Being a Londoner can feel full of contradictions. Allure versus angst. Style versus stress. Are the rent prices really worth it? Is the status of an Oyster card — and our Oyster card holders — worth belonging to one of the most creative cultures and fashion forward cities in the world? Represented in films and across the wider media at large, London either seems idyllic or dystopian, All your dreams could come true, or they could come crashing to your feet — so why do so many take the risk?
Exploring the undeniable allure of living in the big smoke, we see the city through the eyes of five Polyester contributors, all artists and creative women making their mark on London in their own right. Tracing the transcendence of femme-identified communities from the isolated confines of our teenage bedrooms to real, tangible groups making their make on the world in an IRL capacity, this week long editorial takeover — ’What Makes Me’ in collaboration with Converse — will delve deep into the worlds of personal style in relation to creative practises, the legacy of the Chuck Taylor, and the importance of community in discovering who you are.
Because despite all of the turmoil that comes with living in our capitol, it’s undeniable that living in London can work as a catalyst in both a political and stylistic sense. From multimedia artist Rachel Hodgson embracing crudity and childishness in both her hand scribbled photographs and her dress sense, to Dream Wife’s subversion of femininity through combining music, clothing, and immersive gig experiences that help redefine what we expect from women on stage. Or Sylvie Makower, a 17-year-old artist, model, muse and A level student navigating the world — pooling inspiration from the strong females surrounding her both IRL and through the lens of her phone’s screen. These women may be united in experience, but the way they compose themselves through their clothing serve as tangible examples of the diversity and different experiences the city offers us.
Whilst it’s unfair to dismiss the positive impact social media and the internet has had on shaping all of our identities, the streets of London are equally rife with politicised people combining the visual arts with their own visions of what our city should look like. Take womenswear designer Clio Peppiatt, who attempts to break down the arguably exclusive fashion industry by creating clothing as at home during a London Fashion Week presentation as it is on your bedroom floor post-night out. Or Maria Cabrera and Grace Barber-Plentie of Reel Good Film Club, a grassroots organisation working towards addressing the lack of diversity for people of colour within the film industry by creating a sense of community through accessible programming.
Kicking off the week with a new mini-documentary by Meg Lavender — watch below — we discover the similarities and differences amongst these young women’s lives that come together to create a sense of community — found in London — nestled amongst the rising rent and looming glare of gentrification. Additionally, throughout the next five days we’ll be catching up with Dream Wife, Hodgson, Reel Good Film Club, Makower, and Peppiatt individually to talk using clothing to convey different personas, Converse’s enduring relevance to each lady’s life, and embodying your art through what you wear…
Directed by Meg Lavender. Production and additional text by Ione Gamble. Additional footage by Louis Foster & Ed Murchington. Editing assistance & grading by Clementine Blue. Sound design by Alice Go, featuring Dream Wife. Special thanks to Isobel Fraser, Chloe Sheppard, Ian Segantini, Gina Tonic, and The Glory.