Friday, 16 September 2011

My Inspirations: Jessica Ogden

About ten years ago, at the end of my first year studying Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art, I managed to secure a placement at one of my favourite fashion designers' studio - Jessica Ogden. I had first seen her work at Fabric of Fashion: a Crafts Council exhibition in 2000. I was struck by the earthy simplicity and inventiveness of her designs; she created dresses from vintage linen tea towels (back when the word vintage was far less ubiquitous!) and old 1970s Clothkits fabric. It was almost anti-fashion - much of her designs used recycled fabrics.

Dress made from old Clothkits fabric

So I was delighted to spend the summer working in her studio. I don't think that I realised at the time what a huge influence her work would become. I sat there distressing skirts with sandpaper and then darning them, to give them the appearance of a WWII relic. I used a smocking machine to make a beautiful gathered silk skirt. Tattered old quilts were cut up and transformed into jackets. I was seduced by the character and history of these ancient textiles. I had just written an essay on sustainable fashion - which seemed to me to be an oxymoron, and came to the conclusion that the least damaging to the environment was to recycle old fabrics. The word upcycle was yet to be invented.

I helped dress the models at her fashion show and took some photographs...

Hand stitched patchwork skirt

Dress made from vintage patchwork quilt top

Pleated skirt with hand stitching

Smocked and hand stitched wedding skirt

Patchwork skirt

Jacket made from vintage Durham quilt

Dress made from vintage patchwork quilt top

Jessica adjusting the wedding outfit

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