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