Texprint 2014: Interview to Indigo
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Texprint alumna’s story: Momo Wang, Museum of Friendship
10 December 2014 by Jainnie Cho
Alumna Momo Wang has progressed quickly and launched her own womenswear label since her time with Texprint in 2011. We spoke to her in London.
Though trained in textile design, Momo prefers to think beyond the individual textile, constructing garments from colourful fabric scraps she finds in random places, including night markets from her hometown back in China. Her works are an intricate mingling of mismatched fabrics and techniques, including PVC with pearl embellishments, and crocheted strips of potato sacks.
On the day of our interview, her tiny frame is buried under a loosely woven orange turtleneck. Wang’s studio has a folksy, down home feel, with doll heads and cat pictures as decoration.
After attending the National Opera School in Beijing to study Peking opera, calligraphy and traditional Chinese art, Wang won a place on the BA Fashion Textiles course at Central Saint Martins in London. After winning joint second place in 2011 in the L'Óreal Professional Young Talent Award for her student collection, Wang was interviewed and selected for Texprint and showcased her collection with Texprint at Indigo at Premiere Vision. She went on to found her own label, Museum of Friendship and is now in the midst of making her seventh collection.
The young designer stresses that the most important element of her designs is that her friends and family are involved. Skimming through her past lookbooks, she points out, “these are all knots and stitches that my friends helped out with. These ceramic beads were made by my father. My family and friends create different parts of my garments and I put them together,” she says. “I want to keep memories in my clothes. When I see the clothes, I can think about what I have been through and who helped me create.”
How did Texprint help your career?
When I was selected for Texprint, I didn’t know how to sell yet. All young designers are like that – they know how to create but don’t know how to sell their work. The Première Vision experience was really interesting for me. I got to talk to people from super huge brands including H&M and Nike. It was great exposure in a short time for a young designer like myself.
You didn’t grow up in a big city. What was your childhood like?
I was born in a really small city called Zhinzhou and lived there until I was 17. Then I went to Beijing for college. It was my first time in a big city and I studied for a major called Intercultural Communication at the National Opera School. I learnt about Peking opera, calligraphy, and history of traditional Chinese art. I got loads of inspiration on colors, from the old costumes in the operas and also came to know lots of interesting artists in Asia.
My father is a calligrapher and artist in Chinese painting and seal making. I really like traditional culture in China. My mother was a journalist in a newspaper in my hometown but she really likes making clothes. When I was really young, she always made my clothes… This was a really deep influence for me in becoming a fashion designer.
The name of your label is quite distinctive. How did you come up with that?
I am friendly with a gallery director who has a space near Dover Street Market in London. One day he had just come back from North Korea doing an art project there. He told me that while there, he went to an interesting place called the Museum of Friendship. Basically, the museum exhibits all these gifts that people gave to North Koreans, like items from the 60s onto 90s, from different countries. It’s kind of propaganda stuff, as they are showing people that they have friendships outside. I thought it was a really good name but it was quite tricky that the museum is in North Korea! But the meaning is, people putting out gifts in the museum to keep alive the meaning of friendship.
What did your graduate collection for Central Saint Martins look like?
My graduate collection was all about handcraft. I don’t use a lot of sewing machines and I use my hands to sew and crochet. I really want my friends and family to be involved in my collections so they create different parts of my garments and then I put them together.
The first collection I made was about my memories of the old Central Saint Martins college building. That’s why I used cloth I found in the studios. I wanted to keep the memories of CSM in my clothes.
And your second collection?
After graduation, the second collection was about my hometown, Zhinzhou. I went to the markets there and bought old fabrics to create the garments. I created upcycled clothes from these fabrics by redoing them. The fabrics I bought from Zhinzhou were old farmers’ clothes that kept them warm during the cold winters there. Read about this collection.
How does being Chinese play into your creations?
The Chinese influence in my work comes naturally. This is my identity. What is most important for designers and for people who create things is that they don’t forget their identity. I appreciate the 17 years I lived in my hometown. Nobody else has that experience so I should remember. Childhood is so important – you can find your direction from your roots. I don’t try to deliberately put Chinese elements in my clothes but I think it comes out naturally.
Besides fashion, what are you interested in?
I want to do a film/art project about my hometown soon. I would like to go back to my hometown and show my clothing at a booth at the night market there. I want to film the reactions of people when they see the clothes and put it together as an art project. It would be me saying I’m an international designer, travelling all around the world but I’m also a local girl from this town. It’s funny because I feel I don’t belong to one place now. My hometown is quite exotic for me now – we have a distance from each other.
Can you tell us a little about your next Museum of Friendship collection for A/W 15?
It is called Iceland Saga. It’s about my trip there to visit my friend who moved there for good after ten years in London. She’s an artist and wanted to concentrate on painting – it’s really romantic and brave that she did that.
I really like Reykjavik. I took loads of pictures of the landscape, the lagoons, the architecture, etc. I’ve also been looking at outdoor wear in Iceland. Because it’s so cold there, they always wear functional clothes. I never used outdoor clothing fabric because it’s quite difficult to make them look pretty – you know, some outdoor wear is ugly, for older men going hiking. I feel though, if I can make a nice print and silhouette showing curves a bit, it will be nice. Maybe girls can wear it for everyday.
I always want to do something contradictory – sportswear that is feminine, gangster look that a teenage girl might wear. It will be really interesting to combine lace with outdoor wear or other feminine, cute stuff. I’m planning on showing the collection in showrooms during London Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week early in 2015.
Momo visiting the Texprint stand at Intertextile Shanghai, October 2014
From Texprint to academia: Elaine Igoe
24 November 2014 by Roger Tredre
Texprint encourages its designers to stay in touch. We love to hear how careers have progressed and share their news. So meet Dr. Elaine Igoe – yes, a doctor of textiles! – who was a Texprint designer back in 2001 and has gone on to a stellar academic career.
She remembers with fondness her Texprint experience. Winning the Breaking New Ground prize. Meeting the likes of Donna Karan, Ornella Bignami, Luca Missoni. Visiting Hong Kong and China ("something I could only have dreamed of doing"). Even the bad stuff is fondly recalled from the distance of 13 years – such as falling ill with food poisoning on her last day in Hong Kong and having to be nursed onto the plane by Texprint's Christian Dewar-Durie.
Step forward Dr. Elaine Igoe, Senior Lecturer in Fashion and Textile Design at the University of Portsmouth. It's wonderful to discover that a bona fide doctor of textiles has emerged from the Texprint group of distingished alumnae.
Elaine completed an MA in Fashion: Textiles for Fashion at Central St Martins after showing at Indigo and Interstoff Asia and designing a collection of menswear for London Fashion Week in 2003. She then embarked on an academic career at the University of Portsmouth and, after completing a PGCE, began a part-time MPhil/PhD study at the Royal College of Art in 2005.
After many exciting years of research (interrupted by maternity leave) she completed her PhD in February 2014. The title of her PhD is appropriately formidable: "In Textasis: Matrixial Narratives of Textile Design".
How did you find yourself drawn to the academic route?
After completing my MA at Central St Martins, I realised that I really enjoyed talking about and thinking about my working methods as a textile designer. I was always interested in a concept and process led approach to designing surfaces. I had long known that I wasn't a commercial textile designer, but that my textile designs were examples of what textiles could be, and therefore innovative and had a certain value to industry. I knew that by following an academic route, I would be able to pursue my interest in talking about the textile design process as well as undertaking more formal research to develop my processes and theories.
It's great that you are a Doctor? Do you find you need to do a lot of explaining to non-academics about what exactly you specialise in?
Oh yes indeed! In fact, the premise of my doctorate is based on the lack of knowledge about textile design, and that's not even generally, but even within the wider world of design. My thesis aims to begin an articulation of the textile design process and how this sits with design research theory. It touches on feminism and psychoanalysis to help explore the nature of textile design and the specific type of knowledge it involves. When explaining what I do, I stress that its textile design, and this seems to help people understand a little better...I think!
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
It's different everyday and never boring, each year you meet a new set of characters, my knowledge of both my subject and people builds and develops constantly. Working within academia has given me the chance to be myself within the design discipline of textiles.
What did you think of the new generation of Texprint designers in London this summer?
Wonderfully varied and extremely talented as always. I particularly admired the surface embellishment and constructed textiles from the likes of Federica Tedeschi, Tali Furman and Flett Bertram as well as Charlotte Beevor's exuberant use of colour and mark-making. When I visited the Texprint Londonexhibition I was really impressed by the confidence with which they spoke about their work. In fact, I have since invited Federica Tedeschi to the University of Portsmouth as a guest speaker, the student's were really inspired by her.
Elaine Igoe and colleague viewing the work of Federica Tedeschi at Texprint London, July 2014
Any more good stories from your Texprint days?
My overarching memory of my Texprint days was the comradery from the other finalists and support we were given and I have been heartened by the fact that I am still remembered by the organisers, 13 years on from my own moment in the limelight. I do also remember being abit dumbstruck when Donna Karan herself came to look through my work and shook my hand, never mind Luca Missoni giving me my award!
For more on Elaine Igoe's research:
ComOn: the designer’s view from Como
20 November 2014 by Roger Tredre
Eight Texprint designers enjoyed seven-week internships this autumn at the heart of Como with some of the finest textile companies in Italy. It's part of the ComOn Creativity Sharing initiative, now in its eighth year. We summarise what they got up to and asked one Texprint designer, Frieda Peppercorn, for her feedback.
From left: Ailis Dewar, James Skinner, Charlotte Beevor, Frieda Peppercorn, Jane Zhang and Charlotte Kidger
The Italian companies that generously invited Texprint designers included Erica, Setere Argenti, I.S.A., Canepa, Lisa, Taiana, Tiare and Boselli. Chiara Pozzi of Textra, who is on the ComOn select committee, came to Texprint London earlier this year to personally select the eight. Texprint creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre once again coordinated and supported the designers on their trip.
Enjoying an Italian gelato!
Texprint designer Frieda Peppercorn says: "My internship was at Argenti, a digital printing company which is a short bus ride away from Como. They print for everyone from high end to high street brands. It was quite a contrast to my usual work because I was designing solely on Photoshop. It was so great to see the work all printed out once I had finished. It's so fast paced – a huge factory churning out print after print."
She adds: "The work I produced may be presented to their clients in the next few weeks, so I could potentially see my designs in the shops next summer. This whole trip has opened my eyes to the textile manufacturing world as I really had no knowledge and experience of it."
Another Texprint designer, Ailis Dewar, enjoyed herself too: "I have absolutely loved my time in Como and I am very sad to be leaving. I was working with Tiare, which specialises in high-end technical woven and printed fabrics and has a star-studded clientele! I started getting to know past collections in the archives of the company and researching upcoming trends, then moved on to factory trips and fabric/yarn meetings. The last month has been spent heavily involved in the S/S16 collection, creating hand-drawn designs and colourways. The experience has given me a very structured insight into the design process at industry level."
Designers preparing for their Creativity Week presentation
One of the highlights of the interning is the Creativity Week, part of ComOn, which opened on October 6 with various workshops and launching 'Poems written on Paper Boats' on Lake Como. There were visits to Ratti and Canepa with their internationally highly regarded textile archives and printing facilities. A Streetscape3 Art project was launched involving local artists making art installations, sculptures and huge wall paintings around Como streets and buildings.
Frieda Peppercorn says: "Creativity Week was great fun. I loved visiting Ratti, such a fantastic place, so vast and so passionate about new and exciting printing and weaving techniques. We could see lots of drawing and painting going on in the design offices. It was so fascinating to see the vast production using more or less the same machinery and techniques that we have at university, but of course on a much larger scale and just a little more high tech!"
She notes: "I also loved visiting Curve Pericolose which was a small lingerie design studio, just a few rooms where they design and produce prototypes. Such a successful business all situated in this little house. I love the variety of textile manufacturing here, from vast factories like Ratti to small studios like Curve Pericolose."
Cristina Vigano of Argenti, and part of the ComOn team, organised once again an exhibition of innovative fashion garments and accessories created by Como fashion schools and displayed in the Antonio Ratti Cultural Space.
With Margherita Rosina at the Antonio Ratti Foundation archives
The Creative Sharing programme for the interns included visits to the Como Silk Museum, Antonio Ratti Foundation and archives where there was a retrospective on Emilio Pucci. Other highlights included a TrendsOn presentation by Nelly Rodi's Paris office and a visit to Serico's textile lab offices.
Emilio Pucci retrospective on show at Antonio Ratti Foundation
Texprint designers also joined ComOn designers from other countries for a two-day seminar run by David Shah, publisher of Textile View magazine and a well-known industry consultant who has long supported Texprint. This year's challenge from David was 'Nostalgia'. Each designer was asked in advance to prepare and present their four chosen 'Nostalgia' subjects from 1920 to 1990. Four groups were then created across nationalities, each with a tutor steering the proceedings. David reworked these groups into four based on similar cultural backgrounds: the British, the Northern Europeans and two Italian groups. The results were later presented by David under the title, 'The Passion for Nostalgia', at a ComOn event at the Chamber of Commerce.
Working with David Shah
For Frieda, the project was another highlight of the trip. "David really got us thinking. The task was very tricky: it was a really good exercise trying to think about what the world will be like in 20 years time."
Peter Ring-Lefevre of Texprint concludes: "The Como textile industry has really set a world-class precedent in organising some 20 internships for young textile graduates. The global textile industry should take note of the success of this initiative. This kind of relationship is crucial for the industry's future, ensuring a constant flow of raw, bold and innovative textile creativity."
Archives at Canepa
Alumna’s Story: Dominique Caplan, Gainsborough Silk Weaving
14 November 2014 by Jainnie Cho
Two years ago, weave designer Dominique Caplan was fresh out of London’s Central Saint Martins and itching to apply what she’d just learnt. Just one thing stood in her way: she hadn’t a clue how to navigate the fashion or interiors industries.
Working at Gainsborough Silk Weaving
Dominique soon realised the fierce competition that lay ahead of her. “I saw how many other designers were also graduating – all wanting to move into an industry which is relatively small,” she says.
Fortunately she had been nominated for the 2012 Texprint programme by her CSM tutor and granted an interview. Dominique says she went into the interview with Texprint creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre and a panel of industry experts with ‘clammy palms’, but she was successful and subsequently invited to undertake Texprint’s unique mentorship and exhibition programme with 23 other emerging talents.
But it certainly wasn’t all roses for Dominique after her selection. Internships with high-profile designers including Mary Katrantzou and Holly Fulton followed, but making her way in the industry was a struggle, not least because she was not earning money.
Perseverance paid off however, and last summer Dominique landed a job at Gainsborough Silk Weaving, one of the oldest commercial mills in England – a dream design role that has enabled her to rediscover her creative edge, with a constant flow of interesting and challenging work that mixes computerized techniques with traditional weaving methods.
We caught up with Dominique to talk about her Texprint experience, her new role and recent projects, and the growing artisanal approach in textile design.
Working at Gainsborough Silk Weaving
What was it like showing at Indigo in Paris with Texprint?
Texprint gave me something to work towards. Exhibiting at Indigo in Paris was a high point, though both exhausting and rewarding, and the realisation that now I actually had to make money from the work I had created as a student was quite challenging.
For every person who stops and looks through your work, a hundred others will dismiss your stand with a flick of their eyes. Very quickly you realize this is not personal - your work is not going to cater to everyone’s tastes or requirements. I believe this is one of the most important things I learnt from Texprint.
Also of key benefit were the many useful connections I made which helped me greatly in the following months.
Working at Gainsborough Silk Weaving
Tell us about your current job as a designer at Gainsborough Silk Weaving?
We work with a lot of high-end interior and fashion designers and it is always very interesting, challenging work. Most of what I do is computerized, using the modern jacquard looms we have at the mill, but there is much scope to be technically creative and try new approaches.
Gainsborough also still has 15 Hattersley looms from the 1930s, making the mill truly unique. We have many of the original punch card sets and having access to the traditional method of jacquard weaving is very special.
There is also an extensive archive of amazing fabric samples dating back to the establishment of the mill in 1903. Among my personal favorites are the Crewell loom silks and the hand cut velvets. There is a real connection between past and present and I feel very lucky to contribute to Gainsborough’s rich history and future.
Textile installation inside the Oxford Brooks University
You were involved in designing an impressive, large-scale textile installation inside the Oxford Brooks University – a 3x10 metre installation that is a mirage of intricate textures, patterns and gradients. What was the experience like?
The installation was designed by Peagreen and woven by Gainsborough Silk Weaving. As the designer on this project I was responsible for liaising with Peagreen whilst altering their original design in order to make it weavable. At Gainsborough, the looms repeat two times across the entire fabric width, so we were weaving two artwork panels for the instillation at a time. However because Peagreen wanted each panel to be very different, I had to work out ways to create the colours they wanted, using the same wefts and weave structures, whilst only changing the warp colour. I had four warp colours in total and eight weft colours to play with. It was an all-consuming project!
How do you see the UK textile industry evolving? It seems there are two big trends – use of digital and a return to craft.
Trends are moving in an exciting direction with new approaches and methods of creating textiles emerging. From my own experience, I believe there has been more of a shift towards the artisanal approach as customers become better informed. There is also a premium placed on British made, which I feel is largely substantiated by the quality of the fabrics and skills involved. Craftsmanship is part of our heritage and I sincerely hope that the British textile industry continues to gain respect and overseas business.
Gainsborough Silk Weaving archives
Diary: Intertextile Shanghai October 2014
09 November 2014 by Roger Tredre
Sponsorship Director Joanna Bowring led five Texprint prize winners to exhibit at Intertextile Shanghai in October with the support of the event's organiser Messe Frankfurt (HK) and The Woolmark Company. Here's her diary of a busy few days.
Yoty and Nustar, from Zhe Jiang University of Media and Communication, with Joanna Bowring
Setting-up day – Sunday October 19
Arrived at the show around 11.30, registered myself and the Chinese student helpers. Went to the stand, put up what I could on my own and then prepared panels, ironed fabric etc. until the students arrived around 2.30. They are Yoty and Nustar, from Zhe Jiang University of Media and Communication. Their involvement had been arranged through Texprint alumna Momo Wang whose friend, Chen Xi, is Module Director of Fashion Design. I didn’t realise that they live about two hours outside Shanghai, and are staying in a hotel. Xi had asked the class who would like to do it, and they volunteered, which I told them was a very positive and professional thing to do! We finally finished around 6pm and staggered back to our respective hotels.
Day 1 – Monday October 20
Woke very early in a panic thinking I had overslept. From my hotel I saw people doing tai chi in the morning mist in Century Park – wonderfully calming.
Took shuttle bus from hotel to the exhibition, joining a massive queue, or series of queues, of exhibitors penned up like sheep in lines until the official exhibitors’ opening time of 8.30am. After a mad scrum, I arrived at the stand which was still intact – none of the displays had disappeared or fallen off, and the four smiling portraits of the winners were very welcoming and comforting. The two student helpers arrived promptly, looking very smart.
The first day was invitation only and was very busy – the studios either side of us were often packed, and there were quite a few visitors to the Texprint stand. There was a lot of interest in all the fabrics, particularly Federica Tedeschi’s embroidery and Tali Furman’s pieces too, especially her new marbled effect prints on wool and her wool flocked plastic. Many of the visitors’ business cards are only in Chinese, and I fear that the winners are going to receive a torrent of emails in Chinese... There were also some visitors from South Korea, the US, India, Vietnam and Pakistan.
Friendly faces included David Shah of View Publications on a flying visit (as always), Peter Ackroyd and Julie Davies from The Woolmark Company, and Italian textile consultant Angelo Uslenghi, who was here for Milano Unica and was wonderfully enthusiastic in his greeting! He was rhapsodic about Federica Tedeschi’s embroidery – so directional for Spring/Summer 2016. Fellow exhibitors Dietmar Voegel of Circleline and Hiro, the agent for Whiston & Wright, were charming neighbours.
Intertextile is changing. There are now quite a few Italian mills which have moved out of Milano Unica’s walled city and have stands in W1, SalonEurope, the most prestigious hall for foreigners. Miroglio has a huge stand – I spoke to Pier Luigi Cassinelli there, who told me they have been in China since 1993. He also said they were very pleased with the new Miroglio Texprint Award and with the winner, Charlotte Hetheridge.
In the evening there was a lavish reception and dinner for the 20th anniversary of Intertextile. Six hundred guests had been invited to a seated dinner. There was a massive Oscars-type screen, swelling music, a glamorous TV presenter and many speeches in Chinese acknowledging important dignitaries and different categories of awards for faithful exhibitors, with each group parading onto the stage. Went back on the metro and slept very well.
Our helpful student translators, Yoty and Nustar, with Dietmar Voegel of Circleline
Day 2 – Tuesday October 21
Started the day looking out of my hotel window to see an enormous yellow rubber duck floating serenely in the distance on the misty lake in Century Park. I later learned that it was by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, and will be in the park for a month.
Even busier today, same issues. There is certainly huge interest in the fabrics. Checked the press office and at least 50 press releases in Chinese had gone, so added some more.
Angelo Uslenghi came by the stand with one of the owners of Cavalieri to show her Federica’s work. I went to Angelo’s presentation to an invited audience on Milano Unica’s trends in the afternoon and when I came back we had run out of brochures. The students had been enthusiastically topping up the pile of brochures, and didn’t understand that the ones I had held back in the cupboard were for the next two days.
Day 3 – Wednesday October 22
Spent rather a long time in taxis negotiating the city's traffic for Shanghai Fashion Week events. At the catwalk tent there were two woven textile graduates from Central Saint Martins waiting to see the next show, which was by a designer who had just graduated from CSM with them – such a small world.
Back at the exhibition, I saw David Shah, who commented that the growth in the appreciation and awareness of creativity and innovation in China over the past two years has been extraordinary, but the market needs to catch up in terms of the price it is prepared to pay for it.
Joanna Bowring with David Shah
Day 4 – Thursday October 23
The final day started with a walk to the exhibition halls through Century Park with Jane Makower, who is also showing. As well as seeing the enormous rubber duck closer up, there were stunning life-sized patterned ceramic horses and an enormous shepherd with his dog, sheep and horses all made out of plants.
The show was less frenzied but still a lot of activity. Designer Momo Wang came by with two friends who had recently graduated from London College of Fashion, one still based in London. Her new collection is being launched on Saturday. She said so much is going on in Shanghai, young people networking with each other, sharing info – she did a big promotion with Nike who are sponsoring young Chinese fashion designers. Tomorrow is an Elle magazine event with a huge party for young Chinese designers.
As usual, the taking down was really fast, and I crammed as much as I could into my small case and the rest into my tote bag. The 24 ‘tiles’ of the designers’ work were too tough to tear up and I didn’t want to leave any that might be picked up to copy, so took them back to the hotel where I slashed them with a scalpel, snapped them into small pieces and binned them. Job done – time to go home!
Texprint 2011 alumna Momo Wang
Jane Makower on the M Makower & Co Ltd stand
Photo report: Texprint 2014 at Indigo/Première Vision, Paris
19 October 2014 by Editor
The main event of Texprint’s annual calendar is the showcasing of British-trained textile design talent at Indigo, where through the generous sponsorship of Première Vision SA, 24 selected Texprint designers are given a unique opportunity to exhibit at Europe’s most important fashion fabrics, yarn and textile design fair.
The designers each have an individual stand on the Texprint ‘avenue’ to exhibit their design collections, meet international buyers and make invaluable contacts. Indigo is also host to the annual prize presentation which is a great opportunity for Texprint to gather with its international supporters, sponsors and press. And also to introduce Texprint to the international industry who come together at Première Vision Pluriel.
Photos: James McCauley (www.jamesmccauley.com)