irritation of the oyster, creates the pearl

first year fashion design student blogging about things….

Christopher Shannon SS12

Quite fond of relatively new designer Christopher Shannon, I browsed his most recent collection which has been claimed to have drawn inspiration from the 90s hip hop style of Brooklyn.

Some good food for thought with key images from the collection below.



Prep for CW2

Now with lectures over and work is to begin on our second piece of coursework I have started researching into my chosen decade – 1990s.

I think this was an understated decade, dubbed boring in terms of fashion, nothing really new but actually when put into the LE PEST C context the 90s was very much as culturally defined as any other decade before it.

I haven’t finalised which fashion house I’ll be preparing my silhouettes for but I have narrowed it down to a few contenders – Dries Van Noten, Yohji Yamamoto and Raf Simons – I’ve also decided that I’ll be focussing on menswear for the brief.

So to kickstart some background work I’ve been looking at past collections from Raf Simons when he first started out, from when he headed up Jil Sander and to now prior to his suspected relocation to Dior.

I definitely feel challenged enough and positively inspired to get working on potential silhouettes.


WODE by Boudicca

Following my last post about Boudicca coming in as a guest lecturer, with her, Zowie very kindly brought in her own sketchbooks, work, research for us to look at. Amongst this were samples of the duos fragrance line – WODE.

So clever and innovative yet failed to capture the interest of investors, which I still can’t seem to fathom. But anyway, I think it’s incredible! Not only is it scientifically advanced it boasts mythical history too.

Wode, deriving from the ancient plant extract Woad, was used by Britons in a paste form as a tribal marking in battle. Woad appeared magical to the Britons as when it was applied to skin in it’s murky format, when exposed to oxygen the colour changed to a vibrant cobalt blue.

The Wode scent is spiced with juniper berry, cardamon, elements of black hemlock and the smell of raw opium and when sprayed from the graffiti style can onto skin the deep blue mist appears as described in ancient history. Lasting no more than around 30 seconds, the mist fades away to nothing leaving behind the fresh and radiant scent.

Below are images of how it looked when tested by everyone!


Boudicca comes to UEL

Yesterday we were vey lucky to have Zowie Broach – one half of Boudicca – come in as a guest lecturer. Five minutes in and I was hook, line and sinker! Joe had already warned us that she’d be mind blowingly inspirational but I really had no idea it’d be on this scale.

Zowie kicked off by answering the question “what is the meaning behind the name Boudicca?” to which she explained that Boudicca was the first warrior queen and likened her to Queen Elizabeth I. She went on to explain that the name represents something powerful and abstract which is exactly how Zowie and her partner, Brian wanted people to perceive the brand. They were adamant they didn’t want to use either of their names.

Clearly unable to document everything that I found inspirational so below I have written things that I scribbled whilst Zowie was talking, things that moved me and independently shaped another part me of me.

“remember to broaden our thoughts on maths, geography, the academics of the world – history”

“it’s not just about watching clothes, catwalks or fashion”

“imagination is powerful”

“currently reading liquid madernity”

“this [degree] is the luxury of our time of expression”

“make error, take risks, to wonder in latin = error”

“listen to yourself, you make the future, is it real or virtual?”

“100 things you love vs 100 things you hate – you have to learn to hate before you can love”

“be respectful of dreams of men of the past”


For fear of not really finding much factual information on the term/culture/subtrend of chavs I decided to interpret the term in my own way and from how I saw it develop.

I dont think anyone can really say when the term was originally dubbed to the pretty massive collective the UK seems to harbour! But I left school in 2003 and I vaguely remember beginning to refer to some people as chavs then!

It has to be said that chavs probably were the biggest group of people to have been ‘invented’ in the noughties and in my opinion dwarfed any other influential subtrend in terms of the direction it pushed fashion in, the attitude that came with it, even television was under the influence with portrayal of low class (or no class), chavette Vicky Pollard and TV series Shameless!

People say chavs have always existed it’s just that they’ve been called different things in different times but i’m not sure. Chavs made popular the indescribable velour tracksuit, stuck to the head type hairstyle championed by the ladies and that unhealthy obsession with anything in Burberry print. To which at some extend all this is still very much alive amongst original adopters and who they are now posing influence on.


Modern Primitives

Upon researching poignant events of the 90s I was presented with a seriously intriguing subculture alive within the shadows of ‘industrial cultures’ of the time.

Although fairly understated, possibly a even a taboo subject during the 90s, there is a wealth of information on descriptions of the movement, how it started, how it evolved, where it came from and what the followers practised.

Fakir Musafar, founder of the movement

Instigators of the movement engaged in body modification techniques – piercings, tattoos, flesh hook suspension, corset training and scarification to name just a few. The mod-prims saw their bodies as canvases, there to express themselves in an alternative means to verbal communication. They felt that being able to communicate with just their body, in total silence is an act of being completely in touch with yourself. This is what some of the groups were attempting to portray to the rest of the world. That this is their language and their bodies are works of art.

Other more extremists subjected themselves to mutation as a means to reawakening their senses and reacquainting themselves with pain versus pleasure. They felt that engaging in such brutal acts enabled them to master the sensation of pain thus being able to control the brain and free the mind from the unsettling pressures faced in normal society.

As someone who has both tattoos and piercings I can’t avoid wondering whether a small part of me fits into this subculture. Of course, I have my own views on tattoos and my own explanation as to why I have chose to have the ones that I do but I’m left speculating now whether a part of me does hope that by ‘inscribing’ my body I am also able to silently communicate with people around me…….


Peaceful hooligans

During an episode of British Style Genius the topic of casual culture was talked of. Associated with football hooliganism originating from British groups attending European football matches and bringing back with them European designer labels.

However, in tandem to all this and subsequently after the trend had peaked and began to fade there were still a crop of ambassadors adorned in ‘casualwear’ that had incorporated the style into their lifestyle. These I am calling the peaceful hooligans, who followed other recreational activities including tennis, golf and snooker. Towards the tail end of the 80s and into the 90s the trend was kept alive by brands such as Lyle & Scott, Fred Perry, Ellesse, Sergio Tacchini, Pringle, Nike New Balance and Lacoste.

And as well as reaping inspiration from outside of the UK, our European neighbours were at the same time looking towards us for their own inspiration. Young italian men adopted casualwear into their lifestyles after being exposed to the prior hooliganism of the 80s.

Below is a nostalgic look at 80s/90s less aggressive casuals!


Arian Behzadi

Slightly off topic but felt compelled to share this man’s work.

I stumbled across some interesting pieces of mixed media collages today, produced by biological science graduate, Arian Behzadi. Skilled and employed in the field of science and medicine but during his spare time Behzadi creates these really stimulating and quite beautiful collages. Reading his short biography on his webpage, he explains how he finds his own way of bridging the gap between science and art.

What’s interesting about this is his expression in doing so. It’s not completely unique, he sometimes works on commissioned pieces of artwork but ultimately it remains that he’s no expert he just promotes a really simple but really effective way of expressing his desire to be creative. He has a personal interest in creativity and he’s combining it with his everyday work.

His website displays an array of work including his own audio as well as visuals but below are some of my favourites.


Rastafarian culture – London

Adopted in the UK during the 1980s but actually originating in Jamaica in the 1930s. The rastafarian culture was exposed to society through reggae music and artists like Bob Marley. Followers were influenced by traditions linked back to the religion but it was also used as a way of finding solace during political hardship for black youths in Britain. People were likely to be seen wearing clothes matching the colours of the Jamaican flag, hair in dreadlocks and smoking cannabis.

Those that immersed themselves fully within the culture adopted the religious beliefs right through to altering their eating habits. But obviously the most controversial tradition that remains is the drug use. Members of the culture claim that cannabis is sanctioned in the bible and helps free your mind, bringing you closer to god. In terms of the use in Britain during the 80s it was probably one of the more ‘lighter’ substances in use. Alongside all the raving, techno and acid scene, cannabis, although still a problem, I dont think it was yet deemed as much of a concern like it is today.

The subculture continues to grow today, ┬áin both it’s lighter and extreme forms, across the globe. Reaching countries including Japan, many parts of Europe and America.


Midnight Express

Today Joe gave a presentation on the LE PEST C factors concerning the 1970s. A few things that stood out to me which I wish to cover begin with wanting to find out what the term “midnight express” means. I now know that it was the name given to a book written by Billy Hayes in 1977 and a year later a film adaptation was produced.

Upon searching for what the term midnight express may stand for I was faced with two very different interpretations. According to Wikipedia under the description of the film the term is described as an attempt to escape from prison by inmates. According to urban dictionary the term is described as an act of sodomy that can be performed at any time of the day but holds more significance when performed during the midnight hour…….I’ll leave that one with you!

Like most film adaptations the actual ratio of facts versus fiction was low in terms of facts. Oliver Stone who penned the adaptation explained that his reasoning behind changing so much of the information was so that the film would enhance the viewer’s senses while creating an awareness on human rights and abuse suffered in foreign countries.

The film went on to be remembered as one of the first of it’s kind to portray foreign prison culture and provided wisdom to the society on drug related charges even though by the 1970s the use of recreational drugs had become somewhat acceptable.