Hey! My name is Emma (f you hadn’t already guessed) and this blog is a collection of ideas, projects and discussions during the journey of my MA Design course. It is just a way for me to put everything I am exploring and learning into one place so my scatterbrain doesn’t lose anything. Other than the plot…
So I thought I’d start with an introduction to me and how I got here (it may be a bit long so get a brew). I graduated in 2016 from UCLan with a BA in Fashion Design and a Foundation Degree in Art & Design. During this degree I took a placement year in industry, where I worked on the Ladieswear Design Team at Matalan. Here I learnt how to trend research, keep an eye on competitors, digital print skills, CAD skills (mainly Illustrator) and how to communicate design to factories and across departments. All this and a hell of a lot of running around which always comes with the territory of being a fashion intern! When I came back for final year, my Graduate Collection became a way to really express myself and a bit of a ‘kitchen sink’ project. I became obsessed with the idea of Gender Fluidity and Identity, it had started to become a conversation in society and pop culture (nowhere near as much as it is now, yes 2019 progression!). I realised literally years later this was just a girl struggling her way through her bi-sexuality and expressing this through the only way she knows how…designing.
I explored the New York Club Kids and the London Blitz Kids of the 1980s/1990s. What they wore, their lifestyles along with their rise and quick downfall through the decade. I love a loud colour and a big shoulder so the eighties was fun for me to nod to! With the recent interest in Drag Artists worldwide, the power of Instagram allowed me to be influenced by these amazing people across the gender spectrum. I played with print; using my fast-declining mental health, and anger towards the situations I faced that year as a basis for hand-drawn/painted prints which became digital print onto lycra. I played with fun colours, textures and methods to bring my ideas to life. I was unbelievably proud of that 6 look collection, I am not here to tell you it is the greatest piece of design in the world, but it represented my journey and defiance while incorporating the sense of fun I love to put in fashion. It has pride of place in my mums loft now…
Printed mask close up – hand-drawn prints converted into a digital print onto lycra made into a particularly fetching ‘balding’ mask.
Even the details were giving you the finger….this velvet/faux fur jacket was a cropped oversized bomber with lycra detailing, printed lining and embossed ‘Am I Fucking Shocking You Now’ on the back. I really was a lovely human…
CAD line-up so I could drop in those prints. This still developed slightly in the making process by adding faux fur genitalia patches and balding details along with adding those extra big fur sleeves as seen in previous image
After graduation I started my first job pretty quickly, I was a determined little cookie! I started working for Maxines Feathers, a costume and millinery company based in Blackpool. Here I literally started from apprentice level; learning how to create costumes and headpieces for stage and screen. I spent almost 2 years there and look back on that time fondly. It was long hours but with a lot of glittery reward. Here are some of my favourite projects I got to work on…
Julian Clary in Dick Whittington at the London Palladium Pantomime 2017
Tess Tickle and the Dragettes
Molly King Strictly Come Dancing 2017
Then I worked as a junior designer for an occasion wear brand based in Manchester for a short time. Not my best career move but I learned a lot all the same. It was during this time I began to tinker with my own brand. I had learnt one side of millinery working with Maxine, and had read everything I possibly could get my hands on over those 2 years. I had spent weekends attending courses on more traditional millinery, grilling the team I was working with and started to figure out how I could bring my aesthetics to this medium. So 18 months ago, Rose & Plume was born. It has taken me a long time to figure out where I want the brand to go; my favourite will always be bespoke clients. I am lucky to have a very loyal client base who give me as much free-reign as possible within the parameters of creating a mother of the bride hat! I also create handmade hair accessories which I sell pretty much anywhere I can. I have learnt the hard way that, as much as the designer in me wants to go off and create the big fun stuff, this doesn’t pay the bills so we all have to find a way to tick along in the background. I have actually found I come up with my best design ideas when knitting or sewing scrunchies! It frees my mad mind up to wander off.
HaTALK competition entry 2019, ‘Equilibrium’ theme
One of my favourite bespoke pieces for a client attending a ball – Sinamay base and ethically sourced Pheasant Feathers
A very popular freeform sinamay shape. Hand-dyed royal blue and nude combo for a Mother of the Groom
So now I am tackling my next big project…a Master’s Degree. I felt it was just time. I had a few short (but intense) years in industry but I needed to come back to my designer self. University and education has always allowed me to freely express myself and I definitely need to work on building that connection between concept and manufacture. So I am all ears, ready to work with a pen in one hand and a hat in the other! My focus and interest lies in Feminism. In one respect it feels like a nice follow on to my BA in regards to gender studies. But realistically, my work always comes from a deeply personal place. I have, unfortunately, experienced a lot of misogyny and oppression since leaving university. I guess I never really know what’s going to come out as I start to explore a topic but I feel the need to bring a voice to this close-to-home issue.