Blog Post 15: Evaluation

Evaluation of My Blog:

As I made developments with my research, I have found it useful to get into the routine of putting them on my blog.  It gave me a chance to reflect on my views, experiments, successes and things I would like to work on in the future. I also know I will be able to refer back to these blog posts at relevant points in the future and will be of vital use to me. As time went on and I was increasingly learning new things, creating blog posts helped me to establish writing as a routine. As well as this, Lawson B. caught my attention because he has stated in ‘How Designers Think'(2006) that design will ‘deal with both precise and vague ideas, call for systematic and chaotic thinking, need both imaginative and mechanical calculation.’ These are all qualities which I feel I have and can use effectively in the future.

As I researched how C.A.D. is used in the fashion industry, it made me more aware of how important it will be for me to further develop my skills in Photoshop and Illustrator and to master the tools on them, so I can apply them to future projects.  As well as this, I will continually keep researching new up and coming software, related to pattern cutting, virtual 3.D illustrations etc.  It is important to keep up to date with new technological developments, as it is always improving at such a fast rate.

In the future, I intend to have a blog which will enable discussion, as well as being an informational website published on the World Wide Web. My entries will be of a diary style (informal & conversational), so others can see what I am continually doing and others can give me their views too. It will completely widen my world, giving me the opportunity of starting a business and gaining useful contacts, ie. consumers, models, photographers, fashion show organisers, C.A.D. technicians, lecturers, designers etc. My blog will be much the same as having a business card but more environmentally friendly. It will also be like a public journal, where I can share personal thoughts and give quick updates to promote myself, sell products and show off new collections as they arise. In my view, a blog will be essential for me as a designer and I can’t think of any downsides to developing one. There is a famous saying, ‘sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words’. In my view, a visual image of a fashion illustration or a garment on a blog is much more effective than lengthy paragraphs or a conversation about a fashion design.


Blogging has and will help me in the future to just quickly get to the point on many ideas. Blogging will give me the chance to quickly make statements about many different ideas as and when they arise.  I am naturally a person who has so many ideas and sometimes they just all come to me at once. Blogging is an informal way for me to share my ideas and for others to give me feedback too.  I can also edit and add information to different blogs and site pages, as I take on board other people’s ideas and develop mine own too.  Eventually, some of the blogs and site pages could become journal articles, as they will be focusing on one point and becoming more detailed. As I will be taking on board other people’s ideas, once again, this will widen my world of useful contacts for the future. I could also contact editors and promote myself through writing fashion articles too. Fashion Journalism is an area I am open to seek opportunities for in the future. So, this blogging assignment has been a particularly useful exercise for me.

Blogging wont necessarily make me become a more confident writer, as I feel I am confident anyway, having an A. Level in English Language and having worked as a Primary School Teacher for many years. However, blogging will enable me to share my thoughts with a wider audience and learn from other people’s ideas too.  It will also help me to keep track of my creative ideas and thoughts in a more organised way as they develop, through the use of site pages, blog posts and the help of others.

So, I conclude that upon reflecting on this blog, which I have created for my M.A., I now feel that I have thought more deeply about the creative processes which could be involved in my final major project and why I shall use them. I have also reflected upon contacts which I must contact in the second Semester to stimulate and guide my ideas and creative thought processes and designs. Much thought has also gone into issues which are important to me, such as sustainability, climate change and making all women feel good. Fashion is a statement that women can make on two major levels. It can help to make themselves feel more confident and give them self-worth. Fashion can also be used as an indirect method of spreading messages about how we can all help to look after our planet for the future generations.

Confrontation, protests and disrupting people’s lives is not, in my view, necessary to create change. It just causes bad feeling for people to have to get to their jobs to provide for themselves or their families. I feel a softer, kinder approach is better when spreading a message for the greater future of mankind and trying to create change. Powerful leaders of change, in my view, are the ones who are empathetic, kind and look after others. I have always found that appealing to a person’s better nature is far more effective than being confrontational and causing disruption. So, as far as I am concerned, fashion is a relatively non-offensive vehicle which can be used to raise awareness about how we all need to do something about climate change together. I have made a start by exploring the visual aesthetics. I feel, I now after conducting research about sustainability, need to include that concept in the formula of what I will be producing. This to me is an exciting prospect and something which I am very much looking forward to working on in the new year and further onwards too. Through fashion can we create a change for the better? That’s what I really want to explore.



Lawson B. (2006), ‘How Designers Think’, Architectual Press Pub. (P.4)

Blog Post 14: Sexuality And Body Size in Fashion & Art

Women’s Sexuality And Body Size In Fashion & Art:

I conducted a human research experiment with a group of fashion students, who I have previously studied with in Luton. It produced alarming results about the image which is currently being portrayed in magazines about women in the 21st Century. It involved us, as a group, scanning and skimming through various fashion magazines, cropping out all the images of women that we could find and then creating collages from them. All of the women were depicted as idealised perfection, with all of them being very slim and made-up with flawless make-up and styled hair. A flawless, perfect appearance was being communicated about the females through all of the media images. This puts a lot of pressure on females to be a certain dress size and to look a particular way. Unfortunately, this sort of media coverage is a factor which sometimes leads to eating disorders and other mental health problems amongst females, especially insecure younger ones.


Upon doing this hands on research, I decided to look at how women have been treated and portrayed throughout history through fashion and art. So, it seems gender started to become an issue in Art & Design about 100-150 years ago. Gender equality, equal rights and recognition was starting to be addressed. Before then, the traditional artists were male and the female’s work was overlooked. Traditionally, males were portrayed as kings, soldiers, warriors, royalty, peasants, hunters, priests, artists and musicians in art. They were never portrayed as doing feminine activities. Instead, they were portrayed as being masculine, strong, powerful and dominant. Females were traditionally represented as religious figures (spiritual), mothers (nurturing), mistresses, sources of temptation, or old crones(witches).

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The piece of art named ‘The Milkmaid’ by Vermmer (1658), which may be seen below, is in my opinion a homely virtue. It shows modesty and hard work. It pays tribute to temperance & purity. Purity is indicated by Vermeer’s stunning rendering of the highly polished copper pot hanging on the wall, reminiscent of similar shining metal containers in early Netherlandish Annunciation pictures, since a super-clean vessel was a traditional symbol of purity. Hard work is expressed throughout the composition, which – unlike other paintings by Vermeer, makes absolutely no concession to appearance or comfort. Instead, we are presented with a working environment featuring rough walls, roughly textured bread, bare wood, coarse baskets, and a maid with blunt features, rough hands and forearms, diligently focused on the task of preparing food for the household. This piece of art went against the trend because since the outset of the Netherlandish Renaissance (1400), the traditional iconographic meaning of milkmaids and kitchen maids was based on their reputation as amorous individuals; good-looking maids alongside various erotic symbols such as onions (reputed to have aphrodisiacal properties), wide-mouthed jugs (suggestive of the female anatomy), or involved in various erotic actions like inserting cooking spits into chickens.

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In the painting below of ‘Mr & Mrs Andrews’, by Gainsborough (1750), it displays himself and his wife, on their estate, where he would have had hunting rights.  The man looks relaxed, holding his gun and standing next to his dog. The lady is wearing an exspensive looking dress, probably made from silk. She is looking rather demure. The fact that she is showing her ankles in the painting refers to the eroticism in their marriage. Her lap appears smudgy and you can’t quite make out what is going on there. Some say it is an indication of space left for when she will have a baby to hold on her lap. This painting is placing the lady into a maternal role. Mrs Andrews’ somewhat stiff seated position is said to express her inferior and passive status, as she is placed on display like other assets of her husband.

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In the painting ‘Venus of Urbino’, by Titian (1538), may be seen below. The identity of the nude lady has never been revealed but in this painting the love goddess is sensual and stares at the viewer, as if she wants to communicate something. She is voluptuous and curvy. She looks quite coy but not too brazen. Her face is symmetrical (scientifically known to denote attractiveness) and appears to be quite flushed. Eroticism, in the context of marriage, is implied through roses in the right hand, a vase of myrtle on the windowsill, a small dog curled-up on the bed and maids shown rummaging through a cassone chest containing the girl’s bridal garments. It could be a painting of her wedding day or night.

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Olympia’, by Manet (1863), which may be seen below, shows a courtesan greeting her client to the French Salon. The jury for the 1865 Salon accepted this painting despite their disapproval of the subject matter, because two years earlier, Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass created such a stir when it was rejected from the Salon. It was instead exhibited in Emperor Napoleon III’s conciliatory exhibition—the Salon des Réfusés, or the Exhibition of the Refused. Crowds came to the Salon des Réfusés specifically to laugh and jeer at what they considered Manet’s folly. They were afraid another rejection would seem like a personal attack on Manet. The reasoning was odd, but the result was the same – Olympia became infamous and the painting had to be hung very high to protect it from physical attacks. Manet was a Realist, but sometimes his ‘real’ situations shocked and rocked the Parisian art world to it’s foundations. His later work was much tamer. The choker around the neck and the way the nude lady is confronting the viewer, with her gaze, are clues that the painting is of a prostitute.

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So, for many years….

  • Women have become the object of desire for the spectator (men).
  • The process of looking has become one of ownership.
  • Painted female figures are complicit in their own objectification.
  • In the art form of the European nude, the persons treated as objects, were usually women. This unequal relationship alarmingly has been so deeply embedded in our culture and still actually exists today in the 21st Century, to some extent.

So, I conclude that my historical research, as well as the hands on group human research, of current fashion magazines, was very important to me because when I design fashion collections, I feel it is of utmost importance for me to design for all sizes, not just for size 8s for instance. A year and a half ago I designed a collection for many different sizes and also different ages too. The oldest model was 72 years of age. A fashion show was presented and it made the local newspaper too. It is in my opinion essential to make all women feel good, regardless of their size or age.

As a result of my conclusion, I intend to do further work in this area, as I feel many designers still to this day only show off their clothes with very young and slim models. This is not a realistic representation of the people in our world. Females, as well as males, are all different shapes, sizes, colour and age. That’s what makes us unique and it should be celebrated. As stated by Bailey S. (2014) in ‘Visual Merchandising For Fashion’, it’s ‘about creating a story that customers will want to buy into.’ Sarah Bailey has been a course director of the B.A. Hons. Fashion Visual Merchandising & Branding Degree Course at the London College of Fashion. Through reading this book and other literature, I admire her views very much. Diversity, in my opinion, is starting to be celebrated in some fashion adverts but I personally feel much more work needs to be done in this area to give all women body confidence. This winter season (2019), I visited the Nike Store (Oxford Street, London) and I was delighted to see garments on male and female mannequins, in a variety of sizes up to size 16. In my opinion, they are at the cutting edge of fashion and are clearly celebrating diversity and appealing to everybody. Their visual merchandisers, as far as I am concerned, are legends.


It’s the only store though on Oxford Street which I had seen do this. In my opinion, this good practise needs to be spread more widely. I am going to speak to another M.A. student who works there to see if he knows the story behind the progress of these mannequins and to also speak to a visual merchandising member of staff there too. Goq Wan, a fashion consultant, author and T.V. presenter is one of my idols, as he has started to do work in women’s body confidence. He knows how to make women feel good, regardless of their size or age. I intend to make contact with him very soon, so I can conduct an interview and hopefully shadow him for a day and share ideas.

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Bailey S. (2014) ‘Visual Merchandising For Fashion,’ Bloomsbury Pub. (P.148)

Blog Post 13: The Human Condition And How It Affects My Design Work

The Human Condition and How It Affects My Design Work:

Personally, the first thing which comes to my mind is the fact that it is a pure miracle how every single person in the world is totally unique in their appearance, intelligence and personality. The reproductive process of humans is amazing because there is such variety and individuality being created continually. To me, this is pure genius. We all have a different fingerprint and D.N.A. Everybody is on a different journey and has various things to offer the world. Even sets of twins, who may look identical, have different souls and personalities. Hence, I always ensure my design work parallels with this philosophy because to me design must be unique and new to be world changing and successful.

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Life is such a fragile thing. Many of my dear family and friends have passed away and I am highly in tune with the fact that we should appreciate and make the most of every moment. It is incredibly important to me to do what I enjoy more now than when I was younger because I am more aware that we can be here in this world one minute and then gone the next. Therefore, I have made a conscious decision to widen my experiences and have an additional career at this point in my life.

I am very interested in whether there is an afterlife and about reincarnation too.  I have seen many of my family members, shortly after dying and feeling that their bodies were now empty vessels, with their souls having being taken to another place. Reincarnation is the philosophical or religious concept that the non-physical essence of a living being starts a new life in a different physical form or body after biological death. It is also called rebirth and is a part of the Saṃsāra doctrine of cyclic existence. It is a central tenet of Indian religions, namely Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism, although there are Hindu groups that do not believe in reincarnation but believe in an afterlife. A belief in rebirth/metempsychosis was held by Greek historic figures, such as Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato. It is also a common belief of various ancient and modern religions such as Spiritism, Theosophy, and Eckankar, and as an esoteric belief in many streams of Orthodox Judaism. It is found as well in some tribal societies around the world, in places such as Australia and South America. In the future, I would like to take elements of these societies and incorporate them into my design work.

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I am becoming increasingly concerned about how the oceans are being carelessly polluted with plastics, which affects the sea creatures on our planet. I have therefore based my Biomimicry project this Semester upon the fact that we need to spread the message about not polluting our oceans with plastic.

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I also now will not eat meats such as lamb, as I see it very cruel to kill babies (human or animal) for our personal satisfaction. In this age of Hypermodernism, more and more people are also becoming concerned with how we must look after the animals, sea creatures and the nature areas of our world, as well as ourselves. I also feel that there should be enough areas with grass, trees, flowers etc. left within towns and cities, rather than investors building high storey flats. Going green is crucial to my design work, visually and physically too. I have designed many fabrics with leaves, flowers etc. In the future, I also want to ideally source materials which have been ethically made and are sustainable for our planet too. Below are some images of my design work, which I have transferred digitally to fabrics, as part of my Biomimicry project, this term. They are both observational pieces of work taken from my garden at home. The first one is photography and the second one is a watercolour painting which I had the pleasure of doing in the sunshine on a warm day.


I am also concerned about air pollution, such as in the Tower Hamlets of London. It is one of the poorest areas of London and is certainly the most polluted. It has been reported that one in five children living in the borough suffer from asthma. Pollution has a direct correlation with health problems and I find this statistic alarming. The Vexed Parka jacket, in the image below, was designed so that the lower part of the hood could be used as a face mask to protect oneself from pollution. I fear that this is the style of clothes gangsters would wear, who are committing crimes such as dealing drugs and knifing people. I would like to see a softer more gentle design which would be appropriate for the young, innocent children who are victims to the air pollution through no fault of their own. This is something I would certainly like to work on in the future, as I have a profound love of children and have experienced much gratitude and admiration from many children who live in incredibly deprived areas, through my experience of being a primary school teacher. The parents and teachers too would also benefit from a more appealing look which doesn’t look so intimidating. Softer colours is the first concept which comes to my mind but as time evolves, I can develop further design ideas which would be appropriate.

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An awareness of self, emotions, physicalities, sensory perception and an awareness of the past, present and future are all aspects of the human condition. Many of us question ‘why are we here?’ We seek a deeper meaning to our lives than animals. I believe the human condition is a high form of intelligence, where we seek understanding, compassion, co-operation, our purpose & self-development rather than just surviving and reproducing.

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Artists and designers make visual comments about what it means to be alive.  They observe how it feels physically to be human.  Artists show an understanding of how language both conveys and fails to convey feelings, fears and desires.  They know how to present the human condition visually, physically, spatially, via sound and moving images etc. to create experiences for audiences and observers.  Some artists and designers challenge and present findings as honestly as possible, even if it is an uncomfortable experience. They use their materials to challenge identity and what it means to exist. Sometimes, they fuse existence with political and social concerns. I want to do that too, as a designer, to raise awareness of climate change. As Ruutiainen P. has stated (2013) in ‘From the Coolest Corner, Nordic Jewellery’, ‘some have made jewellery from driftwood…shaped and smoothed by the sea’. He also states that ‘in recent years people have become far more concerned about where materials come from and whether they have been produced and refined in ways that are ethically defensible and environmentally sustainable.’ Ruutianen P. is M.A. Doctor of Arts (Art & Design) at the University of Lapland. He has been a lecturer at HUMAK University and has written art critiques and articles in Finnish newspapers and magazines.

I also personally feel that natural objects which have been shaped by nature’s forces can be the most beautiful. Of course, diamonds are the most beautiful ( in my opinion) but unfortunately they are not attainable for the majority. I would like to explore how to use naturally formed materials for jewellery and to make them accessible to the majority of the public. I intend to conduct further research on this to inform my future work.

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Also, during London Fashion Week, Alessandro Michele took inspiration from Hannah Arendt’s book The Human Condition for his AW19 Gucci collection. Hannah reminds us that we are persons when we choose the mask through which we appear on the world’s stage. Hence, masks were created for the collection. I am totally aware that we all put on different masks for different groups of people. We have different comfort zones within different groups and we also have a basic human instinct to be able to fit into groups and therefore we adjust our behaviour accordingly.

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As I have said in a previous post, I am drawn towards designing and making theatrical headwear and accessories. Masks are something I have enjoyed creating in the past too and I would very much like to explore this further in the future too.

So, I conclude that the human condition underpins our whole sense of being and how we develop our values and ideals in life. Art and fashion are both ways in which this can be visually portrayed and draw people into discussion about the meaning of life and what our purpose and ideals are on our short journey of life. I find this intriguing and will pursue this further in my own design work in the future.


Ruutiainen P. (2013) ‘From the Coolest Corner, Nordic Jewellery’, Arnoldsche Art Pub. (pages 26 -27)

Blog Post 12: The Journey of Costume Designer Julie Taymor and How She Has Inspired Me

The Journey Of Costume Designer, Julie Taymor And How She Has Inspired Me:

A costume designer is a person who designs costumes for a film, stage production or television. The role of the costume designer is to create the character’s costumes and balance the scenes with texture and colour. The costume designer works alongside the director, scenic, lighting designer, sound designer, and other creative personnel. The costume designer may also collaborate with hair stylists, wig masters and makeup artists. To me this seems like an exciting job prospect.

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Julie Taymor won the 1998 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical and for Best Costumes for The Lion King. In 2000, she won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Costume Design. In 2008, the musical won three Molière Awards including Best Musical and Best Costumes.  She was the lead person in charge of costume design and I greatly admire her skills, expertise and leadership qualities. I have always enjoyed going to musicals and was especially fascinated by the costumes and puppetry linked with the ‘Lion King’ musical.

Julie Taymor (born December 15, 1952) is an American director of theatre, opera and film. In 1997 her adaptation of The Lion King, became the most successful stage musical of all time – 24 global productions have been seen by more than 90 million people. Having played over 100 cities in 19 countries, The Lion King’s worldwide gross exceeds that of any entertainment title in box office history. It was honored more than 70 major arts awards worldwide.

Growing up in Newton, Massachusetts, Taymor developed a love of theatre at an early age. She enjoyed putting on shows at home and later joined a Boston theatre company. Also interested in other cultures, Taymor spent time in India and Sri Lanka when she was 15 as part of an educational program. She then went to Paris to study mime with Jacques LeCoq after finishing high school. This trip was also an introduction to theatrical potential of masks and puppetry, two art forms that would be reappear in her later work.

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After graduating, with a degree in folklore and mythology, from Oberlin College in 1974, Taymor travelled to Asia. She visited Indonesia, Japan, Bali, and Java during her travels and decided to remain abroad after her program ended. In Bali, Taymor established her own theatre company, Teatr Loh. She told Back Stage that she was impressed by theatre’s role in society there. “I was very taken with the fact that the theatre productions there were a part of everyday life. You don’t do it because you’re going to be reviewed in Time magazine, but it’s part of what it is to be a living human being.”

Returning to the United States in 1980, Taymor continued to pursue a career in the theatre. She won the American Theatre Wing’s Hewes Design Award for Scenic, Costume, and Puppet Design for her work on The Haggadah. For Juan Darien, Taymor won the Hewes Award for Concept Puppetry and Masks in 1988. She did not only design the puppets and masks for this production, however. She directed and wrote the book for this musical, which drew its inspiration from a story by Horacio Quiroga. For the music, Taymor had turned to her life partner, composer Elliot Goldenthal. In 1996, a Broadway production of the play earned five Tony Award nominations, including one for Taymor’s direction and another for Goldenthal’s score.

Propelling Taymor’s career to new heights, the musical The Lion King demonstrated her immense talents in many aspects of the theatrical arts. She helped translate a popular Disney animated film about a lion cub—and on a grander level, about the cycle of life itself—into one of Broadway’s greatest spectacles. As with Juan Darien, Taymor was deeply involved in much of the design work as well as directing the project.

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Her hard work paid off. After its fall 1997 debut, the production received a lot of critical attention and netted 11 Tony Award nominations, including two wins for Taymor for Best Director and Costume Designer. The musical featured an interesting fusion of actors and puppets. “You’re getting the human and the animal simultaneously. The audience is able to follow the story and the character, but you’re also enjoying the art of it,” she explained to Back Stage. The Lion King continues to attract eager audiences today—more than a decade after its premiere.

Julie Taymor for me is a truly inspirational person and I loved going to see The Lion King at a West End Theatre. I have always enjoyed making theatrical garments, headdresses and accessories. This is an area where I could see myself being imaginative, flamboyant and successful. I enjoy reading scripts and interpreting what the characters on the stage would be wearing. So, I have therefore researched the skills which would be required of me to become a costume designer in the future.

I need to be able to work with a wide range of people such as the director, scenery designer, the lighting director, dressmakers, hairstylists and makeup artists. I have had experience of this, by taking part in Fashion Show Live Academy shows, organised by the founder Adina Keeley.

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There was an art director there (Sean Christopher Winwright), who is directing a film locally (‘Memorie 8’). He has been on my Instagram and facebook, since working alongside him. I intend to liase with him very soon, with the offer of designing and making costumes for his shows and films. I intend to get work experience in the costume design department of one of the West End Theatres in London.

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I have also made a c.v. and a covering letter. My c.v. has a stylised self portrait of myself on it to make it eye-catching and to send the message that I enjoy creating flamboyancy with my designs.  It includes work experience details relevant to the role of costume design, such as working as a designer for Fashion Show Live and also as a costume dresser for P.F.W. (London).

To promote myself, I need to continue to develop contacts on Instagram and in particular to follow costume designers, not just within the West End Theatres but also across the whole world, eg Broadway (U.S.A.).  I will develop my professional website and check out the competition too. I could choose to shadow and also collaborate with costume designers too.

So, I conclude that as our lives evolve, we can always pick up and develop skills which we have learnt earlier in life but didn’t develop to their full potential at the time.  This is something which I am now doing through my fashion design work and I am very much looking forward to implementing these skills into the world of work very soon. The prospect of working in a west end theatre certainly appeals to me. I am aware that there are other fashion illustrators out there and some are more talented than me. So, I would be open to collaborating with them, within the world of designing costumes for stage shows. I have the fashion ideas, know how to tell the narrative behind them and understand the construction of them. However, as Hopkins J. has stated in ‘Fashion Drawing’ (2018), ‘respected brands including Tiffany, Mulberry, J. Crew and H&M have all collaborated with fashion illustrators to…..enhance the appearance of fashion merchandise.’ So, I would be more than happy to do this to project my ideas for stage costumes to teams of people. I highly respect John Hopkins opinion as he a Senior Academic of Fashion & Textiles within the Winchester School of Art and he has also been a lecturer at the University of Southampton too.


Hopkins J. (2018) ‘Fashion Drawing’, Bloomsbury Pub. (Ch. 5, P.136)

Blog Post 11: The Origins of Natural Textiles And Dyeing Processes. How Can it Influence Our Future?

The Origins of Natural Textiles and Dyeing Processes. How Can it Influence Our Future?

I am very curious about the origins of natural textiles and dyes, as they didn’t cause any harm to our planet. I feel by delving deeper into the past, certain elements could be taken and used more in our society today to create more sustainable fashion. As Ann Thorpe has said, in ‘The Designer’s Atlas of Sustainability’ (2007), ‘design needs to think about ways to embody time both on a societal level….. where we connect more closely with our own past and future.’

Prehistoric clothes have been found mainly in lakes and tombs. Colourants used in textiles, I am guessing, must have been numerous, though it is difficult to identify them by analysing surviving textiles. Cloths found have been made from vegetable fibres and rush.  Linen is common from this time too.  Animal skins and furs were commonly used for clothes as well. I am intrigued about the use of natural fur for garments. In the past, especially during the 1970s and 1980s, there were protests about animals being killed, so that humankind could wear fur coats and jackets. Since then, there has been a move towards creating garments from fake fur. However, if we are striving for sustainability in fashion, fake fur in my opinion is not the answer because it doesn’t deteriorate in the same natural way that natural fur does. In fact, the amount of fake fur coats and jackets which fill landfill sites at the moment is alarming.

I personally love the feel of fur close to my skin, as I am certain that many women and men have too also over the years. When I stroke a dog, for instance, or snuggle up to one, the feel of their fur is so soft and comforting. Many close friends and members of my family feel the same way too.

Fur coats and jackets do to me look incredibly expensive and glamorous, as well as being warm and cosy. They are certainly on trend at the moment. In my opinion, I feel the way forward, is to create garments from real fur which has been sourced in an ethical way. If animals die of natural causes, I do not see a problem in using their fur to create garments. I intend to do further research on this and would like to make some garments and accessories from real fur, such as the one below which has been make from foxes fur.

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Clothing has been found from the Early Bronze Age and even prior to this, it is assumed by historians that people would have worn animal skins and fur for clothing too. During our modern age because of a high awareness of cruelty to animals, real fur coats are not popular but fake fur jackets have been very much on trend for the past few years. People refusing to wear real fur has evolved during the past forty years. As I have said before, I feel we can take a further step forward with this and heighten awareness that we can wear real fur as long as it has been ethically sourced.

India has always had a diverse and rich textile tradition. Indian textiles have been traced to the Indus valley (5th millennium BC). They used homespun cotton for weaving their garments. Mordant dyeing gave intense colours that do not fade. They have been used by Indian textile workers since the second millennium BC. Interestingly, up until the 18th century, India produced more advanced textiles than Europe. Indian textiles included the use of madder dye, which gave a vibrant red. Madder comes from the roots of a climbing plant called chay, grown in calcium rich soil from crushed sea-shells near estuaries in South India. This dye was used in the production of chintz, as was violet-blue indigo, a dye obtained from a leguminous plant.

Chintz is a traditional textile material which was originally made from glazed calico textiles. It was imported from India, printed with flower designs and other different coloured patterns, usually on a light,plain background. Chintz designs are now mostly European patterns partially derived from Indian designs reflecting Mughal art, Islamic art and the art of Persia.

During the Victorian period, it was popular for cotton fabrics to be printed on.  The parasol frames were made from whalebone and covered with woven taffeta.  Sometimes, they had silk fringes on them too. In 1857, whalebone stiffening was replaced in favour of watch spring steel.

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After exploring the origins of textiles and dyes, I decided to visit the Denim Premier Vision Exhibition in London on the 3rd December this year (2019), with a fashion colleague, to gain some further inspiration on sustainability.


There were many talks about sustainability there and as can be seen in the above image of jeans, one presenter stated that the more you wear denim the better it looks and feels too. The above piece is vintage from at least 70 years ago. Even, as a picture I feel it looks very artistic and rustic. Also, it is not always necessary for people to go out and buy new clothes, if they appreciate what they have already. This is especially so with denim, at the moment, as the frayed, distressed and torn look is so on trend. Below is an image of a distressed leaf effect print which I transferred onto lightweight, slate coloured denim, as part of my design exploration of appreciating the planet which we live on.

The denim premiere show also highlighted to me the fact that all of the denim companies are striving to make their fabrics as sustainable as possible at the moment. Some are also stating that they want their denims to be as soft and comfortable as possible too, in the future. These two elements combined together are a winning combination, in my opinion, for any fabric. With the movement we have in our world at the moment, about looking after our planet and not producuing so much waste, sustainability is a key element in fabric production and the dyeing process in the future. I will most certainly be doing much more research on this in the future but at the moment I have got a flavour of how crucial this is for all of us and the future of our planet too.

So, I conclude that I have found researching the origins of natural textiles and dyeing processes fascinating, as it is an aim of mine in the future to experiment and explore how we can possibly invent new materials and colourants which are better for our environment. It was also very useful attending the talks at the ‘Denim Premier Vision’ about sustainability. By combining up-to-date research about sustainability and taking elements from the past, I believe is the way forward and an interesting topic to further explore too.


Thorpe A. (2007) ‘The Designer’s Atlas of Sustainability’, Island Press Pub. (P.168)

Blog Post 10: Textile Design – Patterns

Blog Post 10:

Textile Design – Patterns:

Since 1875, Liberty is renowned for being at the cutting edge of fabric design. Liberty impacted British textile design through Orientalism, Art Nouveau and Art Deco in the early 20th century. Then, there has been a revival of these styles since the 1950s. Liberty Art Fabrics is an internationally recognised leader in floral, paisley and patterned prints. Liberty has had strong relationships with designers since 1875, such as Arthur Silver of Silver Studio, Jean Muir, Cacharel, Yves Saint Laurent and Vivienne Westwood. Friends of mine have looked at my fabric designs and have strongly recommended that I contact Liberty to share my work with them to get some feedback, to make contacts and to maybe work for them too. Recently, I visited the store in London to browse around and get a feel for the fabric designs which it became famous for. Contacting personnel, in the brand, is something I will most certainly do in the new year. The thought of sharing my work with them fills me with pleasure and excites me. Below are some images of my latest digital prints, which I created as part of my Biomimicry assignment.

See the source image

Zandra Rhodes (born 1940), also internationally renowned for her fabric designs, was introduced to the world of fashion by her mother, a fitter for a Paris fashion House.  Zandra studied at Medway College of Art, and then at The Royal College of Art in London. Her main area of study was printed textile design. Her early textile designs were considered too outrageous by the traditional British manufacturers. So, she decided to make dresses from her own fabrics to promote them instead. In 1969, she took her collection to New York where Diana Vreeland featured her garments in American Vogue, after which she started selling to Henri Bendel in NY, Sakowitz, Neiman Marcus and Saks. In the UK, Zandra was given her own area in Fortnum and Mason, London. As Breward C. has stated (1995) in ‘The Culture of Fashion,’ Zandra’s ‘screen printed silk chiffon evening dresses of the early seventies incorporate ethnic, oriental and Gipsy motifs in a high fashion appropriation of counter-culture and anti-commercialism’. Her use of bold prints, feminine patterns and theatrical use of colour has given her garments a timeless quality. In 1977 she led the pink and black jersey collection with holes and beaded safety pins.

It is popular now for designers to create fabrics which look distressed and authentic.  This is on trend, especially for denim.  Many modern-day garments are faded, frayed or ripped. The authentic look , when I have created prints, can also have historical links. I enjoyed exploring this style within my own printing of fabrics when using the heat press and collagraph. Also, when I was researching the 1980s fashion, Madonna was a real trend setter because she was wearing ripped jeans when not many people would have done so then. So, she was in fact way before her time. I bet not even she guessed that the ripped jean effect would still be popular 40 years later. Below are examples of distressed looking prints (leaf themed) which I have created for an off the shoulder top and three quarter length wide legged trousers.

During the past couple of years, I have loved creating many handcrafted prints. This year, I have enjoyed creating digital onto fabrics too. Collagraph is a printmaking process in which I applied materials to mount card, as well as carving lines into the card too. The word is derived from the Greek word koll or kolla, meaning glue, and graph, meaning the activity of drawing. I used a variety of materials in creating my highly textured collagraph plate and included extra patterns in comparison to the original second design.  I applied material netting to represent barbed wire. Ink was applied to the resulting collage and the board was used to print onto paper and satin material.

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The heat press was a wonderful experience for me. I was so excited when I first started creating materials with my designs on them. First, I photocopied my design to make the density of my original pencil drawing darker.  Then, I used a combination of different coloured inks and covered A3 pieces of paper.  Then, I placed the photocopied design face to face with the dried coloured ink paper and placed it in the hot press for 60 seconds.  After that, the photocopied design had a coloured background.  At this point, I placed the coloured design face to face with material and once again put them in the heat press for 60 seconds.  I then went onto see what would happen if I left the material in the heat press for 120 seconds instead.  At this point, I discovered that the print came out much stronger when left in for 120 seconds. I enjoyed experimenting with all of the different effects I could get, by just using one design or one repeat pattern but varying the colours used. I also experimented by using different types of fabric too: silk, chiffon, denim etc. I loved my outcomes produced from this technique.

I enjoyed using the lino printmaking technique, in which a sheet of lino was used for a relief surface. I found an image of a leaf and used this as inspiration for creating a linocut image. I cut a first layer into the lino surface with a sharp knife. The lino was then inked with a roller, and then rolled through the printing press onto paper and fabric. I repeated this process another 2 times afterwards, cutting into more of the lino each time.  The first ink I used was light blue, then purple and finally navy. The principle was that each layer of colour needed to become darker.  I loved the final effect and personally thought this would be a really fun and modern design for a jumpsuit or summer shorts, especially after looking at current leaf patterned trends on fabrics in stores and online.


I also used the method of drypoint, which is another printmaking technique, in which an image is scratched into a clear, plastic plate with a hard-pointed, sharp metal instrument. It is actually a similar method to engraving metal. After I scratched my design into the plastic plate, I put it through press along with ink.  Some of the areas of the plate had fine layers of ink smudged onto it to create an element of shading. Once it had been rolled through the press, the ink from the scratched areas transferred to my paper samples. I experimented with different colours and I personally liked the red effect more than the violet colour. This was a very time-consuming method of creating a print but the look is very delicate and effective, in my opinion.

Melanie Bowles, who has been a Senior Lecturer in Digital Textiles at Chelsea College of Art & Design, has discussed in ‘Digital Textile Design’ (2009) another lecturer in Textile Environment Design (TED) in much detail. She reflects upon the work ofRebecca Earley……an award winning fashion textile designer who produces textiles for her own label B. Earley’. Melanie states that ‘Rebecca Earley’s collections demonstrate how the designer can work fluently with digital technology and handcrafted techniques.’ I was particularly intrigued by the fact that Rebecca has created handcrafted prints and then converted them into digital prints. This is most definitely something I intend to do in my work. I have in the past couple of years had much experience in creating hand crafted prints and now is the time, as I have access to the facilities at university, to develop the designs digitally and then digitally print them to see alternative effects. It’s also much more practical to digitally manipulated fabrics rather than handcrafted fabrics which are more delicate. Washing digitally printed fabrics is easy and practical, whilst hand crafted techniques do require handwashing ideally, which is rather time consuming with our busy lives which we lead in the 21st Century.

So, I conclude that I very much enjoy creating prints through handcrafted methods but also very recently I have loved the outcomes of digital printing, which I have produced. Zandra Rhodes will continue to forever inspire me and Liberty is where I will be making connections with very soon for future work opportunities. I enjoyed my visit there and feel I have the capacity to design fabric prints for them.


Bowles M. (2009), ‘Digital Textile Design’, Laurence King Pub. (P.164 – P.165)

Breward C. (1995) ‘The Culture of Fashion’, Manchester Uni. Press Pub. (P.232)

Blog Post 9: Laser Cutting

Blog Post 9: Laser Cutting

As Braddock S.E. – lecturer in textiles at Goldsmiths College, University of London – has said, in ‘Techno Textiles’ (1998), ‘the ultimate challenge is to combine pure creativity with the computer…..aesthetic decisions can only be made by the artist’. I find this quote inspiring because of how I have and intend to use technology in the future, combined with my own creativity. Laser cutting has been one of my most exciting experiences as a fashion designer. Below is an image of laser cut, slate coloured, lightweight denim which I created to enhance an outfit.

First of all, when going through the process of laser cutting, I used a black felt tip pen to draw a leaf design onto white paper, which was bold and had many areas of black. I then scanned the drawing, which then led to producing a Vector illustration on Adobe Illustrator from it. To create different sized Vector illustrations, I had to change the scales on the software. Once doing this, I used this illustration to laser cut the leaf design onto materials.  I tried a soft textured material first but the laser cutter burnt it instead of cutting it. Then I tried a lightweight, slate coloured denim. The results were perfect and I intend to explore this much further in future projects. Laser cutting machines are wonderful at creating intricate patterns onto garments and jewellery. In my view, the laser cut leaves, on lightweight denim, which I created looked intricate and stunning. The results were beautiful, in my opinion, and I intend to explore laser cutting much further in future projects. I loved the intricate patterns created and have hence decided to do further research on this C.A.D. application.

Laser cutting is used for cutting various kinds of acrylic, textiles, fabric and plastic. Cutting a fabric through laser beams is becoming incredibly popular and in my view looks very exquisite too. The major advantages are that it gives clean edges and stops the fabric from becoming frayed. This ensures that the garments are durable and can be sold on a large scale to the public. No matter whether the fabric contains latex, rubber, cotton, silk, polyester and other synthetic weaves, laser fabric cutting is known for it’s intricate details.

Below are some images linked to how laser cutting may be used to make garments and accessories look beautiful, as well as glamorous. They are inspirational and in my view make the garments and accessories look expensive.  As I have a huge interest in Haute Couture, I feel laser cutting is a wonderful area for me to explore further in the future. It’s exciting and many intricate patterns can be cut into fabrics.

See the source image

Below, laser cutting has been used on a metallic looking fabric and gives it a very new-age modern look. Bearing in mind that the ‘Star Wars’ movies has some influence at the moment and has indeed over many areas of fashion, this is a useful image to use as inspiration for my design work.

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Whilst researching laser cutting designs, I was also impressed with how laser cutting could be used creatively in scarves and I would love to do this at some point.  Laser cut scarves make a great clothing accessory and can transform any outfit, in my personal opinion. I for instance, feel that a scarf is a ‘must have’ in a wardrobe.  They help towards making an outfit look feminine and beautiful. Below are images of laser cut scarves and I strongly feel that they are a head turner.  Some firms offer laser cut scarf designs according to the individual needs of the client.  I could have messages on them linked to modern day movements which have been created by a higher awareness of how we should be looking after the planet more.  So, messages on the scarves could be linked to this. For example, there may be words and phrases such as ‘respect’, ‘equality’, ‘save us’ or ‘let us live.’

See the source image

Below is an image which has involved laser cutting and applique of pearls too. So, laser cutting can be merged with other textile methods to create beautiful pieces of fabric. Also, whilst looking at this image, I feel it could be used as inspiration for my main proposal because the delicate flower effect is relevant to my project’s theme of looking after the planet. It is also relevant to the 1960s fashion which I love. ‘Flower power’ was a theme of the late 1960s and something which I would be happy to incorporate into my designs too. With design, we can always take aspects of the past but then make them feel contemporary because they will be mixed with current trends.

Below are some more images of laser cutting.  When producing garment pieces such as these, much thought would have to go into the pattern cutting, as well as the laser cutting too.  The advantage of these garments is that they look individualised, sophisticated and beautiful.  The disadvantage of making these garments is that only a limited amount of people would have the talent and skills to know how to do this well.  So, there would be cost and supply implications involved.  If I had more time for my project, I could have cut out outlines of narrow leaf shapes rather than just straight lines.  I think this would have looked really effective.

As we all know, jewellery is a wonderful way to accessorise an outfit and what better way to do it than with a necklace or a pair of dangly ear-rings which are bound to catch anyone’s eye. Below is an image of a leaf which has been created by laser cutting metal. This could be made into a pendant for a beautiful necklace.

Below is an image of dangly ear-rings which have been created by laser cutting wood. Models displaying my collection at Fashion Show Live 2018 could use such accessories to enhance the outfits.

See the source image

In the future, I would love to experiment with laser cutting for jewellery too.

So, to summarise, the advantages of using laser cutting include:

-Less man power is required. This is because the Laser cutting machines are integrated with a computer-controlled programming system which determines where and how the cut has to be made on the material.

-no fraying on materials and intricate patterns can be replicated

-As the cut is made by the help of a laser beam, there is no direct contact of the work-piece with any cutting instrument, thereby eliminating the risk of material contamination.

-In laser cutting, as the area subjected to heat is very small, it reduces the chances of warping of the material.

-As the laser cutting machine does not require human involvement except for repairs and test runs, the incidence of accidents and injuries is also minimal.

-Efficiency of the machine is very high, and replicas obtained of the required design are exact copies of each other.

The disadvantages of using laser cutting include:

-high energy and power consumption

-When using  laser-cutting  for plastic, the fumes that the plastic produces when melted can be toxic. This means that the machine will need to be placed in a well-ventilated environment, which can take a lot of time and money to create.

-The laser-cutting process cannot be used for all kinds of metals. Copper and aluminum are unable to be cut with a laser because they are too thick and reflect too much light. Brittle, transparent materials such as glass and crystal also cannot be cut.

-Mass production is costly to initially set up

So, I conclude that in my view, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages with laser cutting and if I were to invest in a company, I feel a laser cutting machine would be essential for C.A.M. (computer aided manufacturing). Even within many high street shops, I frequently see many clothes and accessories laser cut.  It is very much on trend at the moment and I feel it is a great technological development and definitely as technology improves, the machines are sure to become more affordable too. The intricacy of laser cutting is beautiful, in my opinion.


Braddock, S.E. (1998), ‘Techno Textiles’, Thames & Hudson Pub. (P.166)

Blog Post 8: C.A.D. in Fashion

Blog Post 8: C.A.D.

This blogging assignment has been a useful exercise for me. As Jones S. has stated (2002), in ‘Fashion Design’, ‘fashion is a global enterprise… and trends travel as fast as the speed of light thanks to…..the internet.’ Sue Jenkin Jones has been a Senior Lecturer in Fashion Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, London and is highly regarded. This blog has helped to highlight the importance for me to continue to post CAD fabric patterns & illustrations onto social media posts in the future, such as the latest one which I have just created.


It has also pushed me to research two-dimensional pattern design softwares based on flat, patternmaking techniques, as well as 3D software (visualization of drape and fit on virtual models).

Lectra’s Modaris pattern cutting software is a key tool used in pattern production.

Pattern Cutting is an essential part of clothing design,  creating a silhouette that works on various sizes and body shapes. Patterns can be drafted directly, created from basic blocks or created based on an existing pattern.
Assyst Bullmer supply software for all types of pattern cutting design, including garments such as lingerie, trousers, dresses, shirts and suits. Using the tools on the software makes pattern cutting faster.
Darts, pleats and fitting lines can be added automatically, then as the pattern is developed the software keeps the seam width and alters corners to fit the new pattern. Sleeves can be walked through armholes and notches added. Accurate measurements can be taken at any point or across any pattern and measurements such as chest measures combined by the software.

See the source image

In my view C.A.D. is wonderful and the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.  However, there are some drawbacks that users must be aware of.

They include:
• The initial costs of buying computer systems are always quite high.
• Since there is a heavy importance placed on computer systems, less people need to be employed.
• Information can be instantly lost or corrupted if a computer problem occurs and there are no back ups.
• Recurring costs for software updates are expensive and time consuming.
• Computer hardware often needs to be very new in order to adequately run most modelling programs.

After looking at many job openings for C.A.D. pattern cutters, the High Street Stores are requesting a good knowledge of how to use at the very least Photoshop and Illustrator.

‘Next’, as an example, are amongst these stores.  It is essential for these businesses to hire people who have these skills, as they have to manufacture clothes on bulk. C.A.D. enhances productivity and efficiency.   For example, if there is a pattern which is a popular cut, the following season may require adjustments on the colours and patterns, whilst maintaining the same cut.

See the source image

C.A.D. in the fashion industry has become more important because it increases efficiency and makes the design process easier. C.A.D. software is used in every step of the traditional clothing construction process and then is used to produce a final, polished fashion illustration.
First, the designer thinks of a design. In the past, most designers got inspiration from real life, books and travelling but today, inspiration is on the internet too. C.A.D. gives the designer the advantage of putting in drawing every idea, and bringing it out in a way that used to be impossible. Then, the sketching is a lengthy process, since the designer has to combine his knowledge of trends too. C.A.D. helps in achieving the perfect sketch through the use of  tools on the software menu. These can be used to draw and erase and edit.
The production stage is next. C.A.D. software helps view the design in 3-D, for  detection of errors. After productions comes promotion. The final products of a fashion designer need to be promoted for it to be seen by the consumers. Promotional materials using C.A.D. software, such as billboards, magazines, brochures, posters, catalogues, fashion shows and invitation cards will be produced.
There are many advantages for using C.A.D. in the fashion industry. For designers who want to create a collection that is connected in terms of pattern and flow, C.A.D. allows them to create a design collection which ensures that every fabric flows in the same way. The C.A.D. software also allows the designer to view their designs in different colours, patterns and on different models  on the computer screen, before it is displayed to the public. The software also helps to save plenty of time, money and resources since fabrics and designs can be viewed before they are put into production.
The most popular software used in the fashion industry includes Adobe Photoshop, Adobe illustrator, Koledo and Optitex, U4ia and colour matters.

So, to conclude, I have researched the pros and cons of C.A.D. in the fashion industry and have decided that, in my view, the pros outweigh the cons. I have also come to the realisation that I must post fabric pattern designs and fashion illustrations which have been created and enhanced through C.A.D. onto social media as much as I can in the future. As Sue Jenkin Jones has explained in her book, fashion is global and news travels incredibly quickly, with the internet that is accessible to us at the moment.


Jones S. (2002), ‘Fashion Design’, Laurence King Pub. (P.24)

Blog Post 7: 60s Fashion Trends

Blog Post 7: 60s fashion trends

Zandra Rhodes, a textile designer, who I admire and have been to her exhibition in London recently was incredibly innovative during the 1960s. During the late 1960s, she was particularly well known for her bohemian and street styles in London. Within my own fashion design work, I love to play with patterns on fabric and see how different fabrics react to different methods of printing and dyes. Its not just about the garment for me, when I design, it’s also about the surface design. Hence, this is why I like to explore Zandra Rhodes work.

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As Connike Y. has stated(1990) in ‘Fashions of a Decade, the 1960s’, ‘fashion became split, along lines of age’ during the 1960s. Young people had more money, which meant that they had independence and freedom to buy their own clothing. Pop music became huge and bands such as ‘The Beatles’ had an impact upon fashion. Mary Quant launched the mini skirt, taking advantage of the rapidly changing society. Twiggy, a famous model of the time, was stick thin and her ‘boyish looks’ made her the top model for the mini skirt.

See the source image
See the source image

Connike Y. also talks about how the hippies originated in San Francisco during the mid 60s, rejecting the work ethic of western society. Tourists flocked to them and gave them flowers, as symbols of peace and love.  This is where the term ‘flower power’ came about.  By 1967, the fashionable youth of America & Europe were taking on board the hippie look.

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I particularly like the Yves Saint Laurent 1965 – 1966 Mondrian Fall/Winter Collection and Yves Saint Laurent personal, positive views about this collection, even though he felt there were some opposing opinions to it. I personally feel the garments of the collection still feel contemporary now. This is a haute couture designer though, who didn’t make the hemlines as short as Mary Quant. In my view, the linear qualities of the silhouette and the pattern reflect the 1960s architecture.

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This was an incredibly exciting decade, as the unimaginable was becoming reality. For example, the first man walked on the moon and this was actually having a profound effect upon some of the fashion trends at the time. Cardin’s Cosmos collection was in 1966. Gemini 8 was the sixth crewed spaceflight in NASA’s Gemini program, launched March 16, 1966. It was the twelfth crewed American flight and the twenty-second crewed spaceflight of all time. The mission had the first two spacecraft in orbit but suffered the first critical in-space system failure of a U.S. spacecraft which threatened the lives of the astronauts and required a stop to the mission. The crew was returned to Earth safely. Neil Armstrong said, “one small step for a man but huge step for makind” when he set foot on the moon .  This is relevant to my research because I want to further explore the space themed trends of the 60s.

Easy-care synthetic fabrics were introduced such as Crimplene, Dacro and Terylene. Such fabrics were ideal for the younger generation’s clothing because they didn’t crease, like cotton, and they were easy to wash. In a decade, where the fashionable youth wanted to look good but also have time for listening to pop music, going out dancing and to the cinema, they were ideal.

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The popularity of tights overtook the popularity of stockings for practical reasons. The author focuses on how legs were the centre of attention during the 60s decades, which is relevant to my essay. Tights had actually been introduced before the 1960s but they really took off when the short miniskirts came into fashion. An American company called Danskin transformed the industry in legwear. Tights gave greater freedom, comfort and movement than stockings. Initially, it was dancers, skaters and other athletes who bought these. However, during the 60s, their business took off.

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So, I conclude that both Mary Quant and Zandra Rhodes were influential designers during this period of time, both for different reasons. In my own design work, I would like take the simplicity of Mary Quants’ garment silhouettes but use my own prints on them, in the much the same way that Zandra Rhodes promoted her fabric prints too. Tights were also incredibly popular during this time and I feel patterned tights, which are comfortable could be a trend for the future too. I am thinking of printed tights (similar to leggings), rather than lacy effect tights. There is a huge move towards wearing comfortable clothing at the moment.


Connikie Y. (1990) ‘Fashions of a Decade, the 1960s’, B.T. Batsford Ltd. Pub. (P.5)

Blog Post 6: 80s Fashion Trends

Blog Post 6: 80s fashion trends

Some of my designs have been inspired by the 1980s fashion trends. I feel drawn towards this decade, as the economies in the U.K. and America were booming. Times, in my opinion, were for the majority in the U.K. and America financially good and there were many strong female role models of the era.

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Giorgio Armani was influential amongst working women, contributing to the wide shoulders of the power suit. Women felt they had to prove themselves and be strong just like Margaret Thatcher at this time to achieve and to do well. The power dressing was a way of intimidating others into making others feel they were inferior.

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Fashion clearly changes as people’s attitudes change. Margaret Thatcher, the first female prime minister and Princess Diana, who married Prince Charles in 1981, were both very influential in the 1980s. Under Margaret Thatcher’s leadership, the word ‘Yuppie’ was created to describe young, upwardly mobile professionals, who wore suits and had the first portable phones. Women’s clothes moved closer to men’s. Women were wearing exaggerated shoulder lines and shoulder pads, teamed with pencil skirts. Annie Lennox and Madonna, pop stars of the time, both took it one stage further and wore men’s suits. However, this was not a totally new concept as further back in time, as Martin R. has stated (1995), in ‘Contemporary Fashion’, ‘Chanel ceaselessly borrowed ideas from the male wardrobe, combining masculine tailoring with women’s clothing. This led to the creation of the popular and well-known tweed Chanel suit, which is commonly seen in Chanel stores today. In fact I, at first hand, admired them myself on the designer floor of Selfridges December 2019. Martin R. has taught at the Columbia University, New York University & the Chicago School of Arts. Women also copied the elegant and groomed style of Princess Diana too. She was a women who I admired and went to visit her clothing exhibition at Kensington, London last year, as part of my fashion research.

See the source image
See the source image

The exaggerated shoulder pads and power dressing of the 1980s was also vividly seen in the American soap operas Dallas and Dynasty. These were prime time T.V. shows of the time and had an impact upon fashion too because they had so many viewers. Images of the character Alexis and Krystal may be seen below.

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See the source image

As well as this, there was a health and fitness take off during the 1980s, which led to a higher demand for female sportswear. This was starting to become a huge trend and I believe it was the start of female sportswear really taking off. At this point in history, women were gaining independence financially and with it their own free time, where they could actually go and exercise to improve their own sense of wellbeing. Many women were now attending exercise classes such as aerobics. With it, came the need for suitable garments to wear, which were comfortable but also aesthetically pleasing. Compared to female sportswear of the 21st Century, I feel the sportswear being created was quite sexualised. Now, it tends to be more modest and practical. It is not a novelty now for women to attend exercise classes or go to the gym. It actually is for many women just the norm and they therefore need clothes which just fit the purpose.

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During the late 1980s, there was also the start of the rave culture, where young people would illegally party all night in empty warehouses and fields. Drugs were rife and the look to attend was scruffy and ungroomed. Smiley face logos appeared on T-shirts, tie-dye became popular and dungarees were a must too. To me, this was the start of the emoji visualisation take-off which are commonplace on mobile phones today.

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So, I conclude that in the 1980s there was a strong movement towards women becoming more powerful and power dressing too, as a way of proving it. Some celebrities even wore men’s suits to prove a point. However, this was not a totally new concept as further back in time, Chanel took ideas from male’s garments and combined them with women’s clothing, thus creating the popular and well-known tweed Chanel suit. With increasing gender equality, this is something which I could play with and explore more in the future. Sportswear and emoji’s were also starting to become popular and these are also factors which could be played with too, when designing and making clothes and accessories for the future.


Martin R. (1995), ‘Contemporary Fashion’, St. James Press Pub. (P.100)