2006-2010: World of Christina - Gloves and Fashion Accessories
I began experimenting with fashion accessory making sometime around late 2006, following what was probably a long overdue move to London. Although my degree was in printed textiles and fashion, that period of studentship had been more centred around the ritual surrounding each step of the design process from start to finish, and the judgement of one’s performance thereof; it was certainly not suited to the work pattern of someone such as myself, with a preference for producing individual one-off pieces.
Initially, I worked on handmade bridal accessories using my existing sewing knowledge, but sought to augment this through short courses and day workshops, which for me were soundly practical, highly constructive and did not require the commitment of a longer course. Central Saint Martins offered excellent workshops in jewellery making and millinery design, and I also attended day workshops by milliner Rose Cory.
I was aware that my work should aim for some recognizable fingerprint (for want of a better pun) at this point, and, whilst I had toyed with the idea of bridal attire, could not resist my usual temptation to forge an individual, new and clashingly colourful path; I am not a Christian Lacroix fan for no reason. Thus it was that I came around to the potential of working with fashion gloves - and moreover, not your ordinary sort of glove.
I had gathered some information of my own regarding the construction process along the way, but was finding it difficult to source small quantities of leather to make individual or sample pieces. Fortunately, The Identity Store - the proprietors of which are very experienced and knowledgeable leather experts - and myself, met around this time. They had acquired a machine which effectively photocopied a design onto a film that was then heat fused onto gloving leather. Naturally, some experimentation was needed to assess what would, and wouldn’t work - the film could only really be used for designs which covered the whole sheet of leather, as the fusion process would tend to leave a residue on the fabric surface from the adhesive - and for that reason, could not be used on punched surfaces or suede.
As far as design of the gloves was concerned, I was pointed in the direction of a publication by Gwen Emlyn-Jones called “Make Your Own Gloves”. This was a good introduction on how to make gloves by hand, but it became clear that a better and less laborious finish could be achieved through factory production. If you have ever attempted to cut and sew your own leather gloves purely by hand, juggling a number of small parts and a decidedly tricky construction engineered to fit the complicated shape of the hand, particularly the thumb, you will know exactly what I mean.
Machine production was difficult, although not impossible to source, as I wanted to keep production UK-based, for all manner of reasons. I eventually opted for one of only about 2 glove manufacturers who were able to offer this service, which still existed in England at the time. They kindly provided me with glove templates which had a more streamlined cut from those which I had previously used as a base, from which I was able to adapt and cut my own new, improved patterns. Some of the earliest gloves I produced using this method were of a relatively simple and uncomplicated cut, typically with one digitally printed side and one side of plain leather. More complex gloves would involve my cutting individual pieces of the glove out and patchworking them together them myself, with the main elements of the glove body being machined for greater neatness and strength of finish.
Around this time, I was once again to assume the role which has traditionally been my nemesis - that of Higher Education Student. I suppose, judging from my earlier brushes with Uni., that I should have seen it coming, but at the time it appeared that London College of Fashion and myself had potential to offer each other, in the event that I should elect to do a Masters’ degree. Needless to say, we parted company fairly early on through the course, as it became clear to me that this wasn’t the case (I was refunded the course fees). Although my own ideas were more progressive in every possible way, it was the intention, of particular members of the establishment, to steer me towards something very different to what I had in mind.
Thus it was that I ended up with the luxury of my own inner direction and control of my own work, the time to experiment as I chose, and a minimal risk of dilution of my ideas. I roared into 2010 with a series of mini-collections which were splendidly eyecatching, as well as probably unrepeatable. By that time, I was also able to provide matching scarves and handkerchiefs alongside my gloves; one collection featured kaleidoscopic prints and dramatic gauntlet-style smart dress gloves, whilst another featured tiger-stripe fabrics (to celebrate the 2010 Chinese Tiger Year) and oversized cosy winter mittens resembling a tiger’s paw.
I had some interest in my activities from certain media (Amelia’s Magazine, US Vogue) and individual clients, and worked with a US-based company to design and cost the production for a touchscreen-friendly glove. I also collaborated with the publishers of two fashion accessory textbooks: firstly, Jane Schaffer and Sue Saunders’ (London College of Fashion) “Fashion Design Course: Accessories”, providing consultation and materials; and secondly, John Lau’s (Manchester Metropolitan University) “Designing Accessories”, as a featured designer. Both publications are standard reading for higher education design undergraduates, and sold through good booksellers.
However, 2010 marked the point of yet another calling. Music was beginning to make greater inroads into my life; and true to form, I was once again experiencing the familiar urge to go off the beaten track and explore something new. This was an entry into what can only be described as a period of frenzied creative activity for me in both music, art and costume; however, that is a story for another time.
A selection of the iconic World of Christina gloves and other accessories from 2006-2010 can be bought from https://christinacrimari.etsy.com . Here you will find digitally printed, handfinished and painted accessories from this time.