Precious Fashion Memories

Jacqui Pestell led the last of the adult art workshops at Edinburgh City Art Centre, in line with their 2 fashion-themed exhibitions this summer. Her class was called Precious Fashion Memories – Pattern, Texture and Colour.

The idea behind this class was to produce a framed object that encapsulated memories of fashions in our past. Alternatively we could produce an object that was wholly inspired by the photos and paintings in the exhibitions. This is what I ended up doing after failing to find a way to express the fashion of my 90’s punk/grunge days.

Exploring both exhibitions, 3 items caught my interest – all from the Coming into Fashion: A Century of Photography at Condé Nast exhibition. The first 2 were:

  • One of David Bailey’s photos of Jean Shrimpton in his 1962 New York shoot for Vogue. I was familiar with the shot from watching the enjoyable and memorable BBC drama about this shoot, We’ll Take Manhattan. The photo can be seen as the last one on this page.
  • Constantin Joffé’s photo for American Vogue (September 1945) shown here. In the exhibition it headed up a section entitled The Golden Age, ’40s-’50s.

These are sketches I made at the time. They were done in pencil on white paper, but I’m showing them in negative here because I like the effect:

130907 sketches

The last piece that attracted me was this striking 1950 black and white cover of Vogue, of Jean Patchett taken by Irving Penn. I found the image to be quite timeless. It could be an image from the future – perhaps from many futures – as well as the past.

The photo epitomises Irving’s thoughtful arrangement of subject matter in artful compositions. In writing this blog I found that this particular cover had actually been used for his obituary in The Telelgraph when he died in 2009.

I was quite taken by this image and decided to spend the rest of the class working with it, and with the theme of timelessness and recurrence of ideas that occur to me when I look at the picture.

Jacqui supplied us with a 4.5cm deep, glass fronted frame (this one from Ikea) to decorate. I painted a version of Irving Penn’s photo with acrylic. I filled the frame with the plastic wrapping from two of the frames. Fortunately it was suggested to me that I leave the recycle logos intact.

My painting is so-so, but the wrapping and recycle logos capture the recurrence-of-ideas theme quite well. They imply re-use of previous fashions, ready to be unwrapped and made current again at any time. It is my first truly modern art piece that does something more than a traditional piece might. And it looks okay – it is still hanging on my wall 2 weeks after the class.




  1. Lexa S.

    I totally love your idea fro an art piece! Putting that plastic wrap in the frame and keeping the recycling logos is fresh and meaningful. Not to mention the Irving Penn’s inspiration for the painting. Best and good luck!

    • timhards

      That’s really nice to hear. Thanks Lexa. It is especially pleasing to hear such comments about my fashion art piece from a successful model who has modelled fashion for the likes of Katie Holmes!

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