pleased to see that you've worked together. Your creative process is amazing and so energetic. How inspiring!

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  3. Great collection! The grey's, metallic's and greens work very well together! LOVE the mini pleated skirt! You are a very inspirational person to my creative process! Keep. it. up.

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  4. I just received the DIY Couture book and I'm soooo excited to start sewing!!I love your idea to create a book to show that making your own clothes doesn't have to be so overwhelming as it is with all these commercial patterns!I love this collection and especially the hoodie inspired me to make an oversized coat!I am just so excited about the endless possibilities!Thank you so much for giving me all this inspiration!

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  5. Ah thank you all so much for your kind and positive comments. I'm glad you enjoyed this post. I've got so many fun pictures from the shoot with Rachel it was hard to know what to select!

    @The Wardrobe Project - have fun making things, glad you like the book!

    Rosie xx

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  6. great shots great outfits !!
    and last but not least great blog ;)

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  7. i can't see ANY pics on your site right now!

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