If you were lucky enough to catch 'Fabric of the City' at the Cass Bank gallery, then you will already be familiar with the beautiful work of Rentaro Nishimura and the 13 other fashion and textile designers involved with the show. In conjunction with the Huguenot Summer, Gina Pierce, Cass course leader and curator of 'Fabric of the City' invited leading East London designers to produce pieces in response to the heritage of the Huguenot silk weavers in Spitalfields.
With access to archives at both the V&A and Museum of London, each of the exhibition's exhibitors picked up on the rich and varied qualities of Georgian design and Huguenot production. Rentaro Nishimura's extremely beautiful piece,'Flora' struck a particularly memorable balance between historical reference, craftsmanship and design. The garment is so clearly modern and 'high tech' and yet references directly back to a Georgian sensibility.Above is Jane Bowler's AW15 Woven Plastic Copper Dress, which was also on display at the Fabric of the City exhibition. We asked Nishimura about the thought process behind the design and making of 'Flora', he explained to us, that in making the piece, he was, 'emulating the delicate qualities of historical floral weave.' Through using the digital technologies of CAD and 3D printers, Nishimura was able to create the repeat floral component, which was then assembled on a mannequin with plastic rivets. 'The combination of flexible polyurethane components, and pivoting rivets, allows the garment to move on the body. The form, made up of hundreds of modular units, creates a three-dimensional geometry on the surface of the body'. Furthermore the sheen of the material has the quality of intricate bead and sequin work - and adapts delicately to different lights. Unlike Georgian undergarments, this piece is made with modern ideas of flesh and movement in mind. Whilst the high neck line and skilled 'fluffing' at the lower back remind us of the structures of Georgian dress, the way in which 'Flora' is assembled means that it is intrinsically much closer to a kind of delicate armour than constricting and forceful women's underwear that would have been worn beneath a dress of this style. www.rentaro.co.uk www.janebowler.co.uk www.fabric-of-the-city www.huguenotsofspitalfields.org Below Photo Credit: Stephen Blunt