One thread is running throughout the 2018 resort collections: antiquity. Gucci put on an extravaganza of the Renaissance. Chanel does Ancient Greek, while Christian Dior goes for native American. But the retrospective would not be perfect without the exhibition Jessica Ogden: Still – a display of designer Jessica Ogden’s quilt designs that re-purpose the old to create the new. Vintage clothing is not only about embracing ancient cultures, but also about salvaging fabrics stained with time, told by Ogden’s works.
Jessica Ogden was born and raised in Jamaica by British parents. Her works embody native Jamaica colors and show refined quilting techniques. Redoing donated clothes from Oxfam in the 1992 NoLogo project, she emerged as a pioneer of customization, and a voice for sustainable fashion wear.
Time-worn textiles do not seem to be the most desirable material for apparel. Yet, Ogden skilfully transforms tattered scraps into clothes with exquisite craftsmanship and aesthetics. Her talent quickly evolved into a fashion label of her own, with the use of vintage quilts in modern apparel, as the brand’s signature. In 2006, Ogden began collaborating with A.P.C on customization projects and quilt lines.
Now opening in London, the exhibition Still introduces the edit of things that made up Ogden’s label. From her earliest experiments to her latest creations, the displays connect and depict the pathway of Ogden as a fashion designer and an artist. A portrait of Ogden’s artistic mind, curated by Professor Carol Tulloch and designed by Professor Judith Clark.
“If something’s well made, it holds that moment,” Ogden believes. Old, but the works showcase artistry, delicacy and timeless beauty. To the designer who has always been fascinated by aged materials, vintage is not a trend, but a belief: every piece of clothing possesses ever-lasting value and beauty.
Every piece, although decrepit, is treated as an object with life and story. Ogden reads the story hidden within fabrics: the time and effort taken into darning them. And based on the cloth’s persona, she remakes the old, bestowing a new life to the unwanted. Time is then encapsulated in the frame of art and fashion; it is an alternative narrative of history.
Using threads and needles, Ogden enunciates a message quite contrary to fast fashion, a phenomenon prevalent in today’s fashion industry. Fashionable might be the price tag in the industry that brings sale and money, but at Still, there is no more mentioning of being in vogue, or marketable. Garments here do not have great splendor, but they stand as a living entity. Ogden sees mended blemishes as textures that add life and depth to clothing; the patches and stitches resemble scars in human lives. Each and every piece forms a lyric poem, that sings the personal reflections of Ogden, proudly presenting a whole new angle of viewing garments.
Still is not only a display, but also a space for creation. The event offers workshops for visitors to participate in sewing and quilt-making. Allowing participants to stitch their personal histories into creations that enfold and preserve moments.
A celebration of Ogden’s thoughts and creations; Still questions the meaning of fashion and vintage, weaving the worlds of fashion, art and philosophy. Ogden’s handicraft captures time to produce a narrative of past moments that we took for granted. But the exhibition is not a mere retrospective. It is a bridge that connects the past to the present, the old to the new, reminding us to embrace the history of ourselves and objects through transforming it.
With special thanks to Jessica Ogden and Chelsea College of Arts for the insightful exhibition and press materials
The exhibition will be opening till 23 June, 2017.
Salter, S (2017) Slow fashion pioneer Jessica Ogden wants to teach you how to make your own clothes [Online] Available at https://i-d.vice.com/en_gb/article/jessica-ogden-still-fashion-interview-id-magazine [Accessed 03/06/17]
TANK Magazine (2017) Still [Online] Available at http://tankmagazine.com/tank/2017/05/jessica-ogden/ [Accessed 03/06/17]
Jansen, C (2017) Quilt trip: Jessica Ogden’s latest exhibition is a stitch in time [Online] Available at https://www.wallpaper.com/fashion/jessica-ogden-still-exhibition-london [Accessed 03/06/17]