"For what the Gods have bestowed upon us mad creatives let us cherish" M.S

Hello hello, Happy New….well let’s be honest it’s a bit late for all that isn’t it? However I just wanted to come back and wipe off the virtual dust and fill you in on my latest fashion shenanigans.

As mentioned in ‘Design Your World, I am back at fashion school this time round studying design. After my first term I was incredibly surprised with myself, previous attempts to pattern cutting and sewing were not always successful. This occasion I learnt that design is not always about the outcome and more about the process. I faced one of my (now former) fears of working on the stand/translation: creating a pattern for a garment using the mannequin.
I remember watching episodes of Project Runway’ in awe at how they would whip up patterns in what seemed like matters of minutes using the mannequins, my experience though has taught me that first and foremost it’s not matters of minutes and secondly it requires a great deal of patience.

The brief set was to design a jacket for a live competition set by the Society of Dyers and Colourists entitled ‘Making It Personal’, the key elements of meeting this brief was:
- Unique and personal,
-Bulk manufacturing with minimum waste

At the introduction of making it personal I decided to do this in two ways.  Tailor the personalisation to me the designer as well as to the consumer. As an avid art lover, my work is deeply rooted in a lot of historical and cultural references, so it seemed more than befitting to use my favourite painting as inspiration for this project.  Sandro Botticelli’s renaissance Venus would be envisioned as a modern day women walking the streets of Paris wearing her very own unique jacket designed and made by moi.

My favourite painting and inspiration for this brief by Sandro Botticelli 'Birth Of Venus'. Image Source.

My ideas were not so easily formulated but it took to embracing fear by working on the half stand in order to pave the way to what was a glorious full-scale design.
This is where I started, on the half scale, my ideas changed and developed as I went on to work on the full size mannequin.

I’m happy and proud to say that I struggled because I believe that creativity and it’s process in all its forms should be honest. There is absolutely no point in creating anything that is easily something you hate. Do what you love and love what you do.  Not all have the ability to create human life, but we do have the gracious marvel that the Gods have bestowed upon us to create full stop.  I am not yet in completion but I thought I would share with you a part of my journey for this piece. It is the first jacket I have ever attempted to make and it’s the beginning of many more.
Toile of my design, still a work in progress.

"For what the Gods have bestowed upon us mad creatives let us cherish" M.S

For more insight into my creative word follow me on instagram, pinterest and twitter.   Also check out my uni blog here fore a closer look at my projects etc.

All toile images are property of M.Samasuwo.


Ciment Pleating

My background within the fashion industry to date has largely been focused on marketing, promotion and trend forecasting. The return to design was inspired by my last freelance role where I worked collating research of print designs and trends and I eagerly wanted to get back to working with textiles.
Keeping up to date and re-learning my skills through the use of YouTube tutorials and sewing projects via ‘StitchlessTV’ was where I came across established pleaters ‘Ciment Pleating’.  Having seen what they do and learning how extensive the design of a pleat can be, I was ecstatic when they came in for a talk/seminar at my university.

We were introduced to a lovely gentleman ‘Mat’ who explained that the ‘Ciment Pleating’ business was a 3rd generation family run business set up in 1925.  They are ‘the number 1’ pleaters within the UK, and it’s not hard to see why- their work and craftsmanship is exquisite, their clients range from Lady Gaga to Her Royal Highness the Queen.
HRH Queen Elizabeth II. Source

Lady Gaga in the 'Living dress' designed by Alexander McQueen made out of shower curtains. Source.

He went on to explain the two basic pleats ‘flat/knife pleat’ and the ‘Accordion’ pleat. It was extremely intriguing to discover that over 350 different pleats were based on those two simple patterns. Their widespread range of pleats showed me that you can really transform a cheap fabric and create a texture that makes it look divine and it was also good to know that ‘the cheaper the fabric, the better it pleats’- Polyester haul here I come!

Getting the opportunity to integrate with third years is great because I can learn from them in order to be successful in my progression-thinking ahead to my final collection, I know I definitely want to incorporate pleating into my designs and I can already see a plush butter soft leather coat with honeycomb pleating walking down the catwalk…
It’s a technical business that requires a great deal of math in order to know the right amount of fabric you need. The pleating process in essence shrinks your fabric- so baring that in mind in regards to the final size of your made up garment is imperative. The thought of spending £60 a meter and ruining it by not having the right amount doesn’t bare thinking about.

I walked away (with a load of pleated swatches) and knowing that lamb and cow skin leather of a medium thickness pleats surprisingly well, suede is a dream pleater too and when it comes to pleating and the aftercare, the best way to go is using fabrics that are either 100% polyester or with a minimum content of 40%.
My favourite Pleat pattern 'The Honeycomb.

Below is a quick video demo of the process of pleating that Mat and his team does in order to create fabulous pleats.


Quinton & Chadwick

Today we had an industry talk with Jess Quinton part of knitwear based design duo ‘Quinton & Chadwick’.
Designed in Britain, made in Britain worn worldwide’, their design ethos is traditional, modern quirky knitwear for men, women and children.

Since their launch nearly 15 years ago-their logo has been the one thing about them that has remained the same, which they feel sets them apart from others therefore creating a strong brand identity.
Priding themselves to be part of the growing ‘slow fashion’ movement, their USP is that, all their manufacturing work is not done off shore but instead taps into heritage yarn spinning factory’s based around England and Scotland.
Currently their collections of knitwear-based accessories are a one-season product for menswear, womenswear and a small line of mittens for their most recent kidswear collection.  It was my first time being introduced to and hearing about a business module that is based on wholesale trade but only works according to one season.  Usually the fashion season cycle consists of Spring Summer, (Resort), and Autumn Winter, however Jess explained the cycle of the product from initial ideas, design, manufacturing and right through to their stockists both local and around the globe.

Their unique and quirky product got me thinking deeply about market research and the attitude brands have towards their consumers. Quinton & Chadwick’s accessories are made to ‘love and keep’ and that is reflected in the design and craftsmanship which takes traditional techniques and breathes new life into simple products like scarf’s and berets.
They understand the value that their customer places within the ‘heritage’ branding and allows them to trade on a global scale reaching out to people all over that adore the quintessential British lifestyle.

Images pulled from Quinton & Chadwick site.

Fortnum & Mason, Liberty’s, Anthropologie, Baycrews and Tomorrowland are just a few of their national and international stockists. Collaboration is something that cannot be separated from creativity and creative processes. This is very evident with both Jess and Jane. Originally tutored in fashion and textile design, Quinton & Chadwick have used their skills to work with a few brands and schemes from Dashing Tweed to ‘wool week’ initiative, they also created a collection for the Victoria and Albert Museum shop- one of London’s most revered and popular museums.
Images pulled from Quinton & Chadwick site.

The biggest things that I learned from this seminar were that if you work out and think smart about what you want and would like to do from a creative perspective, it becomes much easier to work out a business model in order to start and stabilise your brand-which in turn helps you to identify your market and to see if your customer really ‘is’ out there and/or not being serviced by somebody else/another company.

Being Made in Britain is possible. Yes it is true that the higher the quality of the product, craftsmanship etc does make the end retail price to be considered in the ‘luxury’ market.  However when I look at the price range of their product: £35-£110, it is not ‘that’ expensive when you think of the work that goes into that particular product-and the sense of pride knowing that you have put something back into your country’s economy is like a badge of honour for the conscious fashion consumer. However I do think it’s highly variable product to product.

Finally like with all things creative, it’s important to be a sponge and soak up all the information available and applicable to you. Starting a business can be daunting and a true learning curve-but research everything from competitions to government backed funding and even local communities that have small fares or textile/knitting groups/circles. All these things will help you to start and to maintain that which you have set out to do.

I really look forward to attending more industry related talks and seminars.


Aagust Fashion

Fresh Fashion and Textile design graduates Emalda Mbulo and Suwilanji Katuka are founders of new brand ‘Aagust’. Having just finished the course that I am currently studying I was very eager to hear their experiences in setting up their own label.  
Having worked for a slot to present at Africa Fashion Week London, they describe their brand as “a combination of two skills; tailoring and African based textile and print techniques like weaving, which create versatile clothing full of personality”, the exponential exposure from the show lead them to go on and win ‘Africa Fashion Week London Young designer of the year award’.  
This helped them secure an opportunity to exhibit at London Fashion Week.

A very informal intimate seminar from the girls at Aagust.

The coverage from both shows has opened new doors for them and helped set out a pathway for their new business.

Getting a chance to view some of their pieces up close and personal was really great. Their aesthetic is strong and eclectic and really lends the ‘warrior’ theme well and appropriates it to both men and women.  They discussed their influences, inspirations and even some of their setbacks too. Hearing this type of advice and honesty from two ladies who were once in my position and see them in the early stages of their business was really eye opening.

Showcasing their work at Africa Fashion Week London. Image Source

Showcasing their work at Africa Fashion Week London. Image Source

The Martini Spider

First week here at university and to get our creative juices and collaborative skills flowing we were given our first project brief to complete.

In the world of the creative arts, mixing of disciplines is deeply encouraged both in academics and industry. This also breeds the conceptual way of thinking and developing ideas.  Inspired by individuals like Hussein Chalayan and his A/W 2000 collection and Martino Gamper’s ‘100 chairs 100 Days’ exhibition. We were instructed to work in groups to create a ‘sitting device’ out of anything we could find, around the campus or town centre to build with, construct, glue, hammer, saw, file etc, the only premise was that it shouldn’t look like ‘a chair’.
A Sitting Device Moodpboard created by Melissa Samasuwo. Using natural products and elements to create the theme of balance and shape.

At first I was taken aback but also inspired, from a fashion perspective it’s somewhat easier to assume the usual ideas of fashion and use skills like sewing and draping in order to make something.  However within my group we quickly discovered that the use of fabric and contemporary fashion design methods were too cliché and would probably end up being too close to Chalayan’s groundbreaking show.
We allowed our minds to run wild and allow the materials that we found to be our starting point. Finding bits of wood, plastic, metal nails, electric wiring and insulation foam ended up being what turned out to be ‘The Martini Spider’.

'The Martini Spider' Designed and created by Tia Charter, Lauren Pearson, Melissa Samasuwo.

Our research took us to various shapes and forms, at first we thought we’d build a box and use old cd discs and make a ‘cd storage’ box for a dj that transforms into something you can sit on, all be it uncomfortable-the law of physics didn’t apply here and more importantly the device didn’t necessarily need to be functional or beautiful-it just had to fulfill the brief of being a sitting device.

Funnily enough our frustrations and creative blocks led us to think of cocktails-and thus the shape of a martini glass came about.
It was great fun gluing, sanding and filing bits of wood-it reminded me more of my high school days in design technology working with the concept of joinery.
To bring in an element of textiles I used some cream yarn I had lying around at home to create a weaving technique to bring a bit of beauty to an otherwise extremely conceptual art piece.
Weaving process used to add an element of Textiles into the design.

I enjoyed working within the group of the two other second years starting new at university like me. We got to know each other better, and we all quickly discovered each other’s strengths and weaknesses and used them to come together and have a finished product.  Both Tia and Lauren were extremely resourceful and had every tool under the sun to help us; I found that by creating moodboard allowed our ideas to formulate better and to ensure to ourselves that our vision would remain clear.

The final presentation and exhibition of all the other ‘sitting devices’ was very entertaining and informal which cemented the week’s activities nicely.  The winning group created a horror type ‘gynecology’ chair, and the runner up came up with a chair made out of shopping trolleys, which was very innovative.

Original Blog Post can be found here.


The Evolution Of the Topshop Girl

The evolution of the Topshop girl is something I have seen change, expand and grow before my very own eyes. Always the covetable brand on the British High Street Topshop, unlike some of it’s other competitors always had an underlying ‘cool factor’ that emphasised that they didn’t need to try too hard to be cool, they just were and it was very evident in their clothes, marketing and even store layout.
However it wasn’t until 2006, the somewhat controversial decision came about that they decided to launch their own high end ‘designer’ collection at London Fashion Week, a collection that had all the Topshop ‘it-girl factor’ but was accessible as their 2 for £10 jersey promotion.

Entering into uncharted fashion waters was a risky move but one that has paid off tremendously.  All the public and media scrutiny enforced a change within the brand, from head office communications right down to the curtains in the fitting rooms. Topshop grew up. No longer where they that “scrawny bitchy fashionay girl” instead they embraced change, longer hem lengths and camera phone friendly lighting.
I entered into the Topshop world, as they were now beginning to roll out this change to all their nationwide stores. From a practical sense I know that unlike British boy-band pop legends ‘Take That’, Topshop will never really grow up, they will always continue to be the ones who cultivate style into young girls and women around the world who are yet to create their own personal style.
True, like with most brands or trends, people abuse these “fashion systems” and you have armies of girls and their friends walking down the streets all looking the same, but that’s where personal style comes in.  Topshop has those eccentric and dare I say it “unique” pieces, if you look hard enough. Usually the best stuff is at the back of the rail or beautifully curated in their ‘last chance to buy section” I personally love trawling through that section in every store-always something rare or ‘unseen' waiting to be introduced to the rest of your wardrobe.
A style timeline of some of the looks from their previous shows. There has definitely been some growth!
Image Source: style.com

This brand growth or change can be seen more and more as I swift through images of their latest SS16 collection shown in September at London Fashion Week.  Unlike some of they’re previous less desirable collections, the touch of sophistication, refinement, ability to edit and purity of Kate Phelan has made the Topshop Unique collection one to watch out for season after season. The gimmicks and garish themes have been swapped for effortless chic, especially in regards to SS16. Fair enough not every piece is wearable, sure I’d get a few more whistles down the street in a red thigh high polka dot dress, but for the woman who knows her style-she doesn’t have to do to much to make it work with a Topshop Unique dress, and that is something to be credited for.
Some of my favourite looks from their SS16 runway..that pink leather coat looks so supple and needs to be mine...
Image Source: style.com

When you think about more of the established fashion houses such as Gucci or Prada-you already know what comes to mind whether you shopped there or not is irrelevant, the identity of that brand has been long formed with or without you in mind. The generation we live in now, thanks to the use of the internet and social media means that a brand or company would be foolish to not listen too or recognise their consumers needs and wants when it comes to fashion, beauty and lifestyle. My personal view is that Topshop has made a smart move by being that ‘stepping stone’ fashion brand that caters to a majority who are yet to discover that in reality, they’d much rather consign with the design aesthetic of Junya Watanabe or be more inclined to pieces by Carolina Herrera.  In this, they never really have to allow their girl to grow up- she can flit and flutter between trends, cuts and even budget but she won’t stray too far, especially if the latest designer collab is something that’s going to introduce her to individuality.

Having left the company and allowing my fashion retail experience enhance my own style and approach to trends, I am very intrigued to see what they do going forward and for all the faults that they and many high street brands have, I’m sure they won’t lack for a new crop of girls to inspire, style and graduate them into the fun world of fashion as they leave their ‘girl’ days behind and enter ‘womanhood’.

Disclaimer: This post is my own personal view, words and opinion and has not been sponsored or endorsed.


Design Your World

Direct image sources available on my Pinterest Board 'Design Your World"

'The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.’
I don’t think anyone could put it any better that Mr Fabienne Fredrickson. It was only the other night that I truly cemented in my heart, mind and soul that designing my own world was and is part of my purpose in life. My calling has seen me running back to the fashion design studio at school. With a good wealth of commercial fashion experience, I’m ready to put needle to fabric and sew my heart out.
From a reflective note I’ve always wanted and needed a space to work in, whether it was a little corner at the end of the bunkbed in my childhood home or installing an industrial workbench in the loft, a creative official workspace to ‘cut oneself off’ from the rest of the world/home so to speak, has always been an essential need. An individual without one is very miserable at best. I know in the deepest depths of my heart having a space (similar to the moodboard above) where I can sew, paint, draw, cut, design, potter, splash, embroider you name it, is one of my greatest desires. Either in the home or separate either way I know I will be happy.  For now I will make the absolute most of the uni pattern cutting tables and overlockers (drools), not to mention the screen printing facilities available (harmonises the words…(heaven) . Meanwhile until such time the aforementioned occurs, I will enjoy buying more fabric (buttons, zips, sequins, ribbons, knitting yarn) (as well as use the ones I have now #hoarder), increase my storage organising skills so much so Martha Stewart will be in awe, because a messy discombobulated studio is just  no bueno’ for moi, because it will be very important to stock up-otherwise I will have an empty studio.
So as I work towards this, I’m just putting it out there… investors, friends, family, future husband or anyone who wants to sell/give me a spot on London’s ‘great Talgarth road’ ( those windows!!!) …..you know what to do hehe.
 For more of my design and creative shenanigans follow me on Pinterest!!