Blog, Exhibitions

Out of The Blue

Fifty Years of Designers Guild

Exhibition at Fashion and Textile Museum 14 Feb -14 June 2020

Out of the Blue is the latest exhibition at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum. It celebrates the work of the influential design company Designers Guild, that was founded in 1970 by Tricia Guild OBE. Since it’s founding, the brand has evolved into a worldwide company whose products have changed the way we view colour, pattern and texture in our homes.

         Frustrated with the lack of truly contemporary fabrics and wallpapers for interiors, Tricia’s vision was to create a lifestyle, by showing people how to put the different elements of a room together, how colour, pattern, texture and form can combine to create a harmonious space.

From the outset, Guild knew she had to show people how to use her products and thus displays and photography of her new collections are vital tools for communicating the total effect. She has produced many books over the years and has emphasised the importance of plain and semi plain fabrics as being integral to the whole Guild look. Their importance were captured by Elizabeth Wilhide the co-writer of Tricia Guild’s new soft furnishings, which was issued six times between 1990 and 1997 published by Conran Octopus.

         The fashion and Textile museum is not an enormous venue and yet they have very successfully constructed room sets showing the different styles that Tricia Guild has created across the decades.

We are shown where Tricia’s inspiration comes from – her travels to India, Japan and Scandinavia have all resulted in collections of fabrics, wallpaper, furniture and accessories. Her inspiration may come from ancient Indian Textiles or Renaissance – style velvet or a Swedish Gustavian wall treatment, but the resulting interior collection are never drawn from one source alone. Instead each collection is an eclectic amalgam in which harmony exists between East and West, past and present.

‘I’m passionate about a home being comfortable as well as beautiful. Being surrounded by good design is one of life’s pleasures.” Tricia Guild.

In 1975 Tricia split from her husband and business partner, Robin. Tricia continued with the business, working from it’s original King’s Road Chelsea flagship store, and Designers Guild has flourished. The brand is represented in over 80 countries worldwide with a turnover of over £55 million. From the outset Designers Guild has always maintained its own interior design department, based in its stores at Chelsea and Marylebone.

Each project responds to the requirements of an individual client and the architectural setting, whether in London, Paris, Manhattan or Tuscany. The Guild look can be found in a mews cottage or a rood top pied-à-terre, or in period homes and country villas. Tricia’s own homes are often the first place for experimentation with new concepts. 

         Designers Guild is best known for florals and botanicals, but plain fabrics in a multitude of shades and textures as well as a range of geometrics and abstract designs are also vital to the mix.

 The exhibition highlights the techniques and processes vital for making the collections happen. In the quest for innovation, the company uses a variety of printing methods from hand block printing in the early days to rotary screen-printing and most recently digital printing.

         Throughout the fifty years she has been in business, Tricia has championed and collaborated with artists and designers from other disciplines including Howard Hodgkin, Kaffe Fassett and recently Ralph Lauren and Christian Lacroix.

         Never shown before, this exhibition showcases the story of Designers Guild in settings that capture the changing tastes in interiors over the last five decades.

The exhibition is curated by Dennis Nothdruft. Head of exhibitions at the Fashion and Textile Museum and Textile Historian Mary Schoeser, in collaboration with Designers Guild.

Fashion and Textile Museum 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF

T: 020 7407 8664

E: info@ftmlondon.org

Please note the Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday 11am-6pm ; Sunday 11am-5pm.

There is an excellent book to go with the exhibition published by ACC Art Books at a cost of £30

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Sew Simple Quilts and Patchworks

17 Designs using Kaffe Fassett’s Artisan Fabrics. By Kaffe Fassett

Published by Taunton RRP in UK £17.99

Last weekend was the Festival of Quilts at the NEC Birmingham. It is a fantastic event with lots of exciting and stimulating work on show as well as masterclasses and lots to see and do. With this in mind I have reviewed a new patchwork and quilting book by Kaffe Fassett.

Unlike most ‘Sew Simple’ books Kaffe Fassett manages to create easy to make projects and yet at the same time make them look sophisticated and very appealing. I have long been an admirer of Kaffe’s since he first came to the UK as a young painter who morphed into a knitwear designer. He took on tapestries and then mosaic before turning his hand to quilts and fabric design.

The secret of his success has to be his wonderful use of colour and the way he uses different patterns together. He had an exhibition of his work at London’s Fashion and Textile museum and my lasting memory of it, was being enveloped in a riot of colour and pattern.

Throughout this book he uses his artisan collection that is inspired by different types of fabrics from different cultures from around the world. He uses both Ikats and batiks and uses them with quilting cottons perfect for the projects in this book.

The project each come with clear instructions and their own assembling diagrams. The projects include throws, quilts, cushions and simple stylish garments and fun projects for children, a tent and a pillow bed.

A lovely practical book. Distributed in the UK by GMC Publications.

Blog, Exhibitions

AWAMAKI

As part of the Weavers of the Clouds exhibition there is a section on the weaving of the women who make up Awamaki, a non-profit organization that connects artisan women in the Andes to global markets.

Here is some of the work designed and made by 21 weavers in the community of

Walaquilla Kelanca.

Each of the 21 weavers took images from their daily life and wove a piece that illustrates them, images include llamas, alpacas, birds, ducks, bats, turkey, deer, condors, houses, cornflowers, stars, eyes, foxes, native plants, mountains, lagoons, parrots, dogs, Andean geese Huallata, hummingbirds and owls.

Awamaki was formed in early 2009 to support a cooperative of 10 women weavers from Patacancha, a rural Quechua community in the Andes of Peru. Awamaki’s founders, Kennedy Leavens, from the U.S.A, and Miguel Galdo, from Peru, had worked together at Awamaki’s predecessor organization with the weaving cooperative for two years. When the predecessor organization floundered and finally collapsed, Miguel and Kennedy formed Awamaki to continue their work with the weavers. The organization grew rapidly to include programs in health and education, as well as other artisan cooperatives and a sustainable tourism program. In 2011, Awamaki spun its health program off into an independent sister organization, and made the strategic decision to focus on income improvement and market access through fair trade artisan cooperatives and sustainable tourism.

         It provides training in product development, business skills and leadership. Artisans have the opportunity to share their culture and sell their crafts to tourists through Awamaki’s sustainable tourism program. They collaborate with international designers to make contemporary handmade accessories throughout the world.

         Awamaki’s guiding principle is that income in the hands of women is the best way to help families be self-sufficient. In the rural Quechua villages where Awamaki is established, men leave to work in the tourism economy, while women stay in the village to care for farms, homes and children. Although highly skilled in traditional crafts, most women do not read, write, speak Spanish or have anyway of earning money. 

         Meanwhile, as the rural economy has shifted towards paid labour, traditional textile arts such as spinning, plant dyeing and weaving have experienced a decline. Awamaki was founded to give these women the opportunity to earn a living while encouraging them to continue practising traditional crafts.

         Today, the majority of artisans who have been in the program for at least seven years earn the same or more than their husbands. They invest in the health and education of their families, and are building a prosperous, sustainable future for Quecha villages in Peru.

Awaki is based in Ollantaytambo, Peru, in the heart of  the Sacred Valley of the Inca. It welcomes volunteers, tourists and other in support of its work.

Blog, Exhibitions

WEAVERS OF THE CLOUDS: TEXTILE ARTS OF PERU

21 June -8 September 2019 at the Fashion and Textile Museum London

Weavers of the Clouds brings the captivating designs of Peru to the UK, showcasing some of the world’s oldest and most colourful art and textiles. Peru has a world-renowned heritage of fibre arts and costumes, from a lineage that dates back thousands of years. Weavers of the Clouds examines the vibrant applied crafts, heritage and traditions of Peru, celebrating the culture and customs of the artisan and their influence on design, fashion and beyond.

The exhibition features rarely seen objects from private collections and national museums, including the Museo de la Nación, Museo de Arte, Museo Nacional de la Cultura Peruana in Lima and the British Museum in London, including full costumes, tapestries, adornments, trimmings and accessories. 

Highlights include a 16th century Quipu – knotted fibres that were traditionally used by the Incas as a form of communication – and a four cornered hat, dating from 600 AD. Also on display; a rare pre-Hispanic tunic created in orange, yellow and blue macaw feathers, a sequined and embroidered waistcoat, emblazoned with birds and flowers and a Shipibo costume from the Amazon Rainforest, embroidered to reflect the astrological map.

Tapestries and weaving from a private collection include a ceremonial tunic created using a Scaffold weave, one of the most unusual weaving techniques in the world, previously existing only in the Andean region of South America. Despite dating to 800 AD, the influence of these techniques can be seen across hundreds of years and in the works of many great designers, including the Bauhaus and Anni Albers. These incredible costumes and textiles are complemented by a selection of varied and engaging paintings, photographs and illustrations.

Images by highly influential photographer Martin Chambi and paintings by Indigenista Peruana – a group of painters who were active in Lima from 1890s – 1940s – are accompanied by finely drawn paintings by Pancho Fierro and Francisco Javier Cortés. A further selection of vibrant watercolours by Francisco Gonzaláz Gamarra’s will be on show for the very first time, illustrating and celebrating traditional costume.

Finally, The Fashion Studio hosts a display curated by Claudia Trosso and supported by award-winning Peruvian restaurateur and chef, Martin Morales, exploring the work of 15 contemporary Peruvian artists and makers. These ground breaking artists combine the patience and skill of traditional techniques with contemporary materials such as nylon, copper, wire, photographic paper and thread.

Encompassing many different mediums and dimensions, Weavers of the Clouds celebrates Peru’s incredible history of traditions and skills, taking us on a cultural journey from the country’s rich past, to the vibrant modernity of its contemporary arts.
The exhibition is curated by Guest Curator Hilary Simon in collaboration with Dennis Nothdruft, Head of Exhibitions and The Fashion and Textile Museum. Interviews available on request. 

  The Fashion and Textile Museum is at 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF
T: 020 7407 8664 | E: info@ftmlondon.org

Museum opening times: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm; Sunday, 11am – 5pm; Late night Thursday until 8pm; Last admission 45 minutes before closure. Ticket prices: £9.90 adults*, £8.80* concessions, £7 students and free entry for under 12s *including Gift Aid.  Encompassing many different mediums and dimensions, Weavers of the Clouds celebrates Peru’s incredible history of traditions and skills, taking us on a cultural journey from the country’s rich past, to the vibrant modernity of its contemporary arts.

 
Blog, Exhibitions, Uncategorized

A sneak peak at Zandra Rhodes archived knit wear

Dame Zandra Rhodes selected ten, rarely seen, pieces of knitwear from her design archive as an exclusive for the Spring Knitting and Stitching show recently on at Olympia. Many of these pieces will be on show along with her beautiful textile designs and dresses in the exhibition 50 Years of Fabulous at the Fashion and Textile museum later this year. From 27th September to 26th January 2020

Black and Red ‘heart’ jumper Spring/Summer 1987 Venetian Palazzo collection
Black ‘Magic Head’ jumper Spring/Summer 1987 ‘Venetian Palazzo’ collection
Intarsia cashmere machine knit Clan Douglas for Zandra Rhodes

The acclaimed British designer Dame Zandra Rhodes DBE founded her eponymous fashion house in 1969 with a small collection. Her prints were Pop Art-infused commentaries on the world of Sixties Britain; the designer felt that there was inherent structure within the pattern that could work with and enhance the shape and construction of a dress. With this concept as a starting point and with her distinctive approach to cut and form, the house of Zandra Rhodes soon became one of the most recognisable labels in London.

In celebration of fifty years of the Zandra Rhodes’ label, the Fashion and Textile Museum presents Zandra Rhodes: Fifty Years of Fabulous. This retrospective will highlight 100 key looks, as well as 50 original textiles. This comprehensive exhibition will explore five decades of the distinguished career of a British design legend.

Grey jumper with pearl shoulder detail Autumn/Winter 1980 ‘Elizabethan’ collection
Rib machine knit

Black and Gold Lurex Jacket Autumn/winter 1987 ‘Wish Upon a Star’ collection Double Bed jacquard machine knit
‘Magic Head’ dress Spring/Summer 1989 ‘Venetian Palazzo’ collection
Intarsia cashmere machine knit Clan Douglas for Zandra Rhodes
Blue and Gold Lurex coat
Autun/Winter 1987
‘Wish Upon a Star’ collection
Double bed Jacquard machine knit

Blog, Exhibitions

SWINGING LONDON a lifestyle revolution Terence Conran –Mary Quant

Fashion and Textile Museum from 8th February to 2nd June
If you are interested in post war British design from fashion to furniture and beyond, then this is a ‘must see’ exhibition.

Tucked away in Bermondsey Street not far from London Bridge Station is The Fashion and Textile Museum. The brainchild of textile designer, Zandra Rhodes.  It is small purpose built and for anyone with an interest in textiles and fashion it is a Must See. You can’t miss it, a bright orange and pink building designed by the Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreh

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I have been to most of their exhibitions since the museum opened in 2003 and this particular exhibition is their best yet, and the very clever Fashion and Textile Museum have stolen a march on the much larger V&A museum who have a Mary Quant exhibition starting in April.

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 07: New exhibition, Swinging London: A Lifestyle Revolution, featuring the work of Terence Conran, Mary Quant, Laura Ashley and more at The Fashion and Textile Museum on February 07, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Fashion and Textile Museum)

         We often think of Swinging London having started in the late nineteen sixties but it was between the late nineteen forties and the mid nineteen sixties that the real changes took place. It was the young who, in the aftermath of the destruction and devastation caused by WWII, were determined to bring about a new, fairer and certainly more fun approach to life than had previously existed.

         In Britain the ‘Pop” revolution was led by the ‘Chelsea set’ a loosely connected group of young designers, artists, musicians, fashion models and intellectuals. Their social activities were centred on the Kings Road, at the time, a somewhat shabby street in Chelsea. The people who made up this set, are featured in this exhibition. Mary Quant the fashion designer who opened her first boutique, in 1955.

         Quant asked Terence Conran to design her second boutique, Bazaar. Much of the design was influenced by the style of Italian designers such as Piero Fornasetti and Gio Ponti. In 1963 Quant went mass market and the fashion brand ‘Ginger Group’ was born. She also worked for J.C.Penny in the USA; and designed dress patterns for Butterick.

Mary Quant is credited with inventing the mini skirt although variations of it had been around before, though perhaps not as short as hers. What happened was, when she looked for clothes she wanted to wear she couldn’t find any so she designed her own, and the rest they say is History. Mary Quant did invent tights to wear under the mini skirts. This was a great improvement on stockings and suspenders that were worn by every woman up until this point.

Terence Conran was designing furniture and fabrics from the early 1950’s. He was interested in modernist ideas and the architecture of Mies Van Der Rohe.

He was heavily influenced by the food and lifestyle of the continent, particularly France. He promoted the work of food writer Elizabeth David, who was bringing the best of continental cooking to Britain. He opened his lifestyle store Habitat in 1964.

There are small room sets, featuring Conran designed furniture, fabrics and home accessories. A special section of the exhibition features the work of textile designer Natalie Gibson.

A treat is to see the early work of Bernard and Laura Ashley who from 1953 -1960’s produced furnishing ‘art’ textiles from their kitchen table in Pimlico. Yes this is the same Laura Ashley who had us all dressed as Victorian Milk Maids in the early nineteen seventies. 

Don’t miss this exhibition. It is fun, informative and you are bound to find something you have either worn, sat on, or used in your own or your mother’s kitchen.  

Open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 11am–6pm

Thursdays until 8pm
Sundays, 11am–5pm
Last admission 45 minutes before closing
Closed Mondays

TICKETS
£9.90 adults / £8.80 concessions / £7 students

Children under 12 are free

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Exhibitions, Uncategorized

Orla Kiely: A Life in Pattern

This summer the Fashion and Textile Museum is hosting an exhibition ‘A Life in Pattern’ showcasing the work of Orla Kiely

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This is the first exhibition to feature her work. She set up her company in 1995 after graduating from the RCA . Before that she worked as a textile designer for the company Esprit. After leaving the RCA she produced a small collection of accessories for Harrods. Originally she was producing hats. After attending a trade show with Orla, her father suggested she venture into producing bags, as he had noticed that he hadn’t seen a single woman wearing a hat but they were all carrying bags!

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Her work is inspired by the patterns of the 1950’s and 1960’s, by designers such as Mary Quant, Shirley Craven and Lucienne Day. IMG_1455

Nature is the most significant inspiration for her designs. Each design is developed carefully by drawing and refining the essential organic elements that are the foundation of her repeating designs.

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The exhibition is presented thematically rather than chronologically, and explores all aspects of Orla’s creative output, from lifestyle and fashion ranges to use of colour and detail and the geometry of pattern.

The exhibition draws on an archive of over 20 years work, offering visitors incite into her methods and concepts, exploring sketches, mood boards samples and a range of techniques.

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The exhibition charts the growth and success of the Orla Kiely brand from her first hats presented in London Fashion Week 1994 through the advent of the iconic Orla Kiely bag in the mid nineties to her freelance work for department stores undertaken from her kitchen table in 1998IMG_1472
Orla’s patterns work on any scale, and the exhibition brings a playful element with super sized dresses alongside tiny dolls in replica dresses.

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Her dresses and bags are displayed on the mezzanine floor. What strikes one after a while is that the work has evolved and is still evolving. Pieces from different collections and different years, work well together. IMG_1457

The work is beautiful, original, well thought out made to the highest standards. The exhibition is a must see. It has been put together by Dennis Nothdruff Head of Exhibitions at Fashion and Textile museum and by Mary Schoeser Exhibition curator and Textile historian. There is an excellent book published by Conran Octopus called A Life in Pattern that I shall be reviewing soon on the blog.

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