Friday, 20 January 2012

Brothel Creeping in a new pair of shoes

A bonus to being a student with as much disposable income as a Darlington footballer, is that if you want to purchase anything beyond the low-market apparels, you must ogle for weeks until you've saved enough to commit to buying. This gives you time to really question and eventually decide whether or not this is something you truly desire and prevents those impulse buys. 

Making impulsive choices and decisions can often end in disarray and when it comes to fashion, nothing can trump that feeling that you've spent too much money on an item that you will only wear when feeling adventurous in front of the mirror. Fortunately, a purchase I made recently did not leave me feeling this way.  

Whilst pondering over a new pair of desert boots and gazing at some of the interesting outfits worn by users of, I couldn't help but notice the frequent inclusion of creeper shoes. These shoes, more commonly referred to as 'Brothel Creepers' (at least by my mother and grandparents), have a long-standing heritage in the UK. They feature large metal rings for the laces, Gothic style detailing topped off with huge crepe soles and despite and are possibly one of the ugliest pair of shoes I have ever seen.

They were originally issued to soldiers fighting in Africa during WW2 to help their feet cope with the harsh terrain and when soldiers returned home, still wearing their creepers, they took off in London as Brothel Creepers. Since then, they have been adopted by the Teddy Boys during the late 50s and again by Vivienne Westwood's late partner and Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren in the early 70s. Today, they appear to have a cult fan-base with popularity growing ever since chart-whore 'Rhianna' wore a pair last year.

Styling with a pair of creepers can be difficult as the uniqueness of the design demands a particular outfit in order to compliment. My intention is to follow in the footsteps of previous owners like the Teddy Boys and wear black skinny jeans with something grungy like a denim jacket or parka on top.

The shoes' ugliness is also what gives it huge character and is a shoe, like Dr Martens, that has a long history in the UK.

The pair I bought come from the British shoe and boot maker T.U.K. They stock loads of colour and design variations, website link;

Work from Semester 2 Year 1 / Research and Design Development

A quick update showing some design research for All Saints' knitwear collections completed in year 1, semester 2. An important piece for me as this was a point during first year when I was anxious as to whether or not going to university had been the right choice however, upon completion and feedback this feeling was replaced with satisfaction and I felt as if I had found direction again. 

The layout of the project saw us researching background information like the history of the retailer and current competitors which then moved on to current collections. Following this we created a fabric board based upon trend research which lead to our final designs.

The design work is a little shabby with a few inaccurate representations of how garments are constructed but on the whole I was pleased with my first attempt at designing on illustrator.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Work from Semester 1 Year 2 / Garment Technology

Another module undertaken by fashion students at Leeds University is "Garment Technology". This module is focused on the construction of apparels and the processes carried out to achieve a finished piece.

Before I studied fashion I studied art and design at A-Level, and although this provided me with skills necessary to complete other modules, when first presented with the brief for Garment Technology, I felt stranded. With guidance from lecturers and peers it was something we all got to grips with as a class however, the true complexity of garment construction came clear and I knew it was something I needed to build on.

This year, we were presented with individual projects that involved the research into and eventually the construction of a men's jacket or skirt. As I had chosen to focus specifically on menswear I was assigned the jacket. We were given a flat drawing of what the finished garment should look like which proved invaluable as time went on.

The project required us to research, as broadly as possible, men's jackets and to document our construction process to form a step-by-step guide that included imagery of us at work. It was imperative that we were honest with our notes identifying any mistakes made and how we overcame them.

Any garment construction carried out in first year was very basic or was carried out as part of a group meaning my skills as a pattern maker and cutter were limited. Despite this, I am pleased with the finished jacket and apart from a few mistakes made, found the experience enjoyable and rewarding. I am certain also that my ability has increased massively.

Here are some of the finished pages from my journal and a photograph of the final outcome:

Work from Semester 1 Year 2 / Design Development & Portfolio (Yohji Yamamoto)

"Design Development & Portfolio" is a compulsory module that looks at improving our design skills with regards to fashion, in the hope of creating a respectable portfolio that we can show to potential employers.

For semester one, we were split into groups of four and handed a brief that outlined what would be required of us. Following this, four designers were assigned at random to the groups within the room: Comme des Garcons, Maison Martin Margiela, Rick Owens and Yohji Yamamoto.

With the nature of these designers being a lot more conceptual than the high-street retailers we had previously worked on, we were all excited to get started. The group I was a part of was assigned Yohji Yamamoto who, over six weeks, would be the focus of all our research. 

My knowledge of Yamamoto was very limited, I was only aware of his "Y-3" collaborations with adidas however, as we began the project, my eyes were opened completely to a designer who's name truly rings out yet suffered much negativity from the fashion world when he first brought his oriental/western style to Paris in the 80's.

The layout of our project consisted of a series of research pages, followed by customer profile boards. After which we split and carried on individual work comprised of drawing of potential designs, a technical spec sheet and finally a finished collection. 

The images below represent a few pages of this project all in the style of Yohji Yamamoto:

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

First actual post

So yesterday morning, an attempt by our esteemed lecturers to inspire us to work harder saw us sharing our workspace with talented young designer, Nabil El-Nayal. Unfortunately, the quality and beauty of his work that dated from his final year at Manchester Met to his more recent collection for Swarovski, left me (and possibly a few others) feeling a sense  of trepidation towards to the future. 

It is unlikely that the level of work he has produced is down to a commitment to his course and overall goal. Instead, the late nights and lack of sleeping he described illustrate a total submission to his ambitions, something that the term 'commitment' doesn't begin to describe. This is evident in the authority he has achieved in such a short space of time: since completing his MA at the Royal College of Art in 2009, Nabil has had the privilege of designing for Harrods and even Lady Gaga, with River Island begging him to do a collection for them.  

To credit Nabil, it does not seem as if any of these grand accomplishments have left him with a sense of arrogance. After we flicked through his beautiful work he was more than happy to go over some of ours (something we were fairly reluctant to give up). He provided sound advice which was straight to the point and encouragement that really worked.

Although I am currently in my second year at Leeds, we already have and are experiencing what pressure is and what the consequences of poor time-management and lack of enthusiasm for the course can lead to. In a way, what Nabil has accomplished does intimidate me, but more so it inspires me; to achieve something similar.

For me, Nabil's visit was purposeful and eye-opening as an undergraduate in Fashion Design myself. As for him, and his work, it is unsurprising that he has been granted a well deserved eminence in the fashion industry that will only grow in time. 

Some of Nabil's work:


For Harrods: