Jessica Ogden’s time has come full circle. Quilts are being taken seriously in high-end fashion houses now, used as throws to style the home or as clothing to style oneself. A key draw is the way that quilts can ‘relate to the emotions of a consumer’, says designer Emily Bode. In May 2018, French company A.P.C. launched its Round 14 collection of quilted throws and cushions designed by Jessica and is recognised as being part of those leading this recent ‘new found’ affection for quilts. A.P.C. Founder, Jean Touitou, sees quilts as being ‘intrinsically linked to the past’, a sentiment that Jessica has channelled through her fashion and home-ware designs for some 28 years.
For Jessica, quilts, quilting and patchwork, the re-use and repurposing of pre-used fabrics into garments and accessories were bedrock techniques of her London studio from 1993 to 2006. Jessica shared with potential buyers the importance of the personal and of lives lived, by teaching them that all this matters; that you can literally wear past-present connections. Jessica still hears from customers who bought Kimonos from her during that period, relating how they had kept and patched them, stitching again and again over the quilt’s original stitches. As Jessica has said: ‘Finding an antique quilt, being inspired by it, knowing it’s had a life before and that it’s going to go through this life with you, it will have a whole new life afterwards.’
What this aspect of Jessica’s practice illustrates is the ability to reflect personal history, quietly through making. It is not about wearing one’s life on one’s sleeve, but understanding that we carry history with us. In the production of garments through these techniques, she produces textiles that in turn envelop the body. What Jessica understands, and still wants to share, is that this is what contributes to individuality, something that you can wear. Now through such textiles, which include her ever-evolving range of patchwork quilts, Jessica continues to reflect on and project history, a quiet narrative on time that can define one’s home.
Extract from the Cotton issue. Text by Carol Tulloch, photography by Alfredo Piola.