VM at COW Vintage Nottingham

The Giraffe takes on the COW… As part of my course at Nottingham Trent university I was lucky enough to take part in a Lord Whitney workshop. For those of you that haven’t heard of Lord Whitney, they are a prop making duo and with a beautiful company and great workshops to get involved with.… Continue reading VM at COW Vintage Nottingham

My exhibition mission: London’s must see’s

Last week I spent a few days in London. The reason for the trip was to gather cultural research for my current uni projects, and to add to my general contextual knowledge. I love visiting cities and anywhere rich with culture and art. So with only a couple days to explore I packed as many things as I could in to the itinerary, and heres a little note on what galleries and exhibition are worth a look:


Tate Modern:

The Tate is always one of my favourite museums to go to, there is always something great in the turbine hall and this trip was no different. HYUNDAI commission: Philippe Parreno, Anywhen is a immersive experience that is said to challenge your perception of time and space. The french artist has responded to the Turbine hall through acoustics, lighting, moving objects and film. You enter the large space and are immediately aware of the relaxed tone and atmosphere, most people are sitting or laying on the floor, looking up at the ceiling, taking it all in. The feeling I got was similar to sitting in a cinema- I was excited and suspenseful however relaxed in my surroundings. My eyes weren’t drawn to one point, rather flitting around the room. It made me question the sequences of our environment and feel as though it is a comment of an ever changing life cycle- random elements and no real formula.  After leaving the exhibition I wanted to know more and was interested in the ideas and artist behind the work. I found out that the piece is evolving daily, and will do so for the whole of its six week commission. A truly immersive experience and worth a visit if get the chance, I loved it.

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TERRIBLE photos I know, but wanted to give an idea on the size and space

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The Barbican:

I’d never been to the Barbican art gallery before and wasn’t sure what to expect, however I would definitely visit again. We made our way to Shoreditch to see the exhibition The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined.

‘Scandal of good taste’

Fashion curator and exhibition maker Judith Clarke has collaborated with Adam Phillips, a psychoanalyst and writer to build on Phillip’s definition of ‘The Vulgar’ as a bases. The exhibition highlights 500 years of fashion guiding you through pieces from the Renaissance to present day. Weaved together with the theme of vulgarity, whilst celebrating the incredible innovations of all the designers included. I really enjoyed this and feel it was worth the £10 fee of entry. Sadly they didn’t allow photographs so you”l have to check it out yourselves!!

The Hayward Gallery:

The Hayward was another gallery that I’ve never set foot in before and I still haven’t actually set foot in it… the exhibition we went to see was called The Infinite Mix. However it was held off site to our despair as we’d already walked all the way to the gallery to only find out that we were in the wrong place.

When we finally got to the correct location we spent the next hour and a half walking in and out of different but very basic screen rooms. The Infinite Mix is a collection of contemporary audiovisual artworks. Ten rooms in total exploring our cultural tensions all through varied genres.

‘They pointedly remix our notions of history and fiction, the real and the staged, and the sublime and the everyday’

Another one that is completely free and so great to go and see! Each film and soundtrack was completely different, some I connected with and some I didn’t understand at all. Thats all part of it. Its a really interesting space and a very thought-provoking experience I would recommend it if you love music, contemporary art or film.

White Chapel Gallery:

It was a few days of discovery it seems as White Chapel was also a first for me. A much smaller gallery but always worth having a look what they have on. We’d made the effort to see an exhibition about the anonymous feminist activists; Guerrilla Girls. If you don’t known who they are, look them up! These women wear gorilla masks in public to conceal their identities and take on the names of women artists from the past all for the fight against sexism.

The exhibition was called Guerrilla Girls: Is it even worse in Europe? The small exhibit is a room plastered with questions, statistics and proof on the subject of sexism in the art world. It highlights daunting facts about the industry and challenges how we can make change. The activists sent out hundreds of questionnaires to museums and galleries quizzing them on the diversity of their representation. With interesting results of inequality all over Europe- go check it out its really quite shocking and worth a visit.

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V&A museum:

My FAVOURITE museum on the planet… The Victoria and Albert. Not only equipped with the best gift shop but also housed a fantastic exhibition that is incredible useful to my current uni projects. You say you want a revolution? Records and rebels 1966-1970. The exhibition encapsulates the vibrant and explosive attitudes of the late 60’s, displaying fashion, film, design, music and political activism. Once again no photos were allowed and in terms of budget it was the most expensive to visit but worth it.

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A really sneaky pic from the beginning of the exhibition
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Some badges that were on sale in the gift shop.. love the dedicated fashion follower one

-The Lanky Giraffe 

Festival Style

A week ago Monday I was travelling back with my friends from V-festival in Chelmsford, Essex. The journey consisted of six passed out girls and the occasional rub on my arm from a fellow hangover sufferer asking if I was ok. Obviously this situation was the result of a crazy, exciting and truly hilarious weekend, and the last mini bus journey and utter exhaustion was totally worth it.

It was a weekend filled with music and laughter and I loved every second of it. Festivals are great fun and I recommend going to anyone! As this was my third time I knew what to expect and this included festival fashion. Not only was I surround by my beautiful friends but It was great to photograph who ever I thought looked the part. Armed with my phone and the confidence from a vodka and coke these are some of the images I took of the people it met…

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Hope you like it!

-The Lanky Giraffe 

NFW- oneBC fashion show

As I was helping out with the event, (stewarding and being a runner for the show) I didn’t have time to take many pictures. However, the brand that stood out to me the most was the incredibly edgy OneBC. Therefore I made sure I had front row position when seeing the show for the second time Saturday evening. In more ways than one these guys stood out, bringing an energy to the evening. I love to inject a bit of rock’ n roll into my own wardrobe on occasion, but oneBC takes it to a whole other level.edit 1edit 3

The atmosphere was electrifying… quite literally with a live electric guitar being played up the catwalk amongst the models!  The colour pallet is kept to charcoal blacks, textured metallic and concrete hues keeping within the theme. I feel like the atheistic of a brand is so much more powerful when a catwalk show is colour coordinated or themed.

edit 4 IMG_1083To finish the models themselves stole the show. Fierce and profound. I loved the mix of gender, ethnicity, height and age (refreshing for a fashion student, when all you see is young white women dominate mainstream media). It was a beautiful mash up of all things rock’ n roll, a bliss movement of attitude and personality. I wanted to be in their gang!

If you want more info on what they are all about, have a look here at their website: http://www.one-bc.com

Or check out the shop in Nottingham located on Gedling street!

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-The Lanky Giraffe

SUEDE- Trend Report

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I’ve been waiting to do this post for a while. My project was to investigate the relationship of ‘suede’ in the fashion industry. Unpacking the broader fashion industry, market levels and retail sectors. Looking at the cultural landscape in terms of historical and social context and deconstructing visual codes and images.

As with any report I began with a lot of research and sketch book work, working in a sketch book has always been my favourite way of moving through a project. Being able to work freely with ideas and no structure is far more creative than trying to gather word documents or piles of paper.

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Task one involved taking two existing adverts from two different market level that featured my chosen trend and comparing them. In terms of where both of these brands stand in the market Gucci is high end or couture and Zara is at a mass market level. How these brands portray their products through magazine adverts must communicate a message to there target consumer. Although both labels have gone for something clearly inspired by the 1970’s, in terms of the use of suede and style of garment, the visual connotations differ immensely.

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At first glance the image form the Zara campaign may seem simple, however it tells us a lot about the brand its self. Choosing a young looking model such as Dani Witt, immediately connects to the young audience around late teens. This particular advert was purposely designed to draw a younger audience as part of the new campaign and succeeds through the use of a fresh faced model. The effortless hair and minimal make up would appeal to the youth of today who aspire for the minimal, alternative and carefree lifestyle. The actual product itself denotes a suede jacket however the execution of the image connotes 70’s chic.

The composition of the advert, being a close up shot, is unusual for a clothes brand however works well in capturing the tone and message of Zara. (Minimalist yet cutting edge fashion). Although the location isn’t clear I feel there is a strong indication this is for autumn/winter through the thick jumper and warm colour pallet. Her red hair against the blue background could connote a hot fire against the cold air through the winter months.

Moving on to the Gucci (spring/ summer) campaign image, again there are 70’s undertones however the composition and location brings a different feel to the Zara campaign.Using a model that looks perhaps in her 20’s suggests slightly more sophistication, and establishment. Once again a naturally and stereotypically beautiful model connecting to people’s ego ideal, not only in the image on one’s self but also to be able to afford a high end brand. Styling is paired with a dress or skirt that sits just above the knee, implying a more conservative dress code. In addition, knee high boots that are well polished- once again confirming refined and sophisticated brand.

When evaluating the image as a whole, the model appears to be standing within an old stone building. The stone seems aged however quite grand expanding around into a balcony this suggests a large establishment connoting success and wealth- similar to how the brand would want to appear to consumers. The overall composition of the shot displays the brands personality however I feel it is a strange choice for spring summer, given the cold colour tones, neutral hues and pale model.

Both adverts do not display the brand name however perhaps this is unneeded in the tone and message the images put across. Both displaying key characteristics to the brands therefor perhaps labels are not needed?


Images showing two examples of my chosen trend within store, one window display and another showing visual merchandise on the actual shop floor. Examining the use of visual codes and messages that are relevant to the brand. And how they differ or overlap in terms of presentation and narrative.IMG_8376


A more in- depth look into the fashion trend through other sectors to provide full cultural context. Here I dissect suede and look at how it is received as a whole. In particular, street style, interiors and film.IMG_8377

As a trend that is associated with the 70’s, a lot of the garment surrounding the trend have 1970’s connotations, worn with key pieces originally form that time in history. Because of this, the material is known to be ‘vintage’ and worn by fashion conscious individuals. It is also very popular in accessories and has established success within footwear, in recent year’s fashion trainers and high knee boots.

In addition to this, sued being made from the fleshy side of leather and rubbed down, its incredibly soft therefor used for interiors. It’s a sign of luxury yet connotes a western vibe. Seen below in this example, the suede is used in the traditional brown (most popular) to craft and beautiful setting for someone’s living area. Of course here it is paired with a dead animal horns and a leather chair all indicators of a western America.


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Ali MacGraw in The Getaway – a 1972 action crime thriller and popular film in its time. The film displays the fashion of the time perfectly, demonstrating authenticity and style through Ali’s character’s famous suede jacket. It reminds me of the Gucci coat that I discussed earlier and cements the concept of a 70’s origin.  Throughout the movie the beautiful young actress displays classic style. The coat stands out connoting felinity and shape, not only does this prove the vintage implications of suede but the glamorous side of it too.

Kate Hudson in Almost Famous- 2000 adventure comedy drama, and worthy example of not only 70’s style but suede in film. Set in California and 1970 Kate’s character is a rock and role hippy, the queen of shabby chic. The show-stopping shearling coat connotes represents the vintage hippy style that we in our fashion industry today. Once again the look of natural make up and effortless hair comes to play suggesting something casual about suede, you couldn’t wear it as a ball gown! As a material it is seen as being cool and hip, often linked to music (be it in film or store like Urban Outfitters.)

All through my examples the over arching theme links to this time in history. There is something about wearing vintage clothing and recycling fashion from the past that will never go and suede is an impeccable example of this.

Before becoming associated with youthful rebellion in the 1950’s, leather and denim, which appeared in the mid-nineteenth century, were associated with the taming of the wild west.’ Quilleriet (2004 p79)

IMG_8379Cowboys and the wild west evoke Hollywood movies of adventures and action, and were most popular in the 1970’s. They represent my parent’s childhood and anyone in that generation, a time before video games and mobile phones. Suede tassels, boots and jackets all express the evolution of fashion through society. From its original practical use ‘to protect themselves from ropes and lassos’ Quilleriet (2004 p79), to Hollywood film and finally filtering through to fashion today. Resulting in a material that induces a nostalgia that no other material does.

Furthermore, when thinking of the wild west its often portrayed in hot dry land. Unsurprisingly suede is used in a lot of spring/summer wear. As are many of the street style photos some of which were taken at the summer festival Cocella. As a material that too thick yet soft it is appropriate for both summer and winter seasons. Summer as its thin yet soft and is seen as skirts or small tops. Or winter where the knee high boot seems to be very popular through this season.


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Trough my research into suede I came across the idea that homosexual men used suede shoes as a signifier to other homosexual men in the early 1930’s. ‘Men developed codes that were intelligible only to other men familiar with the subculture… Accessories, such as red ties or suede shoes, were used to allow these gay men to recognize one another with out drawing the attention of the the uninitiated’ Cole (2000 p62) This shows how culture and society was so different in the past for men to have to hide there sexuality. Its interesting how a new subculture was created in response to this. ‘Suede shoes are perhaps one of the better known signifiers of homosexuality, especially in Britain’ Cole (2000 p62)

When we look at todays suede shoes they could connote an array of different things however not to signify your sexuality- this shows the evolution of social change and acceptance over the last eighty years or so.

The 1970s

In terms of a broader culture the 1970’s was a point in history that is unforgettable. From music, to film, to science the fashion industry is influenced by it all. Through out my research the over arching theme of suede always resonates from the 70’s.


IMG_8381Fundamental values from my three examples within historical, social and cultural context, illustrated how fashion can be recycled. Suede as a trend represents history and our ability to reinvent fashion again and again. At first I thought about all the possible ideas that I had generated from my project so far. The narrative that stood out the most too me was 1970’s Hollywood wild west- nostalgic however vintage and hipster. The examples of suede and leather in VM thus far have been either dull or obvious.

When thinking of the denim section of, for example Topshop, the shop floor is sectioned off for specifically moto jeans. What if there was a section for suede, or vintage clothing and leather? I moved forward to thinking about how this could look in store then progressed into exploring the idea of a pop up shop promoting this idea.  Above are two examples of pop up shops the first a German store, Walford, and the second Louis Vuitton. Both stood out to me in terms of design. Walford’s shop has been made so you can see inside anyway you walk, inviting more costumers to look at their products. Both look as though they are made of a metal frame- I began to think about what physical buildings I could recreate that related to my chosen example.


IMG_8382At the risk of looking cheesy USA I stayed clear of cow boy hats and though out, a subtler approach to capture my ideas. I moved forward by unpacking the physical items that are associated with suede. And began to think about the landscape of the wild west or what one might see on a 70’s road trip through the heat. Stag skulls I feel are eerily beautiful but with a juxtaposition of contemporary but from the past. I began to trace images of skulls and drew into them as if I was made from wire.

The idea developed to creating an enlarged skull out of a thick wire of metal, think enough and large enough to stay up and conceal a small pop up store. Of course referring back to the other pop up shops I saw the wire would allow consumers to peer inside and see an selecting of hanging suede’s and leathers.  All evoking vintage 70’s wild west, perhaps a couple cacti to set the seen. Above is a rough mock up of how it could look, large enough for up to ten people inside and several clothing racks. The horns of the skull could be a distressed rose cold and the hangers inside all to be wooden, giving a stylish but vintage look.

Hope you’ve enjoyed having a read

-The Lanky Giraffe