SUKI CHEEMA & STITCHWORK AT THE V&A

Monday, 28 May 2012

Embroidery | floral prints | a 'blackwork' undergarment | the stunning robe in the 'Golden Spider Silk' exhibition, the largest pieces of work ever made of the material

At the May CreateVoice meeting we had a talk and short workshop hosted by the amazing textile designer Suki Cheema, who has worked for Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan, and then Diane Von Furstenberg, and now runs his own textile design company, Suki Cheema. He was so enthusiastic and interesting, and I found the emphasis on production and the experimental process that goes on behind all this design work fascinating - it reminded me of my days on my Art Foundation course and I'm having serious nostalgia for it now! I miss walking into the studio and just experimenting until I find a design or a process I like. I'm starting up my sketchbooks again, and this talk has given me a bit more drive to maintain my creative processes whilst I'm doing my degree, and (hopefully!) maybe even pick them back up again once I'm finished. Put it this way, looking at and dreaming about technical courses at the London College of Fashion is extremely dangerous for my essay writing right now!

His portfolio was so beautiful, and I can't imagine how it must feel to be able to put in runway pictures featuring your own prints. He took us down to the Toshiba Gallery to have a look at the Japanese collection and take our own ideas for patterns from them, and talked us through his research and design process - my favourites were his dip-dye swatches on silk, which were completely gorgeous. It's made me so excited to get my own portfolio back from my foundation school, and re-work it and add to it.

The whole talk (particularly his emphasis on embroidery and embellishment) reminded me of a little trip I made to the British galleries in the museum, focusing on material techniques, which I posted about in relation to lace and Valentino and high street lace. Suki interestingly made a point about high street vs designer and their price differences - if you treat designer pieces as 'art', you appreciate the effort that went into handmaking that lace, or hand emrboidery, and the research and design process which goes on before the garment is even made. The high street is brilliant, but it is mass-manufactured and involves far less 'skill'.

I love the V&A for researching print and material, and this is obviously only a tiny fraction of what's on offer. Suki himself spoke about what an amazing archival source the museum is, having used it himself as inspiration many times whilst studying at Central St Martins.

Posts about CreateVoice | Posts about the Victoria and Albert Museum

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