Tuesday, 6 January 2009

marketing and design aesthetics

Marketing and design aesthetics
“I open a fashion magazine; I see that two different garments are being dealt with here. The first is the one represented to me as photographed or drawn – it is image clothing. The second is the same garment , but described, transformed into language…” Barthes 1983 in Eds Linda welters 2007: 87).
Barthes writes that there are three main structures for a garment, real – the actual garment, understood in terms of its physicality how and what it is made of, iconic, a visual representation of the garment either in the form of a drawing or photograph, and verbal a written description of a garment. These distinctions help us to understand the representation of a garment – how -intrinsic to the actual garment we wear - the way it is photographed and described comes to form an essence of what this object is, its sense of being in the world, and how we understand and place it.

How do I find and understand a timeless, elegant, poetic, narrative feel in the way a collection is represented through language and image?
In the issue of November 2006 we see a photo shoot entitled Clean Slate. It contradictory. On the one hand the images create a feeling of timelessness, with the subtle colour tones the clothes seem a part of the landscape they are photographed in. yet the words say something different “intriguing textures and crafty layering add a cool modern feel to grey. This season’s most enigmatic he”. The words ‘cool’ and ‘this season’s’ all seem to suggest a passing trend, something of the moment, not timelessness, not something to treasure and keep, just something to wear this season and then throw away.

I looked at Toast, their aesthetic of their Autumn/inter catalogue seemed sympathetic to the design philosophies within my own work. The front page of the catalogue reads “Autumn Winds and other stories”, we’re being told a story, about a lifestyle implicit to the clothes being sold. On the second page we see a landscape and the story continues the words are poetic, descriptive, evocative, like a memory, “this is where we were. Carpathian peaks, high hamlets, meadows, forests. The crispest air… bear prints in fresh snow…”. Do the clothes in this collection embody these memories? If we buy them will it be as though we went on the journey too?

Garments with poetic names such as falling leaf top are described as “sheeny, smooth, drapey crepe de sheen”. A luxurious, sensual description, yet also simple language, like a friend, everyday. The photo shows a simple, homely, rustic kitchen. A shaft of sunlight shines onto an apple being chopped. If we buy this top do we also appropriate the imagined poetic memory of that moment? Would wearing this silk top feel like falling leaves?

Later in the catalogue another scene is set, the words sweet dreaming glow in white on an inky sky silhouetted with trees and a rooftop. It brings to mind a fragment of poem by Sylvia Plath
“the wet dawn inks are doing their blue dissolve.
On their blotter of fog the trees
Seem a botanical drawing
Memories growing, ring on ring…” (from Winter Trees Sylvia Plath 1962 257)

On the next page, having been lulled into a poetic reverie we see a dimly lit image in tones of blue shadows. A figure sleeps with a ginger cat. We are sleeping, we can imagine the feel of the cat’s whiskers on our leg. We can imagine the feel of the “smooth cool cotton lawn” on our skin. We imagine – this poetic imagery seems to merge with us as though becoming one of our own memories. Aristotle says ‘…memory belongs to that part of the soul to which imagination belongs; all things which are imaginable are essentially objects of memory…’ (Aristotle 1996: 159).

timeless fashion

Timeless fashion
What are the qualities that would help to define and clarify what is timeless fashion? ‘…fashion writers describe classical inspired styles as “timeless”, implying that such styles are outside fashion’s whimsical nature.’ (Welters and Lillethun 2007: xx)
‘People living in small towns and villages did not have the means to follow fashion, but evolved slow-changing regional dress styles called “folk” or “peasant” dress.’ (Welters and Lillethun 2007: xxi)

Is it to do with handmade personal qualities in garments? Wabi Sabi a Japanese aesthetic ‘…which looks to find perfection in imperfection.’ (Azoulay 2007: 378)
It refers to ‘…an ancient Japanese style aesthetic, which recognises an artisan approach to beauty that doesn’t require perfect, mechanical consistency.’ (Azoulay 2007: 379)
The jeans company Earnest Sewn uses this approach stating ‘We asked our factory to remove the guides on our sewing machines in an effort to recreate the beauty of hand sewn garments…the ides is that every pair of Earnest Sewn jeans is unique…’ (Azoulay 2007: 379). Simona Segra Reinach says ‘…designers today are moving toward personalization and fashion is offering unknown “small brands” as an antidote to the standardization and globalized omnipresence that retails policies have stamped on high fashion.’ (Reinach 2007: 385)

Can I find designers who work in this way? Ma Ke is a Chinese fashion designer who ‘… aims to foster in buyers a desire for objects with innate value until choosing the well-made and the beautiful becomes a natural selection.’ (Selvedge 2008: 20). Not following fashion trends in the fashion show of her collection ‘Quing Pin’ ‘her clothes were presented on men and women of all ages and shapes who moved in a graceful sequence of Tai chi-like movements…’ (Selvedge 2008: 7). Not following the fashion industry ‘the organically inspired work of Ma Ke is an exercise in the power of poetry and one person’s mission to defy the odds in the cut throat world of high fashion and garment production.’ (inhabitat.com)
‘Perhaps her greatest fear is that we will lose the ability to appreciate the unusual, the rare and the beautiful.’ (Selvedge 2008: 20)
‘Ma Ke’s third, and most esoteric; fashion line Wu Yong (useless) champions the survival value of beauty. Rejecting the unity of form and function it celebrates form alone. Wu Yong follows her accessible and successful labels, exception and mixmind which she founded nine years ago…She hopes others will inherit her appreciation of ‘essential simplicity’ through her designs.’ (Selvedge 2008: 20)
“…she rejects fast fashion trends and only works with artisans using hand looms.” (coolhunting.com Leonora Oppenheim 19.12.08)
“there are also the extraordinary photographs taken by Zhou Mi, where the sculptural clothes and the people wearing them appear as if they are integral structures in the landscape.” (coolhunting.com Leonora Oppenheim 19.12.08)
As old as the land? Timeless qualities?

is it to do with the way things are made? Carin Mansfield ‘… is positively a zealot about the way her clothes are made and the quality of the stitch work: French seams, bindings, piping, hem facings, gusseted sleeces and pin tucks are standard. The whole point of these clothes is that they are built to last so they are extremely well made. “I want the clothes to look as good on the inside as on the outside.”’ (Lewis 2008: 69)
‘”I like clothes that look better crumpled and so I wash everything to break it in and age it a bit”… “It softens the fabric and stops it looking stiff. It also enhances the texture.”’ (Lewis 2008:69)
clothes that evoke memories ‘Aside from this good old fashioned workmanship the shapes of the clothes have a reassuring familiarity.’ (Lewis 2008:70)
‘”My intention is to create clothes that age well, are long lasting and are not of a particular time frame.” (Lewis 2008:70)

Is it to do with an elegant and classical feel? Intricate details, beautiful draping, the use of colour? Sophia kokosalaki – what makes her work timelessly elegant yet contemporary? She designs for Vionnet and shares with her a classical and elegant approach, attention to detail, subtle use of draping.
Sophia says of Vionnet “the fact that her work has been a recurrent reference for of designers for almost a century now is a testimony to the timelessness of Vionnet.” (vogue.com 29.12.08 dolly Jones)
“Vionnet has one of the most exceptional fashion heritages and a timeless appeal.” (vogue.com 29.12.08 dolly Jones)
“Sophia with her technical abilities and contemporary feminine vision.” (vogue.com 29.12.08 dolly Jones)
“Sophia Kokosalaki was brought up on a rich diet of history and mythology, which continues to fuel her designs. She works through a back catalogue of ancient skills – using appliqué, pintucking, cording, plaiting, ruching and patchwork to embellish a range of fabrics.” (I-dmagazine.com 29.12.08)
Her 2004 collection was inspired by “the sea and all its contents” (style.com 29.12.08 Sarah Mower)
A distinctive personal style and identity – can I identify and describe what this is?
The draping is classical, like Greek statues, similar to Vionnet, not following trends, elegant, use of craft techniques, feminine, subtle colour tones, technical
“what really registers is recognisable continuity in a designers vision… she emphasised her signature draping, in corded pleats that ran over the bodies of jersey dresses.” (style.com 29.12.08 Sarah Mower)
Can I identify and describe theses qualities in specific garments?

What makes Vionnet timelessly elegant and not following fashion trends?
“Vionnet’s work is a cipher of modernism and classicism united to create a form of design that speaks of both purity and control”
“Hoyningen-Huene’s 1931 photographs of Vionnet’s favourite model Sonia dancing in white silk crepe romaine pyjamas, clearly relate the garments and the photography to the classical relief’s and imagery depicted on Greek ceramics” (Madeleine Vionnet 15 dresses from the collection of Martin Kumer, Fashion Theory 6 no 3 323-6 2006 Michael Clarke)
The way photography and styling works with a garment to convey its context and how we should read and understand it.
Attention to detail in her work “everything was thought through to the smallest detail. Everything was precise.” (bettykirke.com 04.01.09)
Vionnet’s distinctive style, elegant and classical use of bias “Vionnet’s halter necks, wrapped waists, and circular skirts are easily recognisable cuts. Vionnet also manipulated fabric. The twist often replaces a dart…” (bettykirke.com 04.01.09)
“an intensely private individual, Vionnet avoided public displays and mundane frivolities and often expressed a dislike for the world of fashion, stating: “insofar as one can talk of a Vionnet school, it comes mostly from my having been an enemy of fashion. There is something superficial and volatile about the seasonal and elusive whims of fashion which offends my sense of beauty.” Vionnet was not concerned with being the designer of the moment”, preferring to remain true to her own vision of female beauty.” (wikipedia.org 04.01.09)

Sunday, 4 January 2009

ideas and concepts: Memories, poems, narrative and fashion...

Having noticed a thread of narrative that ran through the core of my work I wanted to explore this further I decided to take inspiration from poetry for a fashion/textiles collection. However there was not much to be found when I was trying to find specific examples of poetry and fashion influencing one another, I had to look sideways instead, I looked at the way art and poetry have influenced ones another- words becoming visual as a means of then applying those ideas to the context of my own work.
I began to see poems as a type of memory, and also to see how memories are what informs all narrative and storytelling, a complex and multi layered and entwined reciprocal process. For this reason I also researched memory, trying to understand what it is and how it can inform cultural dialogue…

Poems are like memories – like reading another person’s memory. Amy de la Haye in selvedge writes that clothes can become special because they embody memories; can I use poems as inspiration for clothing? Poems about a feeling or a place, to imbue the garment with that feeling. So it embodies a memory in some way. So it can begin to tell its own story, as it interweaves with our lives and also begins to form shared memories and narrative – a reciprocal process.
Poems a linguistic trace, evocative. Clothes as memories – a tactile visual, sensual memory or trace.
Poems inspiring clothes - a way of combining many different forms of memory.

I’ve found lots of information about the history of dress – books giving a chronological history of styles and era and social change and how they all link. However when I talk about clothes with a sense of history I don’t necessarily mean clothes that borrow and re-invent looks and styles from different eras of history – its more about a sense of personal history and memory – this sense of history may be real or imagined. An old and treasured item of clothing may have real memories associated with it – places its been worn, where it came from etc. These qualities may make it something to treasure and keep. Likewise a new item of clothing may trigger old or imagined memories and associations, because of its style, colour, cut etc sparking off associations – it reminds you of something – it has poetic qualities imbued into it?
Can I design clothes that suggest or evoke real or imagined histories and memories, making them something to treasure and keep?
What qualities would a garment need to do this?

If reading a poem is like reading a memory – someone else's memory – can it might remind us of somewhere we’ve been, or something we’ve seen or felt. We appropriate the memory; it merges with us and becomes one of our own memories.
Could a fashion textile collection inspired by poetry about the sea evoke our own individual memories of the sea? The becoming more than just a dress or skirt, but becoming, poetic, with a sense of memory, evocative, with history and traces…
How would I do this?
With colour?
With layers?
The cut of a garment?
A garment for a specific purpose?
A dress to catch the wind?
An evening dress
A twighlight dress with colours as the sun fades on the sea
A morning dress with colours like the sea in the morning
A storm dress
A dress to catch storms

Can memories inform the creative process?
James McConkey discusses the way in Preface to Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth; William Wordsworth describes the importance of memory for the poet and the creative process. ‘The importance of memory to creativity is apparent from the beginning, in the reference to the “poets disposition to be affected more than other men by absent things as if they were present.”’ (McConkey 1996: 143). James McConkey continues ‘For Wordsworth, our responses to the natural world become the images upon which memory’s power is based – images less factual, less objectively true, than they are subjective, transformed by the imagination.’ (McConkey 1996: 143). The way imagination and memory can work together to create a subjective and personal response to the world. So if we don’t need outside stimulus for a poetic memory, can an object that is evocative of a place or feeling evoke a poetic memory? A memory that is suggestive… evoked by an object… Poetry that is about a trace and absence rather than a presence… how would this be evoked in a garment?

What is poetry?
In Preface to Lyrical Ballads Williams Wordsworth says ‘Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; it is the impassioned expression which is in the countenance of all science.’ (Wordsworth 1996: 145). Wordsworth says that poets express things from our everyday world that anyone can relate to… ‘These passions and thoughts and feelings are the general passions and thoughts and feelings of men…and with what are they connected?…with storm and sunshine, with the revolutions of the seasons, with cold and heat, with loss of friends and kindred…gratitude and hope, with fear and sorrow…The poet thinks and feels in the spirit of the passions of men.’ (Wordsworth 1996:)

What is memory?
‘The brain – is wider than the Sky
For – put them side by side –
The one the other will contain
With ease – and You – beside’ (Emily Dickinson quoted from Steven Rose, ‘Memories are Made of This’ 2008: 54)

In ‘Memories are made of this’ Steven rose says ‘…memory is capricious. Some things come spilling from the memory unwanted, whilst others are forthcoming only after a delay. Memory enables one to envisage colours even in the dark, to taste in the absence of food, to hear in the absence of sound.’ Rose 2008: 55) Similarly if I take inspiration form a poem about the sea does this mean that if someone wear one of these garments inspired by the sea that they will be able to remember or feel the sea without actually seeing it – an evocative garment, imbued with poetic memory and narrative. An object that intermingles the memories of different individual as that becomes more personal the more an individual wears it and intermingles their own narratives with it. People have written about how unrelated things can spark off a memory ‘You and I may both take ‘blue remembered hills’ around with us a mental traces…but only I have those hills woven together with the bus ticket, the mint imperial and the ominous bank statement that were in my pocket…’ (Bowie 2008: 13)

On remembering ‘Each act of recall is itself a new experience. Reactivated memories are subtly changed each time we recall them.’ (Rose 2008: 66)
‘Far from passively recording the past, we in our memories actively reconstruct it.) (Rose 200: 66)
Aristotle says ‘…memory belongs to that part of the soul to which imagination belongs; all things which are imaginable are essentially objects of memory…’ (Aristotle 1996: 159).
St Augustine talks about the nature of memory… ‘…these fields and spacious palaces of my memory…’ (Augustine 1996: 162).
‘…those mountains, and billows, and rivers, and stars which I have seen, and that ocean which I believed to be, I saw inwardly in my memory…’ (Augustine 1996: 163).
A.S. Byatt writes that ‘Memory is not quite the same things as consciousness, but they are intricately, toughly and delicately intertwined. Someone once said that we consist of the pure, theoretical instant of awareness, and everything else is already memory.’ (Byatt 2008: xii)
‘Memories can be polished, like objects taken out burnished, and contemplated, or they can flitter just out of reach, like lost threads of broken webs.’ (Byatt 2008: xii)
‘Remembering is a bodily activity, taking place in the brain, and also in the connections between the brain and the nervous system.’ (Byatt 2008: xii). Would this make garments a pertinent medium to evoke memories, because of their tactile bodily qualities/connotations, and the way this relates to the physical sensations linked to the formation of our memories?
‘Memory, language, and the body are intertwined in a very complex way…’ (Byatt 2008: xii). Is this importance of language in the formation of our memories one of the reasons why literature, such a poetry can be so evocative? What happens when poetry is used as inspiration for the clothes we wear?
Malcolm Bowir says memory ‘helps the individual to sustain a continuous sense of personal identity…’ (Bowie 2008: 13)

Links between poetry, memory and art
‘Memory, or Mnemosyne, was, the Greeks believed, the mother of the muses. Art is all, at some level, both a mnemonic and a form of memory.’ (Byatt 2008: xii)

The idea that art is a form of memory and that it can trigger or evoke memories – does it matter if these memories are ours or originally belong to someone else?

Malcolm Bowie says memory can involve a an interchange between past and present in art ‘It is to be founding the experience of art, and in those complex acts of remembrance that works of art invite us to perform. A novel, a sonnet, or a symphony is a mnemonic device which, intricately coiled and coded, is an elaborate set of instructions.’ (Bowie 2008: 15)

A relationship between art and literature e.g. where paintings are about poems, is this literature made visual? ‘A new intermediate species is called into being: a reader-viewer, a recipient of art whose eyes are literate…’ (Bowie 2008: 19)

In a painting there is no linear narrative, we can flit from past to present, forwards and backwards, as our eyes travel around the image- in this way time and memory become layered and entangled and non linear. ‘…the painting differs from the verbal narrative in that the verbal narrative in that rightwards movement of the viewers eye can be reversed at will, or abandoned in favour of an impatient to-and-fro scansion of the scene…At any moment narrative time can be brought to a standstill…’ (Bowie 2008: 20)

When art and memory entwine can we see memory as an ever changing reciprocal process, a continual interchange between words and pictures? ‘…we can begin to uncover memory as a kinetic principal and creative force. Poetic and pictorial meanings interweave contrapuntally; two rhythms run at once through the time-dimension of art.’ (Bowie 2008: 21) Two different elements interweave harmoniously together…

A backwards and forwards memory – when art or literature from different times can inform and influence the reading or creation or one another – a memory from the past becoming re-worked, something new, moving forward towards the future and the past at the same time… ‘…this interplay between later and earlier works of art…the in-between world … brings Beethoven into dialogue with Bach, Titian into dialogue with Ovid…’ (Bowie 2008: 23)

Time and memory – a reciprocal processes of influence moving backwards and forwards ‘On the broad canvas of cultural history, time has its own elasticity: works of art travel forward into the future, and later works alter the past by retroaction.’ (Bowie 2008: 24)

Looking at a work of art that evokes literature and memories ‘…we enter a world of promises, prefigurations and echoes. As the eye travels across the painted surface, inventing depths and three-dimensional layerings…’ (Bowie 2008: 25)

The interchange between literature and art… cross referential, memories blurring, intermingling, so you can’t tell the difference between what is your own true memory and what you have experienced or remember from art or literature… ‘the new work emerges from memories, from sense-impressions…it’s looking back is a looking forward Writers quote and misquote each other. Painters and musicians readily turn to literature as a spur to their creativity…this limitless criss-cross of influence…’ (Bowie 2008: 26)

Memory and narrative
Memories become narratives in our minds, a form of storytelling, that can be mutable and ever-changing as time eats away at our memories…some things we forget, others we remember, but does that acts of remembering change them anyway?
Frank Kermode quotes Augustine ‘the memory produces not the actual events which have passed away but words conceived from images of them, which they fixed I the mind like imprints as they passed through he senses.’ (Kermode 2008: 5). He also quotes Freud who spoke of ‘memory-traces being subjected from time to time to a rearrangement in accordance with fresh circumstances…’ (Kermode 2008: 5).

Why is the ocean evocative?
In The oceans Inside Us Diane Ackerman writes that ‘…we carry the oceans within us; that our veins mirror the tides.’ (Ackerman 1996: 23) she continues ‘…I was so moved my eyes teared underwater, and I mixed my saltiness with the ocean’s.’ (Ackerman 1996: 23). Our blood is mainly salt water, we still require a saline solution (salt water) to wash our eyes…’ (Ackerman 1996: 23)

‘the sea is inexhaustible and unfathomable, in itself and in poetry. It has touched poetry in all languages except possibly those of the most isolated and land-locked peoples. The sea has a presence in almost every book of poems, just as it does, even fleetingly but persistently, in the minds of people everywhere. It is the repository of our deepest fears and aspirations; it has a close connection with death, implicit or explicit in poems here, but equally with our sustenance.’ (Jay 2005: 9)

‘At least since Darwin’s day, we have known that all of us originally emerged from the sea. The fact that may in part account for our abiding fascination with it, our longing to return there, whether to sail the main or merely contemplate its restless enormity.’ (McClatchy 2001: 11)
‘The earth’s wind and rain rise from it. Like our bodies, the globe itself is mostly water, the ocean river of time circling, sweeping us towards our beginning and our end.’ (McClatchy 2001: 11)
‘In many ways the ocean has been like a mighty mirror, reflecting the anxieties and astonishment of the poets themselves. Like mariners, they ply the surface and speculate on the depths.’ (McClatchy 2001: 11)

Objects Memory and Narrative
‘We form memories into stories we remember, and we polish the stories.’ (Wood 2008: 117)
Memory boxes – objects with history – objects as traces - the way objects can trigger or evoke memories – objects becoming more than just an object – they become entwined with memory and a sense of identity.
‘A Memory Box typically consisted of a large suitcase containing a number of perfectly humdrum domestic objects from the 1930’s – a bar of Lux soap, a packet of Swan Vesta matches, an Ovaltine tin, tortoise-shell hairclip, and small mangle and so on.’ (Holmes 2008: 99)
‘…what many of us would regard as ‘old junk’ now became ‘little treasures’ of stored-up memory, with a high symbolic value. The effect of the Memory Boxes was often magical. The old women, many in their seventies and eighties, slowly began to handle, identify (eyesight not always so good) and discuss these familiar objects.’ (Holmes 2008: 99)
‘Each physical object began to ‘trigger’ a long chain of recollections. Gradually an extraordinary stream of shared memories, anecdotes, jokes and stories would emerge…and the memories had a knock on or chain-reaction, each memory setting off another.’ (Holmes 2008:99)

In Selvedge magazine Amy de la Haye asks ‘Why do we preserve and cherish our old clothes?’ (Haye 2008: 75)
‘…at what point and how do particular garments become elevated from ‘old clothes’ that have been accumulated or hoarded, to revered ‘object’ or collection…” (Haye 2008: 75)
‘…it is the moment when clothing triggers a significant memory that it becomes imbued with new meaning and personal worth, valued over and above its style materiality and utility’ (Haye 2008: 75)
‘Or, perhaps it is because we leave imprints on our clothes – their materiality is altered by the wearer – in a way that we do not leave traces on other objects that we own?’ (Haye 2008: 75)
‘A garments shaping can distort to echo body contours; it can become imbued with personal scent and bear the marks of wear. And, ultimately they disintegrate with the passage of time, a process which can be likened to human fragility.’ (Haye 2008: 75)

Shelley goldsmith
Memories and traces in old clothes – they ‘…hint of stories belonging to the unknown and long gone wearers.’ (Gordon 2008: 57)
Often found in charity shops or on eBay ‘…the true history of the former owner is unknown.’ (Gordon 2008: 57)
Shelley Goldsmith has created ‘…an imagined narrative between the skin of the wearer and the life they lived, and pinned it down onto the item of clothing they were wearing when a specific incident took place.’ (Gordon 2008: 57)
She says ‘…second hand clothing carries memory and absorbs and reflects physical experience…’ (Gordon 2008: 57)
They are ‘…ghostly, delicate renditions of imagined and made-up past lives.’ (Gordon 2008: 57)

What is fashion?
Barthes writes that there are three main structures for a garment, real – the actual garment, iconic, a visual representation of the garment either in the form of a drawing or photograph, and verbal a written description of a garment
Ideas of taste and trends (is there a way to create garments that do not follow taste and tends but that have a timeless quality? – can I find examples of people who do this?)
‘Fashion induces a change in mass taste. The short skirt, which one season seems aesthetic and appropriate comes to look ugly and out of place -somehow improper.’ (Lang 2007: 85)
‘…taste to designate the subjective preference for which there are no objective standards.’ (Lang 2007: 85)
‘Fashion is a collective phenomenon and has an objective existence apart from any individual. It makes attractive what often seems outrageous and bizarre to the preceding generation as well as the next.’ (Lang 2007: 85)
‘Taste implies a purely subjective judgment...’ (Lang 2007: 85)
Abby Lillethun describes five models of cyclical change within fashion
Historical continuity ‘new fashions logically develop from immediately preceding styles.’ (Lillethun 2007: 78)
Shifting erogenous zones
The pendulum swing ‘1990’s minimalism… gave way to multiple ornamentations…’ (Lillethun 2007: 78)
A recurring wave e.g. ‘…that skirts cycle from wide to narrow…’ (Lillethun 2007: 79)
Historicism ‘…the appearance of style elements from the historical past as themes or elements in contemporary fashion.’ (Lillethun 2007: 79)
How do I understand these ideas in relation to my own practice? One can’t design in isolation from culture and society, yet also there are faults with the system – is possible to create a timeless collection? Perhaps timeless because it has forwards and backwards memory? Because it evokes something within us, evoking something long lasting, touching our memories?
In the Fashion Reader Linda Welters and Abby Lillethun say ‘We are defining fashion as changing styles of dress and appearance that are adopted by a group of people at any given time and place.’ (Welters and Lillethun 2007: xix)
‘It is a symbolic product’ (Welters and Lillethun 2007: xx)
‘Fashion the verb means, “to make or form something”.’ (Welters and Lillethun 2007: xx)
‘…fashion writers describe classical inspired styles as “timeless”, implying that such styles are outside fashion’s whimsical nature.’ (Welters and Lillethun 2007: xx)
‘People living in small towns and villages did not have the means to follow fashion, but evolved slow-changing regional dress styles called “folk” or “peasant” dress.’ (Welters and Lillethun 2007: xxi)
Garments and Narrative
Write about: Tales of the unexpected - Suzanne Langston-Jones?
‘Suzanne Langston-Jones plays with illusion and narrative, her garments conjuring up childhood fairy stories and fantasies…’ (Willson 2008: 26)
‘…they have a presence, which awakens a whole range of questions as to the suggestive power inherent within garments...’ (Willson 2008: 26)
She ‘…uses dress as the medium for her preoccupation with ‘stories’ of presence and absence, silence and ageing.’ (Willson 2008: 26)
‘”Text is central to my practice explains Langston-Jones. Words are powerful conveyers and provokers of ideas…’ (Willson 2008: 26)
What is peculiarly memorable is how subtly these fragile, empty articles of clothing…suggest wearers who are no longer present, and how alarmingly they evoke that which once was but is now absent and passed away.’ (Willson 2008: 27)

Eloise Grey ‘Her Tweed designs are influenced by her love of mid 20th century literature – ‘Waugh’ is a short fitted jacket, ‘de Beavouir’ is slightly longer and belted. Her A/W 08 collection is dedicated to Virago Modern Classics; her recent discovery of Persephone books may well inspire her next.’ (Leonard 2008:8)

Fashion and history (history a form of narrative and memory)
Amy De La Haye says ‘A quintessential feature of British fashion is its preoccupation with historical style; the past is reworked and re-presented as the future.’ (Haye 1997: 12)
She also says ‘the characteristics of a nation’s cultural products are partly determined by geography and climate. In his famous study The Englishness of English art (1956) Nikolaus Pevsner cites landscape and climate and determinates in the psychological formation of the population.’ (Haye 1997: 12)
These factors also shape colour preferences, As Pevser states. ‘Animals of Cold Climates are grey, brown and black – tigers and parrots live in hot climates. So too art will take on a different hue in the mists of the north and under clear blue skies.’’ (Haye 1997: 12)

In The Cutting Edge in an interview Vivienne Westwood talks about the importance of historical research in her work ‘My style is recognized world-wide as innovative and is entirely connected with the importance of researching design form the past.’ Link to ideas of a sense of history – memories and traces from the past?

poetic narratives: Toast's Winter 08 film...

Saturday, 26 April 2008

environmentally friendly shopping bags

I have looked at this website www.envirosax.com, an Australian company who make reusable shopping bags. They have a graphic printed range and an organic range of bags ( the two images show a bag from each range). I thought they were relevant for me to look at as research for the types of bag designs I could develop...

This is what they say about themselves on their website:
"Envirosax bags provide an exclusive range of reusable shopping bags, while introducing an exciting new medium for the message of environmental sustainability. Design-led, in-expensive and colourful, Envirosax® environmental eco friendly shopping bags will carry the environmental message to a world ready to embrace a brighter ecological future.

Using eco-friendly reusable shopping bags instead of plastic bags is a culture, which will evolve over time. Envirosax bags makes the ‘move in the right direction’ easier by providing a bag that rolls up and becomes a lightweight and portable, 40 gram package. These groovy bags, available as single items, also come as an assortment of 5 durable waterproof, lightweight bags contained in a small pouch. The pouch is small enough to stow into a glove box or a handbag - Forgetting your green bags again is now a problem solved!

Challenging the lack of stylish or fashionable eco-friendly reusable shopping bags available, Envirosax has succeeded in providing an answer - producing bags, printed with exciting trendy graphics. What results is a tasteful and smart solution!"

Friday, 25 April 2008

Narrative and design

The following are quotes and notes from an article about:
"Humanizing design through narrative inquiry."
"The field of design has a long history of using narrative metaphorically - that is creating designs that tell a story..."
This article argues that:
"... narratives nurture responsivness on the part of the designer, encouraging them to:
1. shift their focus from the product to the person
2. embrace multiple veiwpoints outside their own"
The article also discusses the inportance of narrative:
"narratives or stories are more than mere child's play; they are a way of making sense of the world around us and our role in it."
storytelling "organizes raw experiences into memories, and gives meaning to human experience."
"stories allow designers to set goals that reach well beyond aesthetic intervention, to include the intangible, emotive design attributes that are often difficult to represent through more traditional methods."
Narrative used metaphorically, and used to inform the design process. A way of getting a deeper understanding of the context and individual for whom you're designing. My postcard research into the types of bags people use and the objects they carry in them has been a way for for me to do this. I now plan to feed this research, these stories, into my design process.

Danko, S. Meneely, J. Portillo, M. 2006. 'Humanizing design through narrative inquiry'. In: Journal of Interior Design, 31 no 2.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

interpreting postcard research about bags and their contents

Interpreting postcard research about the contents of our bags and the types of bags we carry with us everyday.
From 150 postcards received between February and March 2008.
I identified 21 different types of bag:
1 basket
4 satchels
1 pouch
14 backpacks or rucksacks
15 bags with the brand name described: “from Tescos it’s dirty and muddy” (6) or “My lovely Cath Kidson red mini dot book bag! Very tough, hold everything!” (i).
12 with some of their history described. This is perhaps one of the most interesting parts of my research as it gives clues as to why some things are treasured -often it’s the stories behind them. One person wrote: “My bag came from a house clearance. The woman who previously owned it had died. It is actually a knitting bag, which has embroidered flowers stitched on either side. It must have taken weeks! I collect rubbish in my bag like most people… I use this bag everyday because I love it so much. It is weird though that another lady had it before me.”(i). This is the story of a bag loaded with history and mystery, which makes it unique and gives it value. Other postcards described bags with a long personal history: “my bag is a record bag I’ve had since year 8. I recovered the font myself with comics, pictures, pirate gold and patches.” (i) – A bag entwined with an individuals life, something remaining constant as time passes by. Some postcards described bags that bear traces of where they have been and what they have done: “bag borrowed from my friend Catherine. It’s a bit mud stained from walk and climbing trees!” (i). In contrast to bags that have history, one person says “it is a kind of a leathery satchel – looks too new at the moment” (o) – the idea that it will look better when it’s slightly old, scuffed and worn.
3 shopping bags
12 shoulder bags
22 just described as bags
12 handbags
1 drawer string bag
23 were described as coloured
15 black bags
15 brown bags
26 bags described as large or big, with lots of references to bags containing everything, or lots of rubbish: “A Mary Poppins bag, its massive!” (i) Or “My bag is big – like a sack” (f) or “It’s like the Tardis!” (f) Or “A big black bag to fit everything I own in” (e
7 small or little bags e.g. “a little brown bag” (l),
6 medium bags.
(There were none of the descriptions or metaphors for the small or medium bags that were noted with the large bags. Does this suggest that the larger bags embodied something more personal? Perhaps a personal space when away from home where we can carry everything we own or might possibly need?)
31 leather or fake leather bags
11 fabric bags
(The remaining 108 postcard respondents had not specified the material their bag was made from)
9 with decoration or pattern
5 old, dirty or second hand bags

Contents of bags:
I identified 9 categories
Clothing, pens/pencils, electrical items, food/drink, paper, keys, toiletries, containers, and miscellaneous

178 electrical items:
1 battery
11 laptops
7 cd’s
1 clock
85 mobile phones
3 calculators
4 Nintendo’s
3 DVD’s
33 ipods or headphones
3 mp3 players
16 cameras
18 memory sticks
2 torches

363 paper items:
1 piece of plain paper
3 birthday cards
41 banking related items
3 address books
11 tickets
1 Tate modern brochure
25 receipts
1 post it note
8 leaflets/catalogues
67 sketchbooks/notebooks
1 paper needing to be marked
5 flyers
9 newspapers
19 lists
47 diary’s
18 id’s/pass cards
2 family photos
5 business cards
41 tissues
1 folded brown paper
12 scraps of paper
32 books
1 paper flower
1 magazine
2 maps
5 folders
5 vouchers
13 letters/post

114 pens/pencils:
81 pens
9 pencils
4 broken pens or pencils

89 Keys:
16 house keys
13 car keys
5 work keys

301 toiletry items:
9 inhalers
6 plasters
15 perfumes
7 wet wipes
39 make-up items
2 dentil floss
1 soap
34 painkillers
63 lip balm/gloss
11 items for nail care
29 moisturisers
1 razor
1 toothbrush
5 deodorants
3 eye drops
12 tampons/sanitary towels
11 mirrors
49 hair items
3 condoms

176 containers:
141 wallets/purses
7 plastic bags
4 shopping bags
11 pencil cases
11 make-up/wash bags
1 bag of badges

49 clothing items:
4 tops
2 pairs of socks
23 gloves
9 hats
7 scarves
3 pairs of pants
1 pair of trainers

146 Miscellaneous items:
2 sewing kits
1 crumbs
2 fluff
2 sand
1 grit
1 dirt
2 rubbish
1 mask
37 glasses (inc sunglasses)
3 pritt sticks
2 rescue remedies
7 loose coins
1 piece of amethyst
1 piece of brass
1 watch
1 block of wood
4 shells/pebbles from the beach
3 buttons
3 knitting
1 tape
9 lighters
9 tobacco/cigarettes
6 rizla
7 jewellery
1 tools
12 umbrellas
3 stanely knives
6 tape measures
1 masking tape
1 metal file
1 nappy
2 spoons
7 sweet wrappers
1 art piece made from tea bags
1 toy soldier
1 pedometer
1 cable tie
1 key ring

103 food/drink items:
1 yogurt
15 chewing gum
3 sandwiches
17 pieces of fruit
26 sweets
8 tea bags
1 sugar sachet
26 bottles of water
4 flasks
1 crisps