28 June, 2009

The Next Year

So let's just say that I decide to take a break from fashion design, and give myself a year to sort things out. I've been giving it some thought lately, and I've decided to start compiling a list of things which, if money was not an issue (though in reality of course it is), I would like to spend the next year doing.

First and foremost I want to TRAVEL. That is the one thing that never fails to come up in conversation with friends or family lately. I have an unbearable urge to run away and I think I should indulge it. I want to see the world, change my context, put myself in new situations and see if I can't narrow down a little of what I want out of life.

And while I am traveling I want to write. This blog is no example of eloquent literary scrawlings, but I CAN in fact write when I put my mind to it. I love writing. I love taking in the world and spitting it back out in a new way. But what would I write about? I am not well-traveled and so I cannot comment on traveling itself. I could write about fashion, but there are so many fashion blogs and fashion writers out there that it's almost moot to mention fashion at all these days. So what in the world would I write about? I am not going to write the next Eat Pray Love, although I would love to.... hm, I would love to.

Now traveling is great and all, but it is not cheap. The biggest hurdle with that is figuring out how to fund my exploring. Hmmmmm.

Second, I would like to start a design line. Nothing huge. Something small and very, very Me. I want to find my work being talked about on those design blogs that I read. I want to have small orders from little boutiques. I just want to love what I do and make beautiful things. In order to do this I need a studio space. Some time to myself. And a seamstress. I HATE sewing. And honestly I am not very good at it. I can design and cut patterns until I am blue in the face, but I need to hire a seamstress to see the work through. Laugh if you will, but I know my limits.

So, how do I find and fund a small studio space and a sample maker?

Third, photography. I want to invest in a good beginner-level digital SLR camera and start really indulging in my photography. I've found a real love for it over the last few months and want to develop a style. I think it would be useful in many many ways later in life.

And lastly, shoes. I am taking a footwear intensive next month and that will be my first taste of making shoes. I have a feeling that I will like it. A lot. In all modesty I would be AMAZING at shoe design. Shoes are the one thing I obsess about and have strong opinions about. If I know nothing else, I KNOW shoes. I would be the next Fluevog... only sexier. I want to start my own line of shoes and sell them.

And frankly, I know NOTHING about how to start that, so I won't even speculate about the steps involved.

So. How do I make these things happen?

26 June, 2009

< / First Year at CSM >

Today was my final day of first year at Central St Martins.

I can hear music blasting from every floor of the student halls. Drunks are occupying on every corner. I must be the only person not out celebrating.

"Ceeeeeeelebrate good times, come on!"

I am in my very stuffy dorm room watching bad movies and fucking up my healthy diet by eating some ice cream. My flat mates are out. I have the whole place to myself. It's lonely and rather lovely. I should watch a scary movie....

"Are you still my sunshine?"

So you probably want to know how my last day went. Well.... hm. My crit was, um, uneventful and confusing. Evil Tutor was there and as per usual he gave me NO FEEDBACK. My crit was literally three minutes long. I have no idea what he thought, or what my grade will be. Big surprise, right?

Just as a point of interest, my best London friend presented immediately after I did... She walked up to the tutor as I took my model into the bathroom to de-latex her. About 5 minutes later my model, cleaned and dressed, walked back into the room to gather her stuff, and my friend was still discussing her work with Evil Tutor. I walked my model down to the ground floor and we hugged and said goodbye and I walked all the way back up to the room where we were presenting. All in all, I was out of the room for a total of about ten minutes and when I got back my friend was STILL getting in depth feedback from Evil Tutor.

See, this is how he operates. If he loves you or hates you, he gives you TONS of feedback. If he thinks you are a lost cause or doesn't understand your work at all, he more or less ignores you completely. I am always ignored. Always have been. And not because he doesn't understand, but I can tell that he feels I'm a lost cause.

Frankly, I don't give a damn anymore. Whether or not I get kicked out, I never have to deal with that useless little fucker again.

"What is love, baby don't hurt me...." (There is some asshole on the street singing along loudly and catcalling all the cute girls that walk by. He hasn't left which means no one has fallen for his line yet.)

Oh and another point of interest- I saw my grade for the denim project today. My lowest grade yet! 28. GO ME! *roll eyes*

I guess in the end it really doesn't matter because my dress was very well received by most of the class and my model looked fabulous in it. It's only the second latex garment I've ever made. It was a laborious and tiring way to do it, but it came out looking precisely like my drawing (except for a few fitting issues that I will go fix in a little while).

Observe, readers:

So, what do you think?

I would like to end this entry with some grand, eloquent words about what I have learned from CSM. But I have no words like that at my disposal at the moment. My brain power is limited to romcoms and chocolate this evening. So instead I end this, the last day of first year (and quite possibly my last day at CSM ever) with these wise, learned words of wisdomness:

Sleep is a wonderful thing. Good night.

25 June, 2009


My latest project looks like what would have happened if Mondrian spit out some latex fashion instead of paint.

By the way, this is many layers on top of each other. It's not quite this busy, actually.

23 June, 2009

A Day in the Life

Today I am going to blow my budget on a few metres of latex which I will then cut apart into tiny bits, only to glue it back together with the help of my bored flat mates who I have guilt tripped into helping me. I've found that the not-only-are-you-all-done-with-school-already-but-you-all-complain-about-being-bored-all-the-time-so-who-wants-to-help-me-cut-expensive-things-into-tiny-shards approach works well.

I foresee a lot of coffee in my immediate future.

21 June, 2009

Obama and Nerds

This has nothing to do with being an American in London, but it does have to do with being American. Take ten minutes of your time and enjoy the fact that our president had nerd cred.

20 June, 2009

Strawberry to Chestnut

Ok the strawberry color faded to a bad orange that made me look constantly ill. So I gave up on the weird blonde colors and went to a warm, chestnut brown. Still light-enough to be summery, but dark-enough to make me look healthy.

I feel refreshed.

18 June, 2009

Looking Back

Rereading my old posts this evening I have noticed a few things. First, I think it is safe to safe that I have had a really tough year. I wanted London to be an exciting adventure, and instead it has been an absolute trial. But the second thing I noticed is how I have changed so much since I moved here nine months ago.

In my reading I ran across this entry, entitled I Hope Nostalgia Makes This All Seem Better dated 18 November of last year. I talked about hoping that I would look back on that first term when I faced my fear of failing and think about it as a good ol' learning experience. Turns out that the learning experience I would look back on would be an entire year of consistent failing and fighting and picking myself up over and over again. I had no idea what was coming for me.

I had no idea that I would learn to accept failure and get over it quickly. I had no idea I was capable of being smacked down so many times and getting back up again. I had no idea what hard work really was in fact.

I had no idea that the hard work would not pay off. I had no idea that the school would be run by rule-enforcing monkeys who see in black and white. I had no idea that CSM would in fact turn out to be a fantastic school for students who already know exactly how to do what CSM wants. I had no idea that I would learn so much DESPITE CSM and not BECAUSE of it. The girl who wrote that entry would never have guesed that she would be so fed up with the bullshit at CSM that she would secretly be glad they were throwing here out so she could pursue other interests.

I had no idea that I would ever be able to get an internship. And NEVER would I have guessed that I would have the presence of mind to choose to stay in London and seek out opportunities instead of going back to the comfort of my boyfriend. The girl that wrote that on the 18th of November had no idea about anything.

And yet despite all of it, I still struggle with many of the same things I always have. The long distance relationship is still incredibly difficult for me. That has not gotten any easier- in fact it has gotten more difficult the longer I stay here. I still face the same hurdles when I get stressed out. I still struggle with feeling insignificant and untalented when faced with the talented people I study with. I am still prone to fits of utter hopelessness and despair when faced with an impossible situation, and I still find myself being unreasonably furious at The Boy when he isn't there to give me a hug and calm me down. I still find that although I am MUCH better at taking criticism, I do not have a sense of confidence within myself that will ever match the strength of complimentary words from others.

It if for all these reasons that I know I am not ready to leave Europe. I am not the person I want to be when I return home. I am far from it. But someday maybe I will get to look back on this year and find that nostalgia will allow me to see the value in the experience.

It wasn't a total waste.

17 June, 2009

Sneaking Suspicion

I have an awful suspicion that fate has a sense of humor.... I am worried that the worst of all good things might happen... now that I have finally come to terms with my forthcoming dismissal from CSM, I am suddenly worried that they will change their minds and let me stay on.

And then I'll have to decide what I want more: the end of CSM's bullshit, or CSM's name on a degree.


I have come to realize how stupid I would be to limit myself to only fashion. There are so many other things I want to do as well. Fabric is a limited medium and I want to expand my art beyond it. Though the term "dabble" has a sort of negative connotation, but that is exactly what I should be doing right now- dabbling in anything and everything, while specializing in nothing.

This is the time for me to try it all.

A day or two ago I went to a magazine launch where I met a really interesting man who set me thinking about diversifying my artistic view. He does a little bit of a lot of things. He is A Designer in the best sense. Meeting him reminded me that I really want to be the clothing equivalent of a Renaissance man. I want to do it all and bring all that knowledge back to my passion for style and the human form. Why on earth would I limit myself in this day and age of easily-accessible information?

This new found energy has inspired me to really delve into my new project at CSM. My Evil Tutor even noticed my excitement, and to my great surprise, I had the first encouraging tutorial I have ever experienced at CSM.

I cannot wait for school to be over in two weeks, so I can focus on expanding my horizons as An Artist and as A Designer.

14 June, 2009

Last Two Weeks

Our new project is about the future, and my new sketchbook is looking really different. Really good. I hope I can do something fabulous with it.

No word on grades of any kind from school.

And as soon as I get my portfolio back, I will take some picture for you. Looking back over my work as I created the portfolio I realize that although I am not up to the standard I would like to be, my work has improved in so many ways. Everything has changed since my first project. The way I draw has changed. The way I think has changed. The type of research I do has changed and my ability to research and expand an idea has dramatically improved.

Although my grades do not show it, I can see that I have become a stronger designer in this last year.

There is a very good chance this will be my last project at Central St Martins, so I want to go out with a bang. I cannot wait to get into this new project and work my ass off these next two weeks.

This project is different- this project I'm doing for me.


My rather apt horoscope a week ago:

"A wavering mind does not have a chance in your life at the moment, because the present inclination leans towards trail-blazing. As you move forwards in leaps and bounds, whoever you opt to coordinate with in future, it is important to be certain about the existing right to implement control in regard to your fate. Keep on moving while ensuring that there is constant progress in your life and distinguishing yourself from others due to the choices they make. It is relatively easy to adopt a certain character and this will not necessarily require you to change your personality. The most critical thing is realizing your inner self, your expectations in life and how you want others to view you."

10 June, 2009

A Bit More Denim

A few of my favorite denim samples I did for the fateful Denim Project:

08 June, 2009

The Truth of It

Last term my boyfriend and I tried to open our relationship to other people. It was my suggestion, and he agreed because we both hoped it might make the distance and loneliness a little softer. Long story short, it was a short-lived disaster that nearly ended the relationship. It became a source of heartache and incredible anger. It amplified the loneliness instead of softening it.

When we agreed to close the relationship, it was because we remembered that the drive behind this venture was love; was wanting to make sure the other person was happy and taken care of, even if it was someone else who was giving them that happiness for the time being. We opted to try an open relationship because we thought it would make loneliness of the long distance relationship easier to bear. And when it seemed that it was in fact making the loneliness even less tolerable, the answer became clear. Choosing to end the experiment was simple because we remembered why we began it in the first place.

So why am I in London?

I am in London because I wanted to be my own person. I am in London because I wanted to grow and change and evolve into the woman I want to be, instead of shuffling down the more comfortable path I was on. I came to London because I wanted to grow a spine. I wanted to stand on my own two feet. I wanted to make something of myself and come back to the US with an honest understanding of who I am and what I am made of. I wanted to have grounding in myself, trust in myself, and maybe a tiny bit of confidence, however small. I came to London because I needed something bigger, something more than San Francisco in order to do all of this. I needed to see what life was like without the safety net.

None of that has anything to do with the university that is going to kick me out.

I finally remembered that CSM was not my reason for coming to London. It was the means of getting me here.

I forgot that somewhere along the way. Like the open relationship experiment, I had to remember why I began this venture in the first place. I had to realize that this trip was never about becoming the next McQueen or Galliano. It was about becoming more of myself. The hope was that the challenges presented by CSM would facilitate that, but perhaps CSM is a small and insignificant test of my will when you really think about it.

There is so much more to fashion, to London, to England, to Europe, to the world, to my own story than CSM and the year I spent struggling to please people who could never be pleased. There is so much more to life than this. And I spent this weekend remembering that.

Looking back on this last year I can begin to see that Central St Martins was never the reason I came to London. It was the catalyst that allowed me to begin my own life. It was the carrot I dangled in front of my own nose so that I would continue walking ahead.

Of course with the carrot unfairly snatched away from me, I am hysterically running in circles in blind panic. "What do I do now? What do I do now? What do I do now? The carrot is gone, I have nothing to live for."

I am slowly beginning to see that I need to stop spinning and look at the race I am running. The carrot got me here, but "here" is what was truly important.

The truth of it all is that I came to London to learn. Not to learn to sew and not to learn how to make pretty sketchbooks. The truth of it is that I came to London to learn about life and who I am. And frankly CSM was keeping me from that. I moved half way around the planet to be here and face myself. To face my weaknesses and grow stronger. To face my insecurities and learn to stand solidly in the space I occupy in this world. To face my strengths and learn how to use them.

The decision to stay in Europe and seek out life despite CSM is an easy one to make when I remember the reasons I began this adventure in the first place. The truth of it is that I came here to face myself, change myself, and hopefully become myself.

The Redhead Goes Strawberry

It was time for a reinvention.

06 June, 2009

On Tutors, Bullshit, Mixed Messages, and Failure

Remember how the Dean told me I had to pass all my projects in order to even have a chance of moving on to 2nd year? Let me give you a few highlights from my project hand-in and final crit yesterday:

"You don't have any understanding of how to design, or create a sketchbook."

"You didn't do enough work, that much is clear."

Tutors: "If you were going to design a dress, I want to see all your research into dresses."
Me: "But that has nothing to do with my theme. And every time I've put that sort of research into a sketchbook, I have been told to take it out because it doesn't apply to my actual inspiration."
Tutors: "You misunderstood. If you're going to design something with pockets, I want to see that you have researched hundreds of pocket shapes. I mean look at this page. You looked into some pockets and sketched them. But your sketches aren't to the exact proportions that the photos are. Why didn't you take a moment and draw exactly what you saw?"

Tutors: "Your designs are too simple and boring."
Me: "I am sorry to argue with you, but the last time we met you told me that my design ideas were too experimental and that I needed to think about whether or not it could be sold in a shop. So I went VERY simple and focused on fabric design."
Tutors: "Yes, but now it doesn't make sense because your designs are too simple and mean nothing."
Me: "You understand why I am confused then, because my understanding was that you wanted me to stay very clean and simple even though I was working from a Dada collage artist. When I went experimental like I did here and here and here you told me no one would actually wear that."
Tutors: "Those three pages are just useless exercises in illustration, not actual designing."
Me: "I didn't think so. I was completely serious about making that into clothing until you told me not to."
Tutors: "Well, you obviously don't understand any of this then."

Tutors:" You don't have enough research or design development"
Me:" I'm confused. You told me that I had enough research and enough fabric samples to design last time we met. And the project requirements were 20 rough designs, and I did 75."
Tutors: "I told you that because you were too far behind to continue doing research. And your designs are, well.... you clearly have no understanding of how to develop an idea into designs."

Tutors: "So you did 75 design roughs. But did you really think about what each of these garments would be? I mean, look at this sketch here. Is it a tshirt? a dress? How do you get into it? What is it?"
Me: "Perhaps I misunderstood- I thought that the point of design development is to rough out ideas until you come upon something you like enough to develop further and finalize. At the time I was sketching that shirt, I was just thinking through an idea that I didn't end up using."
Tutors: "Yes, these are rough designs. But you're not answering the question your research poses by simply sketching out roughs. You need to think every detail through every time you design something. These sketches mean nothing."
Me: "So in future, when I design rough designs, I should leave them out of the sketchbook until they are finalized enough to be actual garments"
Tutors: "No, that's the point of a sketchbook, to show how to develop your ideas."
Me: ".....um??"

They proceeded to tell me in every which way that my work was awful and worthless and that I know nothing about art or design.


And so it ends. All I can do is phone it in for the next few weeks while I wait for the letter from the school that says I am no longer wanted as a student at CSM.

(Oh, here. I tried something new with my illustrations, since I was inspired by Dada collage artist Hannah Hoch. I should have been more rough, less lines, more color and media. But it was 4am and I was too tired to think and be creative...)

04 June, 2009

Another Designer

I found another designer I'd like to work for. Do I write to her, knowing I already have an internship? Hmmm, it's probably not a good idea. But damn, her work is cool.

01 June, 2009


Today I got a haircut, a pair of much-needed sandals, and a sewing needle through the tip of my finger.

I feel like an idiot. I've been sewing on industrial machines for four years and never had an accident. Now I've finally managed to sew through my finger with a simple home sewing machine. Well done, me. Well done.

And now, despite the impressive pain and surprising amount of blood loss from a single finger, I have to get back to work. I am so far behind it's scary!

At least I have nice hair again...