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Jenna Rossi-Camus and the Costume

Some time ago, when the tour idea came into being, I thought about its main aims and objectives. If I was to tour the country to raise awareness of the project, to meet like minded people who may be supportive, to gather items for the collection and to ultimately find a home for the museum, then the whole appearance of the caravan had to be quite striking. I then thought of myself handing out leaflets, wearing an ill-fitting cagoule next to it. The two things just didn't marry. I remembered a chap I had seen up in Scotland at a folk festival. He was a story teller and had on the most beautiful embroidered coat. Now this is not the time to go into a dialogue on the power of clothes and personal image, but it did seem that I would need some kind of 'look'. Could my outfits not be drawn from folkloric sources I wondered? In a rather sad attempt to get something going, I bought a waistcoat in a second-hand shop and took it away with me at New Year's, where I would sit, patiently sewing pearl buttons all over it.

As has often been the case since starting this project, when I needed help, something or someone would appear in my hour of need. In this particular case it was a young lady called Jenna Rossi-Camus. Jenna had contacted me back in November of 2008 to ask if she might interview me about the Gothic exhibition I had designed at the FIT in New York. She is presently pursuing her MA at the London College of Fashion. Over the course of a few weeks we emailed each other and then I invited Jenna round for a cup of tea to tell her all about the museum project. Folklore generally is a subject quite dear to Jenna's heart and so she was naturally interested in the subject and all the various objects I was gathering for the caravan. I think it was Jenna who then asked what I was going to wear. I produced my waistcoat......'And?' she asked. Well for the moment that was it. We decided that as we wanted to work together on something, Jenna would go away and gather some images and research, looking at folk costumes from around the world. We met again and as soon as I had finished looking through her scrap book, I knew she had totally understood the idea and been able to take it so much further. Some weeks later she produced some wonderful costume sketches which referenced all manner of traditional folk techniques such as smocking, appliquéd felt, barge painting, patchwork and of course, my favourite, pearl buttons.

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To complete the overall look, I asked my friend Gareth Pugh, if he might make a coat to crown everything. I had the first fitting on Thursday this week and the lovely Henderson managed to give me a waist.



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