When I was a little girl I wanted to be a “fashion designer”. My grandmother had been one, and for me that was all I wanted to do. Then I grew up and met other girls who wanted to be fashion designers, and realised that I couldn’t possibly survive in a world populated by them. Anyway, by that time I was becoming obsessed with history, with films and tv and comics.
When I was 14 the Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace came out. And I’ll hold my hands up and say I loved it, and I still love it – it ticked all the boxes for a geeky 14 year old girl: sci-fi; fantastical elements; princesses; crazy costumes. I bought the Art Of book and fell in love with Queen Amidala’s dresses, and suddenly realised that this was a job! Someone would pay me to draw this stuff!
Okay, so no one yet actually pays me to draw this stuff, but it hasn’t stopped me yet. Suddenly I’d discovered concept design, and costume design, and everything had changed. No more restraints by what Vogue or Elle or any other hard-eyed, cold-faced, nose-stuck-in-the-air, high-heeled tottering bags of bones said was “on trend”. Here you had all of time and space to draw on!
And as I read more and more about costume design, even for sci-fi films like Star Wars, I realised how much of it was initially based on historical costume. Ever since those days of doodling fantastical space-princess’, I’ve wanted to illustrate a book on the history of costume. And instead of waiting around for someone else to commission me, I’ve decided to do it myself.
Okay, so it’ll probably never get published, but I’m going to try, anyway. I’m going to try and produce a fun, un-patronising, illustrated book on all the funny little facts about clothing throughout history. Such as medieval shoes being so long in the toe they had to be fastened to the knee with a chain to stop the wearer falling over. Or the architecture-defying 18th century 12-foot wide panniers in ladies dresses.
At the very least it’ll be a good exercise and something for my portfolio. But I’ve got all my crossable body-parts crossed…