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The Colour of Fashion – Can the Fashion Industry Change Mindsets?

Coral Turner for Coral Turner Couture

Not too long ago I went out to dinner with a girlfriend, we got chatting over starters, catching up on what we had both been doing.  The conversation then turned to business, in particular how was my work in the arena of fashion?

I replied “getting there, one stitch at a time” to which we both laughed,  I then said “I am still learning that when you are running a business, especially in fashion, it bears no semblance to the theories I’ve read of running a business”

My friend then asked ‘do I think its a good idea to have black models on my website, along with pictures of myself, don’t I think I am alienating some of my audience’?

OK, so I know for some of you reading this, who knows me, you may be thinking, this is incredulous right?  Did I leap across the table and force her to eat a piece of garlic bread, or try and put the garnish in her ears, aren’t I offended?!

“No” – why not?  Because my friend is one of the loveliest people I know, I also knew there was no malice or ill intent from the conversation.  What was disturbing is that my friend, whilst we are from different cultures, we are both daughters of immigrants whose parents came from their respective countries in the late 50’s to England.

I had to dig deeper to learn the thinking behind this, as well as being mindful what I ate, I didn’t want to choke on what she would say next, as I played the detective for fashion’s social consciousness (yes, I just made that title up, it has a nice ring to it), anyway…

I then asked “what you said, is that something you actually believe; that my background and colour is a hindrance to my career as a fashion designer”?

To which she replied “but isn’t that what the fashion industry says, I mean how many black female designers of your calibre are there in the UK, they don’t represent you”?

OK, so to some extent she had a point; I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have read from renown fashion magazines ‘as soon as we put the face of a black woman on the cover of our magazines, our sales plummet’ wow!  I thought that the people who were buying the magazines were doing so for the fashion (hence the industry title), alongside the thought provoking articles for female empowerment.  The sisterhood of women, which they claim we are all a part of; that being said what does it say about their target audience, aren’t you now insulting those whose loyalty is based on the article content for which they buy the magazines and not the cover?

How therefore can we talk about equality, women supporting women, and yet pay only lip service to diversity?

I know my fashion is not for everybody, it’s not meant to be, I design and make small collections of ready to wear one-of-a-kind pieces and bespoke, no world fashion domination going on here.  That’s why the saying ‘variety is the spice of life’ makes so much sense.  There is a huge array of male and female designers of colour who are vastly under-represented here in the UK; I know of a few renowned male fashion designers, however for women I can’t say the same thing, why is that?!

So why did I choose to write this article?

  • Firstly, to deny who I am, is to deny two of the greatest people I have the privilege and blessing to know, and share this planet with, my mum and dad.  They were both born in Jamaica and proud of the fact; as with all of the West Indian islands, these countries have landscapes that celebrates the colour of nature, sunsets and sunrises, that even with the best camera you still can’t capture the word ‘breathtaking’.
  • Secondly, March 8th 2017 is International Women’s Day, a celebration for women throughout the world, hence the word ‘international’.  If we are not going to support each other, especially in an industry that is female dominated, we can’t complain when others do the same!
  • Thirdly, and you may think this one a bit strange, there’s the amazing people I have come into conversation with on Instagram.  Through this social media platform, which I tentatively dipped my toe into, a small following of individuals from all walks of life celebrate Coral Turner Couture; they give thumbs up and likes for the content, the fashion images, and photos of models and clients who also come from varying backgrounds.
  • Finally, last but not least, my dear friend who started the conversation; I thank her for having the boldness of heart to share with me her mindset, based on her understanding of the fashion industry.

We have a duty to make the most of our talents and choices, yes there will be those that fall by the wayside, I totally understand that.  For my last photo-shoot there were 4 models booked but only 2 showed up, it was their ability to model the garments, injecting some fun and life into the clothes which was the criteria, and not the colour of their skin.

Ralph Waldo Emerson says “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment” as I see it we are either part of the solution, or part of the problem, it’s up to us to decide which.

That said, it’s time I get back to my sewing machine, I’ve got dresses to make http://www.coralturner.com.

 

 

 

 

Wearing Undergarments that Fit and Compliment Your Figure

There was a time when ladies undergarments could weigh nearly 7lbs and take several hours to put into place.  We are talking being squeezed into a corset, petticoats, undershirt, camisole, stockings; if it was winter, additional layers of woolly garments would be required, already I am bursting into a sweat, what a work-out!

Now compare that to today, undergarments of matching bra sets, camisoles that are worn as tops, tights in their varying denier in weight, stockings and suspenders.  Corsets are still popular today, but thank goodness there’s no holding onto the bed-frame whilst being laced into it.

When gravity wants to defy and define us, well fitted underwear alludes to the appearance of a more slender, and toned physique, which in turn makes our outer garments fit better as opposed to over-fitted under garments; an example, if you are bulging out of your bra, running over at the top and the sides, its possible the cup size of your bra is too small.  Its noticeable in a fitted top, giving the appearance of several different sized balloons having a party underneath.

Over-fitted undergarments, just as with clothes that give the appearance of being too tight, not only look uncomfortable but are just that, restrictive and uncomfortable.  There’s many a button that looks on the verge of causing some serious damage if the wearer were to breathe out!  Women have two areas from which they can work, bra’s and panties (yes I prefer the more genteel description)!  Men on the other hand, it would be their boxers or underpants, I haven’t come across the male equivalent term to ‘VPL’ which translates as ‘visible pantie line’.  Do let me know if there is one.

What is visible pantie line?  Its where the panties being worn are tight and visible in trousers, skirts or dresses, why is that a problem?  It’s not a problem per se, its about the way in which the tightness in that area takes the eye away from the contours of your silhouette when wearing a garment. There’s a reason why people say ‘you should walk with your head held high’; when you create a happy union with your undergarments and your outer-garments, the clothes you wear not only look better on you, but can also make you look taller, elevating your confidence.

In the words of Marilyn Monroe: 

To learn more about style and fitting garments, have a look at my website featuring ready to wear one-of-a-kind dresses, or complete the contact form to talk about bespoke garments.

How To Choose Quality Clothing

A friend came to visit me recently,  with her she bought 4 department store dresses that she had purchased from well known brand names.  My friend’s complaint, she had only worn each of the dresses a couple of times, but they were coming apart at the seams, she then asked me “why has the quality of clothing gone down”?

I explained that in today’s ‘fast fashion’ the turnaround to get garments into the shops, and in peoples shopping baskets, quality often takes a backseat as it is worn today, and dismissed tomorrow.  The Oxford dictionary describes quality as ‘a degree of excellence‘; so what makes quality clothing?  The essential components are cut, fit, construction and fabric, without these pieces all working together there is no harmony, the design itself is the icing on the cake so to speak.  A great design, poorly constructed made in fabric that after either dry cleaning, or machine washing has lost its lustre will never return to its former glory.

In the case of my girlfriend, the dresses were beautifully shaped, complimentary style lines, fit her like a glove, which was also part of the problem; the seam allowances were tiny, less than 0.5cm.  Made in woven fabrics these dresses had minute seam allowances especially in the waist and hips, with no ease added in, this means there is no ‘wiggle room’.

Ease is added into a garment to allow for movement, jersey fabrics do not require as much ease as woven fabrics, with the majority of jersey’s there is some form of elastane, think of t-shirts and leggings.  A wider seam allowance, with ease will allow for strain in key areas, allowing for human functions such as walking, breathing and eating!  If my friend were a mannequin the tiny seam allowances would not be problem, and have no cause to tear open.   The industry standard used to be 1.5cm, and with couture garments 1.5cm – 2.5cm.  Therefore in an attempt to squeeze more garments out of the fabric length, the quality of construction, and therefore fit will suffer.  (The picture is of a seam allowance in a bespoke garment).Inside Seam Allowance

Why buy quality clothing?  In the long run you are actually saving money, its an investment.  The next time you are out shopping when you go to try on your garment, see how it feels, is it straining in any areas, have a peak inside and see if there’s a decent seam allowance, look at the finish, how does in feel in your hands, your body will thank you for it.

For more information have a look at the YouTube video we’ve prepared https://youtu.be/sR-k4TTj_-c

 

Fashion Icons – Jamaican’s with Style

Why Vintage Fashion is Never Out of Fashion

My fashion icons are my parents, their sense of ‘style and fashion’ is atypical to their generation and others from the varying islands in the Caribbean.  What’s interesting is their fashion, the elegance of their attire is called ‘Vintage Fashion’ today, the blue Duchess Satin off the shoulder dress worn by my mum 50 years ago would not be out of place at a cocktail party today; pearl earrings, elegant court shoes, simplicity and sophistication, that’s my gorgeous mum for you.  A bespoke dress that was designed and made specifically for her, finishing accessories a clutch purse, compact mirror, lipstick and powder, a silk scarf stole.  My parents and their generation were and still are ‘one-of-a-kind.

The Zoot suit, worn by my dad,  single breasted jacket;  the jacket is not as long as some traditional Zoot Suits, neither are the trousers excessively baggy as with ‘Cab Calloway’ and if that is going too far back think ‘Kid Creole and the Coconuts’ , OK, if you are still scratching your head, think ‘Jim Carrey in The Mask’.  The term used to describe these suits today is ‘retro’.  Theirs was a time when a gentleman would always have a handkerchief in his top pocket, usually monogrammed, buttoned up shirt, sleek patterned silk tie, tie pin and cuff links, leather brogues, aftershave that scented a room.  Again ‘bespoke’ only this time a gentleman’s suit, a dapper gentleman my dad.

If you were to attend Sunday church in any of the West Indian islands today, from babes in arms, to elders who stand tall with their silver hair, and those in-between, you would witness a catwalk fashion show of individuals whose sense of style doesn’t carry a fleeting trend, instead timeless fashion statements that speak of their individuality they definitely keep Milliners in business local and overseas.

I’ve been reading recently from Dana Thomas’s book ‘Deluxe – How Luxury Lost Its Lustre‘ with the advent of the swinging 60’s Leslie Caron is quoted as saying “I stopped buying couture because frankly, it was considered old-fashioned.  You couldn’t wear hats anymore, you couldn’t wear gloves or a bra, and you looked really old-fashioned if you wore couture dresses”.  As we move forward, that which for a period of time was considered ‘old-fashioned’ is very much sought after today – why?  Because the quality of workmanship, detailed designs, the fit of the garment, all those necessary components that transform metres of fabric into a magical form of dress, the time it takes to produce such garments is sadly diminishing.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, a new genre of designers-makers/sewing professionals are picking up their thimbles, sourcing unusual fabrics, they who refuse to go quietly into the night, they also bring to their pattern cutting tables fashion sustainability, through making garments that have lasting qualities, distinctive detail.

My parents fashion styles is as relevant today as it was in the 50’s, especially if you want to stand out for the individual that you are.

To talk more about one-of-a-kind have a look at the link https://coralturner.com/about-me/.

Until next time,

Coral

 

A Letter of Thanks for Valentines Day

Red roses and thank you!

Red roses and thank you!

I am taking this opportunity of St Valentines Day to express my heartfelt thanks to my fantastic friends, as well as the lovely people I have been chatting with via emails, tweets, and all through my social media journey.

It is said the best gift you can give to someone is your time, a mutual reciprocation I like to believe; such generosity has provided me with continuous support both personally and professionally.

Navigating on this voyage as a fashion entrepreneur, through rolls of fabric and pattern cutting paper, not to mention the many times I have gone back to the drawing board; I can honestly say that all of the inspirational cliches, I have been on the receiving end of, and shared, really do ring true.

“You keep on putting one foot in front of the other and don’t stop until you get to your desired destination”.  

As a result of increased  private consultations, and being asked where can you view, get up close and personal, plus try on the ready to wear garments from the website, I will be taking my home business out of my home and into her own studio/atelier in March 2016.  Yes I am bursting with excitement, tape measure to the ready; I say to my family, friends, fellow entrepreneurs, and supporters “there will be times when things don’t go according to plan, however, providing you are open to change and willing to ‘let go’ without giving up, there is always more than you imagined possible waiting for you”.

I will keep you posted as to the moving in date, in the meantime, Happy Valentines Day.

Coralx