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I have not been wasting my time in London! One of my favourite excursions was a trip to the Workshop Missoni exhibition at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in Islington.

Missoni is one of my favourite design houses as a result of their bright and bold designs and innovative knit wear. The first room provided an excellent opportunity to get up close and personal with some key garments as well as watch innovative catwalks and acrobatic videos demonstrating the roots of the company in sportswear.

missoni clothes

The second room was dominated by a real time video of a Missoni knitting machine which demonstrated one of the reasons their cloth is so expensive – it is not a fast process. However it would be have been great to be given more explanation of why the process was so slow compared to industrial knitting machines in the mass market…

missoni knitting machine video

The other wall provided a colourful display of yearns wound onto large spindles in stripes:

missoni knitting wool

One of the highlights was being  able to get so close to a wide range of knit samples and designs, all in vivid palettes of colour:

missoni knit samples

Supporting material also provided a histroy of the family, emphasising Ottavio Missoni’s  sporting background including his participation in the 1948 Olympic 400 metres hurdles race final.

olympic diploma

Upstairs the exhibition sat side by side to the permanent exhibition including one of my favourite sketches by Italian artist Giorgio Morandi.

morandi drawing

In between the paintings there was also an array of knitted figures in Missoni cloth which provided a rather surreal feel:

missoni knit figures

Including this group under the stairs, dramatic in black and white:

missoni knit figures under stairs

The final room ended, as all good exhibitions should with a video narrated by the timeless Joanna Lumley, as well as a series of knitted portraits of the Missoni empire:

missoni knit pictures

If you are in London and into textiles and fashion, I would challenge you to find a better way to send an afternoon and £5 in London this summer…

I have seen so much in London to inspire me, including these window displays as part of my pilgramage to department store extraordinaire Liberty. These were part of their Prints Charming exhibition  “celebrating all things wacky and wonderful about the iconic Liberty print. From an entire wall of the building being swatched in Betsy fabric and bicycles sporting the micro-floral to this season’s must-have fashion pieces and an out-of-this-world art fabric collaboration, this is a spectacle not to be missed.”

liberty prints charming window display1

This coincides with the launch of ‘The Art Collection, Liberty Fabric’. The website describes this as “a new and highly innovative collection of fabrics, fusing the compelling work of six established British artists with the innovative creations from the Liberty Design Studio. The contributing artists are Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry, Paul Morrison, Mike McInnerney, Michael Angove, Anj Smith, and Simon Hart.”

liberty prints charming window display2

 

I was pretty taken with textile artist Amanda Fatherazi‘s hand-sewn boudoir dolls:

liberty prints charming window display4 

And her brooches:

doll brooch

I was also very inspired by Squint’s “collection of lamps, mirrors, chairs and side tables wrapped in Liberty fabrics, including a … baroque chandelier.” This is something that I could definately have a go at myself – I will be keeping an eye open for any nearby skips and car boot sales for furniture to revamp. 

squint ltd chest of drawerssquint patched mirror

Another interesting exhibit was a Wendy House covered in strips of Liberty fabric developed by “Liberty print enthusiast and art student Helen Benigson” a student of the Slade school of Art (Image from: http://www.fashion-stylist.net/blog/)….

wendy house helen benigson 

After two hours of happy browsing, I was very restrained and ended up leaving with half a metre of Anj Smith’s Detritus, D, Tana Lawn Liberty Fabric to make into hankies perhaps…

liberty print anj smith

Although I was also drawn to Grayson Perry’s Sissy, D, Tana Lawn Liberty Fabric

liberty print grason perry

I have just come back from two very exciting weeks up in London on a design placement with the wonderful Zandra Rhodes. As part of the placement we got to go to the Fashion and Textile Museum which is in the same building as the studio. Their current exhibition Undercover – the evolution of underwear was very glamorous, typified by this retro dressing table which I am inspired to recreate for when I find a new pad down in Brighton:

fabulous dressing table

 My faviourite piece was this wedding (!) dress designed from black lacy knickers and bras. Titled ‘I AM wearing underwear “it is a honeymoon ball gown constructed from 200 embroidered lace knickers and 85 bras.” Designed by Vin and Omi, the brief was to “use only underwear; no other fabric. A second multicoloured gown was also made for the bride to change into mid-honeymoon”.

underwear dress

I also feel in love with these reform corsets with all their button detailing and pin tucking:

reform corset

This deconstruction of a bra also demonstrated the amount of work in making underwear, and the number of pattern pieces involved:

deconstructed bra

There was also a display of designer lingerie and corsets imaginatively suspended from the ceiling.

underwear

For those who want to know more, here is the description from the museum website:

The FTM’s exciting new exhibition Undercover traces the evolution of underwear from health garment, shape definer to fashion ‘must have’. It explores a number of themes such as boudoir to everyday glamour – ‘Stars and their bras’ looking at celebrity branding; research and innovation’s impact on the types of underwear we wear; and how the changing face of underwear advertising and marketing meshes with social and cultural changes.

The exhibition presents a visual demonstration of how female underwear has evolved as women’s role in society changed. It encompasses the changing trends from the ‘flatten it’ to the ‘push it up’ to the ‘let it all hang out’! Undercover contains some exquisite pieces from a wide range of private and public collections that  read like the Who’s Who of underwear; M&S, Triumph, La Perla, Christian Dior, Elle Macpherson, Myla and Wonderbra – to name just a few.

From the risqué to the radical, pieces include an original Merry Widow corset inspired by Lana Turner in the film of the same name; renowned burlesque artiste Immodesty Blaize’s corset; a spectacular gown made from bras and briefs by designers Vin & Omi and a La Perla bra encrusted with Swarovski crystals.