Women In Fashion

Three courses of inspiring stories

As the sun set over London, stylist Sarah Edwards was making the final touches to the woodland themed table setting for our evening event – the Women In Fashion dinner.

With camouflage patterned table cloth, displays of anemones, heathers and scabiosa alongside a hundred or so model mushrooms and flickering candles, the penthouse floor of the gallery building was awash with colour to welcome guests.

The evening was a celebration of our fashion commission by designer Molly Goddard, and, two floors below in the gallery, guests were arriving and marveling at the seven incredible tulle dresses she had designed, suspended from the ceiling.

Designers Anna Mason and Christine Mhando and Marie Claire Fashion Editor Des Lewis among many others gathered in the gallery to hear the opening talk from Molly Goddard with our Curator Jemima Burrill.

Jemima Burrill (JB) talking to Molly Goddard (MG):

JB – It (the idea for the installation) was such a clear vision, I wondered specifically what inspiration you had for coming up with such an idea that involved people as well?

MG – It would have been very weird to do an exhibition about me and about what I do as I haven’t been doing it for very long. I wanted everything to be interactive so it became as much about everyone’s contributions (of embroidery by the public) as the dresses themselves.

JB – It’s about the things that are important to you…

MG – … Encouraging skills, a lot of what I do and we do in the studio is about making things by hand and the shows we do are quite interactive so it made sense to do something similar.

JB – Looking at the work there seems to be 3 important things which are colour, craft obviously and also collaboration. Which is the most important to you?

MG – erm, I think probably collaboration. I work closely with my mum, Sarah, who kind of made it all happen and she’s very good at visualizing how things I’m going to do will work.

JB – Final question. You’ve had such a big year, you’ve got Dover Street Market, an Emerging Talent award, this (installation) is pretty big. How do you feel it’s changed this last year?

MG – I suppose working with other people. For a long time it was just me, so now, working with you guys, my mum and growing the team and things we’re able to do more, like having the idea for this (installation). Not making the dresses, that’s a new thing for me, I normally make everything myself – that’s the biggest change.

Following the starting course of the meal, foot-ware designer Tracey Neuls (TN) spoke animatedly about her work to Jemima Burrill (JB)

TN: What I like ends up being what the shoes are, so I brought a couple examples from my collections and inspirations. I have a huge collection of matches and matchbooks, which I was planning to pass along (the table to the other guests).

I grew up in Canada and there wasn’t a lot to do and I think I became incredibly detail orientated because I was bored. So everything I see that’s teeny-weeny turns into something (I design).

Take matches (for example) – the detail of them, just the tiny bit of colour. It’s when you open them and the surprise of what the colour is, it’s that feeling.

I have to show you thing that I found in my fireplace, I don’t know if you can see it (Tracey holds aloft some wood, which looks like a ladies’ shoe). It’s a shoe! So then I proceeded to start burning wooden heels, just seeing what it’s like (Tracey passes around examples of wooden heel).

So again I think it’s what you look for which can lead to inspirations.

JB: In 2000 Tracey got a Newgen award and has a shop on Marylebone and on Redchurch St. I think that you just keep going..

TN: If you know what you want to do, as a kid I was making shoes with toilet paper rolls for heels and cereal boxes, so I feel lucky that I knew exactly what I wanted to do. And when I moved here from Canada it seemed to make sense. I did fashion design for 10 years previous before I moved on to doing shoes.

If you comb the beaches you find things from the 1800s. These are all soles and if you look at the fine details… to me they are absolutely beautiful (Tracey passes round the table the soles she has found). It’s about noticing your surroundings. I think there are inspirations all around me.

JB: The other thing that seemed to be similar in your work after talking to Molly was also colour, craft and collaboration and it seems like you do a lot with other designers, and it’s an important part of what your fashion it.

TN: If you’re creative you can do whatever you want and pigeon holing is very dangerous… The idea of collaborating is if you bring an architect in or an artist in it enriches what you do, so why not combine those worlds

We take for granted so much. I think really looking and what you’re seeing and seeing what you’re looking at is so so important.

Timelessness is a really big thing. I think if you have an emotional attachment to the objects you love, that’s what informs your design, and you do end up with things that are timeless as opposed to things that are six month throw-aways.”

Molly Goddard’s What I Like installation was at NOW Gallery from November 2016 to 23 February 2017.