Today was an interesting day. I met an amazing woman who graduated from Central Saint Martin’s in London and is a practicing patternmaker. Now, that introduction may sound underwhelming to you. Many very talented and amazing people have graduated from Central Saint Martin’s. What was amazing was that she graduated in 1960. Sitting before me was a woman who lived her 20’s through the “swinging 60’s” in London and was showing off her portfolio full of her college work from when London was just breaking into the “youth revolution.”
Photo courtesy of Air Canada
Jackie* came to see me today to apply for a teaching position to pass on her decades of knowledge. Obviously, when she reached out, I was intrigued. After today, I was astounded by her story and the work she had done. Her portfolio was moving, her work samples were perfection and her technique was flawless. She demonstrated her approach to a group of my colleagues and one comment a fashion-skeptic provided was, “I have never been interested in fashion until just now. Thank you for teaching me something new and opening my eyes to a new side of your field! (Personal Communication, June 2015).”
Jackie’s portfolio showed fabric combinations and design details that were iconic examples of that time frame. The illustrations not only highlighted the new silhouettes of the time but also the accessorizing details in hair, shoes and, in some instances, jewelry. She talked about her time living in London, going to school for fashion, and how she entered the industry after she left school. The guest speakers she was able to listen to and meet are the content of dreams!
Photo courtesy of Byron’s Muse
This meeting comes just after my consideration of the London Costume Society’s call for papers discussing 1960’s fashion. I enjoy researching historical fashion. In fact, I completed an undergraduate thesis on historical fashion and completed a second bachelor’s in Art History with a focus on studying historical dress through fine art. The 1960’s was an intriguing time in fashion and London was the center of much of the fashion revolution. Think about Mary Quant and John Bates. They are considered by many as the creators of current staples in our wardrobes such as the mini skirt (Fashion, 2015; Garments, 2015)). This revisiting of previous fashion decades is familiar to the industry. This season, the 1970’s have crowded stores with bell-bottoms and “hippie” accessories (Trochu, 2015). Maybe next year we will travel another decade back to the 1960’s?
Photo courtesy of Vogue
Someone questioned my reasoning for bringing in a faculty candidate that was so “seasoned.” They were curious if she would be “current” enough to keep the student’s interest in the classroom. I will admit Jackie was not the most trendy, but her experience and passion were enough alone. Add a tendency for revival of past trends, such as 1960’s fashion, and I make my case. I think she is an invaluable resource to teach students how to approach patternmaking and fashion. Bringing her knowledge and experience into a college classroom setting will be the true revival of the 1960’s.
Do you agree? Would you take a class from a true, 1960’s London “Youth Revolution” woman or would you think she was no longer relevant?
Fashion in 1960’s London (2015). Retrieved from http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/f/1960s-fashion-london/ on July 29, 2015.
Garments worn by Marit Allen(2015). Retrieved from http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/g/garments-worn-by-marit-allen/ on July 29, 2015.
Trochu, Eugenie (February 03, 2015). Seventies Revival. Retrieved from http://en.vogue.fr/fashion/fashion-shopping/diaporama/shopping-trends-seventies-revival/18864 on July 29, 2015.
* Name change to protect identity.