Do You Protest Patchwork?


The mix ‘n’ match patchwork theme that we saw at Tsumori Chisato continues apace at Christian Dior Fall 2018. The detail is finer and there’s stitch added to hold it all together and embroidered text too to get key Peace and Love messages across.

Creative Director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, gives us another culturally-attuned show with women’s empowerment centre stage.

She attributes her inspiration to the sixties’ Youthquake and rising social emancipation encapsulated around the May 1968 Paris riots. We would go a step further and say that elements of this show convey the complexity of women’s freedom in 2018.  For instance, the detailed patchwork fabrics (pictured) that cover dresses, trousers, bags and boots convey a metaphoric fragmentation of Self ‘worn on the sleeve.’

In these dark days of abuser deflection and projection in the highest cultural and historic institutions, victims of denied sexual abuse and harassment are having to ‘pull together’ their shattered selves and re-integrate the very fabric of themselves. This is the symbolic power of fashion and the cultural message that intellectual designers such as Maria Grazia Chiuri are able to expose, consciously or not, through their collections, soundtracks and mise-en-scenes: the metaphoric, material expressions of contemporary culture with a distinctly female authorship.

Join us in reflecting on this further, whilst creating your own textile banner at Textiles Hub London, in one of our workshops that famously integrate the practical, sustainable, material and immaterial:

Dior-inspired Patchwork Banner Workshop on Saturday 27th October 2018, 14:30 – 17:00.




We Host the Best Designers

We’re busy giving young designers the most affordable space in which to develop and nurture their practice. Our resident designers are not just any designers, they are the best in their field and are working hard at carving out their niche. We’ve got their backs 110%!

For further information on becoming one of our resident designers, please Contact Us.

Fashioning Demons

When critically-acclaimed artist Niki de Saint Phalle died in May 2002, we were shocked by the lack of retrospective analysis and dialogue around the pioneering body of work she left behind. It was only after several years had passed that retrospective shows began to emerge.

Fortunately, in the last six years, some of the best art schools in the world have been producing lots of talented women curators.  This means that, at last, the art world is beginning to change.  The narrative, analyses and contexts of female artists, their perspectives and stories are finally de-mystified and freed from the “is she physically attractive enough (if she’s not socially connected) for us to promote her work?” tradition.

In fashion, it has taken the first female designer at Christian Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri (appointed Creative Director in July 2016), to address these questions on the international stage last week asking openly the provocative question on her slogan t-shirt, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” (citing Linda Nochlin, 1971) and dedicating her collection (SS18, pictured here) to the inspiration and narrative of Niki de Saint Phalle’s art.

Just as most artists suffer emotional abuse or neglect in their early years, (for instance, Louise Bourgeois and Yayoi Kusama), so too did Saint Phalle. In her many illustrated poems, she wrote, “As in all fairy tales, before finding the treasure, on my way I met dragons, witches, magicians and the angel of temperance.”

For anyone familiar with Dante or RD Laing, they know that ‘dragons’ are not just attractive watercolours in a bedtime storybook but experienced as very real agencies in adult mental health. Of course, the western cultural tradition has been to put women who experience hallucinations and hear voices into workhouses or set them alight.

Maria Grazia Chiuri evidently identifies with these questions of female cultural anonymity and deprecation through the work of Linda Nochlin and Niki de Saint Phalle. The beauty of Chiuri’s creative expression here is that her thoughts are made performance in the theatre of fashion. This is a sign of progress as it allows the anonymity and silence at the heart of this collection to be seen, discussed and worn.

In the photo shown above, the porosity of the skirt shows us the vulnerability of boundaries expressed in Chiuri’s fabric. The green dinosaur represents the demonic symbol that can ambush the artist’s mind at any point and the fishnet top echoes a similar porosity and susceptibility to disruptive influences. The shattered mirrors covering the cavernous walls, floor and ceiling of the catwalk environment symbolize the perceived fragmentation of Niki de Saint Phalle’s Self. The effects of the artist’s suffering and the open manifestation of its symbols in this fashion house’s collection can be seen clearly and this, we believe, is a step in the right direction. It has taken a woman designer to bring this dialogue into high fashion where other designers may have kept the underlying complexes oblique. For an analysis on ‘autistic sites’ and destructive chaos in the fashion industry, see our essay in Sandy Black’s most recent book.

For further dialogue, why not link up with us and the Royal College of Art and London College of Fashion at the Freud Museum this week for their Fashion & Psychoanalysis conference taking place on  14th – 15th October 2017?

Here’s Vogue’s analysis of the Dior SS18 show.


Colour, Pattern & Containment

Slowly but surely the international community is coming up to speed with the relationship between colour, pattern and containment with the new retrospective of Fahrelnissa Zeid coming soon to the Tate Modern in London, UK.

Slow Textiles Group members will be familiar with our CEO, Dr Emma Neuberg’s analysis of modernist abstraction in art and its relationship with psychology.  We have yet to read about this in other people’s publications but at least we can now live it in this exciting new exhibition! Message us if you’d like some seminars on the subject. TATE MODERN exhibition details here.