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Under the Microscope: Cell Belle

I can finally share with the world my World of Wearableart entry for 2018. The section theme is Under the Microscope. My entry is titled, Cell Belle. I didn't like to hope that I would make it through to the show this year after not making it last year. If I have learnt one thing from WOW, it is not to expect to make it. This year I didn't dare even think that it would be successful. People say to me "you're awesome, of course, it will" but I know better. I have been to a show. The entry standard raises with each year. I feel like I have fluked it to date.

In April when the pre-selection notifications arrived, it was beautiful to draw a breath and consider that I was in with a shot. The judging weekend in July proved to be a polarised set of emotions. Parts of me felt like that it was fine. There was nothing more I could do and that it will be what it is. Other parts of me were exploding with terror thinking about how poorly the fit on the model might be, and maybe I had packed her up poorly so that she didn't unpack well. It turns out the model presenting Cell Belle sold the ever-lovin' shit out of her and that her programme photo was taken that day. Now here I am tonight at the Awards Show being WOWed up the wazoo! There's no doubt a flood of tears pouring down my cheeks as this post well, posts.

The entry process beyond the creation of the garment is extensive. It pushes me to express myself to the very boundaries of my abilities. The Dressing Instructions are the most fun for me, as I love creating and formatting documents. I am not a whizz with the words, but I enjoy that element of entering. Coming up with the inspiration wording for my entry, on the other hand, is a huge challenge me. I am keenly aware of the why and the process, but due to the sheer personal nature of it, I struggle to get the words out right. Prepping for this post I re-read my entered spiel, and I can honestly say that I impressed myself. It had been a while since I'd written it, so I was pleasantly surprised by what I wrote. Go me! I'm so impressed that I feel like sharing my words with you as an accompaniment to the visuals. We are asked to supply three pieces of information:

1. Short Inspiration - which is the wording that will appear in the programme.

2. Long Inspiration - which I guess is a wordier version that the judges are provided with as the entry garment is presented for assessment.

And 3. Garment Story. The model selected to represent a designer for judging reads this. They use it to develop their understanding of the garment so that they can best present what we (the designers) are wanting to express and provide a clearer understanding of why the entry is where it is. The following are my three submitted descriptions:

Short Inspiration:

Plant cell sequins'ing.

Long Inspiration:

My inspiration came when I Googled 'single cell organism,' and saw Euglena for the first time. I wanted to create a plant-based creature/cross-section/thing, with sequins - lots of sequins. And it had to have a long, sparkly flagellum (tail). The garment is made up of 100% crochet. The many, many sequins have been individually handsewn.

Garment story: 

I knew what I wanted to create as soon as I Google Image searched for single-celled organisms. One species, Euglena caught my attention. When I read that most species of Euglena have "photosynthesising chloroplasts so that they feed like plants and can also take nourishment heterotrophically, like animals," that was it! I also enjoy a good feed. These guys must like one so much that they adapt to ensure eating no matter what. I wanted to create something that was in essence plant-based. I took the chlorophyll element as the base for the overall palette. I didn't want to make an exact representation of the cell structure. Instead, I opted for a multi-celled organism of a garment that is a bit glam, strong, feminine, and sparkly.

My creative process tends to go like this: I start with my initial sketches and concept. Once I begin the crochet part, it all becomes a whole other 'beast.' The crochet tends to guide me as to how it will work and wants to be. The original silhouette radically changed when I was working out how to structure the crochet fabric around the human form. The lower section of grid-like sequins came about when I thought I wasn't able to purchase more of the yarn that I was using (engage panic stations!). It was the backup plan, and I have fallen in love with it, and it is perhaps my favourite bit. I can happily say that sewing sequins are my meditation. Which is lucky as I kept thinking of new ideas and elements like the shoes, that needed sequins sewn on them.

In my previous designs, I have made a creature, which in my eyes, have had a very male presence. Cell Belle is female. Once I recognised her femininity, the construction of future pieces of the garment came easily. The tutu skirt came out of the fact that I'd made ten too many of the green cell motifs that form the upper section. I was fiddling with them imagining what they might be; the next thing I knew I had started on an undergarment. Crochet guided me on it the look and overall outcome 100%. It whispered that it would be a skirt and onwards I went. I know gender is not essential, particularly in a garment but I tend to feel a personality from the things I create. Perhaps it is this more than a gender that I take guidance from? Maybe I'm just a bit nutty and see a soul where there isn't one.

When I make an entry for the World of Wearableart, there is one thing that I can be sure of, and that is that I learn, and I develop my skillset as I go. I am driven by a voice in my head that encourages me to make something that will impress Suzie and Heather. I catch myself muttering "no, Suzie won't like that" if I feel I need to make a drastic change or improvement. Each year I have entered I have finished the process with new techniques and abilities. Trying to impress WOW makes me a better creative. This year my entry is beyond anything I have ever attempted before. I feel like I have made a real fashion piece. I have gone beyond my creature bodysuit costumes. I have embraced negative space over complete disguise. I am proud of the result.

If you made it through this far, thank you for reading. Here's a snapshot of the individual elements as they were being created.

2 thoughts on “Under the Microscope: Cell Belle

  1. Exquisite detail bwautifully explained. Kudos, Jess!

    1. Why thank you Mellini. I’m pretty darn pleased with how sparkly she looked under the stage lights. Like a brilliant green mirror ball.

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