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Constructing Couture

By Neil Cunningham

Being an independent business it’s always helpful – and flattering – when a large company wants to sponsor or collaborate with you for a creative project. While chatting to the husband of one my couture clients one day as he ordered a surprise gown for his wife’s birthday we got talking about our respective businesses.

Chris Seeley was a director of Skansen: an interior construction company responsible for the high-quality refurbishment and fit-out of commercial properties and we found that in the day to day running of our businesses in seemingly disparate industries, we actually had much in common: from design, and blue prints, right through to execution using skilled craftsman for our exacting boutique clients.

As his team of architects and builders proceeded to create an outdoor set on which to shoot a selection of my classic shapes we asked documentary photographer Mike Goldwater to capture the workings of our two industries. The installation was created in a car park by wasteland on the outskirts of London; 100ft high crane lights were brought in to give film quality sunshine you might get performing in a Greek Amphitheatre and the results formed an exhibition at Proud Galleries Camden.

Looking back at the photographs now I gasp at the eye watering task of several days build for one photo shoot – the set was gone the next day – but now I realise what a great metaphor for the fashion industry the exercise had been. This was just like any fashion show: hundreds of man hours toiled and tens of thousands of pounds spent for a few fleeting visual moments.

“Looking back now I gasp at the eye watering task of several days build for one photo shoot ”