Thursday, 30 January 2014

New pieces with Kreinik Manufacturing Company

I first met the lovely Dena and Doug at the Craft, Hobby and Stitch Trade Show in Birmingham last year.  They were kind enough to give me some threads to review for Workshop on the Web and I loved working with them.  Just before Christmas, Santa came early when he dropped off a huge box of all different coloured threads, for me to work on something new for the the next CHS show, coming up soon.

It was like Christmas had come early, and I was slightly frustrated at having to put them to one side and get on with the Festive season.  But as all good things come to an end, I now have something new to look forward to!

I have started making a couple of pieces using printing technqiues.  The first is 'feathery' themed, as I am currently addicted to feathers (on Pinterest, where I have a burgeoning board).

I have painted the background using Koh-i-noor dye paints, then have stamped over with homemade stamps, thermofaxed some feathers in differing sizes, and as you can see in the top right hand corner, I have started to stitch!  I am using Kreinik's Gold, and I will also be using White Gold and Yellow for this first layer of stitching.  These are from the Fine Twist range.

For my second piece, I printed a leaf and stem design using blue screenprinting ink and a freezer paper stencil.  I used Plum Fashion Twist and Royal Blue Fine Twist for the first part of the machine stitching:

I will post a few more pictures as I continue!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! at Somerset House 20 November 2013 - 2 March 2014

This exhibition is running until 2 March 2014 at Somerset House, London.  There will be a review of the exhbition in the March issue of Workshop on the Web, but I wanted to include some photographs here that there weren't room for in that review.  Anyone can access the Exhibitions page on the WOW website

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! is an exhibition celebrating the life in fashion of the muse, stylist and Fashion Director for fashion magazines such as Tatler, Vogue, and The Sunday Times Style Magazine. Following her death, the collection was due to be auctioned, but was bought in its entirety by Daphne Guinness, a friend of Blow's who wanted to preserve her legacy.

In addition to her many roles, Isabella Blow was a champion of new and emerging designers, famously buying the MA collection of Alexander McQueen, in whose clothes she was rarely seen out of.  Another of her discoveries was Philip Treacy, whom she set up in the basement of a London flat to allow him to start creating his hats commercially.

Photograph credit: Peter MacDiarmid/Getty for Somerset House
The exhibition is like an Aladdin's cave.  Downstairs, you have the beginnings of Isabella Blow's life, detailing her illustrious, and rather infamous family.  Born to the Delves Broughton family, the family home was Dogginton Hall, Cheshire.  Her grandfather, Jock Delves Broughton, was implicated in the Happy Valley murder in Kenya in the early 1940s, famously made into the film White Mischief and had sold much of the land on the family estate to pay for gambling debts, and Isabella Delves Broughton, as she was then, was brought up in a much smaller house on the estate.  In a video interview with her, she shows a photo album, inscribed with the family coat of arms, of the splendour of the house in its earlier years, explaining her love of life in the past.  It was this sentiment that influenced much of her visual style when creating magazine spreads later on.

Photograph credit: Peter MacDiarmid/Getty for Somerset House
Moving on from this, we start to get a picture of how her style was developed and expressed.  There are pieces from the McQueen collection that she bought (and paid off in installments), Philip Treacy hats and beautifully delicate knitwear from Julien Macdonald.  More pieces from McQueen's 1996 collection are exhibited (pictured below), and it is great to see the clothes up close, and with signs of wear and tear.  This gives a real sense that these clothes have been worn and loved. There are some beautifully structured pieces, and lace features heavily here, cut, burned and sculpted.

Photograph credit: Peter MacDiarmid/Getty for Somerset House
Moving upstairs, the exhibition becomes a lot more personalised.  There are wonderful displays of more Treacy hats, a modern art installation incorporating personal effects, shoes and outfits, but there is more of a sense of the person behind the collection.  Magazine spreads are reproduced, alongside profiles and interviews, and all make fascinating reading.  From these spreads, particularly those that Isabella Blow styled and David LaChapelle, you can see the provocative nature of the collaborations, pushing the boundaries of how fashion was photographed.  The backdrops became as much a part of the shoot as the clothes and encompassed themes of lives lived and lost, decay and decadence.

Photograph credit: Peter MacDiarmid/Getty for Somerset House

A huge amount of of fashion pieces are on display, and any fashionista should take full advantage of being able to wander round, taking in the scale of the Isabella Blow collection.  You are close enough to see the skill and artistry, particularly in the hats of Philip Treacy, where mostly iconic pieces often worn by the rich, famous, and Isabella Blow are displayed on their own, part of full outfits, and as art pieces themselves. Seeing the ensembles displayed, it gives a real sense of joie de vivre in the way that Isabella Blow expressed herself fearlessly through fashion, and how she championed the burgeoning talents of those with an eye for breaking free of the constraints of tradition and embraced innovative design with exquisite tailoring.

Photograph credit: Peter MacDiarmid/Getty for Somerset House
Following her death in 2007, Philip Treacy and Alexander McQueen collaborated on an Autumn/Winter collection in 2008, inspired by Blow, and there are striking pieces from this collection, against a backdrop of the fashion show, projected behind the display.  It is a touching end to the exhibition, and you get a real sense that they had captured the essence of what we had got to see of Isabella Blow in the exhibition.

Photograph credit: Peter MacDiarmid/Getty for Somerset House

It is a fantastic exhibition, and one I couldn't recommend highly enough.  To be able to get close to the work of designers such as Alexander McQueen, Philip Treacy and many more, and have them all in one place, styled as pieces worn together, is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  For those who wait in vain for the McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition, seen in New York in 2011, to ever reach these shores, this has got to be a chance you don't miss.  And in addition to this, you also get the spirit of Isabella Blow coursing through the collection and reminding you of what a life force she was.

All photographs are reproduced with kind permission of Somerset House.