(Cecil Gee press clippings from the LCF Archives)
Tell us about the workshop you’re running as part of the exhibition…
The Jewish museum knew I had been working as a menswear designer and a technical consultant for a very long time, so they asked me if there was any kind of workshop that I might be able to put together in the makings department. There was only a two hour slot on the 10 April, so I came up with the idea of looking at neck-wear and ties. I’m going to give a very brief history of tie wearing, how it came about and what it symbolises. The participants will get to make their own tie. I’m also speaking at a symposium on a panel for the study day on 3 May as well.
I had been working in a studio for 15 years and I thought that if I was going to do an MA in anything, it felt a bit foolish doing it in something I knew so well. I wanted to further my education and that if I was able to do more on the academic side, then I would have covered everything – I’ve worked as a designer, a pattern cutter, a consultant, a stylist, so I thought that by becoming an academic as well, that would cover everything. When I began my career I worked as a costumier at Angels Costumiers so I was always interested in fashion history, why fashion changes, how it interlinks and integrates with social and economic changes and what spurs changes in fashion. I looked into a couple of courses and narrowed it down to LCF and one other university. In the end it felt like the LCF course fitted more neatly into my career spectrum.
I did the MA part time** – I continued to work as a designer and pattern cutter throughout the first year, and then had a baby in my summer holiday, came back and did the rest. When I started the course I found out I was pregnant in the first week of the first term, so I did the whole of the first year pregnant, and then I did the whole of the second year with a baby. I really enjoyed the course but there were a lot of balls in the air because I was still working and either pregnant, or with a new born and doing a course at the same time so it was full on!
(**Please note, the previously advertised flexible mode of study for this course is no longer available)
How did you manage to stay on top of everything?
It was grueling! I think it’s a really hard thing to juggle the emotional world of having a child, and the academic world of how a Masters is structured – that aspect of it was the most difficult. I think the MA Fashion Cultures is a good course and it was really good for me. I really embraced the fact that it was diverse and that you’d be learning a real range of things. The first year I really really enjoyed, the second year was hard because I had a baby. Time was the biggest challenge because you want to do your absolute best. I was lucky enough to find a subject just before I had my little boy, which I knew I was passionate about enough to follow it through or my final project so that was a real relief. Then it was a matter of making the space and time in my life to do it justice.