Front Lounge

From V&A Clubbing to Graduation: Weekend Celebrations for Dundee Sewing Project

As nightclubs prepare to re-open, a group of young mums have revealed new additions to their wardrobes, all inspired by V&A Dundee’s Night Fever: Designing Club Culture exhibition.

The seven women include four mums who have completed the inaugural Kindred Clothing course and graduated with an SQA-approved qualification this weekend.

Run by Dundee-based charity Front Lounge, Kindred Clothing takes learners through the key stages of the garment production process, while teaching practical fashion photography skills and techniques to present themselves, their stories and their clothes.  Each element of the course is delivered by an experienced maker, with learners presenting a portfolio of their work at the end of the course.   What makes Kindred Clothing unique is that it has childcare built into every aspect of it, allowing parents with young children to get involved.

Night Fever

L-R: Cerrys Duke with daughter Layla, Maisie Farrer, Chelsea French with daughter Kiera and Holly Stansfield. Pic credit – Julie Howden Photography.

The group have spent each Friday over the last eight weeks working within The Thomson Learning Centre of V&A Dundee, with the workshop space, sewing materials and equipment offered free of charge as part of V&A Dundee’s commitment to supporting and working in partnership with community groups in the city. The group also enjoyed access to the sensational Night Fever: Designing Club Culture exhibition, inspiring them to create their very own clubbing garments or party outfits for their children.

The eight-week programme at V&A Dundee, led by Holly Stansfield, the Dundee designer behind up-and-coming fashion house Betty and Moira, provided yet another opportunity for Kindred Clothing graduates Cerrys Duke, Chantelle Mayne, Chelsea French and Hannah Watson.  All four mums, together with Amy Yancouskie, Kayleigh Mitchell and Chelsie Bruce graduated with their SQA-approved Kindred Clothing Award (Garment Production) qualification, during a special event at The Vine in Dundee on Saturday 7 August 2021.  Also participating in this block were Maisie Farrer, Zoe Smith and Claudia Mensa.

Chelsea French, 22, joined Kindred Clothing group during the Winter of 2018.  She said, “This new project at V&A Dundee has been brilliant and the vibe of the Night Fever exhibition really helped with our designs.  It’s also been great to work with the others and help each other out as we go along.

“Kindred Clothing is giving me so many opportunities. I could never have imagined we’d be doing what we’re doing now.  My weeks have been split between designing an outfit at V&A Dundee and working with three other businesses! I also start a new Kickstart internship, which is my first job and just an amazing opportunity to work with real designers and makers, from cutting patterns and using new equipment like an Overlocker to making coats.  At the start of the online Kindred Clothing course, I had no idea what I was doing but now we’re being taken more seriously and people are realising we have something to contribute. We’re also so lucky to be based in Dundee where there are so many creative businesses to help us learn.”

Kindred Clothing’s first ever cohort of graduates! Pic credit – Drew Cunningham.

Meanwhile, 22-year-old Chantelle Mayne, got involved with Kindred Clothing to ‘keep busy and make new mum friends’ but has since fallen in love with sewing.

Chantelle said, “Kindred Clothing has not only given me opportunities I would never have had, but a real passion for sewing and the chance to meet so many new people.  I’ve really enjoyed the V&A Dundee project as it’s been a chance to explore my creative side. Longer-term, I’m starting to see where this could go – Kindred Clothing is giving me the motivation, determination and drive to see a future for myself and consider setting up a business one day.”

Tracey Smith, Young People and Families Producer, V&A Dundee said: “Seeing the group work on developing their ideas from paper into a finished collection of imaginative and colourful garments that they have designed, pattern cut and sewn themselves is evidence of accomplished design skills and a fantastic achievement. Sharing the resources, equipment and studio space we have to collaboratively inspire creativity and design thinking has been a great experience for everyone involved.”

Chika Inatimi, Project Leader, Front Lounge added, “This Summer workshop at V&A Dundee has been just another amazing opportunity offered by Kindred Clothing and an example of what the next batch of recruits could be signing up for.   Not only have some of them graduated with an SQA-approved qualification but they’re designing and making their own clothes within V&A Dundee and, simultaneously, gaining paid work experience within a local business.  This is exactly what Kindred Clothing is all about – providing training, support and a qualification but also real-industry experience, mentorship and inspiration from those already working in fashion.  The learners are gradually starting to see what their future could be, to realise their potential and think big. With some already on the brink of employment within the industry, we can’t wait to see where they go from here!”

Dressed for the occasion at graduation! Pic credit – Drew Cunningham.

The V&A Dundee sessions follow a previous Kindred Clothing block supported by the museum’s Learning team. Late last year, five students spent six weeks creating a 1960s style dress from scratch. Inspired by the Mary Quant exhibition, the dress was made with sustainable materials and guidance provided by V&A Dundee’s Learning team.   The Stich School dress went on to be exhibited, as part of V&A Dundee’s Sewing Box for the Future exhibition.

Night Fever: Designing Club Culture at V&A Dundee and The Families programme at V&A Dundee is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

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Night Fever: Designing Club Culture is a UK-exclusive exhibition on the joyful design history of nightclubs, from 1 May 2021 to 9 January 2022.

Night Fever: Designing Club Culture is the first large-scale examination of the relationship between club culture and design, charting the evolution of nightclubs from the 1960s to today.

Nightclubs are spaces for adventure and escape, and have always encouraged experimental and radical design, from New York’s Studio 54 to Manchester’s Haçienda.

From Italy to New York, Paris, Manchester, London, Beirut and Berlin, and into everyone’s homes today through online streaming, the exhibition charts how nightclub design has changed and evolved.

The exhibition includes a new section on Scotland’s unique and distinct club culture, including legendary club nights in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Paisley, exploring how the Scottish club scene links to the music and influences of Chicago, Detroit and Europe.

Nightclubs are an example of a total designed experience, employing architecture, art, fashion, graphics, lighting, performance and sound to create an immersive sensory experience where design, music and technology meet on the dancefloor.

Developed by the Vitra Design Museum and Design Museum Brussels, it includes films, photography, posters, flyers, and fashion, as well as a light and music installation.

Night Fever: Designing Club Culture at V&A Dundee is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The Families programme at V&A Dundee is also supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.