A FEMINIST CREATION
Posted on 18 January 2018
Our limited edition “Feminists of The World Unite” scarf came about in the wake of the 2017 Women’s March. We marched in solidarity on the 21st of January '17– the first day of Donald Trump’s presidency.
Fast-forward a year and museums are calling us- it seems we inadvertently created a piece of social and fashion history. I’m hoping I can update you soon on where this piece of wearable art ends up. We always said it would be a single production run of 20 in each size- A moment in history. I’m put in a position where I have to choose wisely where it goes. Let me tell you how it was created:
As a designer I’ve long been sceptical of working with friends, especially on creative projects. I’ve been fearful of the delicate balance of egos. But for this scarf I set my reservations aside, and went to my long-time sister in solidarity, my best friend from art school, artist Emma Bray. Emma is a busy artist who specialises in Biro drawings, and teaches the next generation of creative souls at secondary level. Her energy and enthusiasm for creativity and feminism are impressive. It was Emma who saw me through my youth: the bad-breakups, aimless life choices and rants about pervy bosses. It was Emma who coined the phrase “coal heap moment” when once, on our way home after having taken leave of our pervy pub boss; we rounded a corner to find an enormous heap of coal blocking our way home. We both spontaneously bust into tears- and so a long-term bond and an idea was formed. If there’s a woman who champions art and feminism, it’s Emma.
By 2017 it had been about 17 years since Emma and I had hung out regularly, shocking as that is to me now. We’ve always kept in touch through our coal heap moments and the good times. I wasn’t sure how she’s react when I asked if she wanted to work on this feminist scarf idea. It’s a big ask, because I wanted a co- designed epic protest scene in Biro. The Biro aspect was important to me because throughout history women have found their voice with a pen. It’s often been said that a woman who can read and write is a dangerous person indeed. I believe knowledge and education are our tools of equality.
I gave Emma my references- Instagram shots of the Women’s marches in London and New York, pictures of Bangladeshi garment workers protesting over safety, quotes from the famous Nigerian feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie , the timeless words of Maya Angelou, historical images of the Suffragettes. I wanted it all because it all matters.
A painstaking process of creating the art began remotely as we no longer live in the same city. Over the course of a month the artwork began to materialise. It was the first time I’d directed a scarf rather than design it all myself. The control freak in me was doing back flips, but Emma’s beautiful work and endless patience was so mind blowing that I settled into it. I worked on the paisley uterus border while Emma created her magic on the main scene. There are men, women and transgender people in the design as well as children; the inclusivity wasn’t a crowd pleasing token- we simply wanted to think deeply about what it means to be a feminist now. In the end, we came back to the timeless adage “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” The quote is in the design with many of our other favorites.
It’s been a journey. I’ll never forget seeing Emma’s drawing for the first time, or the way it looked printed onto silk. We are amazed at the attention the scarf has had already from our audience, shops and museums! And it was fantastic to shoot images of the scarf on model and activist Pam Lucas.
We've kept 5 of each size for the website this January, and it’s important to me that they're available to you, the people I made them for in the first place. I can’t wait to see where they go to! I'm always amazed by your stories when you share them with me by email or on Instagram. If the conversations I'm having continue, it’s quite possible that the design will soon be in a museum near you, which utterly blows my mind!