Hormazd Geve Narielwalla
Ph.D student, London College of Fashion
Through archival research and my personal practice, I aim to interpret and articulate bespoke tailoring and pattern cutting archive as an art form. The primary research for my Ph.D. thesis, titled The Raj – Historical military uniform construction, analysis and artistic communication, consists of analytical drawings of uniforms over the 100-year period of The Raj, which are archived in the Indian rooms of the National Army Museum, and military tailoring firms, in Savile Row. These drawings of front, back, side, sleeve, outer shell, inner shell and construction details are either recorded observing the uniform as a flat perspective or on a 3D form.
The research focuses strongly on the cut of the uniforms. Contrary to the use of camouflage, uniforms from this period were constructed to fit the body precisely. This was principally achieved through the sharp, stiff and rigid lines of the uniform. All military uniforms in the form of service dresses, patrol jackets, ceremonials dress and muskets are cut to fit the body with no allowance for ease.
The concept is that the uniform should not be skin-tight but has to be body hugging in order for the guard, or the officer, to have complete freedom. Balance is achieved, for instance, by cutting the armholes high into the pit, or by cutting a hollow back; the overalls are even cut high in the waist, and almost the whole military tailoring would embrace this concept.
Such tailoring techniques are reflected in the analytical drawings, which are then taken through a process of artistic communication and translated into a drawing language understandable to both tailoring and non-tailoring audiences.
Education and background
- 2001 Bachelors of Commerce, University of Pune, India.
- 2006 BA (Hons.) in Fashion Design, University of Wales, Newport.
- 2007 MA in Fashion Enterprise & Design, University of Westminster, under the tutorship of Shelley Fox and Zowie Broach (Boudicca).
After completing a Master in Fashion Enterprise & Design, Narielwalla has been Visiting Lecturer at the University of Northampton (2009), teaching Fashion Communication. He has worked for the prestigious Savile Row civil, military and sporting tailor Dege & Skinner, where he developed an appreciation for bespoke tailoring, in particular, for the brown paper patterns of individual customers. This fascination, coupled with his creative interpretation of the patterns, prompted him to produce a limited edition book entitled Dead Man’s Patterns, an artistic design story inspired by a set of bespoke patterns belonging to a deceased customer. The concept was an attempt to recreate the patterns as objects of art, using a unique theme that has become his trademark. In his quest for artistic creativity, he forages for forms in historic tailoring archives, and through the visuals reveals previously untold stories. Narielwalla creates sets of playful artworks, utilising photography, his own sketches and digital composition collages. In October 2009, Paul Smith presented Narielwalla’s first solo exhibition, entitled A Study on Anansi, which combined the patterns with western African folk tales. His second publication, about the tailoring memoirs of Michael Skinner, master cutter and chairman of Dege & Skinner, is a story told through the pattern cutting journals Mr. Skinner compiled when studying at the Tailor & Cutter Academy.
- 2008 A Fairy Tale in Fashion, Exit Gallery, London, group exhibition.
- 2009 A Study on Anansi, Paul Smith’s Mayfair Gallery, London, solo show.
- 2010 Art on the Underground, a display at Old Street tube station, London, solo show.
- 2010 Hat Parade, Bernstock Speirs, London, solo show.
- 2010 Oscar Hodgepodge, BlueBird shop, London, solo show.
- 2010 Drawing Out, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, curated by Charlotte Hodes, group exhibition.
- 2010 Markt, Lincoln centre, Scope art Fair, New York, curated by Diane Pernet.
- 2008 Dead Man’s Patterns, artist book, acquired by 16 art institutes in UK, America, Australia, and included in the Modern Rare British Collections of the British Library, London.
- 2011 Savile Row cutter – conversations with a Master Tailor, the tailoring memoirs of Michael Skinner, master cutter and chairman of Dege & Skinner.
Grants and awards
- 2007 Scholar grant from the Erach Roshan Sadri Foundation (ERSF) and research funding for the MA thesis.
- 2009 Awarded the first International Rector’s Scholarship, UAL, for his Ph.D. in The Raj – Historical military uniform construction, analysis and artistic communication, London College of Fashion.