Friday, 28 January 2011

Imperial Chinese Robes from the Forbidden City Exhibition Review

 Empress' 12-symbol Dragon Robe 1800-1911 (Qing Dynasty) Embroidered yellow silk with coral and pearls Length 144.7 cm x width 199.5 cm Museum no. T.253-1967
 mperor's winter court robe, 1662-1722. On loan from the Palace Museum, Beijing

 Imperial robes on show in the Palace Museum in 2008

The Victoria and Albert Museum have once again brought the British public a rare opportunity to admire objects of great value that they would otherwise never get to see. For the first time in Europe we are able to admire a capsule of China’s Imperial Robe collection.

Ming Wilson, Senior curator at the V and A, has provided a perfect storytelling mix of garments, accessories and fabrics. To truly appreciate every precious garment or accessory it is well worth reading the panels of information, there is so much to devour.

The exhibition goes back in time to China’s last dynasty, the Qing dynasty. After storming the Beijing Palace the Qing dynasty ruled for nearly three centuries. Their rule ended in 1911 and court life vanished. Imperial dress in the Forbidden City was traditionally divided into five occasions; official, regular, festive, travelling and military. For each category there are a couple of garments and accessories from both the Emperor’s and the Empress’s collection.

For those who appreciate true craftsmanship the exhibition is a goldmine of skill and man-made beauty. The detail and intricacy of the patterns and embroidery is overwhelming. You could easily sit for hours staring at one garment, continuously finding different motifs and patterns. The feature of the exhibition for me was the wedding dress of Yehe Nara Jingfen. The dress is displayed so you can see the inside of the garment which is to the exact same standard as the front; for me it was hard to believe that a human could create such detail.

As I read every scrap of information going I soon began to realise that each garment had regulations and meanings behind the choice of motifs and colours. I was intrigued by the fact that only the Emperor and the Empress were allowed to wear bright yellow; princesses, concubines and princes could wear apricot yellow.

I was particularly drawn in by the textures of the fur and the colours of the silks. Sable was often used on the Emperor’s winter coats and hats; it is an expensive fur I had never seen before; taken from a weasel-like animal near the Siberian border the fur was reserved only for the Emperor and his sons. Silk and satin are the foundations for every garment on display, but the colours are so vibrant, it’s a shock to the eye, I have never seen such saturated colours and on garments aging more than 400 years old.

The preservation of these garments, alone is breath taking, some date back as far as the 17th century. Having miraculously survived the 1911 Chinese revolution, two world wars and a cultural revolution; the garments remain in immaculate condition. To look upon them you would think they had only just been made.

One thing that drew my thoughts away from the craftsmanship however, was the discreet hint of westernisation. The westernisation of China had already begun back in the 17th century. The introduction of Europe’s mechanised looms and the presence of European women had begun this western influence on Chinese traditional dress.

As I left the exhibition in my topshop jeans and black leather jacket I felt slightly ashamed of the lack of colour and craftsman ship in my choice of dress; a trail of thought that lead me to truly appreciate the genius of dying craftsmanship.

Imperial Chinese Robes from the Forbidden City: is showing at the V&A until 27th February 2011.

Louisa Kilburn

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Interview with Georgia Hardinge

Georgia is one of the most lovely designers we have had the pleasure to work alongside, always enthusiastic and happy. So we are more than pleased to see what she has achieved following last season's Ones To Watch show. We believe in her talent and also her vision and can't wait to see where she will soar after the upcoming season.

I had a quick chat with Georgia after we broke the news of her selection for this seasons Merit Award and only wished I could have been there to see her dancing around the studio with her team!

How are you feeling since winning the Vauxhall Fashion Scout Merit Award?

I feel fantastic! I am so happy that Vauxhall Fashion Scout believe in me so much as to give  me this award!

What did you do to celebrate?

My girls and I danced around the studio and cracked open a bottle of bubbly and of course I called my grandparents to tell them the news!

What was your experience in the fashion industry before forming your own company?

After graduating with the award of best designer from Parsons in Paris I worked on a collaboration with Samsung, designing and making pieces for a commercial of theirs. Following this I worked for various designers, including Felder Felder, building on my experience and learning about the industry. Since I formed my own company I have designed for the Victoria’s Secret Show, collaborated with L’Oreal, been one of Vauxhall Fashion Scout’s One’s To Watch. Up until this point I’ve never had a solo show, so this is a great achievement.

Who is your favourite designer and why?

I love Rick Owens for his incredible draping and tailoring, Alexander McQueen for the show and shock value in his clothing and Hussein Chalayan for his sheer concepts.

If you were not a Fashion Designer, what would you be?

I would be a sculptor or an architect.

What music do you listen to when designing in the studio?

Radio 1 and Absolute 80s or 90s!

Where do you like to travel?

Indonesia is my favourite – I love their language, heat and culture.

Where would you like to see your brand in a few years?

I can definitely see my brand expanding; doing two lines - one being the high fashion and the other being a diffusion line. I also hope to keep collaborating in costume design both with companies like Victoria’s Secret and with performance artists.

Have you been to any of our mentoring sessions? How have they helped?

Yes, I think this is what’s great about Vauxhall Fashion Scout – not only do they provide monetary support to small labels but they provide support through guidance - educating you on how to help keep your business sustained. This is crucial because these are not things that you learn in University, and of course they become more relevant once you are actually working in the industry. On top of this the mentoring is provided from  a number of actual experienced professionals which is invaluable information to acquire.

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?

I would love to work with the Royal Ballet. Edgy dramatic costumes and working with movement is something that fascinates me. I would also like to dip into making a line for ASOS or another major consumer brand.

Kenny Wang

Monday, 24 January 2011

VFS Merit Award AW11 Winner - Georgia Hardinge

Vauxhall Fashion Scout, the only full sized independent event at London Fashion Week, is delighted to announce Georgia Hardinge as the Merit Award Winner for AW11.

The widely acclaimed Merit Award is chosen by a panel of industry experts and gives the winner a fully sponsored catwalk show and exhibition space at Vauxhall Fashion Scout during London and Paris Fashion Weeks.

Born in London and raised across Europe, Georgia Hardinge’s international background is interpreted throughout her work and her signature architectural style holds firm in her creation of art pieces as fashion. Winning the prestigious “Golden Thimble” on her graduation at Parson Paris, SS11 saw Georgia’s first catwalk show at London Fashion Week as part of Vauxhall Fashion Scout’s ‘Ones to Watch’ initiative. Since then Georgia has continued to shine, most notably through her label’s celebrated collaboration with Victoria’s Secret, Swarovski sponsorship and support through Vogue.

“I am honoured to have been chosen to represent the Merit Award this season. Vauxhall Fashion Scout have been wonderful advocates of my brand since day one. I can’t tell you how encouraging it is to have the support of such a rare creative platform. Showing as part of ‘One’s To Watch’ last season was a fantastic experience and to be now given the opportunity to do my first stand-alone show during London Fashion Week is a privilege in itself. I’m very excited!”
Georgia Hardinge

Georgia Hardinge’s AW11 ‘Spined’ Collection is one that embodies empowerment as her striking silhouettes are coupled with detailed, sculptured contour design. Georgia’s inspiration is taken from the unorthodox, macabre photography of Joel Peter Witkin, combining the concepts of death, destruction, mutation and disfiguration with those of anatomy.

“The Vauxhall Fashion Scout Merit Award has been instrumental in launching the careers of some of the hottest new designers to the market and we see Georgia naturally fits the profile. We’ve been watching Georgia grow since Ones To Watch last season and we are very impressed to see what she has achieved since. We can see great potential in her”.
Martyn Roberts, Director, Vauxhall Fashion Scout

The winner of the highly coveted, three-season Merit Award is given the opportunity to showcase their collection at a high profile fully sponsored show during London Fashion Week. The award also offers the winner access to a specialised mentoring programme throughout the year to help them grow and develop a successful, sustainable business.

Merit Award is chosen by panel of leading industry figures who have extensive experience in working with and promoting new talent including, ASOS and Tank Magazine.

Kenny Wang