Talia Connelly Diary, Part 4 | Hosted by the Nido Collection

It is October 16th, 2016 and I am no longer in London. (It’s my dad’s birthday today too, but that’s not relevant. I just promised him a shout-out for being a loyal reader. Thanks for the support, Padre!)


View from the treetops at Kew Royal Botanical Gardens during the Handmade at Kew weekend. At 5:15pm I missed the last elevator going up to the observation deck so a couple coming down was kind enough to share this photo with me.

The RCGD x Vivienne Westwood internship came to an end last Friday. On Saturday morning I packed up my belongings and headed to Leyton to spend a few days at a friend’s house before my flight out of Gatwick. You know when you return from a vacation and people ask you, “How was it?” and you stand there and say, “It was great” because you don’t know how to properly recount your experience over a water-cooler-type conversation… Well, it will take me longer than an evening of writing to properly reflect on all the interesting conversations I’ve had and the people I’ve been fortunate to meet during my month here. But I’ll try my best!

Half the Westwood staff took vacation after the Paris show so the last week in the London office was fairly quiet. Three Gold label interns also completed their internship the same day as I did, so we had a little farewell on Friday with the rest of the staff. Despite half the usual amount of hungry stomachs present, the studio tables were cleared as per custom to make way for Prosecco, strawberries, jelly donuts, three cheesecakes, and a tub of rugelach pastries.


After lunch, we took a little walk over to the Worlds End Shop, located at 430 Kings Road on the other side of Battersea Bridge. The shop, formerly named “Let It Rock” then “SEX,” peddles reproductions of classic Westwood styles from the 1980’s. It was inside that electric blue building, and rifling through a rack of discounted pieces that I unearthed this sumptuous rarity.


Behold! The “Clint Eastwood Bomber,” featuring a maroon 1×1 fuzzy rib knit and jacquard woven shell with a waxed finish. What a thing of beauty.

Though a Westwood patternmaker graciously offered to use her employee discount for intern purchases, I was still about $700 short of affordability. So tears were shed and goodbyes were made as the coat and I parted ways.

The mourning of the Westwood coat was short lived as campaign director Samata Pattinson and I spent the following Wednesday perusing vintage shops and munching on French fries around Brick Lane. 99.9% of my wardrobe is comprised of NYC thrift store finds and the Shoreditch area felt like a compact version of Williamsburg. There were off-the-wall boutiques, pop-ups, bagel shops, food trucks, street murals, and no shortage of tattooed, rainbow-haired individuals. Spending time with the woman who first greeted me when I arrived to London was a suitable way for the RCGD experience to come full circle.


I don’t have any photos of Brick Lane, but I passed by this mural walking over there.

In the evening, I met my former knitwear professor Jesse for dinner at a pet-friendly restaurant called Legs, a block away from her apartment in Hackney. It was the most I’ve ever spent on a meal while I’ve been here, (granted, I’ve been living on canned spaghetti sauce and Sainsbury pasta because I’m too cheap to cook anything else for dinner) but the good company made it worth it. Jesse moved to London just a few months before I did to work as a knitwear programmer for Nike so we had quite a few “new city” stories to laugh about.

Now would be worth noting that the next time one travels, securing a working phone and an international data plan would be a good idea. London sans call/text/Google Maps wasn’t difficult because I was constantly drawing routes in my notebook beforehand and relying on the goodwill of strangers to point me in the right direction. But every so often, they would point me in the reverse direction of my destination and I found myself taking turns down strange alleyways and backstreets that had me questioning whether I was still in the UK.

Presuming I was on my way to a noodle shop in Chinatown one evening, I wound up at the backdoor of an enormous brick building. Suddenly a mob of people holding playbills came rushing around the corner and started cheering as a young man opened the door. So I started maniacally snapping pictures, just like the rest of the crowd.


Someone famous, apparently.

The last event I should mention was “Handmade at Kew” a juried coalition of over 200 independent artists showcasing their work at Kew Royal Botanical Gardens. I bought a pair of earrings from a studio called Copa Joyeria and had a lovely conversation with Lucy from Arra Textiles. Lucy founded Arra Textiles two years after graduating from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland and makes stunning handwoven scarfs and blankets. Her color sense is on another level and her technical aptitude for drafting weave structures blows me out of the water. There is still so much to learn. There is always much to learn.

Oh! Before I forget again, here are the photos from DesignJunction that took place in Granary Square in September. Better late than never eh.


With a sign like that, even I was able to find my way to the venue without pestering any of the passerby.


The baby and the string quartet.


An on-site installation by French lighting company Blackbody.


A nice university student in his second year who worked part-time at Flor Unikon. He gave me free flowers and I gave him my number on Whatsapp but I never heard from him again. I guess he wasn’t that impressed.

The highlight of DesignJunction was visiting a student gallery where a show called “Brainwaves” was on view. The work sampled graphic design, textile, sculpture, illustration and video art from Central St. Martin’s BFA and MA programs. As a design student from an American school, it was neat to see what other people my age were creating.


“Depth of Light” by Orla Lawn. Woven with concrete, plaster, silk and wool.


“If People Were Like Plants” by Freya Morgan. Such a fun, wacky concept worth looking at in full: https://www.creativereview.co.uk/gradwatch-freya-morgan


“Citzenshop” by Nele Vos. “This installation opposes the neoliberal concept of the acquisition of citizenship by investment, essentially the purchasing of a nationality, as offered by an increasing number of governments around the globe….”


Zhiwen Tong’s graphic novel depicting post-Mao China through his father’s eyes. I’m fascinated by this topic and found myself wanting to know about the illustrator’s family and the development of his work.


These public service announcements… Remind me to bring a box of tissues the next time I stop to read one again.

And on that note: An enormous thank you to SUZY AMIS CAMERON for having the vision to start this campaign. Few people, when faced with the realization that a creative industry is setting uncontrollable demands on the people and regions involved, decide to create an international campaign to challenge the status quo, on the stage of the Oscars no less. To SAMATA PATTINSON: between writing gigs and eveningwear designing, you make the time to successfully coordinate these campaign events year after year. Thank you for looking out for me and being the best tour guide London has to offer. To the STAFF AT NIDO: Thank you for your involvement with the Red Carpet Green Dress campaign and supporting my stay in London. (Stephanie, it was such a joy to share conversation with you at Kew Gardens. Thanks for the photos and I hope to see you again!) To BRIGITTE, JENNIFER, and all the spunky, spirited peeps at Westwood who have subjected themselves to my presence Monday-Friday 10am to 6pm: Never have I met a group of people so committed to upholding the belief that clothing is a means of social responsibility and artistic expression. Thank you for the opportunity to work alongside you.

In January, I’ll be heading back to the good ole USA to finish my studies. Then the Great Job Hunt will commence. Know anyone looking for a surface designer? ☺ If you enjoyed reading, please feel free to drop a line!

Till next time,


Talia Connelly Diary, Part 3 | Hosted by the Nido Collection

October 5th,


I would welcome you with an amorous French greeting, but I feel a bit fraudulent pulling up Google Translate. Now that the Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood Spring 2017 show has been officially released, I am in the liberty to share more shots leading up to the occasion. The camera on my cell phone is comparable to the visual quality of a Windows 2000 desktop and dies at the most inopportune moments so a few images are borrowed from coworkers to fill in the gaps. Longest entry yet, but mostly comprised of photos so it’s digestible.

The week before the show


Handstitching a series of labels onto the right side of each tailored jacket. Each stitch was precisely measured 5mm apart.


One of the machinists modeling his handiwork. Complete with red felt eyes and dangling metal claws.


When the plotter printer has an emotional breakdown, masks and super glue come to the rescue.


The last day in the London studio before heading to Paris: In peak condition and ready to face any challenge of the universe.


6:00am (night of the show) and still sle-working in the showroom. I was ready to nail the coffin at this point.

I jest, I jest. Compared to the workload of university, giving up one night of rest in order to execute a performance uniting the past three months of development was more than doable. A few full-time employees even worked 48 hours straight. Such dedication.

My sister Justine also flew over to Paris with the approval of my studio manager who had been looking for a few extra hands to help with the show. “Animal Science pre-Vet” is her field of expertise at University College Dublin, but that didn’t slow her from adjusting metal corsets on ten different torsos or applying snake, lion, and acorn appliques onto a stack of tailored skirts and blazers.

Friday – The day before the show


9:30am – In the showroom handstitching metal charms onto an acid yellow blazer. This piece was cut from the show, but its grey counterpart with the same charm placement remained.


10:25pm – Enlisting an army to fit this apparatus onto the model without toppling her over. A line of models awaiting their fittings formed at 11am and the last one trickled out at around 12am.


Looking fierce Elena.

3 am – Deliberating the final lineup. Hundreds of outfit combinations tested that day were narrowed down to 65 looks.


3:30 am – Organizing each shoe by style and size. Because most models share shoes during the show, lineups are strategically planned around availability.


5:30 am – Preparing the garment bags; one for each model.


6:30am – Taking a cab back to our Airbnb to catch a few Zzzzz’s before showtime.


Here’s the lay of the land. The showroom was right around the corner from the Louve and the show venue was a stone’s throw away from the Eiffel Tower. You’d think they would have tried a little harder to secure something more impressive but I wasn’t the one calling the shots.


J and I stayed in an adorable apartment complex located in the 13th Arrondissement, about a 40-minute commute from the showroom. Our host Sarah-Jane works as a flight attendant for Air France and was in Chile when we arrived, so her mother was there to greet us. Her mother didn’t speak a lick of English and I didn’t speak a word of French so we communicated through caveman gestures and lots of smiles. Sarah-Jane’s son is studying abroad in Montreal, and according to Sarah, “has no desire to return to Paris,” (Me: WHY??) so she’s been renting out his room to guests like us.


Her son owns 34 volumes of Naruto. We would have been good friends.

Saturday – The day of the show


The Gold label interns sporting matching show T-shirts


I woke up like this.


AK, V, and models bask in the post-show glow. Almost immediately after this photo was taken, the set was taken down, the models dashed off to their next runway appointment, and the clothes were disassembled, packed back into garment bags, and loaded into vans to be taken back to the showroom. Akin to watching the heist scene from How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the pieces left the venue as quickly as they had come.


While on our way to the showroom to do the post-show unpacking, we took our first uninhibited stroll through the city streets.


Ah Sunday, smartly christened as the day of rest. My sister and I slept for 12 hours and had our first meal outside of the Westwood showroom at Sarah-Jane’s favorite Basque restaurant, a 15-minute walk from the apartment. Sunday was also the grand opening for Vivienne Westwood’s first boutique in Paris, so we headed back to the showroom to make celebratory balloon decorations.


Notice the balloon covered ceiling!


Shiny bull-hooves adorn garment rack legs.

There were rumors of a studio afterparty but the plea for sleep won the fight, so we hopped on the metro to our Airbnb and enjoyed a quiet evening of chats and chocolate buscuits with Sarah Jane.


I woke up at the blessed hour of 5am to bid Justine well as the Uber ride to take her to the bus terminal for Beauvais Airport pulled up at the apartment. Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed before going to back to sleep (a terrible habit I’ve got to kick) I caught a photo of my roommate from back home posing in front of the Eiffel Tower. Could it really be? Emily? I knew she was travelling to Berlin to study abroad, but her detour to Paris was news to me. 6 hours later, I found myself on the sixth floor of Centre Pompidou skipping through the Magritte and Beat Generation exhibitions with my adventure-seeking, karaoke-singing, dance partner in crime.


Staircase leading up to the heavens.  Colossal hamster tunnel. Or Pompidou façade.


View from inside.


And the Beat goes on.

At 5pm I boarded the Eurostar back to London. I forgot my water bottle at the showroom and wasn’t about to pay two pounds for bottled water so I went back to my seat. Two minutes later I’m tapped on the shoulder with a bottle of water from the women who stood behind me in line. She hails from London but lives in Kent, works as a cosmetic surgery consultant, and has a daughter that is currently visiting her grandparents in Spain. We had a lovely conversation for the rest of the ride. As the train pulled up to St. Pancras, she wished me well with the internship and told me she had bought a Westwood corset from the Worlds End Shop back in the day.

Speaking of St. Pancras, I meant to include a few photos from DesignJunction (a furniture and lighting trade show that exhibited at Granary Square, across the river from St. Pancras) in my last post, but didn’t get around to downloading them in time. In my fourth and final post about this whirlwind experience with the RCGD campaign, I’ll include a few highlights from the DesignJunction event- namely the Central St. Martin’s student exhibition “Brainwaves” and an infant jamming to Johannes Brahms “Hungarian Dance.”



Talia Connelly Diary, Part 2 | Hosted by the Nido Collection

Monday 26th, 2016

Hi there! It’s technically Saturday Oct 1st, but pretend Talia didn’t shamefully fall behind in her diary writing and that Tuesday-onwards hasn’t happened yet ☺ The post for this current week will be coming shortly.


If you don’t know what the Red Carpet Green Dress Campaign refers to, who Nido Collection is, or why an Asian lass and a flock of sheep are atop the London Bridge, please refer to “Diary, Pt 1.” Otherwise, entry numero dos proceed!

This week, there were four birthdays in the Westwood office and no one throws a classier office kitchen party than those enlisted in fashion.

2When one runs out of plates, toilet paper becomes a rather handy backup.

3The employees, well… they like to keep things unpredictable.


The Gold label intern crew from the left: Avishay, Cecily, Mel, Hannah, Me, Rene and Kat.

The office is in the midst of preparing for the SS17 runway show at Paris Fashion Week. Which means three days from now I will be aboard the Eurostar train to assist backstage. Can you believe it only takes 2 hours to get to Paris from London? It takes me nearly four hours just to exit state lines back home. Hannah, a fellow Gold label intern has spent the past few days Googling “cool things in Paris” and informed us that a vampire museum and pet cemetery outing are in the works. (Assuming that late night prep work for the show doesn’t completely wipe us out before then!) Read more