Friday, 16 December 2016

Embracing my Inner Geisha

The ideas, process and motive behind the creation of my Geisha costume at the end of my first year at university...

A Geisha girl is someone who hides behind her beauty. The snow white face and the rosy red lips create a fascination to identify the true character behind the mask. Through my garment, I wanted to capture this idea of fascination and the willing to know about the Geisha girl, who she really is.

It stemmed from the theme of ‘Objects of Desire’, with the intention to make a garment that was precious, fragile, detailed and desirable. The garment had to include a corset our own design, choosing what fabric to use and the type of corset; however, the colour themes given on the brief were neutrals and pastels, something I found difficult to adhere to because of seeing corsetry worn by burlesque stars such as Dita Von Teese, wearing seductive reds and deep purples which, unfortunately, I would not be able to use in my designs. After gathering a numerous amount of research based on corsetry from books such as Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed (Harold Koda, 2001) and Designing Costume for Stage and Screen (Deidre Clancy, 2014), I came across a black and white picture of a Geisha girl and noticed the obi she (and others like her) wear. This is where my decision for creating a Geisha costume was finalised, as I thought that the corset could replace the obi, adding a modern and desirable twist to the traditional Geisha dress.

The garment is a split panel skirt, an asymmetric wrap top with flared sleeves and an underbust corset. To capture the essence of a desirable Geisha girl, the fabrics would have to be the perfect colour, have the perfect pattern and have a minimal weight to it for the model to float down the catwalk with grace. From fabric sourcing and creating colour boards, 20-25 different designs were drawn to decide what that graceful garment would be. Some of the designs were supported by colour and fabric swatches in order to understand how each component of the garment would work, if it all, successfully. This aided me to select the colours of pastel blue and gold which was then inputted into my final design.

The skirt and top were made from polysilk, with the gold panels being an oriental cotton/satin, and the underbust corset made from rosebud coutil with white cotton drill and metal eyelets on the front before finishing it off with flossing on the boning channels. These are colours which I would not associate with the idea of seduction and desire; yet ‘Objects of Desire’ also meant producing something that was precious like an antique, so I believed these two colours complimented each other well for my costume to be a wearable antique.

This was my first full garment designed, created and made by myself with the support of my tutors, family and friends and I am very pleased with the result of it. The photo-shoot outdoors added to the authenticity of a Geisha girl as I was surrounded by nature: quiet and mysterious like a Geisha, hiding behind her beauty.

Photography by Kayleigh Anne Steel

This may possibly be my last blog post before Christmas so I would love to wish you all a very Merry Xmas and a wonderful New Year   
VA x

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

Take a look at the clock then
Begin to stress about the days left
Until the dreaded deadline days are here!

If you couldn't already tell by the gazillions of tweets, Snapchat stories, endless posts by that one student Facebook page that is so true to life it is horrible, then December is the time of the year where the first instalment of a student's year can only mean one thing: DEADLINE DAY (or days if you're lucky.) I have three deadlines approaching thick and fast: one is next Thursday and the other two are for the first week back after Christmas which means no rest for the wicked! Personally, in comparison to this time a year ago, I feel muuuuuuuuch more relaxed but still a taaaaaaaaad stressed because the time has gone so quick since September and I do have a fair bit to do and I want to have it done but I want to celebrate Christmas and I want to catch up on 1000 hours of sleep and I want to socialise and I want to - BREATHE!!!!!

You may be reading this in the comfort of your own home and sane mind knowing those days of stressing are temporarily over but surely you can agree that December and university are not a match made in heaven. Leaving assignments until the last night sound familiar...? Currently in that position right now, are we....? Probably.

Let's face it: we are not robots that can work 24/7 on an energy saver battery. We need sleep and we need a break! At the weekend, I went Christmas shopping with my boyfriend and the day before, I said to him that I do not want a weekend at his where I am doing half an hour at least of work. I said I wanted a day away from university work completely to just unwind, focus on spending time with him and soak in the panic of last-minute (sort of) Christmas shopping in a busy shopping centre. Now, I am one of those people who, if I am away from work for even 5 minutes (no exaggeration), I have this stream of guilt running through me because those 5 minutes I could have spent cutting and gluing images into my book! If you know me then you can vouch for me; but if it is one thing that I have learnt from my first year of university, it is you MUST HAVE SOME YOU TIME because your body needs it and your brain needs it (and your family and friends need it too because they've been on the end of your stress rants - this is my public apology to those affected :/ ) Honestly if I did not have just one day away from it then I would have been worrying so much more than I am now. You can afford to have some time away from it...but just make sure you're not leaving your work to complete itself - it never works unfortunately.

Another thing which has helped me since September is being organised! Having a diary by the side of me has been a life-saver at university and in my personal life really. Each Sunday night before I go to sleep, I plan out the rest of my week, specifying what work I want to do and (hopefully) achieve by the end of that day. I can honestly say that about 60% of my work written down in my diary was not completed on that same day simply because I underestimated how long it would take. Being a perfectionist does not aid the situation in the slightest; but if I did not plan out each week, then I would be behind on my work and stress levels would reach volcano stage: ready to erupt into tears.

Fair enough, buying yourself a diary like mine may not be needed now with it being a week before we finish for Christmas; but I would not wait! If like me you have deadlines after Christmas, go out and buy one now and start planning out the weeks. Write down what work you want to do, add in your social life and some down time and TRUST ME, you will start to feel the side effect of relief. Plus, you'll have it ready for the next term! See? Organised.

If the advice above has been tried, tested and failed, then there is one thing to do: talk. Talk to your friends, family, tutors, anyone that you think will help you feel better over the next week or so about your work. These people know you inside and out. They know how you work and they know the traits you adapt to your work, so together you can all come up with a solution on how to overcome the mountain of stress you may be feeling. Again, trust me when I say this, but do not keep all your problems to yourself because it really knocks the motivation out of you to do anything. Your tutors would have seen many other students go through this at this point of the year and may have witnessed students in worse positions than yourself, so they will know of ways to help. Talking helps guys!

I know this has been a bit of a different blog post to what I would usually want to write, but I felt I couldn't not write about this as I and friends I have are in the same situation. I hope it has been of some relief to you and that you can take some of my advice on board; but if you don't want to scroll back through the blog, I will happily sum it up for you now:

  1. HAVE SOME DOWN TIME AND CHILL! Having an hour away from work can refresh your mind and build up the focus and motivation you have.
  2. PLAN OUT YOUR WEEK BEFORE IT BEGINS! Buy yourself a diary like mine (others are available) and before the week starts, write down what is happening. Include your university work, social life, job hours and when you want to have a day off from it all.
  3. TALK! Talking is everything. If you feel you are becoming overwhelmed by your studies or anything really, talk to someone you know can help you. I am more than sure they will want to help you.
  4. A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP IS WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED! Having a decent amount of sleep the night before can regulate your day. Take it from me, working on a deadline the night before it is due in and going in the next day with 2 hours sleep IS NOT HEALTHY. Having a warm drink before bed helps to relax me so maybe it can help you too. Just make sure you don't sleep until 10 in the morning when you should be at university so...

Right then, time to get back to work!
Good luck everyone! Look forward to Christmas and remember: the hard works pays off in the end!
V A x

Friday, 25 November 2016

Fashion and Freedom

I went to Manchester this week with university and visited Manchester Art Gallery for the Fashion and Freedom exhibition. I knew there were going to be garments there but I was blown away by what I saw. More importantly, it was incredible to see how my gender has been affected by the occurrences in the world.

"Fashion and Freedom explores new ways of understanding the powerful impacts of the First World War, highlighting how fashion is interwoven into the social and political history of Britain, by showcasing new creative works that echo these histories a century later."

As part of the UK's arts programme, 14-18 NOW, this commemorates 100 years since the beginning and end of the First World War, but focuses on how women in society have also changed from then to NOW.

The contrast between contemporary and historical fashion for women

The exhibition showcases historical garments worn in the Edwardian times to the decade of the Charleston and Art Deco: the 1920s. Ranging from the infamous corset to the elegant ball gowns, women had a number of costume changes for different occasions during the day and emphasis was placed on the silhouette of a woman; yet this all changed through the impact of the war as a more natural-looking figure began to take shape after the war as it was being recognised that functionality of clothing was more important than the form it created. Thinking back to the visit now, it makes so much sense to how they organised the exhibition space. When you first walk in, you see the introduction of what the purpose of the exhibition displayed next to a taster of what is to come... The next thing you notice is the historical element of the impact of pre and post world war...then as you walk around the space, you slowly begin to understand the development of fashion over time and, more importantly, the development of a woman in society through the contemporary pieces designed by such leading females Vivienne Westwood, Sadie Williams, Emilia Wickstead, Roksanda Illincic, Jackie JS Lee and Holly Fulton.

Examples by the designers involved in the exhibition

What I found inspiring about walking around the space, looking at each piece and thinking about what aspect of society it portrays was that 14-18 NOW provided the chance for emerging fashion designers from universities to submit their visual opinion. They varied from Manchester School of Art to University of Westminster to come together for the concept of Restriction/Release, using techniques such as beading, embroidery, draping, pleating - anything that is possible really within the fashion design world. Some of the students were inspired by the Suffragette movement which is undoubtedly a key moment in time for women (Votes for Women!) One student in particular decided to embark on creating a garment that understood the risk women took on wearing items that were revealing: even if it was just the knees below that were on show, it was deemed daring to those who believed they should be hidden. How did she tackle this? Well look below and you will see the genius creation...

Detailing the outstanding and intricate structure of the garments

Right to left: works were made by Elizabeth Thomas (Manchester School of Art), Toni Martin (University of Salford), Rebecca Lawton (University of Salford), Wheiman Leong (University of Westminster)
All credit is given to these students whose work is shown above. Being a fashion and costume student myself, I would not have the faintest idea on where to start creating these! (and I want to be a designer...pray for me)
From right to left, it shows the clear development of how dress affected the role of women, from the implication that women were a piece of art to the dress reform movement, allowing freedom in women's health and lifestyle.
With women working in factories during wartime, Fashion and Freedom highlights how women were taking the position of men, showing a counterbalance of gender. Playing football, learning martial arts and risking themselves to chemical exposure were what women faced and, if anything, continued the fight for women equality.

Left to right: works were made by Sarah Curtis (University of Salford), Karin Human (University of Salford), Revekka Georgiadou (University of Salford)

Headshot: work was made by Ben Lewis (Leeds College of Arts)

Displays belonging to the exhibition are scattered around the rest of the art gallery and viewing art galleries are just a simple hobby of mine, so I loved exploring and finding new garments. As a women, it does inspire me how women before me have enabled me and you to have the life that we have. I have been writing about gender equality for a report in my module at university and only as I am writing this now do I truly understand how fashion has become such a vital part of expressing the battle and positive progression we have made. It really can affect you in ways you wouldn't think of but it also proves to others that speak less of fashion that it isn't always about how it looks: it is about the meaning behind the look that what counts.

I cannot stress enough how powerful this exhibition is and I only wish I went to see it sooner! So if any of you have the chance to go to Manchester this weekend or are travelling there or already live there, I would highly recommend you go and see the powerful work fashion has.

The last day to explore this at Manchester Art Gallery is Sunday 27th November 2016 and is free entry so what excuse do you have to not go and see???

If you have already had a look at the gallery and seen what is on show, what did you think of it? Did it have the same effect on you as it did me, or was it completely different? What did you think of the designs and the ideas behind them? Let me know in the comment section below as I would love to hear from you! Did it teach you anything new? I learnt a thing or two from it, that is a definite.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Thinking About My Future!

Saturday 22nd October 

I have always been someone that worries about the future, that thinks about where I want to be this time next year or what I could possibly be doing in 5 years time. But this is what we've been taught to do, right? Prepare. Create an action plan spanning over 5 years to give you a head start into what you should be doing tomorrow. Planning the objectives to achieve the overall aim. I still do this, but I have been learning to also take each day as it comes because I am 19 years old, still young, and still have a life to experience: I do not want to plan it away to the death and live life according to what my diary says I should be doing.

Being in my last year of a second year foundation course is scary, and there are 4 options I can choose from:
  • Complete a top-up year or progress to another university to do a BA Hons degree
  • Head into employment
  • Head into an apprenticeship
  • Do nothing
I like being lazy every once in a while but a 9-5 routine of being lazy? I think that is a nope from me! I could head into employment or an apprenticeship and for some it works; yet I want to build my industry experience so that I'm not heading into the deep end head first.
Only one option remains then: PROGESSION! Potentially at the University of Huddersfield where I went for an Open Day.

The course I went to look at was Costume with Textiles, the only university which offers this course (bonus) and a course where I can re-explore my love for textiles, a subject I enjoyed so much in high school. The opportunities, industry links and facilities described to me were immense! Students have travelled to pursue a placement at the Sydney Opera House, Michael Kors in New York...two opposite ends of the world that I never thought I would have the chance to go to, let alone work in! But I am a student so I think flying for work is going to have to wait for a while...

Oh and also the brilliant stylist and fashion blogger Megan Ellaby attended here! Another bonus!

Freebie bag!

What else was there about Huddersfield erm...ooh! The campus! The campus buildings are close together and a brand new building for the arts is due to be completed in a few months time, and it already looks impressive. I didn't get chance to visit the library but one of my friends went and when she told me about it...oh my gosh it sounded like library heaven. An archive fully dedicated to Vogue magazines...oh my gosh I think I am in love. Laser cutters, embroidery machines, weaving machines and a dye room were just a few things that were situated within the building. Oh! And a digital printing machine where you can print your own design onto fabric - how awesome is that?! Alongside a photography studio and the required Apple Macs, I could not think of anything else that was missing. Only a few minutes away from the city centre and a 15 minute walk from the train station, with direct trains to Manchester and Liverpool, Huddersfield continued to tick all the boxes.

Now...the student accommodation. Obviously I will have to move away from home to study here because travelling to university everyday from where I live would mean living on the train...sort of. Of course I am going to be nervous about leaving my home, friends and family, but that is what put me off moving away in the first place. Now I feel I am ready to put my independence to the test and if I want the best for myself and my future career, I have got to be willing to make this sacrifice. Walking around the student village I visited had a great feel and a lovely atmosphere to it. Situated 20 minutes away on the bus from the campus and in a rural part of the city, it feels peaceful and friendly. The rooms are bigger than I was expecting (in other words, enough room to store my huge haul of fashion and art equipment and for someone to stay) so I can make it my home away from home. There's a place called The Venue in the student village where you can eat, drink, party, study, watch films and play games (the games room is open 24 hours so I think when my boyfriend comes to visit, I know where he will be) - everything a student needs, I believe. I could potentially work at The Venue behind the bar or organising events which is a bonus, and there are a variety of societies I can join. This may be the year where I actually work on my fitness!

Bed-time reading

As you can see, I really, really, REALLY liked visiting the University of Huddersfield. The support sounds amazing, the facilities look professional, the course is unique, student life sounds ideal, and travelling back home is more affordable to do frequently than if I were to study in London. Of course, I would still have the interview to attend and discuss my portfolio to see if they consider offering me a place before I make any rash decisions...but this place and the course really is at the top of my list.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

I am 100% Autumn - Style Diary

8th October - Style Diary

There's something so satisfying about wearing new clothes out in the big city, showing how you wear the latest trend. For anyone that knows me, I LOVE my scarves and big floppy hats and boots and turtle necks - and now skirts. So when they can be matched in one look, flatter the figure and make you look ready for the autumn season, I'm ready to take on the cold after-effects of summer. I certainly was the other day...hence the 1000 photos - give or take a few - I scrolled through after a photo-shoot from my friends, Hannah and Megan (aren't they pros?)

There was a chill in the air on Saturday, but I felt as warm and as comfortable as an evening autumn fire after a long day. The pairing of dark green and burgundy and the contrast of textures are matches made in fashion heaven. It's a signature style of mine. Sometimes a last-minute outfit can be the one that people ask: "Did you plan this a week in advance?"

I'm looking to add a cosy cardigan to my autumn wardrobe to pair with my blue suede boots and this floppy hat....gosh how I love you Autumn, darling. 100%. 

Where to buy this look:

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Novice Photographer

I am going to let the photos do the talking this time.

I can easily verify that I am not a professional photographer and that I lack (possibly) the most simplest of skills to produce an effective photo that make the audience stop, stare...the stop and stare again.  Nevertheless, I have found myself posting photographs of anything that screams a photo opportunity.


With a slight edit to only make the colours pop and the features to look a tad more noticeable, here are a few of my recent photography from days out and a delightful holiday this summer to Dublin.

Let me know in the comments what you think of these! Also what future blog posts would you like to see? Let me know in the comments down below!

Autumn sunset

River Severn - Bridgnorth


Dublinia - Dublin

St Stephen's Green shopping centre - Dublin


Summer - St Stephen's Green park, Dublin


Summer - St Stephen's Green park, Dublin

Temple Bar - Dublin

Thanks for viewing today's post! xx

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

An Introduction

At the moment, I am currently sitting in my pyjamas whilst on FaceTime with my boyfriend, writing this very BAD attempt at a blog post (totally not giving away the fact that I am not comfortable with writing a blog *insert awkward emoji here*). I feel like I shouldn’t overthink what I want to talk about so my technique is this:

Ramble on and on before editing this like crazy until I am happy with the final blog post….before going back into it and editing some more!
Thinking about what to blog
Outfit details can be found on Instagram

Here's the actual post:

I am a 19 year old fashion student who, a few months ago, began my FAV Instagram account and honestly, I could not be more proud of how far it has come! The likes, comments and followers have made me discover so many successful fashion bloggers, companies and designers. I scroll through my news feed every hour to see what they post and I am always fascinated by what I find.

Recent post - Tuesday 20th September 2016
Link is at top of blog
My obsession with fashion started when I was in Year 6. By this time, I had been through many dream career changes – including wanting to be a professional football player for England.

Not going to happen!

But it was the night that Ugly Betty premiered on Channel 4 and I watched the first episode…I was hooked! I watched every episode there was to watch! More and more, I loved watching the inside life of working at a fashion magazine. My desire to work at somewhere like that only grew and I had made up my mind that when I grew up, I wanted to be a fashion designer. (I played my future self perfectly in the primary school leaver’s play as a fashion designer.)

Since then, all my GCSE subject choices and A-Level choices were focused towards this dream career. I will admit, my future career ambitions slightly fluctuated throughout high school; but they never steered away from a creative industry.

Anyone who is my age has grown up in a time where bloggers and YouTube stars have taken over the internet (in a good way!) Fashion is such a tough industry to breach into anyway; but I’ve noticed that fashion bloggers such as Lorna Luxe and Rosie Fortescue have generated such a successful name for themselves, that I feel inspired to do the same!

I have no idea how well this blog will do or whether I will stick at it for months to come, what with university and other commitments; however, I am going to see how this blog develops.

Now the question is: what will my blog include?

WELL….it will (hopefully) be focused around fashion and art, along with updates about how university is going, or anything that I don’t mind sharing about my personal life. If anyone were to recommend a topic for a blog post, I would be more than happy to consider it because knowing me….I will have writer’s blank.

So would you all like to see a Q and A blog? Would you like to see updates about my progress at university and what I am learning about the fashion world? Leave me comments down below!

But, like I said, I want my blog to be focused on Fashion and Art – FAV J

I am writing this blog for myself in the hope that I can be 100% honest and genuine and be me. This is a step towards making my name known in the fashion world.

Outfit details can be found on my Instagram

It has never been a moral I’ve always used; but I feel it applies to so much now as I venture into the blogging world…. “Slow and steady wins the race.”