Stephen Jones in conversation with Colin McDowell at the Design Museum: Drawing Fashion Yesterday evening, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a conversation between the lovely milliner Stephen Jones and prolific fashion writer Colin McDowell at the Design Museum's Drawing Fashion exhibition. Colin McDowell looks a bit like this:Anyway, Jones talked us through his beginnings as a milliner whilst studying at CSM, and his intrinsic relationship with John Galliano at Dior. Jones had literally just arrived back to London from the Dior Couture show in Paris, in which he had once again collaborated with Galliano on his 2011 AW collection. Jones bought along the toiles he had crafted during the design process for the show. I'd never been to an 'In Conversation' so didn't really know what to expect - it was pretty good though! Jones talked us through some revelatory stories from his career, including his spiky relationship with Vivienne Westwood and naughty anecdotes about Anna Piaggi. He dished the dirt on the Royals also, though he remained tight lipped about Kate Middleton, and if he was involved in the 2011 Royal Wedding...Good times!
Hell Hath No Fury Yesterday, I had my first encounter with The Shard. It is literally a splinter from hell. Seriously magnificent.


We met. We talked. We decided. We're coming back.

Sequel from James Barnett on Vimeo.

Day 1: Induction
Today I began something fairly amazing. I have an officical title and everything. Day wear.
Great British Sculpture at the Royal Academy
My faith in the RA has been restored. This exhibition was wicked cool. The room with the Damien Hirst fly tank smells of mouldy testicles.
Dancing on Vice An impromptu return to Surrey heralded a bizarre evening on the tiles in Guildford Wetherspoons, where the dance floor rocked and it felt like we were on a full load in the tumble dryer, just going round, and round, and round on the same spot. New faces were seen and old bottoms slapped. Nice!
Wagner's 'Pocket Ring Cycle' for the Cochrane Theatre Designed by 'Performance: Design and Practise' students from Central Saint Martins Four Operas
One Ring
Nine Designers
Six Singers
Seventeen Roles
Once again, the Performance: Design and Practise students from Central Saint Martins took over the Cochrane Theatre in Holborn and collaborated with EPOC (The English Pocket Opera Company) to design an imaginative re-interpretation of a notorious piece of Wagnerian Opera. Faithful readers may remember a time just over a year ago (!) when I embarked on a similar brief designing for Purcell's A Midsummer Night's Dream, chosing to stage my scene in the orchestra pit: This time, roles were reversed and I was in the slightly less stressful position of being an intrepid audience member. It was a fascinating chance to see how others handle the limitations of the spaces on offer. The picture below is of the orchestra pit scenes from this play - the use of giant reflective mirrors gave the impression of greater depth (these scenes were set in the River Rhine!) Individual scenes and locations throughout the Cochrane Theatre were once again alloted to each designer in the promenade style. I was not familiar with the 'Pocket Ring Cycle' so the whole experience was dizzying to say the least. I snapped away whilst being swept along for the ride - it was probably the barmiest bit of theatre I've ever experienced. Highlights for me included:

#The dragon (and its destruction!) #The early scenes in the workshop space (a-mazing costume and set design here) and probably the strangest moment of all: #Watching one of the characters get shot by hunters, loaded into the back of an estate car, and then having to follow it, turning us into a funeral procession! It was made even stranger by us all getting stuck behind a lorry trying to get out of the Cochrane car park at the same time! Barmy! Amazing! I miss it!


Tower from James Barnett on Vimeo.


The Waiting Song Decisions are being made.


An Update Faithful reader, have your eyes recovered yet from the spectacle that was Craig Lawrence's blindingly beautiful window installation at Selfridges? It looks particularly nice as the sun sets over the store and the sun is at its lowest over Oxford Street. The prone mannequin looked like it was being winched from a molten vat of gold lava on Sunday afternoon - it was all very dramatic! This week has been all about waiting, preparing and saving. On Monday, I met up with my friend turned fellow Londoner Miss Bronwyn of Opland. We cooed over many things, including my sadness at not being allowed to join the Shoreditch WI, because I AM NOT WOMAN. But thats fine, I have a book to teach me crochet anyway...We caught up with this lovely installation by Mr Gary of Card in LEVIS on Regent Street. It was well good. Later this week I went to the Barbican's 'Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion' exhibition. Having been recommended by many people to go and see this, I came away a little disappointed. I think I've realised that whilst I appreciate fashion a lot, theatre and performance have a much stronger impact on how I feel and think. This might seem like an obvious conclusion, but its taken me a while to come to it. Now that I am a resident of Central London (CEN-TRAL) I've taken it upon myself to actually get a sense of geography of the place. Buildings like these are helping me find my way around! Saturday was rife with drunk shenanigans, including a visit from Miss Carmen of Ho who turned up with the biggest hair since Marge Simpson. How we cackled over wines and ciders whilst browsing what the latest porn channels on Sky has to offer...Finally, a mid morning wake up call when I turned on the telly the other day: Nice.


Bright Young Things: Craig Lawrence from James Barnett on Vimeo.

4. Craig Lawrence for Selfridges
Here are a selection of snaps taken from the installation on Tuesday 4th January 2011, between 9pm and 3am at Selfridges, Oxford Street. Poppy French was in attendance for the install process along with Ash from MACHINE-A and Craig himself. It was a very organic process, but even by the end of the evening we weren't entirely sure what the window would look like until the vinyls from the exterior were removed and we could see in from the outside.
3. Craig Lawrence for Selfridges
Realisation Selfridges windows are a big deal. This needed to be a very precise and professional job. A paper model helped us to remain budget conscious and think about the logistics of the install process. Meanwhile, the 3D and Styling Department sourced our falling mannequin for us, which was to be resprayed black and the instore Production department painted our window our base colour: black.
2. Craig Lawrence for Selfridges
After a few consultations with MACHINE-A and Craig, we based out some more ideas. There were some budget issues and logistics involved with set elements which needed to be considered. At this stage, Craig was now interested in incorporating his knitting machine. I had to think of a way to bring these elements together whilst remainging faithful to Craig's original concept. I referred to 1920s/1930s iconography and art deco for inspiration.
Idea 1: This idea retains the free-falling mannequin originally discussed, somehow being sucked into the knitting machine! Idea 2: I like this idea a lot - I referred to Art Deco machinery and images of Marilyn Monroe. Big Dress. Idea 3: A cocktail evening besides the knitting machine, anyone?!

It was decided that we would continue with the first idea as it was closer to the original concept. I think I quite liked them all though - we should have done 10 windows!

1. Craig Lawrence for Selfridges
Concept Faithful reader, I'm pleased to be able to share with you this wonderful project which has been bubbling away for the last couple of months or so. It's a bit of a funny one. I shall try and explain: Craig Lawrence, the knitwear designer was asked by Selfridges to contribute a window installation and a capsule collection which would be available for January 2011: New Year, New Designers. MACHINE-A, the people in charge of Craig's PR, approached me to help in the production of the window. I was very excited to be given this opportunity to work with both of the stores again, and to work with Craig. Selfridges had invited 10 'Bright Young Things' to showcase their work in the windows in January, followed by another 10 'Bright Young Things' in February. You can see a window mock up of theirs at the top of this post. MACHINE-A and Craig had very firm ideas about what they wanted for the Craig Window. I drew some concept sketches of the ideas proposed and these were pitched to Selfridges. At this stage, all we knew was that the windows needed to incorporate one of Craig's dresses, a falling mannequin and some kind of reflective mirror. Above is Ash from MACHINE-A's sketch to me about what it should look like.
Concept 1: Concept 2: Concept 3:
As with all these things, we had very little time and budget and available space to work. Plus, during these initial stages, I was still working at school as a Teaching Assistant. Deadlines were set. Work needed to begin.