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On Friday I took the train up to London to go to Soho and buy fabric for the vintage 1917-ish knitting bag that I plan to make for my performance/installation piece “small comfort”. I was looking for fabrics in black, for both the outside and the inside of the bag. I spent a good deal of the train journey researching “moire silk” as that was one of the materials mentioned in the advertisement for the bag. I’d already made up a pattern for the bag on Thursday and managed to get the basic measurements from the same advertisement (which stated the bag was 17.5 inches in length).
And then, on the train, I got sidetracked into looking at other possible vintage fabrics, for quite some time, but I was intuitively sure of what I wanted. Something that definitely said mourning to me. But also something with texture. And in natural fabrics. Also, as I envision myself all in black, I wanted the fabrics of my skirt and blouse and bag to have very particular variations in texture and weight.
I’d also found out that morning that the Alexander McQueen show at the V & A was opening on the Saturday and that every single day was completely Sold Out.I was devastated to say the least. But I’m not so easily put off, and so my first mission of the day was to go to the V & A and become a member. Members get into the shows free, with no need to pre-book.
When I got to the V & A and became a member I discovered that I could attend the Members-only preview of the show that very day.
It was mind-blowing. I am an absolute fan of Alexander McQueen (in fact Angel’s Nightie is dedicated to him, for several reasons, more of which became apparent as I walked round the show). I knew almost everyone of the pieces visually that were on show as I own and often drool over a fantastic monograph of his work, and I spend long into the night watching youtube documentaries about him and his catwalk shows; he is one of my most beloved heroes. But to see the pieces up close, just inches from my face really, was amazing. And when I got there it seemed as if his pieces were answering so many of the questions that I’d been asking myself about “Angel’s Nightie” that I had to begin making notes. Mainly on fabrics. I was learning so much walking round.
Then the music and the beauty and the affinity of it all became too overwhelming and I cried. For quite some time. it felt good , cathartic and warm. A blessed release. And a home-coming to a part of myself that I’d lost touch with.
It was so moving to be there, and the crowds were not too much and there was a sense of a shared experience; I wasn’t the only one that cried. That I found out in the bookshop afterwards. For the rest of the day I felt on a high and emotional; my floodgates were down and so were my defenses: I felt in a beautiful raw place.