11 April 2018

Schiaparelli’s twisted ‘Circus Collection

Create Voice member, Patricia Roberts reviews the Circus Collection.

Elsa Schiaparelli is credited by many as the designer who invented modern women’s fashion, and her 1938 ‘Circus Collection’ is written in history as the highlight of her career. Her celebration of the duplicitous nature of the circus – its simultaneous joy and darkness – paved the way for McQueen.

The collection was without a doubt joyful. Described by Schiaparelli as one of the most ‘riotous and swaggering shows’ that Paris had ever seen, the collection show saw performers gambolling down the staircase, models swinging from the windows, clown hats, balloon-shaped bags and colourful flowing prints with buttons in the form of tumbling acrobats.

Schiaparelli Acrobat Buttons

A detail of acrobatic buttons on a pink silk jacket. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

But the pieces that have really gone down in history from the Circus Collection are the darker pieces, particularly two dresses. The Skeleton Dress and the Tears dress were jointly created with Dali. The classic circus drips with a mastery of mortality, and an exploitation of the female form. The two couldn’t have found a richer inspiration for their dark surrealism that found shape in these dresses.

Schiaparelli Tears DressThe Tears Dress and gloves. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The Tears dress is printed with tears of pink and dark purple, outlined in such a way that the flesh appears to hang limply from the model. The gloves show arms cut open, flesh flowering out. The Skeleton dress was padded to create an exaggerated ribcage, leg bones and spine. The black silk crêpe clung to the curves of the female form but accentuated its grotesque mortality.

Schiaparelli Skeleton DressThe Skeleton Dress. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

It’s difficult to replicate circus style without appearing tacky or costumey. But by acknowledging the inherent darkness of the performance, Schiaparelli and Dali used the circus to inspire a seminal collection which changed fashion forever.
“Schiaparelli is above all the dressmaker of eccentricity. Has she not the air of a young demon who tempts women, who leads the mad carnival in a burst of laughter? Her establishment in the Place Vendome is a devil’s laboratory. Women who go there fall into a trap, and come out masked, disguised, deformed or reformed, according to Schiaparelli’s whim.”
Jean Cocteau, 1937

Dali and SchiaparelliElsa Schiaparelli with Salvador Dalí, 1949. Collection of Meryle Secrest.

The Performance Festival runs at the V&A from the 20-29th of April and celebrates 250 years of Circus. Join the CreateTour to find out more about the Theatre and Performance Galleries from a member of CreateVoice. The group leaves from the Sackler Centre at 8pm on the 20th of April. 

06 April 2018

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion

CreateVoice member, Aneshka Orme reviews the recent Balenciaga exhibition.

This exhibition examines the work and legacy of influential Spanish couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga, with over 100 pieces crafted by ‘the master’ of couture, his protégées and contemporary fashion designers working in the same innovative tradition.

Evening dress, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

This exhibition allows an exploration of Balenciaga’s work, a man who was more successful in his time than Christian Dior but, due to his shyness regarding press interviews, is much less widely known. It takes the visitor through the whole process of designing, with sections focussing on workrooms, front of house and Balenciaga’s legacy.

Balenciaga was a true craftsman, starting what would become an extraordinary career as the apprentice to a tailor at the age of twelve. Therefore, through all his creations, he understood every part of the production process, from designing through to tailoring. In uncovering his masterpieces in the exhibition, the challenge of overtly displaying this craftsmanship had to be overcome. This encouraged collaborations to enhance the experience of the exhibition. Nick Veasey worked with the V&A, x-raying some of the pieces to display the internal structure of the design, previously not visible to the viewer. These x-rays are found around the exhibition and reveal the incredible amount of detail that went into designing these products, such as dress weights and tailored bodices without which the dresses would hang completely differently.

Most importantly, the exhibition highlights the importance of this designer and his effect on fashion today. Collaborations with contemporary artists such as Molly Goddard and Gareth Pugh describing how Balenciaga has helped shape their own designs, reveals how relevant his designs are, even now. After all, he was described as “the master of us all” by Christian Dior and as “the only couturier in the truest sense of the word” by Coco Chanel.

I found this a very eye-opening exhibition as it very quickly became clear how much Balenciaga has influenced fashion today and how much he is and was respected as an incredibly skilful craftsman. This was particularly interesting because of the contrast between him and other designers such as Dior who are now better known but actually who were less successful than Balenciaga originally. As a student who does not study fashion, I found this exhibition guided me through the process of the designer’s work with the perfect amount of detail and it has encouraged me to discover more about the fashion industry and other iconic designers. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone remotely interested in art and design, even if not particularly in fashion, because, as this exhibition shows, Balenciaga had to use all sorts of skills, from the very beginning to the end of  the production process in order to create such an amazing legacy.

Evening dress, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

CreateVoice meets at the V&A on the 3rd Friday of each month. Join us at the next CreateInsights meeting in the Sackler Centre at 6:30pm 20th of April to hear from Fashion and Food Blogger, Amy Everett.

17 November 2017

Alim Kalif: Bringing Back Mens Heels!

Hi Derby Black, Roker SS18 Collection

For Durham born shoe designer Alim Latif, the most influential piece of advice that he ever received came from his mentors Tim and Fiona Slack - owners of T&F Slack shoemakers in Notting Hill:
Look at what everyone else is doing and do the opposite.

Latif was unsatisfied with the selection of styles that mainstream fashion had to offer anyone gender nonconforming. For men heels came five sizes too small and androgynous shoes were for the most part limited to brogues. So earlier this year Latif founded Roker, a shoemaker that creates gender-neutral shoes using traditional handmade techniques alongside modern practices.

AS Charlie Blue, Roker SS18 Collection
Even though it is a very young company, Roker has drawn attention from across the fashion world and with numerous celebrities. Latif collaborated with Charles Jeffrey for London Fashion Week on the Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY Spring/Summer 18 show, with the club kid fantasyland results being shot by Tim Walker for an editorial in i-D magazine. Latif has also found his shoes splashed across tabloids and television, with Harry Styles commissioning bespoke heeled boots to wear during red carpets events, album launches and music tours. His favourite pair that he’s ever made for Styles were even borrowed by James Corden to wear on his talk show.
Latif’s gender-neutral heeled boots clearly reference gender nonconforming style icons like Nick Cave and Bowie . But whilst men wearing heels is nothing new, Roker has revived it in a fantastically queer and inclusive way.

Latif will be speaking to young people about how he started, his time at T&F Slack Shoemakers (formerly Walkers) and his incredible collaboration with Charles Jeffrey as part of a wider programme in the V&A’s ‘Making It: Careers in Fashion’ festival on 25th November.
Clunk Ankle Low Snake, Roker SS18 Collection


Quotes taken from ‘The Man Making Shoes for London’s Most Radical Designers’ (Hynam Kendall, Another Man) and a July interview with Footwear News in NYC.

Images courtesy of Alim Kalif and Roker

Words: Patricia Roberts

14 November 2017

Internships - For or Against? You decide at Making It 2017!

London College of Fashion work, 2013

If you want a career in fashion then an internship is the inevitable way to get a foot in the door. 


In many fashion companies the number of interns that are hired is greater than the number of employees. Unfortunately, in most cases interns work very hard receiving no pay and are not guaranteed a job at the end of their internship. 

As internships are so prevalent within industry it has been decided that a panel discussion on the subject will take place at this years Making It: Careers in Fashion. Panel speakers include Debora Cacia Tonet of We Run This, a platform that helps to inform creatives of what is going on in the fashion industry, representatives of Fashion AwarenessDirect’s INTO Fashion programme, and many more.
This panel discussion will shine a light on a topic which in recent years has become a hot topic in the industry. The issue of sustainability in fashion has become increasingly trendier, and as a result  of this the question of whether internships are invaluable to an individuals career ladder.


Internships allow a person to gain hands-on experience of working in their desired field. It can be a good opportunity to see what their strengths are in the work place, as well as seeing if their experience meets their expectations, developing new skills along the way. Networking is also a positive factor, internships can be a great way to meet new people and your good work ethic could pay off later when you need references for future employment. Furthermore, in some cases internships can lead to employment. 

Fashion Festival Workshop 2013


On the other hand, job offers to interns can be few and far between. When looking at fashion career websites, it is almost unbelievable to see that the majority of vacancies advertised are unpaid internships rather than actual paid roles. Many of these jobs ask for at least a couple of years experience. Does this mean it is expected for someone to go through a two year cycle of internships before they become employable? Internships can be problematic, because in most case people aren't paid for their work and some are not even reimbursed for their travel. Some interns are overworked, the hours can be very long and in the run up to fashion week interns can be expected to work until midnight. 


Do you believe internships can provide a positive experience or an opportunity for exploitation? If you feel strongly about the subject or want to know how an internship can impact your chances of gaining a career, then come to the panel discussion that will take place at 3pm on Saturday 25th November at Making It: Careers in Fashion at the V&A to hear others’ views and form your own opinion. 

Words: Sarah Hampson

10 November 2017


 Twinks Burnett
Working as an established fashion stylist and creative director, Twinks Burnett is definitely making a name for herself in the fashion industry. She is not one to shy away from bold colours and is known to make loud statements with her styling and her personal wardrobe. You just have to scroll through her Instagram to see that for yourself. Previously working as the fashion editor for UPRAW Magazine, she is currently the contributing fashion editor at Noctis Magazine. Twinks has been featured in numerous high profile fashion websites and magazines including Vogue.com, Wonderland Magazine, i-Donline and Volt Cafe. Check out her impressive portfolio on her website.

I got the chance to have a quick Q&A with Twinks and find out about her love of fashion!

What first drew you to want to work in the fashion industry and how did you navigate your way in?
I have always expressed myself through the way I dress and the way I have designed the world around me. I have always been a story teller, the best way for me to create is through fashion. Styling and design are my tools of expression. You have to be resilient and original in this industry. I continue to navigate my way through, you never know which way your path will take you but be willing to diversify your talents and work hard. 

You have worked on a variety of projects from film to photography, styled editorials to catwalk shows as well as being the former Fashion editor at UPRAW Magazine and contributing fashion editor at Noctis Magazine. How important is it in the industry to be able to diversify yourself as a stylist and creative director? Do you have a preference of medium to work on? 

You have to learn to be versatile with how you work. I love styling both menswear and womenswear equally. I just adore to be on set doing what I love to do. I like to make people feel good and creating something collaboratively with other talented artists form different practices is my greatest joy. My favourite mediums would be campaign work. I enjoy being hands on with brands and designers and creating big concepts to best advertise their collections. 

Have you got any advice to pass on to young stylists and art directors, such as myself, on how to try and break into the industry? 

Love what you do, be kind to all you meet and be true to yourself. Create a vision you can stand by. 

We are looking forward to seeing you at the on November 25th, what are you most excited about taking part in at the Fashion Festival? 

I enjoy talking through my process and personal creative journey. It’s a good way of reflecting on what I have achieved over the past few years since leaving university. I am an associate lecturer and teach at a few universities, I am a real people person so meeting creatives and talking through their inspiration and passions is a real joy! 
Catch Twinks Burnett at this month’s Fashion Festival at the V&A museum.
Twinks Burnett
Words by: Maureen Kargbo


Making it: Careers in Fashion: Interview with Stephanie Dickinson from Some Ideas

Tell me a bit about Some Ideas:

Some Ideas is a creative solutions agency working mainly in the apparel industry, but we work with clients from other sectors too. Currently we are creatively directing SoccerBible and shooting look books for clients whilst also designing technical sportswear and a menswear and womenswear collection. We love the variety!

What are you going to be doing at the Making It Festival?

At Some Ideas we believe collaboration is a key part of the creative process. We are going to work with participants to make collective fashion pieces. Participants will print a statement onto calico/fabric pieces which will be assembled to create unique, collaborative works that are an expression of the thoughts, beliefs and passions within the community who visit the exhibition. 

Where did you and your team find the inspiration for a collective fashion piece?

When we approach a project we try to draw from lots of sources. We think there is a tendency with the internet to just sit at a desk all day to find information and inspiration. That is obviously a useful tool but it has its limitations. We encourage our team to go to museums, art galleries and events to get inspired. Theatre or dance productions are a great way to find inspiration for colour, form or pattern. We can then collaborate using projectors and sketching sessions to pool our ideas. We have a space we use to collate our research which we dress to take on the character of the project. It really helps us have everything up on the walls - from initial research to final selections. There’s a lot of tape and pins involved! The collective fashion piece is really a concentrated version of our process. 

Lookbook and clothing design by Some Ideas Limited

Have you done it before? What was the result like?

I would say that most of our work is collaborative. We don’t adhere to convention at Some Ideas. We believe creativity is nurtured by diversity so our staff work across lots of projects from technical clothing to tailored pieces and we encourage them to expand their skill base and knowledge wherever possible - whether that be working on pattern cutting skills to logo design or presentation skills.

What one piece of advice, however big or small, would you give to a young person who isn’t sure about taking a creative career path?  

DO - make, create and learn as much and as often as possible. There are so many routes into the creative industries and so many different (and new) roles within them that the more you can add to compliment your basic skills and experience, the better. Also, take all and any opportunities - even if they don’t seem related. You never know who you might bump into or where they may lead you.

Where can we find you on the day of the Fashion Festival?
Level 1, Sackler Centre
Interview by Patricia Roberts

Why the Fashion Industry is the Best Industry!

 Fashion Festival 2013, V&A
The glamorous depiction of the Fashion Industry is a key reason why many people across the globe are drawn to work in the area. It is a fast-paced industry which is highly competitive, but also very exciting. On the other hand, the industry does face a lot of criticism and is accused of being frivolous and superficial as it is centred on materiality and consumption. This article is here to highlight what makes the Fashion Industry the best industry to work in.
 1. Versatility in Career Choices

From a Stylist to a Journalist or working in PR and Marketing and of course the Designers, the opportunities to work in fashion are endless. According to FashionUnited, over 55, 000 people are employed within the Fashion Industry in the UK alone which means there is literally a job for every different kind of character!

2. Best Jobs for Self-Expression

The Fashion Industry is one of the most creative industries in the world. It constantly pushes its employees to be unique, innovative and more importantly, themselves. This is a rarity in other industries where employees are often expected to keep a clean-cut image and stick to a treadmill of delivery. Whereas the Fashion Industry tends to embrace vulgarity and imagination, and what’s even better you’re getting paid for it!

3. The Industry is International

The Fashion Industry is a global network and the chances of seeing the world while you work are very likely. You could find yourself working in the job of a lifetime in Paris or taking a trip to New York for a high-profile meeting.
4. Endless Routes to Enter the Industry

An academic route into the fashion industry can be seen as desirable to employers but it is definitely not the only route one can take to enter the industry. Hands on experience, such as assisting or interning, can be equivalent to a degree in many cases. Also, several have tried and succeeded using the DIY method through either teaching themselves, starting up their own businesses or freelancing. The choice is yours!

5. Full of Excitement

No two days are the same working in the fashion industry and no matter what part of the industry you are working in, you will always be interacting with fun, cool and creative people which will make the job more exciting. It is also a known fact that fashion employees tend to be familiar with the occasional freebie and possible clothing discounts – who wouldn’t love that! You may even find yourself attending high profile events and fashion shows, who knows!

Make your own garment workshop, V&A.

If you are interested in working in the Fashion Industry, it is important to take the time to research into where you feel you would best fit in. Attending the Fashion Festival on November 25th is a great way to explore which job fits you the best. You’ll get the chance to meet and interact with many figures who work and have made their mark in the Fashion Industry so don’t be shy and come along.

Words: Maureen Kargbo
Images courtesy of the V&A