Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Final Reflection

It hits me, as I sit in the tube, now 40 minutes away from the place I briefly called home. This trip, this trip has changed my life. It has changed what I knew and thought about fashion, clothing construction, art and life. I have come to realization after realization about all sorts of things I thought I understood. The main thought that I can not get out of my head is: what would life be like, to wake up and be who you REALLY want to be without the fear of judgement. Up until this moment I believed I had been doing this to the best of my ability, and then, I met Zandra. Being around Zandra made me really think about whether or not I was being who I truly want to be as a person, an artist, and a fashion designer. 
For example, do I wear what I want to wear, or am I a bit afraid of being judged? Would I walk down the street with pink hair tomorrow if I wanted to, or would I be too nervous for the reaction. I see myself as being very much who I want to be most of the time, but when it comes to physical attributes like clothing, hair and look I have still shy away from what I might really want to wear and look like. In fact, because I have not fully entertained the question of what I want to look like and wear without the judgment of society, I can’t fully answer that question right now. 
It took spending time with Zandra Rhodes and Andrew Logan to realize that although I may think of myself as being a ballsy person, I have so much to learn in the way of developing myself in this world. Zandra and Andrew are so comfortable in their eccentric lifestyles, so ok with who they are, how the world sees them, it just makes me humbled to my own level of comfort in relation to all of those things. I have learned so much and yet I have gathered a longer list of things to learn and goals to achieve then the one I came to London with. 
I look out the window of the tube at the blurring landscapes that I may never have the chance to explore, at the lives I will never have a chance to connect with and think about everything. Somewhere deep inside my thoughts, out of the pile of experiences, memories, and visual images emerges, the first glimpse of my senior collection for MassArt that I will create this year. It starts with one defining image, and grows into many. Within minutes my mind is full of color, patterns, garments, hair, makeup, shoes and catwalks. Finally, after searching all summer, the beginnings of my final 5 garments I will create for my last year at MassArt, emerges. 
It is moments like these that I, as an artist, live for. You work, and work and work to be inspired. You can sketch a million sketches without having one of them be right, and then you experience something that changes your life. And what floats to the top of the basin of memories that is now your past, but the thing you have been trying to create through it all, which is for now my future, and all too soon, my past. 
To all of you who have read the insanity that was my Adventure to London, I thank you and hope it has entertained you, inspired you, for just been a laugh on a bad day. I started out writing it for you, but in the end found that it has become a documentation of one of the best trips of my life. 

Morning of Departure

           I awoke at 8:30 this morning, a half hour before my alarm, knowing it is my last day. The thought I do not belong here, that this is not my life, seems incredibly strange in this waking moment. I have been here, living in this house, that my mind seemed to accept that this was now my new life, and yet, I am going home today. Home, Boston, it seems so far away to me in this very moment. 
I get up, dressed and walk down the the studio to chat with Zandra. She works on Saturdays, in fact I don’t actually know if she takes any days off from working. We sit and talk for a while before It is time for me and my room mate Ruth to have out last breakfast together. I invite Zandra but she is in the middle of working and like a true artist must tend to the garden of her art. 
I get to have my first traditional English breakfast this morning. Ruth and I go to this little hole-in-the-wall place that does “a tradition fry up.” I tell the man to put anything and everything that might give me a heart attack on my plate, for that is what breakfast is all about. It is a lovely breakfast, but I still have to say that I-Hop trumps it. Then again, I Hop it a force to be reckoned with if your being unhealthy. 
We walk back to Zandra’s and I get the chance to talk a bit more with her before parting. I also get the chance to ask her if it would be alright if I put on one of her garments and got a photo with her. She agrees but insists standing behind me because she is in her work clothing for making art. So I was abel to snap this photo, which I am sure someday I will show this photo to my kids and grandkids summing up this amazing journey to the world of Zandra Rhodes. 
Finally, after photos, hugs, and goodbyes I am walking back to the tube with my two bags wheeling behind me. I have managed to take the tube to and from the airport on this trip, and it has saved me roughly 175 pounds by doing so. If you can manage to keep you calm while in a new world and lots of people, I would highly recommend taking the public transit. 

My last Friday- August 24th

My work day today was by far, the best EVER. My first job was to search the internet to find a place to buy multi-colored wigs for a reasonable price. I ended up finding this great costume store in Soho that sold what we were looking for, and was promptly sent out to buy them. At this point, taking the tube was easy and I had no trouble getting there, however, on the journey home, I hit a few snags. First, I took what I believed at the time to be a short cut, and ended up on this street with adult toy shops and theaters. It was a really odd street, and somehow looked a bit creepy in the sunshine with all these guys awkwardly walking around. I suddenly decided I would like to leave this little street asap. Walking at a brisk pace to get away from Adult movie-toy street I found myself in ChinaTown. I attempted to walk away from THAT area and found myself London’s version of Times Square. FINALLY, I found my way to an information booth and made my way home. 
  Once I reached London Bridge Stop, I realized it was break/lunch time at work, and since I was already at Borough Market, I decided to pop in. Borough Market is this wonderful outside market that has beer, veggies, fruit, sandwiches, candy, pretty much everything! It is positioned under a bridge and you must keep walking around these big concert pillars to get to more of the market. The market itself is huge, it keeps going and going the more you explore it. 

When I returned, wigs in hand, Zandra was very happy with them. I did put one on for her, just to make sure it was a good fit (but really because I needed a laugh.) Now it was time for my next task, because I was done with the scarves for the exhibition, I worked on a slew of other things. 
 One of the fun things I got to do today is help in the designing process of Zandra’s new line of watches. This process: Zandra had picked out different patterns from the pattern bible (a large book with every pattern print they have ever done,) and photo copied the ones she liked. I cut the patterns into strips so they could be imagined on a watch band, then they were scanned in to the computer. From there, I opened them up in a program called illustrator, and started re-drawing them so they could be rearranged and organized in whatever way Zandra would like. Using illustrator, we could even put the design onto a drawing of a watch as a mock image of what the watch would look like in real life. It was a refreshing exercise to do after sewing for so long. 
               I ended up working late today, until about 7:30pm. I think it was because I was in a bit of denial it was my last day. Immediately after work I packed for home, and had a last dinner with Kitty and Ruth. Ruth is the most amazing cook, she can make the most amazing meals out of any ingredients. Kitty and Ruth have both been working overtime while I have been here. Kitty: to get her collection done for Paris Fashion week and Ruth: to design textiles that her agency will try to sell to stores like UniQlo.
  For people new to what a textile designer like Ruth does for a living, it goes a bit like this: She has an agent who might say, such and such a company wants a summer print for 2015, she then makes a variety of prints and sends them off. The agency presents them to a company like H&M for example, and if they like it they buy the print and Ruth gets the sale. It is a very competitive field where the biggest competition is yourself, whether you can get yourself to produce and meet the deadlines. 
        After dinner Ruth and Kitty went back to work on Kitty’s collection. Shortly after, I joined them, then popped in the drawing room to chat with Zandra for a bit. The nice thing about talking to Zandra is that, there is never a loss of interesting conversation. She has so many stories, and she has done so much. She also actually likes to talk, which is something we share because I talk almost too much. Too soon its time for me to turn myself into my room and try to sleep. 
Sleep does not come, so I just sit here, thinking about how its my last night at Zandra Rhodes amazing house. As I quietly think and reflect, my things packed neatly in a bag, I realize that soon, these 3 weeks will boil down to the memory of a trip that changed my life. Zandra’s personality had proven to be brighter then her prink hair. The people in her company, and who live in her house have been so full of character and lessons. These people I will always remember fondly.  Art, culture, creation and inspiration pulses through this house 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It has more history, and personality then most people I have met in this lifetime. While sitting here, thinking about all of it, I know that even though I leave tomorrow, these experiences will never leave me. 
  The last two days have been some of the best days since I have been here. Yesterday(Thursday,) me and my roomie Ruth went out to go get tea at the SwissOtel which we found out when we got there, did not exist. They had closed a year ago and their website was never taken down. We decided to just walk, eventually we found a candy store and I just HAD to go in! With out candy bags full we walked down the street looking at different things, shoes mostly. We went in and out of stores for a bit, then stumbled upon this amazing bar she had once been too. I ended up getting a drink called a Jamaican  Mule, which is 2 different kinds of rum, ginger beer, ginger and lime, she got a something tasty with blood orange. I didn’t catch the name of the bar, but the bar itself was all concrete with different artists on the wall. We talked for a while, drinking our drinks happily.Then it was off to China Town, to share some duck and toufu. After that, Ruth took me on a mini tour of the parts of London I had not known to go. Some, like London’s version of time square were touristy, some were hidden, like streets that simply looked amazing at night. 

A shoe store that Ruth and I visited
A cool building in London's version of Times Square

The Candy Store Ruth and I went to.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Andrew Logan's House

I was invited to visit Andrew Logan at his house after work at yoga yesterday, so today I will be journeying the two minute walk from Zandra’s to his house. A story I overheard Kitty telling one night, was that Andrew moved to this area first and told Zandra she should move here as well, and so she did. They both have museums in the buildings they live in of their own work, and live literally within a block of each other.
As I looked from the sidewalk, trying to decide which house was Andrews, I saw a building with 24” thick royal blue trim all around the garage and door, I decide this is Andrew Logan’s house. I went ahead and ring the buzzer, he answered and I stepped inside. Andrew’s house is very much like walking into the actual mind of an artist. You have lots of beautiful things, some finished, some unfinished, some in storage, you have a gallery/art studio as one of the main focal points. I felt like I was Alice stepping into one of the strange wonderful new lands that took me away from reality. 
We walk around the house and he gives me a tour. We then loaded up his car because the next day he was off to some remote retreat to sell jewelry. After that was complete, we walked a bit around his house. This is when I noticed his bathroom. The bathroom in Andrew’s house is AMAZING. It oddly might have been my favorite room. It is very small but every wall is COVERED in shards of mirror. He has personally set in each shard into the wall himself. After marveling of this bathroom, and taking some photos  we got chance to sit down and talk. I personally find Andrew easy to talk to, he has warm energy, he is himself and no one else, and he doesn’t get nervous or stressed when a new person is in his house. He is just so comfortable being in his own skin, and this allows you to be yourself. 
We sat for awhile on his big furry cow-pattern and bright orange couch talking of art, people, and stories from the past. He told me a story about Lady Gaga coming over to look at his work. She said it was wonderful but that it wasn’t quuuuuuite her style. He told me a bit about the 60’s and what has already been done in art and fashion, he told me stories about the first people to do them - almost all of them he is friends with! It was a really nice talk. I was abel to take some photos of his house in between, and  I also later bought a documentary from his story, its called “The British Guide To Showing Off.” Zandra Rhodes is in the documentary as well. I have not actually watched it yet but I want to wait until I get home because I want to watch it and reminisce about my time here, which is quickly coming to a close. 
All too soon it was time to bid Andrew goodnight and go back to Zandra’s, but before I went I had to get a picture of Mike Davis and Andrew Logan in the studio. The flags were their idea but I think its nice!  

Some of Andrew's Work
The Bathroom


Andrew Logan and Mike Davis

Monday, August 20, 2012

Yoga, Deep Thought, Zandra Rhodes and Andrew Logan

       The exciting adventure of today started after work when I ran into Andrew Logan. Andrew is a phenomenal artist who works a lot with found objects and uses a lot of whimsical energy in his pieces. He is known widely and has created almost all of the artwork that I have been admiring in Zandra’s house. 
       I ran into him because, for the second time in two weeks, I decided to have a rest day after work, and for some reason I felt like doing that resting on my computer in the rainbow room. As it turns out, Andrew teaches Yoga every Monday in the rainbow room at 6:30, so when he came to set up yoga, we got to talking and I decided it would be nice to center my third eye and do some yoga with his group. 
      The thing I noticed right off the bat when talking with Andrew is that he has a very lovely energy about him. His personality is calm, but very warm and accessible, and I found the conversation really enjoyable. During yoga, when we were at the end lying flat in a sort of release meditation, he said something that stuck with me, he said “forget the past, forget the future, focus on now, live in now. Now is all you have.” I know its a simple thing to say but sometimes the most basic principals are the easiest to forget in the insanity of life. Tomorrow I will be visiting Andrew after he extended me an invited to come over to his house, which I have heard is very similar to Zandra’s in layout/color pallet, to hang out and see the place. 
     After yoga Zandra came upstairs to say hello. She is finally back and as vibrant as ever. After everyone left I was able to hang out with her for a bit, have a chat about some excellent accessories she picked up for her kitchen in California, and then she was off to do some unpacking. I am amazed that she didn’t need a nap, I think its around 5:00AM for her right now in USA time but she is going strong. Perhaps someday far in the future, when fashion has made its way into my blood stream, I too may have that kind of energy. 
     During work I had a realization - fashion and art are really about testing ones brain against its own potential. No one on this planet said that you have to create art, but we as artists do it in whatever form speaks to us, and we are not happy until our vision has been illustrated. And then we are only happy until we get inspired and have to go create more. I am always striving for my personal view of perfection, but what does perfection really mean when it comes to art? After all, artists are the trail blazers of the world, we create dreams and invent images, and yet, there is a certain level of perfection that comes along with it. This perfection is in the artists head, it the ultimate end goal of an uncharted task. Its like climbing a mountain that you’ve never climbed before, but you won’t stop climbing until you see a top you’ve never seen in your life because it doesn’t exist yet.
     For me, ever since I saw the sketches at the Designing 007 exhibit I cannot stop thinking about them. They are simple sketches of different film sets, normally done in felt tip marker, pen and pencil. But the rendering was so profound, so simple but elegant that ever since I saw those sketches I have wanted to achieve that simple style and apply it to fashion sketching. Suddenly, I find my sketching style is not good enough for myself. I think perhaps the point of art is that its never good enough. There is no amount of art the artists creates that is enough. Gertrude Stein once said “The artist's job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.” Perhaps the reason the true artist always feels the need to make art is that the antidote to existence is creation and the artist must not ever be 100% satisfied because if you're happy when something is done and you're not creating anymore, there is no reason left to continue to create, and without constantly creating you existence may be left empty and in despair. 

Photos of Zandra's Place

Part of the roof deck

View from the top

Half of Zandra's pattern drafting studio

Sunday Brick Lane and James Bond

Sunday started with my alarm going of and me thinking “no, NO, I don’t want to wake up, I want to SLEEP,” of course feeling this way did not co-inside with my plans to go to Brick Lane’s many markets, so I woke up. I have been to Brick Lane a few times, but never on a Sunday which is when they have a TON of little markets kind of like Portobello Road does. When I arrived at Brick Lane an hour later, I quickly found there were very different markets within the area. Some were like flea markets where there were some very odd looking people selling some very odd things. Most of it looked like junk to me, but as they say, one mans junk is another mans treasure, because there were people buying up all these odd things that aren't rare, but when you see like 100 phone cords being sold by one person, the normal crosses into odd very quickly. 
I walked back and forth, in and out of different warehouses, alleys, parking lots, and side streets all full of different markets until I felt like I was satisfied with seeing all there was to see. I then headed to my second destination, the Barbican Museum. The discovery of this museum was made at a Saturday nights party when talking with a guy who is doing a PR project for the new James Bond film. His current project requires him to know everything about all the old James Bond movies. Anyway when talking to him he mentioned there was an exhibit at the Barbican Museum called Designing 007. All I can say it JACK POT! This is why I like meeting new people, they tell you about something cool, you go do it, and its something you would have never found out about on your own. 
So on Sunday, I went to the Barbican to check it out. Unfortunately, there were no pictures allowed, but I CAN describe it in detail. Walking into the first room, there is a round bed with gold sheets that is rotating. On the bed lies a women in her panties lying face down, dead. The scene is a recreation from Goldfinger when they kill Bonds lover and paint her gold leaving her on the bed for 007 to find. Lining the walls there are story boards, awards, props, original sketches and jackets from Goldfinger. 
Walk on into room number two and there is information about the director, original scrips, and the vintage books that started the Bond series. There are also TV’s in every room showing footage relevant to what your looking at. 
Room number three is geared towards the spy gadgets used in the films. The information card tells you what was real, what didn’t work, how they made it, what film it was from, and if there is a story behind the object, that is there too. Sketches of the: car, film set, and story board of the scene thats relevant to the other objects can be found in every room as well. All of these sketches continue throughout the entire exhibit. 
The 4th room is all the costumes with fashion sketches and some items from any parts of the Bond movies that were set is casinos. Most of the older movies have recreated costumes because in the olden days they simply threw out the costumes when they were done. Now most actors have a contract allowing them to own the costumes once the film is done. 
The rest of the rooms in this part of the exhibit address different locations the Bond series was filmed in and how they came to be. After you pass through that, it is time to go to part 2 of the exhibit where you walk into a different part of the museum and have your ticket restamped. 
Part two was called “Villains.” It was set up with two combining rooms that each had a TV with different memorable villain clips from the movies. Then there are enclosed cases dispersed throughout the rooms with different villains costumes, weapons, fashion sketches or photographs. 
After you see both of those rooms you go to the last leg of the exhibit which is all the way down stairs called “Ice Palace.” This has all of the film costumes, props, sketches ext of any bond film that took place in snowy, or ice areas. 
Now grant it this was a brief explanation of what the exhibit held, there was more stuff like architectural layouts and such that was also on display, but it would be impossible for me to name every detail. When the Bond exhibit was done (it took at least an hour) I walked around the outside of the building. The area the Barbican is in is really unique. It's all concrete structures with this canal running through the back. It's really quite a site!
Finally, it was time to go home. I tried to take the bus back, but again got lost so I figured out where I was and walked home (it took about 40 minutes.) I apparently LOVE to walk. The rest of my day I relaxed and recovered for tomorrow when Zandra comes back and I will need my energy. Oh, and on a side note I did do my weekend Karate Kid clean up work for Zandra with coworkers Kitty and Ruth, I call it Karate Kid work because I feel like I am doing a zen exercise while doing the odds and ends jobs in such an amazing place. 

This is a piece of graffiti art from Brick Lane I discovered, its concrete backing thats been painted white, where you see the tan it where the artist has chipped away the concreat. The entire face has been rendered by chipping away the concrete at various levels. 

This is a piece of art to the right of the face, I just thought it was funny and worth posting :)

Saturday, a day of lost exploration.

Saturday and Sunday flew by! I find the more comfortable I get in London, the faster time moves. I have done so much here that I really feel like I almost live here full time. I have established a favorite: supermarket, rout to the tube, and my things to eat. I’ve gotten to know the people here, the way of life, and I realized Saturday night that too soon I will be headed back to Boston. 
Speaking about Saturday, I went to the Science Museum to see the alchemy exhibit which was REALLY cool. On the way to the museum I ended up getting lost and walking aimlessly around posh neighborhoods for about 2 hours. For some reason when walking around I kept getting more extensively lost, which is GREAT for my body, but bad for my feet. There is something strange that happens when you constantly realize your lost, you have to start motivating your brain to why it is your going to keep walking. I mean its obvious sure, you want to get somewhere you walk, but there is a certain point your body seems to ask you brain “Soooo, why are we doing this again? Its hot, I’m tiered, I hurt.” Its at that point you need to get motivated, my personal favorite motivation when my feet hurt is to think of a word for each step and once the sentence has finished start over. For example after the museums I visited, I decided to go to Harrods to get a snack and got lost again, and my feet were burning, so my stepping chant went a bit like this: Choc...o...late...and...Mar...zi...pan. You have to imaging walking fast, and each part of that chant is a step so its really chocolate and marzipan thats broken down into syllables because I coordinated my thinking with my walking pace. Basically I was walking down the street ver subtly chanting “chocolate and marzipan” to myself because that is what I planned on getting at Harrods.
Before that whole ordeal, however, I had to motivate myself for 2 hours to find this museum, Oh and did I mention Google Maps LIED to me and that is why in fact I was lost. Its strange because google maps is normally so good to me! 
When I FINALLY reached the science museum I was overjoyed!! It was literally like climbing a mountain and seeing the view from the top because I had been walking soo long. After entering, I strolled around the museum and looked at various things before I found the alchemy exhibit. Thankfully it was 100% worth the walk. 
Its hard to explain alchemy because I am still learning about it myself, but basically, its a type of really old science that built the foundation for a some of the scientific principals we have today. The unique thing about alchemy is that most of the elements and concepts were symbolized with picture, so that the it could have a code only alchemists could read. In our modern day society, that symbolism code has been cracked. This exhibit depicted the scrolls, books explanations and other various things temporarily on display. This scroll they have is an incredibly rare thing to see in person, it was really a beautiful item to have gotten to experience. 
After that exhibit I walked around and found a fashion exhibit of non-traditional materials that had been used to make clothing, shoes, all types of things. There was one jacket made of carpet from Vivienne Westwood that was a very nice piece, and some other really bizarre pieces ranging from a jacket made of metal wool type material, to shoes made of fake grass. 
By the time I decided I was done, my feet were loudly complaining and ALL I wanted to do was go to Harrods, get a piece of marzipan and some chocolate and go home to rest, however, life had a different plan. Alas, I got lost again, this time it was not Google maps fault, it was yours truly who had a horrid sense of direction. I took a 45-60 minuet detour and ended up finding some really cool things.
I found a few unique stores but the one most worth mentioning would have to be this hole-in-the wall store, that I was not even 100% sure was a store until i investigated. From the street it was a really dark ally with some really cool lamps at the beginning of it. The reason the ally was so dark was because it turned out to be a tunnel with no lighting that opened into a white room with lots of natural lighting. In the room there was a lot of what I call velvet furniture. The designers who own this store, take furniture or chandlers and wrap them artistically with bright colors of velvet. It was REALLY so so cool, if I only had a house to put this stuff in, I would have gotten a piece from them right away. They are so unique you know your not going to see this stuff anywhere else. 
After talking with the sales ladies about the collections, my marzipan and chocolate were calling, and I was still in fact, lost so I really had to be on my way. Upon finding that I went the wrong direction all together, I had to go back to the science museum area. On the way to the science store, I saw the V&A museum which I had been planning to do another day, but that was before I saw the “ball gowns exhibit” posted on the front and I knew, I needed to go in and see it. The nice thing about these museums are: they are all free for the most part. I went right in to check out the exhibit, passing all sorts of different halls of sculpture and such as I went. I wanted to explore it but I knew my body was not up for it, so I just did the ball gown exhibit. 
Once out I continued to Harrods, again, I got lost. 50 minutes of walking later I arrived at Harrods where I got my reward and headed home on the tube.
I had just enough time to hang out a bit before guests started arriving for a get-together at Zandra’s because its my room mates birthday on Wednesday, but we calibrated on Saturday. We all got the chairs out on the roof top deck and talked while having some snack and drinks from about 8pm-1am, well it was 1 for me because I had to get up for more adventures the next day! 

On the left, a dress from the V&A ball gown exhibit.
A random picture of Zandra Rhodes roof deck, more to come :)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Friday Fashion, Fame, and a Familiar Face

I stood in the studio early this morning, looking at a giant piece of printed fabric that everyone deemed as having a hideous color way. “Frances,” I asked, “can I play with this piece of fabric?” “Yes go right ahead.” she said as she walked into the computer room. I took the black fabric, on it printed flowers in pink, white and electric blue for the next collection. I unfolded it and wrapped it around my shoulders, then unwrapped it and wrapped it a different way. I watched myself in the mirror as I did this, and I couldn’t help thinking of Madame Gres, who was known for her pleating, but did I lot of draping fabric on the body. I turned to Frances which a particularly eccentric wrap, “How do I look?” She laughed.
5 minutes later I decided it has been enough playing, it was time to cut out the facings for the 3,000 pound dress I mentioned in early posts. Of corse I took great care with this even though I found out it was just a sample for the new collection. I try to take every project I work on. I pretend that everyone looking at it for the rest of eternity will know which part of the garment I did, and be abel to tell if its up to par or not. I know this is not true, but If I think this way it makes me perfect everything I do to the utmost I can perform. 
Later in the day we were all looking at this black top that had been almost completed. Normally when something is done, or almost done, one of the woman in the studio will try it on to see how it hangs. Yesterday, I actually tried on a top that Zandra will be wearing for this season with her newest print on it. We were doing just this with the black top, looking at it on someones body to see if it hangs right. Two different people tried it on to determine it the shoulder seam looked ok, or if it needed to be modified. In the process of doing this I herd Frances say that the top was going to the Princess Michael of Kent. She has married the queens cousin, but originally hails from Austria. To think that this shirt is just a shirt to me, and then I hear where its going and suddenly I am fantasizing about all the places this shirt is going to see, where its going to go. 
The rest of my workday I unpacked garments Harper's Bazaar had used/photographed, and got things ready for a runway show we are doing next week called Pure. the runway show will be at a textile convention where we are showing our Zandra Rhodes handbags. After my lunch brake I took the tube and got some hats for the runway show. These hats were so funny, they were GIANT bows! The moment I got back into the studio, and they were out of the bag, they were on peoples heads being modeled by the Zandra Rhodes team. I then returned to packing for the Pure show, but for side tracked then I came across one of Zandra’s signature jackets, I asked if I could put it on and was told I could so on it went! It is one of the most comfortable things, I felt like a giant pillow as I stood in front of the mirror. I think that if I had a giant wallet, I would purchase one, just to hang out around my house in, it is THAT comfortable. 
Work concluded with me squeezing as much preparation for the Pure show as I could get in before 5:30. Every time we send out clothing from Zandra Rhodes there is a process. We have to get the garments, press them, record whats being sent, their style numbers, descriptions, the value that must be declared for insurance for the borrowers, then there is the matter of shoes, accessories, model sizes, will things fit? These are all very important things that need addressing before the show happens. 
When work was done I was TIERED. I did not really want to go out, I didn’t want to do anything. I wanted to sleep, but I was not tiered. After messaging my boyfriend in the states, he told me to get out of the house, go explore, I would regret it when I got back to America if I don’t. This was all true, and he was very right. So I got my lazy butt out of the apartment and went to Oxford Circus stop. I wanted to go back to a store called Top Shop that I had explored earlier that week. This store has 4 levels and it best compared to a MUCH nicer version of Forever 21. So I am looking around the store, and suddenly I see a man standing there, talking to a store employee. This man has slightly painted jeans, a hat, a beard...Mr. Brainwash? IT IS! I went up and introduced myself. I told him about how I had seen his show, how I loved the message. I explained that I even saw him working outside after and wanted so baldly to say hello, but that everyone else was standing around him like vultures all wanting a piece of him. I explained I had respect for the fact he was busy, that I didn’t want to one of “those people.” You see, I like meeting people for real, I don’t want to meet someone because they are someone to the public, I want to meet someone to talk to them, to get a feel for who they are. We talked for a while about film, documentaries, art and a bit about life. After I left, I realized I had so many questions left unanswered. Some, appropriate to ask to a general stranger thats well known, some I want to ask but know that its probably best to keep those questions to mystery. 
Here is the thing about Mr. Brainwash, and the reason that I admire what he does so much. He is this normal guy, who loved art. He loved it wish a tremendous passion and all it seemed he wanted to do was be an artist therefor living his dream. In the end, he got that, and while he does not make all his own art, he has managed to do the impossible, become a really successful artist without being incredibly artistically inclined. Do you know how many artists are in this world who don’t end up making art for a career? There are MILLIONS! Art is incredibly hard to make into a career, you can do it, it IS possible, but its not easy, there is no path where you apply and get a response back saying “yes come work for us and make art for the rest of your life, you will be famous.” It takes a lot to get on that level, and you have to want it, you have to want it so bad that almost nothing else matters, you have to want it bad enough that your willing to do CRAZY things to get to the point you dream of. And that is EXACTLY what he did, that is why there is a documentary. 
The other part to why I like Mr. Brainwash, is although some people say “he’s not REALLY an artist because he doesn’t make his own work,” I feel like, if people only knew how much of art the artist does not actually make. Take ANY designer you know, Marc Jacobs, DNKY, ANY of them, the top person who gets all the credit does not physically make most of the garments. I mean, most great artists even in history who are known as masters didn’t do all their own work. The bigger you get the less of the art your physically responsible for. 
There are just not enough hours in the day to be big and be doing everything yourself, so there has to be a team of people one person directs to make it all happen. Mr. Brainwash is the creative director of graffiti/Andy Warhol looking awesome artwork that will inspire generations and generations of people. His documentary just admits a truth that anyone working in the art or design field figures out sooner or later in their career. 
Anyway that is my rant about Mr. Brainwash, design and fashion, I feel like I HAD to say it! Back to the last part of my day: with a bounce in my step I walked, and walked, and walked. I walked until 9:30, then took the tube home and called it a night because Saturday was a Zandra Rhodes work day, and I needed to be ready to do some Karate Kid house work. 

8/16 Thursday Brick Lane Dinner

My scarf tally FINALLY hit 20, I have finished 20 scarves since I have been here, and BOY am I proud of it. You know, listening to what goes on in the Zandra Rhodes company is so amazing. The interaction between the colors department, getting the fabric, printing the fabric, and the faxes coming in from Zandra for instructions on what she wants us to do is so complex of a process. The coordination it takes to make one thing go right is incredible. I feel like I am constantly in a classroom, getting to know the ins and outs of a fashion ecosystem. 
During work some friends of my family visited the textile museum which is in the same building but down stairs. Suddenly I realized I too, wanted to visit the textile museum, so I asked one of the woman working in the studio named Frances, how much it costs to visit. She responded that I could actually enter through the back of the studio (and therefor it was free!) This was really cool because the textile museum is not owned by Zandra Rhodes, she has pieces of her clothing in it but it is separate from her studio. I’m not sure how many people visiting it know that while they are visiting a museum, we are working right above them of Zandra Rhodes garments. I got to go visit the museum right then and there when I asked. Frances took me through the connecting door into the museums office area and introduced me to everyone that works behind the scenes, and then I was off to check out the textile exhibit. 
The exhibit its self is great! It is a transition of time periods, influences, textiles and garments that are all retro pieces. It addresses the beginnings of textiles coming into fashion. I really enjoyed the history. 
After work I met up with the Shames Family and some of their friends and we all went to the brick lane area. Upon arriving there we walked through a shopping mall made ENTILY out of storage containers! There was one store in the mall and all they sold were one-sies! I was very tempted but saner minds prevailed. After, we headed down brick lane and stopped to get a drink at this little bar/cafe called Full Stop. I tried ginger beer for the first time which is AWESOME, more like ginger-ale that is alcoholic. I don’t like beer in general, I have actually never been willing to have more then 3 sips of beer because with each sip it tastes worse to me, so for me to finish anything that is labels beer, means its VERY tasty. 
Then it was off to have some Indian food! This was REALLY exciting because I have herd Indian food in England is REALLY good, which it was. We went into this little restaurant that Lisa had heard good things about. Let me remind you, we had a party size of 9 people so we were a force to be reckoned with when coming into this establishment. It was worth it though, the food was great, the conversation was better, my friend Lise and Shawn ordered two dishes to split, one was called the Tiger Fire or something resembling that. That dish was SO hot, I had less then a fork full and it was HOT HOT HOT. I  HAD to take before and after photos of Lisa and Shawn to document the decision of ordering such a spicy dish!
         When dinner was over, it was time to take the bus back to London Bridge. Tomorrow is Thursday, and because i finished the scarves until next weeks rounds I will be working on a new project that I must be on my game for. 

Before the spicy food test
After the spicy food test

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wednesday Art Adventure

What an amazing adventure today!! During work I was still making scarves, but AFTER work, AFTER work my day REALLY began. So my first stop was to Sonia Rykiel, one of my favorite designers. The store was a little bit of a let down compared to the one in Paris, and I did not LOVE whats going on with her current collection which is a first for me, because I am normally head over heels in lust with it. After checking out her London Store I went on a journey from Bond Street to Fortnum and Mason, another HUGE department store. On the way I stopped in Liberty, a really beautiful high end department store, and tried on a 700 pound (roughly $1167) leather bracelet that I was sure was in my price range before I asked the man behind the jewelry counter if I could try in on, I then had a little look at the price tag once it was on my wrist and realized that it was definitely not within what I could afford! It looked so basic too, just some leather strips woven together with a metal shark tooth on it. 
When I finally made my way into Fortnum and Mason I was pleased to see a luxury food section fit for a queen. I have a thing with exploring super markets as I have mentioned earlier, the fancier they are, the more excited I tend to get. I strolled around for a bit before finding the candy counter, and well, it was all over from there. I bought: turkish delight, hand made marshmallows in violet and rose flavor, candied almonds, candied rose petals and violet petals, and a mouse made completely of sugar. I only bought a small amount of each so it was not that pricy, but MAN was everything good! I must at this point make a confession to my readers, in my mind, I am like a 5 year old. I try to keep it at bay when it comes to eating healthy BUT when I travel I have this awful habit: I get so excited that, if I am traveling alone, I will not want to stop and eat because I am afraid its a wast of time and I want to see as much as possible. That being said I also feel the need to try lots of sweets I’ve never had. In conclusion: on an exploration day, 5-year-old me eats candy, and not much else because I am way too excited to deal with being healthy. Thankfully I get in a proper breakfast and lunch because before and during work I am adult me and I do adult things. 
Leaving Fortnum and Mason I have a giant bag full of tea, candy and other things. “Hmmm where to go?” I think, I remember people at work saying the Ritz is near Fortnum and Mason so I walk up the street and walk by all sorts of neat shops until I pass the Ritz. Bring satisfied I saw most of what this area has to offer I decided to go to the clock: Big Ben. 
When I arrive I see it, big and wonderful, standing there like the symbol of London it is. After snapping some photos I stroll across the bridge to see the ferris wheel. I debate getting in line to go on it, then I take a look at the line and, “PSSSSST” I think, “I am NOT walking into THAT mess!” I just could not justify spending the rest of my time today waiting in a line! 
So from Big Ben I just walk. I walk and I walk and I walk. Eventually I see some monuments, I come upon Nelson's Column which also has two lovely fountains on each side. I snap some more photos, look around and then go walking some more. At this point, walking aimlessly, having NO clue where I am going or where I am, but there are people around and the area looks safe, so why not? I decide I will try to get back to Oxford Street by foot, I think I pass the tube stop Waterloo, great, I am walking in the wrong direction.I still don’t know where I am, soon I see a tourist street map that states “you are here,” and see that I need to go up 2 blocks and then take that second street until it turns into Oxford. I walk to blocks, unsure of where to turn for the street I had seen on the information map. I decide to turn on the street I am on, figuring I will see another map soon. I am about half way up the block, passing a big black building a man in a suit says to me, “free art gallery show” I stop, looking in the entrance , there is “FREE ENTRY” spray painted on the wall. In the foyer of the show, there is the olympics rings illustrated with paint cans on the wall. I see it and think, “this is my kind of place, lets see where this door takes me.” I go in and allow the man in the suit to check my bags for writing tools witch are not allowed in. After this, I walk into the show to find flyers explaining the artist, the show is Mr. Brainwash!
For those of you who don’t know Mr. Brainwash, he is a part of the graffiti arts. There is a documentary: Exit Through the Gift Shop, that is all about who he is and how he came to be. Here is a brief history (try to keep up because I am going to drop some names of graffiti artists,) If I remember correctly, Mr. Brainwash got somehow connected to Space Invader, who ran in the same circle with Fairey Shepard, they somehow connected him to Banksy, from there Mr. Brainwash apprenticed and assisted Banksy until he decided to give art a go for himself. He then promoted himself using all their names, and became a very commercialized artist. He is also known for having a team of artist make all the art for him, he tells them his ideas, they do they work. His style of working, and getting to where he is has been a very controversial thing, especially because graffiti artists normally remain faceless because if they are to be famous, they can be prosecuted for defacing public property. 
Anyway he is connected with all of these people that are giants in the graffiti community, and I am at his show. Now the show was beyond words, I really liked the general ascetic and ideas of the art and what I believe the message behind it was. Some of the art at the show appeared to be stabs at Banksy, but I will have to confirm that with research to say that for sure. I know they had a falling out and it would make sense, but again, I am not going to draw any conclusions without looking up my facts (if there are any.) Even with all i know thats negative about Mr. Brainwash I really liked the show, and I am thankful he made it happen. 
So here is the crazier part, I am leaving the show and walking down the street and who do I run into, Mr. Brainwash himself is putting up artwork on the front of the building to promote the show! I watched him and took photos with other people for about 20 minutes, I really wanted to say hi and shake his hand but the opportunity never presented its self and the people around me were acting like vaulters while he was trying to do his work so I decided to respect the artist and just watch. 
The rest of the day was filled with more stores and finally I headed home at 9 because things were closing. What I love about days like this is that it proves you can still have random adventures if you are just willing to let go of your control, and purposely get lost. I would have never found this art show if I was not willing to walk an unfamiliar path in a place I had never been, without a clue to where it was going, and that makes me so happy!

Below are some images from the Mr. Brainwash Show

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Printing, Resting, Scarves!

                 Hello blogspot, its almost two days since I’ve posted, thats because I took yesterday and today to recharge my body and hang around the house. I have discovered knowing when to take a break is AS important as constantly exploring and succeeding at the tasks I have been given. It turns out the two go hand in hand and although I want to explore London every second I am not working, my body has a different plan.
When I am not recharging I am at work making scarves. I have about 7 out of 30 done, and the minutes per scarf is getting shorter as my production speed gets faster. In other words, there is definitely progress and its coming along quite nicely if I do say so myself.
Although I didn’t do anything too exciting after work, I did manage to get a little adventure in during work. One of the woman who works in the studio asked me if I would be interested in going out and grabbing the fabric they ordered on my break, I said yes because I never turn down an opportunity to see a new place. So after she gave me a map and some directions, I was off!
To get there, I took the Northern Line of the tube to Kentish Town. On the tube I noticed a lot of people subtly pointing and laughing at me, “thats strange” I thought, I’m not sure what would be so funny about me sitting in a seat on the tube, I deemed it as strange and continued to other random thoughts. Then I noticed the guy sitting next to me was fast asleep and it wasn’t until he started to slightly snore that I noticed he was sleeping. This made the fact that people were laughing and pointing in my direction make sense, this man was pretty comical the way he was dead asleep waking up occasionally to make sure everything was ok. I was slightly relieved to know the laughing was not at something that had gone horridly wrong with my outfit or makeup, (it occasionally will happens that I rub my eyes, forgetting I am wearing eye make-up, and its not until I see my reflection in a mirror or store window, that the sock of walking around with raccoon eyes in public hits me.)
When I got off the tube I successfully found the fabric store and got to hang out in their showroom filled with EVERY kind of fabric imaginably while I waited for the manufactures to wrap it up safely in plastic. On my way back to the tube I stumbled upon a really cheep super market which made my day because I have not eaten a ton of fruit since I’ve been here, and I am used to living on fruit back home, so I stocked up big time on all sorts of healthy treats. 
When I got back to the studio I continued making scarves until Caroline (the print maker here,) asked me if I would like to help out with some printing. I was thrilled because silk screening is a new thing for me, I have done print making where you etch metal and run it through a press but I have never silk screened onto fabric before! 
Silk screening itself is a process best described in person because it is complicated to give a written explanation that is accessible to read and understand. But here are the basics instructions: for each print you have 2-4 screens. One screen for each color you want on the print. First you must pin down the fabric so it does not move when your printing. Then, you must put the screen on the fabric, take some ink at one end, and squeegee it back and forth so all the ink goes through all the gaps that make the design. We use two people for this process here because the image is two big for one person to squeegee on their own, you must pass the squeegee to the second person at the midpoint of the print. You repeat the pattern by doing the steps listed perviously, then lifting up the screen, placing it next to the section you just did and repeating the squeegee step. You then let that dry, once it is done drying you aligned the second screen(which will be a different design then screen 1,) do this process with a new color, and eventually you have a multi colored print. 
We were working on paper for this print because the screen we were using is one that was archived (its been around a while,) and we wanted to make sure the print worked out before doing it on fabric. Another helpful fact about doing the print on paper, is that you can bring the print up to the pattern maker who can give their input on it, and even line up the clothing pattern on the paper to see if the concept will work correctly with the design. 
After printing it was back to scarves as I tried madly to get as many as I could done in the short time I am here. After work I laid low, letting my body recharge so that I could get back out to adventuring and sight seeing in London! 

On the right- the first print from the screen, it is two colors because we used two different color pigments on the first screen. The process of putting multiple colors of pigment on one screen is called referred to as  rainbowing!

This is the second screen, this will be yellow and it will go over the first screen
The final product

LOTS of silk screens in the printing studio

The drawing room where the print concepts are made.