Friday, 29 August 2014

Inspiration | Anita Hirlekar

(all images here are not my own - they are of the work of the fantastic Anita Hirlekar, from this interview by the student magazine 1 Granary)

I found out about the work of Anita Hirlekar earlier today after discovering the existence of the student magazine 1 Granary, which is doing really well for itself, even after the only recent release of Issue 2! Something within me just instantly clicked with Hirlekar's work, not only because it's absolutely fantastic, but also because in her interview she gives some really good insight into working with crafts that are seen as "old fashioned".

When she did her BA, she thought that felting techniques had a bad reputation of being really uncool and dated. “It was like this old women technique which I thought was really strange. I wanted to embrace it, and use it really artistically, with modern colours and fabrics like lace and knit,” she says. The felting technique ended up being the main concept of her BA collection. Her MA collection, on the other hand, was all hand embroidered, which shows how much she admires intrinsic handcraft. “I love to raise the question of how the textile work is created, I think that once people start asking how you did it, it feels like the mission is accomplished.”

Craft is seeing a revival, and it's thanks to designers like Hirlekar using the craft in new and innovative ways, and especially in her case by deliberately pointing out the stereotypes that the craft used to hold. 

Her BA collection is fantastically muddled, but in a very paradoxical way, where in actual fact it's most likely a very deliberate muddled. The colours clash, but they are picked to clash. I love it so much, and think Hirlekar has a really good future ahead in the industry.

The mixture of felting along with embroidery and knit in these pieces creates something which I think is very visually appealing, and to me it resonates quite a lot as it manages to realise ideas I had earlier this year at college for a project where I re-used old knitwear and plastic bags to create samples, but never got to the stage of designing garments. 

Have a read of the 1 Granary spotlight on Anita Hirlekar here, and then go pick up a copy of Issue 2 of 1 Granary!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Wedding Dresses 1775 - 2014 @ V&A

I finally had the opportunity to visit London a few weeks ago, and the most important thing for me to do when I got there was to visit the V&A. I've been wanting to visit the museum for years, and there were some particular books that featured the museum in it that made me want to visit it even more... so finally getting the chance to visit it literally made my week! 

Unfortunately, for any of the special exhibitions at the V&A you are not allowed to take any photographs, so even though I really wanted to, you weren't allowed!

I was lucky to be able to borrow my cousin's membership card so my sister and I could get in to the very popular Wedding Dresses 1775 - 2014 exhibition. My poor sister hasn't got a real interest in art, but even she felt the exhibition was curated very well and the entire exhibition was, all in all, fantastic.

It was fascinating to see the history behind the wedding dress, starting from when a wedding dress was simply the best dress a woman had, or bought for the occasion, and then wore again and again afterwards.

Before Queen Victoria, a wedding dress was any colour, but for richer people it was an extravagant colour such as red or blue that cost a lot to produce, so they could show off their wealth. The majority of the dresses on show from the more recent past were not stuck behind glass so it was really easy to go up close and look at the detail behind the craftsmanship.
My favourite dresses in the collection were the couple dresses from the 1970s which were mini dresses, and I think it was mainly from the fact they were so simple, but when worn oozed a very rebellious sort of elegance. I'm certain that when it comes to me wearing a wedding dress, I'll be rocking a simple silk mini dress!

But my absolute favourite item in the exhibition was a beautifully tailored coat, where all the decorations had actually been painted on! From circa 1971, you can see that there's a lovely contrast between the cream base of the wool crepe fabric and the decorative flowers, which I think makes it very aesthetically pleasing. It really looks like it has simple been stitched on, but on closer inspection you can see that has been very finely painted on with a great care for attention. The story behind it is that the bride's mother did not want her to wear white as the bride was marrying a divorce! You can read more about the coat, designed by Richard Cawley for Bellville Sassoon, here.

The Wedding Dresses exhibition is being shown at the V&A until 15 March 2015, for more info check out