It is October 16th, 2016 and I am no longer in London. (It’s my dad’s birthday today too, but that’s not relevant. I just promised him a shout-out for being a loyal reader. Thanks for the support, Padre!)
View from the treetops at Kew Royal Botanical Gardens during the Handmade at Kew weekend. At 5:15pm I missed the last elevator going up to the observation deck so a couple coming down was kind enough to share this photo with me.
The RCGD x Vivienne Westwood internship came to an end last Friday. On Saturday morning I packed up my belongings and headed to Leyton to spend a few days at a friend’s house before my flight out of Gatwick. You know when you return from a vacation and people ask you, “How was it?” and you stand there and say, “It was great” because you don’t know how to properly recount your experience over a water-cooler-type conversation… Well, it will take me longer than an evening of writing to properly reflect on all the interesting conversations I’ve had and the people I’ve been fortunate to meet during my month here. But I’ll try my best!
Half the Westwood staff took vacation after the Paris show so the last week in the London office was fairly quiet. Three Gold label interns also completed their internship the same day as I did, so we had a little farewell on Friday with the rest of the staff. Despite half the usual amount of hungry stomachs present, the studio tables were cleared as per custom to make way for Prosecco, strawberries, jelly donuts, three cheesecakes, and a tub of rugelach pastries.
After lunch, we took a little walk over to the Worlds End Shop, located at 430 Kings Road on the other side of Battersea Bridge. The shop, formerly named “Let It Rock” then “SEX,” peddles reproductions of classic Westwood styles from the 1980’s. It was inside that electric blue building, and rifling through a rack of discounted pieces that I unearthed this sumptuous rarity.
Behold! The “Clint Eastwood Bomber,” featuring a maroon 1×1 fuzzy rib knit and jacquard woven shell with a waxed finish. What a thing of beauty.
Though a Westwood patternmaker graciously offered to use her employee discount for intern purchases, I was still about $700 short of affordability. So tears were shed and goodbyes were made as the coat and I parted ways.
The mourning of the Westwood coat was short lived as Samata Pattinson and I spent the following Wednesday perusing vintage shops and munching on French fries around Brick Lane. 99.9% of my wardrobe is comprised of NYC thrift store finds and the Shoreditch area felt like a compact version of Williamsburg. There were off-the-wall boutiques, pop-ups, bagel shops, food trucks, street murals, and no shortage of tattooed, rainbow-haired individuals. Spending time with the woman who first greeted me when I arrived to London was a suitable way for the RCGD experience to come full circle.
I don’t have any photos of Brick Lane, but I passed by this mural walking over there.
In the evening, I met my former knitwear professor Jesse for dinner at a pet-friendly restaurant called Legs, a block away from her apartment in Hackney. It was the most I’ve ever spent on a meal while I’ve been here, (granted, I’ve been living on canned spaghetti sauce and Sainsbury pasta because I’m too cheap to cook anything else for dinner) but the good company made it worth it. Jesse moved to London just a few months before I did to work as a knitwear programmer for Nike so we had quite a few “new city” stories to laugh about.
Now would be worth noting that the next time one travels, securing a working phone and an international data plan would be a good idea. London sans call/text/Google Maps wasn’t difficult because I was constantly drawing routes in my notebook beforehand and relying on the goodwill of strangers to point me in the right direction. But every so often, they would point me in the reverse direction of my destination and I found myself taking turns down strange alleyways and backstreets that had me questioning whether I was still in the UK.
Presuming I was on my way to a noodle shop in Chinatown one evening, I wound up at the backdoor of an enormous brick building. Suddenly a mob of people holding playbills came rushing around the corner and started cheering as a young man opened the door. So I started maniacally snapping pictures, just like the rest of the crowd.
Someone famous, apparently.
The last event I should mention was “Handmade at Kew” a juried coalition of over 200 independent artists showcasing their work at Kew Royal Botanical Gardens. I bought a pair of earrings from a studio called Copa Joyeria and had a lovely conversation with Lucy from Arra Textiles. Lucy founded Arra Textiles two years after graduating from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland and makes stunning handwoven scarfs and blankets. Her color sense is on another level and her technical aptitude for drafting weave structures blows me out of the water. There is still so much to learn. There is always much to learn.
Oh! Before I forget again, here are the photos from DesignJunction that took place in Granary Square in September. Better late than never eh.
With a sign like that, even I was able to find my way to the venue without pestering any of the passerby.
The baby and the string quartet.
An on-site installation by French lighting company Blackbody.
A nice university student in his second year who worked part-time at Flor Unikon. He gave me free flowers and I gave him my number on Whatsapp but I never heard from him again. I guess he wasn’t that impressed.
The highlight of DesignJunction was visiting a student gallery where a show called “Brainwaves” was on view. The work sampled graphic design, textile, sculpture, illustration and video art from Central St. Martin’s BFA and MA programs. As a design student from an American school, it was neat to see what other people my age were creating.
“Depth of Light” by Orla Lawn. Woven with concrete, plaster, silk and wool.
“If People Were Like Plants” by Freya Morgan. Such a fun, wacky concept worth looking at in full: https://www.creativereview.co.uk/gradwatch-freya-morgan
“Citzenshop” by Nele Vos. “This installation opposes the neoliberal concept of the acquisition of citizenship by investment, essentially the purchasing of a nationality, as offered by an increasing number of governments around the globe….”
Zhiwen Tong’s graphic novel depicting post-Mao China through his father’s eyes. I’m fascinated by this topic and found myself wanting to know about the illustrator’s family and the development of his work.
These public service announcements… Remind me to bring a box of tissues the next time I stop to read one again.
And on that note: An enormous thank you to SUZY AMIS CAMERON for having the vision to start this campaign. Few people, when faced with the realization that a creative industry is setting uncontrollable demands on the people and regions involved, decide to create an international campaign to challenge the status quo, on the stage of the Oscars no less. To the STAFF AT NIDO: Thank you for your involvement with the RCGD Global campaign and supporting my stay in London. (Stephanie, it was such a joy to share conversation with you at Kew Gardens. Thanks for the photos and I hope to see you again!) To BRIGITTE, JENNIFER, and all the spunky, spirited peeps at Westwood who have subjected themselves to my presence Monday-Friday 10am to 6pm: Never have I met a group of people so committed to upholding the belief that clothing is a means of social responsibility and artistic expression. Thank you for the opportunity to work alongside you.
In January, I’ll be heading back to the good ole USA to finish my studies. Then the Great Job Hunt will commence. Know anyone looking for a surface designer? ☺ If you enjoyed reading, please feel free to drop a line!
Till next time,