Reviews

I’ve had a good couple of weeks with craft and design. Last weekend I spent a few hours at the Stitches and Craft Show; this weekend the lass and I drove up to Bendigo for the Golden Age of Couture exhibition.

I haven’t been to a Stitches and Craft show before, despite best intentions, and this year’s show was a major revamp of previous shows. It had a definite ‘yoof’ edge to it. Which means it appealed to people under the age of 45. I think this is attributable to the involvement of Living Creatively, an online magazine. They got the indie designers and the bloggers (usually one and the same) and put them together in an area that just felt vibrant and enthusiastic. This part of the main exhibition was noticeably lively, with lots of chatter between exhibitors and visitors. That part of the crowd covered a good age range – 25 to 45 – and that will no doubt warm the cockles of the hearts of the organisers. What is really fabulous about this incubator concept is that there’ll be regional variation between the Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney shows. I know that some indie designers are going to two or three shows but there will be a spot for the local designers that have built their own customer base and will be able to meet those customers.

Among the main displays, I really enjoyed Kelani Fabric and Amitie. Kelani had brought in their gorgeous range of Japanese cottons and linens as well as sharing space with Aunty Cookie. We could have a good look at the beautiful, hard-to-find, usually order on-line fabrics and Shannon Lamden had brought new designs to the show. That stall just rocked the whole time I was there.

Amitie had some of its most popular fabric available on bolts but had decided to go for kits and small pieces of fabric. It was a great idea that worked really well. They were selling 30cm x 110cm strips of fabric, arranged by colour, for $6.50. Some of the designer pieces were $8 and you may recall the flap bag I made for the lass – that was a piece I bought at Amitie. I wasn’t the only one enjoying the range of colours and prints – the stall was buzzing and the poor staff had barely any time to scratch themselves.

But what I enjoyed most of all was the two hours I spent as a volunteer in the Wardrobe Refashion area. Nichola Prested (Wardrobe Refashion and BurdaStyle) had set up a reconstruction zone with sewing machines, overlockers, cutting area and tables full of op shop clothes, as well as thread, trims and buttons. It was free to wander in, choose your garments and then let your creative juices flow. During my stint there were two women who had never touched a sewing machine before. One produced a bag out of an old pair of trousers and the other sewed an apron and a baby sheet with applique. There were quite a few mother/daughter combos, one guy and a couple of sets of friends. The average age of the refashionistas would have been 20. I had a ball!

They also had craft bars in the main display area, where you could sit at a bar stool, select your craft cocktail of choice and be served by experienced crafters. There was one each for embroidery, knitting and crochet. These seemed to have a regular turnover of under-30s trying their hand, especially at the embroidery bar where they were serving up Sublime Stitching patterns. I really liked the idea of a craft cocktail bar but I’d suggest a cozier setting next time. It was all white and stark and maybe I’m showing my Melbourne bias but I was thinking of baroque, smoky, hidden in a laneway and up the rickety stairs kind of look.

The Golden Age of Couture finished on the weekend so we made a dash for it on Saturday (after my plans for me and the lass wagging a day on Friday came unstuck). Although I had forgotten to buy my tickets online and therefore condemned us to an hour long wait at the gallery, I had looked up the details of the exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s website. This meant I’d read all the stuff beforehand and didn’t have the hassle of trying to read labels in a very crowded space.

It was a great deal of fun. The lass thoroughly enjoyed it and I found it more enjoyable because she was there. We zigzagged across the rooms going from one display to another, pointing out the fabulous and the ridiculous and marveling at the intricacy of some creations. The lass pointed out a number of suits I could wear to work and we tried to pick our favourite dresses. It seems we both like minimalist lines in our frocks but the lass likes more bling on her shoes than I do. I suspect that she was slightly disappointed at the lack of pink but the pale blue cape made up for that loss a little. The choice of colours was interesting – all these dresses had been made for clients, so they reflected the client’s colour preferences. Beige was popular, a few greens, a couple of yellows, and a few dramatic reds. Beading and embroidery were popular and dark blue made a good showing. It seems that I like Dior (the original) quite a lot, followed by Givenchy. In terms of design I thought the suits were the most interesting since it was these that embodied the ‘New Look’. I particularly liked the use of diagonal lines in construction, often in the form of an overlapping collar piece or in the line of the jacket’s front placket.

If you missed the exhibition, tootle around the V&A’s website. It has all the info and a great deal of the costumes.

Edited to add: if you pop over here, scroll down a little until Nikki starts writing about the Stitches and Craft Show. The very happy lady showing off an apron is one and the same lady I’m talking about! And if you hop over to Nikki’s flickr set, you’ll on the second row the apron and bag ladies (!) and on the third row you’ll see the back of me (shoulder length brown hair wearing the yellow safety jacket).

Further edited to add: I’m here!

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1 Comment

  1. Nichola said,

    March 24, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    I’m so glad you had fun at the show. Thanks for all your help šŸ™‚


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