Last weekend I took part in the first ever StitchLab masterclass led by Sruli Recht at Inspace as part of the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival. The Masterclass was a 48 hour challenge, to make a new piece from scratch which would be shown at an exhibition on the Sunday evening. For me the masterclass began on Saturday morning as I had missed the opening event due to work commitments, and had to get started straight away.
The day started with a one to one session with the Sruli who explained his approach. He encouraged us to to think of fashion as interaction design and to begin each piece by thinking of a story and using the design to tell that story.
A wide variety of sources inspired the story behind my piece: recently I have been reading books like Hillary Mantel’s Wolf Hall as well as watching BBC One’s The White Queen and The Tudors on Netflix; I’ve also been following stories of corporate tax evasion and the investigations of the Public Accounts Committee with interest; Finally I’ve been fascinated by Joris Luyendijk’s Banking Blog on the Guardian Website which examines the world of finance through the eyes of an anthropologist. This has led me to think about the role of the nobility in the political instability throughout Wars of the Roses and I have been thinking about how today’s corporate world mimics and differs from this system. Both then and now those in positions of power use money to buy influence and effect change, but when faced with a difficult or insurmountable political problem would today’s CEO consider returning to the factory floor to raise an army to overthrow a government? Would they need to do so or do they have other tools at their disposal? For sometime I have been thinking about writing a science fiction story which examines these issues and I decided that the StitchLab Masterclass would be an interesting way to look at it from a different angle.
From ideas outlined above I constructed a simple story: A CEO who has a comfortable, and luxurious, lifestyle makes a discovery. He uncovers a form of political corruption he is deeply uncomfortable with, he knows morally that he should take action but in doing so he could lose everything. The resultant piece focuses in on that moment of indecision and self realisation: the piece is a vest or waistcoat, a traditional element of mens tailoring familiar to the world of business. The neck is high to show the comfort of the man’s status in society but also that this comfort can be stifling. The vest has a soft pleat running around the garment, which is subtly highlighted by lights hidden within the fold. There are also a series of lights within the neckline which illuminate the wearers face from below. Again these represent a moment of realisation and also the discomfort of indecision.
It’s fanciful stuff, and I don’t think it is necessarily important that you understand the story behind the vest to enjoy it. I’m really pleased with the outcome, although making it at times was a difficult process. I definitely think that unlike other items of clothing I have made this piece uniquely captures a mood or emotion which goes beyond fashion.
The 48 hour challenge ended with an exhibition which had a great atmosphere and I really enjoyed having a chance to show off my work. The other participants made some incredible work too and there are some great photos taken by Chris Scott (some of which you can see in this post – Thanks Chris!). Also a big thank you to Carrie and Mark for organising the event!