We all have a story…

I am Rosie Allenby, aged 19 and studying Fashion Design (BA Hons) at De Montfort University in Leicester.

They say ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ I prefer: ‘a picture paints a snapshot of an uncompleted story.’

For me it is the story that matters. It is the process, the journey a person or atom, or animal or idea takes to formulate and develop and become what it was destined to be.

We all have a story.

Mine contains:

  • A family of four – five if you include the dog;
  • A love of history – that is expressed in scars of the flesh, on landscapes and in the memories in our hearts, it is the people and events that make us who we are;
  • And a love of law – the ideal of justice and a degree that would have taken my story in a very different direction;
  • Cooking – if it’s made from scratch it will always be and taste better;
  • But… Paul Child: “What is it that you REALLY like to do?”… Julia Child: “EAT!”– Julie&Julia;
  • A need to sew – whether altering my clothes and often leaving them unfinished – an awful habit – or creating the next toile for evaluation and development.
  • A love of God – a relationship like no other, that is incomparable, and mine alone, my saving grace;
  • Period dramas – the dream of being a woman who wears beautiful dresses and “must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word accomplished; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half-deserved.” – Miss Bingley; Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and then to be wooed by men who have “a fine countenance, a good figure, and very pleasing address” and have no problem expressing their feelings and can quite comfortably say: “You have bewitched me, body and soul”-Mr Darcy, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen;
  • An open ending – a life just beginning, ready to be written, doodled on, torn apart, stitched back together and with endless possibilities!

That is why I am studying fashion design; you take a concept and run with it from beginning to end. You research into areas previously unknown to discover the story in the history, psychology, religion, oppression, pattern or culture of the niche in which you have become entangled. It is these new avenues that form the foundations of my designs; expanding them and helping create a collection that actually has something to say.

It is in this way that people and stories are like the garments I will create: some become your favourite, you wear them over and over and patch them up when they wear out; some do not quite fit and are discarded; others stay for sentimental value, though serving no purpose, but still are never thrown away; and others come and go as seasons change, making a difference all the same.


Critical And Contextual Studies Evaluation:

I have enjoyed the CCS process of writing my blog as I have found each of the topics divertingly different and interesting.

However, because of this I have found writing the blog posts really hard, as after gathering such a variety of knowledge through books, journals and online sites it has been challenging to condense the information into a limited word count, often having to leave out information that I myself found interesting.

Though this process and on reflection I have realised how hard Harvard referencing is and that it is definitely not one of my strong points: especially when I have to access a variety of sources and knowing when and how much of a source constitutes a reference.

Overall I am contented with my writing and posts, I personally find them interesting; with my own spin on each topic, sometimes the content is personal and at others it is critical or objective. I am aware that striking the right balance between research and moving it forward into my own evaluation can sometimes blur and the balance of the two can weigh more heavily on onw side compared to the other.

In conclusion, I would like to continue writing my blog around issues or topics of interest, whether linking to my other modules and projects or creating other avenues of interest, such as baking or more outfit style posts. Hopefully it will be this analysis and exploration that will help me grow as a designer.

Subcultures – Teddy Boys:

“Our dress is our answer to a dull world” [Teddy Boy at the Mecca Dance TedsHall, Tottenham, 1954]

It is the 15th October 1954 and I am interviewing Michael ‘Mike’ Collins, a Teddy Boy.

So, Mike could you give me a brief overview about what it means to be a Teddy Boy?
Yeah sure, I suppose, like most lads, my gang lark around making the most of our boyhood at the new pin-table saloons, ‘caffs, milk bars and record shops’ [Breward, C. Ehrman, E. Evans, C. (2005) The London Look: Fashion From Street To Catwalk. Pg119] the only difference is that with us Teds we’re slicked up and dressed up. There’s an “implication that an ill-dressed person is also probably dishonest, stupid and without talent.” [Luire, A. (1981) The Language of Clothes, pg118] and just because you’re ‘working-class’ doesn’t mean you have to look or act like it!

Teddy Boys admiring the view on Clapham Common in 1954, a year after the infamous Teddy Boy Murder.

Where does the term Teddy Boy come from?
It’s the abbreviation of Edward as in a ‘neo-Edwardian look’. We’ve ‘transformed the new Edwardian style by Saville Row for those posh men as an act of bricolage.’ [Hebdige, D. 1979 Subculture: The Meaning of Style, pg104] It’s a class rebellion: an opposition, we stand united!

So you have mentioned being ‘slicked up and dressed up’, could you describe your clothing for me?
It’s an ‘exaggerated style.’ We wear really ‘narrow ties; drainpipe trousers with a 17 inch maximum cuff width; winkle-pickers with pointed toes, or creepers. Our jackets are wider-cut with more padded shoulders.’ [Luire, A. (1981) The Language of Clothes, pg78] Most of mine have ‘velvet collars and cuffs.’[Breward, C. Ehrman, E. Evans, C. (2005) The London Look: Fashion From Street To Catwalk, pg 114] Also, I always carry the essentials: a pocket watch, linked to my waistcoat; a flick knife and of course my hair comb.

jacket 2jacketteds2

Does it take you long to get ready in the mornings?
For sure I mean, you have to have freshly shined shoes; everything is always ironed; and my pompador is slicked to perfection. But saying that: ‘It’s definitely smarter; it attracts the birds, when you put it on it gives you a superior feeling, a confidence and people look at you.’ [http://edwardianteddyboy.com/ (15/01/2015)] The effort is worth it, if I didn’t look like this I wouldn’t have picked up my Maureen, would I!?

teddy boys mecca dance hall london tottenham 1954

What do you think of other people’s clothing?
We’re in the 50s, my wage has doubled [Abrams, M. (1959) The Teenage Consumer, London Press Exchange] so have others, why would you want to dress like a peasant?!  That’s a non-Ted by the way, just like you and my parents. They won’t ever understand the way I dress!

[Teddy Boy at the Mecca Dance Hall, Tottenham, 1954]
– Breward, C. Ehrman, E. Evans, C. (2005) The London Look: Fashion From Street To Catwalk. Pg119
– Luire, A. (1981) The Language of Clothes, pg118
– Hebdige, D. 1979 Subculture: The Meaning of Style, pg104
– Luire, A. (1981) The Language of Clothes, pg78
– Breward, C. Ehrman, E. Evans, C. (2005) The London Look: Fashion From Street To Catwalk, pg 114
http://edwardianteddyboy.com/ [15/01/2015]
– Abrams, M. (1959) The Teenage Consumer, London Press Exchange

Investigating Topshop:


Topshop: an empire exceeding 300 UK stores and shipping to 100 countries. As part of the Arcadia Group, owned by Philip Green, it is alongside Dorothy Perkins, BHS and Miss Selfridge. [http://www.theguardian.com/money/2012/jun/15/store-wars-topshop-river-island 15/1/2015]

topshop-1miss-selfridgedorothy-perkins bhs

Topshop’s products have a USP (unique selling point) as they can be separated into six main categories, all available at their Flagship store at Oxford Circus, London.

MAINLINE: basics, denim, essential seasonal pieces – most items are available for mass market
PREMIUM: limited edition designs in quality fabrics – for shoppers able to spend more for a higher quality
BOUTIQUE: the higher-end capsule wardrobe – inaccessible to many or for occasion wear only
UNIQUE: collections by the in-house design team.
DESIGNERS: collaborations with industry designers: Christopher Kane, Celia Birtwell and David Koma.
EMERGE: lines by up-and-coming designers – prices consistent with status, semi-affordable investments in the designer often pay off.


There is also Topshop online and further publicity in Topshop’s in-house magazine and on a plethora of Social Media:

With integrated marketing online, through app and in store Topshop reach mass audiences.
‘Quality’ and ‘prestige’ are a couple of words often associated with Topshop and can be understood through their use of:

Prestige pricing; continually high prices, until (faulty) items arrive on sale and are bought by the shopper, like myself, who must wait until they can buy at prices more appropriate to the quality.

Personal shopping experiences; ‘staying, playing and leaving with something new’ is not a facility available at most high-street stores and one that can lead to a great deal of spending.

Designer and Celebrity collaborations like with Kate Moss who’s first kate mosscollaboration with Topshop in 2007 took £3m in the first week of sale. [http://www.verdictretail.com/topshop-pins-hopes-on-kate-moss-to-protect-market-share/  15/1/2015]

The Topshop paper bag; a bag a season parallel Cat bagto current trends, the SS13 graphical cat print was also available on products throughout the store.

Not to mention their in store environment; with a clear layout and accessory towers with no untidy areas or messy rails [http://www.theguardian.com/money/2012/jun/15/store-wars-topshop-river-island 15/1/2015] a separate footwear department and all with clean, downward lighting and large mirrors, especially in the changing rooms, though they are quite confined and extremely warm.

It is the combination of the above that provides Topshop with an assumed greater importance in comparison to its high-street rivals.

Topshop also use marketing to increase favor and sales. They achieve this through multiple pathways; whether through:

zoellaVloggers like Zoella [https://www.youtube.com/user/zoella280390?gl=GB&hl=en-GB and http://www.zoella.co.uk/%5D creating ‘haul videos’;
Cara Delevingne

Using popular models, famously Cara Delevingne, in editorials and at London Fashion Week, which is attended by Daisy Lowe, Alexa Chung, Abby Clancy and Ella Eyre;

LFW Front-RowLFW

Unique, on trend visual merchandising;

Topshop-Oxford-Circus Topshop-London

Ethical initiatives and associations with

Or having a handy a 10% student student discout topshopdiscount!





http://www.theguardian.com/money/2012/jun/15/store-wars-topshop-river-island [15/1/2015]
http://www.verdictretail.com/topshop-pins-hopes-on-kate-moss-to-protect-market-share/  [15/1/2015]
https://www.youtube.com/user/zoella280390?gl=GB&hl=en-GB and http://www.zoella.co.uk/
http://www.topshop.com/en/tsuk/category/about-us-80/home?cat2=273012&intcmpid=W_FOOTER_WK1_HP_UK_ABOUT#fragment-5 [15/1/2015]
– Photo: [http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-2236539/Topshop-boss-Sir-Philip-Green-battered-retailers-Stop-moping-it.html]

Fashion Advert Analysis:

Semiotics or Semiology is the study of signs in society’ [Bignell.J. 1997, 2002 ‘Media Semiotics An Introduction’pg5] and creates more effective adverts through the use of denotations and connotations.

‘It is the relationship between one sign and another which is important for the meaning of the advert’ [Bignell.J. 1997, 2002 ‘Media Semiotics An Introduction’pg16, 29, 34]:

Miu-Miu-02 Miu-Miu-03 Miu-Miu-04

Vogue Jan 15, Miu Miu displays a fragment of their THE CROISIÈRE’ pre-spring/summer 2015 collection. Using the thesis of semiotics I am speculating on the denotations and connotations within the piece.

At first the two pages seem independent. The left photograph is isolated from the right editorial of Natalie Westling.  However, links between the two images clarify:

  • The organic nature of the landscape in relation to the untamed hair connotes freedom and raw sexuality in the natural bed-head look. Antonio Lopez illustrations in Intro Magazine 1967Therefore, Miu Miu must imagine their clientele closely associating with this organic freedom and fiery tempered, intensely strong, red haired passion or at least longing for it. Whereas, in reality though ‘High fashion still exists it is bought, largely; by people who don’t have to work’ or ‘consists mainly of self-display.’ [Lurie.A. 1981. ‘The language of clothes’]
  • The beach: a destination for relaxation and reflection. The addition of grasses denotes growth and new life from upturned areas of vegetation. Combined, this signifies the collection is updating the 70’s making it tangible and wearable again. [http://www.stylebubble.co.uk/style_bubble/2014/07/last-of-the-croisiere.html (20/12/2014] Out with the old and in with the Miu Miu!
  • In the ripples on the sea-bed: directly translating as pleats, gathers and swirling patterns, of orange and brow on the chiffon dress. Further evoking the idea of earthy elegance that, as with tides, moves in and out of fashion.  verushkain emilio pucciSonia Rykiel look in Harpers Bazaar March 1969
  • Meanwhile, the crocheted tank top connotes Crochet shortspouring effort into the garment; it is homely, personal – something available for the everyday women – grounded fashion with an eye-catching print. The wearer is choosing to make a statement.
  • The blank editorial canvas; minimal make-up Thea Porter outif 1971and emotionless expression allow the designs to fit any purpose or function. The image has not been sexualised or confined: the buyer decides, creating a sense of empowerment.

However, many of Miu Miu’s customers and the majority of the female population – unlike Natalie Westling – are not size 0 and therefore, somehow all of Miu Miu’s efforts to tap into the ‘free’, organic, everyday women seem flawed and false. Honesty cannot be translated when Miu Miu use models ‘with a child’s wide-eyed pouting face and figure: long thin legs, narrow undeveloped body and proportionally big head’ encouraging ‘anorexia to become a household word’ [Lurie.A. 1981. ‘The language of clothes’] is this still what Miu Miu wants to be associated with?!

– Bignell.J. 1997, 2002 ‘Media Semiotics An Introduction’pg5
– Bignell.J. 1997, 2002 ‘Media Semiotics An Introduction’pg16, 29, 34
– Lurie.A. 1981. ‘The language of clothes’
http://www.stylebubble.co.uk/style_bubble/2014/07/last-of-the-croisiere.html (20/12/2014

Fashion And Sustainability:

Jackson, T. Firth, T. Alpert, K. (2009) Confessions Of A Shopaholic
Jackson, T. Firth, T. Alpert, K. (2009) Confessions Of A Shopaholic

A 20% off, timeless, green parka but, have I read the fine print, did I know what I was getting into before I clicked ‘continue to payment’? Did I research how sustainable my purchase was or was I sold by design and price alone?

Carrie - Sex And The CityCharlotte - Sex And The CitySamantha -Sex And The City

In films we are taught, what women do is shop, craving their fast fashion fix: whether like Carrie, Charlotte and Samantha [Bushnell, C. Star, D. (1998–2004) HBO Sex In The City] or Cher [Heckerling, A. (1995) Clueless] who can afford luxury labels or those of us like Rebecca Bloomwood [Jackson, T. Firth, T. Alpert, K. (2009) Confessions Of A Shopaholic] who cannot, we all contribute to the production and consumption machine ‘impacting those at the bottom end of the production line.’ [Black, S. Eco-Chic The Fashion Paradox, London (2008, pg14)]

Cher - CluelessRebecca Bloomwood - Confessions of A Shopaholic

However, with TV and Film wielding publicity, why do we never see characters checking the label for FairTrade logos or being proactive about where their garments have come from; like those who work for equality at People Tree? [http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/en/buying-fairtrade/cotton/people-tree] The answer: because people ‘feel helpless in the face of such enormous issues.’ [Black, S Eco-Chic The Fashion Paradox, London (2008, pg243)]

My Parka’s label reads:
Made in China
Think of the environment
Shell – 100% cotton
Lining – 100% polyester

            Cotton: ‘The most universal textile fibre, associated with purity and positive natural qualities; employing approx. 27million cotton farmers worldwide’ [Black. S. Eco-Chic The Fashion Paradox, London (2008) pg107,113]

Cotton PickersCotton Picker

So, cotton must be good: it makes babygrows, jeans and my parka; and surely the high employment means cotton is the holy grail of fibres!? Unfortunately, ‘cotton is the most pesticide-dependent crop in the world, using as many as one-fourth of all pesticides made.’[http://www.howstuffcompares.com/doc/c/cotton-vs-polyester.htm]

In addition, production, manufacture and dying use extensive amounts of water, energy, and toxic chemicals:  further harming the under paid cotton pickers and sweat shop workers, mainly from China, India and the US.

           Polyester: ‘Is now the largest single fibre group within global textile production.’ [Black. S. Eco-Chic The Fashion Paradox, London (2008) pg150] And why not, when: polyester is ‘extremely strong; highly durable; wrinkle resistant;’ [http://www.whatispolyester.com/] and has superior water, wind and environmental resistance [http://www.howstuffcompares.com/doc/c/cotton-vs-polyester.htm]

However, polyester is used because it is cheap, and perfect for fast fashion, but energy costs and carbon footprints throughout synthesizing and manufacturing greatly undermine its economic value.

In conclusion, fibres don’t have one right answer, but it is the human element that collectively we can change. Designers should create beautiful, ethically sourced garments and it is buyers influencing the designer’s production, if we all stopped shopping in Marks and Spencer’s, DKNY, GAP and Converse until they improved their sweatshop labourers’ conditions and paid all minimum wage, they would soon listen to what the buyer has to say. [http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/apr/28/sweatshops-supplying-high-street-brands (21/12/2014)]

– Jackson, T. Firth, T. Alpert, K. (2009) Confessions Of A Shopaholic
– Bushnell, C. Star, D. (1998–2004) HBO Sex In The City
– Heckerling, A. (1995) Clueless
– Black, S. Eco-Chic The Fashion Paradox, London (2008), pg14
– Black, S Eco-Chic The Fashion Paradox, London (2008) pg243
–  Black. S. Eco-Chic The Fashion Paradox, London (2008) pg107,113
– Black. S. Eco-Chic The Fashion Paradox, London (2008) pg150
http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/apr/28/sweatshops-supplying-high-street-brands (21/12/2014)
http://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/fashion/celebrity-fashion/2010/05/13/sex-and-the-city-our-favourite-looks#!image-number=1 [21/12/2014]