Saturday, 6 November 2010

Inspiration City - Part 2

Two inspiring nights in a row is probably a bit much - I now feel set to take on the world. In one of my first lectures we had to put our hands up when we heard the statement we agreed with: do you want to be: good at what you do, very good at what you do, the best in your field, or the best in the world? Call me over-ambitious, but on Friday night my hand would definitely have been going up after the last option.

I had splashed out and bought myself a ticket to the 'Drawing Fashion debate' at the Design Museum, a talk between artists Francois Berthoud and Howard Tangye, and collectors and curators Joelle Chariau and William Ling, chaired by Colin Mcdowell.
I had never been to the Design Museum before and instantly fell in love with the cool, calming space, not to mention the glorious exhibition of fashion illustrations that made me fall for fashion all over again.

Then, of course, there were these bunny bins...

The talk itself was about fashion drawing and its future within the industry. The subject in itself is an interesting one; can the age-old techniques of creation compete with the phenomenon of photography and film? Everyone on the panel was in agreement that there is no denying the fact that we are living in an age of photography. We can never go back to the hey-day of fashion illustration, when artists such as René Gruau were creating illustrations that embodied the very meaning of the word elegance. However, at least in the eyes of Colin Mcdowell, the future isn't completely bleak for fashion illustration: "After food and procreation man has always had a desire to make a mark on a surface." Be it a musical note written on a stave, a cave painting scribbled on a wall, or a fashion illustration drawn on paper, "it all started with a line." With a history this strong, there is hope that we won't let the hand-drawn disappear completely. After all, it forms part of our unique human nature.

With the rise of everything mass-produced, there is definitely a hunger for something unique and handmade, said William Ling, director of the Fashion Illustration Gallery in Notting Hill. I have to agree with him. The proof is in the presents; there really is nothing quite like getting a gift someone has made for you. It is completely original, and made not just with thread or paper or whatever materials it may be produced from, but thoughts and love. A set of Body Shop bubble bath just doesn't say the same thing.

Colin Mcdowell was the perfect chair for the discussion, and I found him just as inspiring as the talk itself. At Erdem's talk on Thursday I kicked myself for not having gone up afterwards to say something to him, but if I'm honest I was just too nervous. I decided, therefore, to pluck up the courage on Friday night and talk to Colin Mcdowell. I felt slightly sick, but knew it would be good for me to force myself to be confident.

I'm so glad that I did. When the talk was over I went up to him and said thank you, and that I had found the talk really inspiring. I also said that I agreed with him - in the debate I remarked that Italian Vogue features more fashion illustrations than other magazines, to which he responded that Italian Vogue is one of the most creative publications out there, that he feels most magazines have lost their sparkle and become all too similar. He said that if you took photo shoots out of several magazines and placed them next to each other nowadays, you wouldn't be able to tell which publication they had come from. I must admit, I think he's right. I told him that I want to be a fashion journalist, particularly at Vogue. He smiled. "You change it then."

Right now I feel all the more determined that I will.

After the talk I wandered back to London Bridge station along the Thames. I walked past heaving restaurants and bars, people and laughter spilling outside, and made a mental note to come back for a drink with my friends. A string of fairy lights illuminated the pathway along the river, whilst Tower Bridge glowed against the dark night's sky.

Surrounded by so many couples strolling hand in hand through the night and huddling up to each other for warmth, it would have been easy to feel lonely. But it was actually lovely to have time to myself. I was feeling happy and inspired after the talk, and realised that, in a way, I had no desire to share that moment with anyone. Perhaps that sounds strange, but I just felt very aware of the fact that this is my life, and my career, and no one else is going to make it for me. The first step was getting in to LCF and moving to London. Now its up to me to make a life and a future here. And along the way to enjoy evenings spent at the Design Museum and walking along the Thames. :)
It wasn't just the talk that inspired me - walking along the Thames left me feeling incredibly lucky to live in this city.