Jessica Ogden Upcycled in The City of Lights


Jessica Ogden Upcycled in The City of Lights

Sunday, February 16, 2020

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Internationally acclaimed Rock-blooded fashion designer Jessica Ogden has just wrapped an APC Archives exhibition at Joyce Gallery, Paris. In response to SO 's ask re: the demand for her quilts, Ogden shares, “In my opinion, the quilts are part of the bigger interest in sustainability products; they have integrity. They are designed with the remnants of APC fabrics from 30 years”...

Indeed, the temporary exhibition consists of the conjunction of two elements:

“A selection of pieces from the APC archives, organised chromatically, not logically.

Don Quixote takes his revenge on La Palisse (in other words: lyricism takes its revenge on self-evidence.)

– An echo of this selection with quilt-like panels, painted by Jessica Ogden, whose colours reflect those of the chosen archives.

In both cases, this is an exercise in applied art.

By obligation, fashion is rooted in both reality and otherness. In a way, this type of painting is a restricted exercise, because it must suggest reality in a fantasised version.”

– Jean Touitou

Ogden's passion for quilts stemmed from her use of antique quilts for “one-offs” which led to a study of patchwork and quilting. “My first collection,” she explains, “included layering, destroying, then patching, so quilting was a natural avenue... The APC collaboration on the quilts was a genius idea of Jean Touitou's to use his surplus fabrics (30 years' worth). He had the idea because when he was working for Kenzo, he was given a load of scrap fabric which his mum remade into a beautiful quilt. When he contemplated doing the same for APC he asked me, as he knew of my work with quilts.

The design process...

The inspiration varies for each round. We are currently on Round 17 inspired by roadside houses in Jamaica that I call 'patchwork houses' documented by family friend Cookie Kinkead. These show the creativity of a simple structure and the artistry of colour of a roadside shack.

The design process has been the most revelatory for me after designing clothes. There are crossovers but this is more akin to painting with cloth, as well as surprising myself with mathematics and drafting. It all starts with the fabrics. I have swatches of the surplus fabrics, some 5m, others 100m, so I need to be mindful of this when creating the quilts. We do limited runs of around 30 for each quilt, so I need to make sure there is enough of each fabric in order to make the quantity of quilts required. For example, the cloth with only 5m has to be a small patch that can stretch to cover all the quilts I do. The drawings are all manual, not transferred via a computer programme, so there are sometimes surprises on first sample to see if you get what was imagined.

Production is done in India with a small workshop. The owner was trained in American quilting... we have formed a language and are able to communicate through drawings. It's quite a unique process.

I'm fortunate that Touitou and the APC team trust me, that it is seen as an artistic project, and I don't have to present designs before making. The challenge is the source of fabrics, you fall in love with one, but when it's finished, it's gone.

The collaboration continues to be a very interesting project. In some ways it's an art project (I studied fine art, so that feels familiar to me). But it has to be somewhat commercial too. I like that challenge. Then there's also the recycling or upcycling element. This has become somewhat of a buzzword of late but it's always been really important to me. In fact, it's how I started in fashion. I volunteered for Oxfam for their NoLoGo project where we used ends of rolls of fabrics to produce garments with.

The project with APC is a small one, but I hope that its intentions and effects are far-reaching.

SO reckons it might prove to be Ogden's second coming.

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