passementerieHighly recommend a visit to The Fashion & Textile Museum to see Art Textiles: a celebration of the work of Marian Clayden – a British born citizen who later lived and worked in America.

I was lucky enough to hear an illuminating talk by Mary Schoeser author, curator and textile historian, who brought this colourful character to life. Marian Clayden was a curious and experimental textile artist, a mother, who loved movement and dance. She taught in primary schools and developed educational slide shows revealing her techniques. She showed her work in galleries. She made great innovations in shibori techniques and designed the outfits for the musical Hair.

Taking risks aged 50 and having such talent and vision, her company grew from the kitchen sink into a multi million pound business. Her designs have been worn by Whitney Huston, Meryl Streep and Sigourney Weaver and despite her never seeking fame her business had a cult following.

Clayden traversed many textile possibilities – shibori, dyeing, passementerie, felt making, art fibre pieces, fashion designs, exquisite void velvet (not discharged but woven into delicate patterns costing £100 /metre in the 1980s)  utilising the skills of French craftsmen over two years to revive this technique.

An inspirational show encouraging experiments with everyday objects, for example her use of the sandwich toaster to make dynamic print patterns using pigments.

She also supported the Aid to Artisans charity.

Marian Clayden –  a fascinating textile artist who traversed art, textiles and fashion with innovation  – a global traveller (finding the strength and beauty of donkey straps, a source of inspiration after living in Iran for a year) and evidently  fun to work with as quoted by her assistants. Only on until April 17th.