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This waistcoat was made for a project at Rose Bruford College, the idea was to create a nineteenth century period waistcoat. I wanted to create something that was inspired by the nineteenth century line and cut but with a very modern feel.

I was greatly inspired in my design by the Martin Scorsese film ‘Gangs of New York’. I really liked the shape of the garments in this film because they were clearly a stylized version of nineteenth century design. I was inspired by the character ‘Bill the Butcher’ played by Daniel Day-Lewis. I found the idea of the universal gangster, the hooligan dandy, a really interesting concept. I wanted to portray this image of the threatening hidden by a thin veil of charming, yet I wanted to make this relate to the modern viewer and so I looked to more modern design to help also inspire me.

My plan was to look at gangsters from early Hollywood films to draw on a more modern tradition. I really wanted to use a pinstriped fabric, because although this is a more modern fabric than we would find being used in the 1860’s for waistcoats, it is very typical of the Hollywood movie gangster and it strikes an incredibly strong idea in our minds when we see it.

For the back of my waistcoat I wanted to create a contrasting repeating pattern, in a floral style to look like it was grown onto the waistcoat back. I designed this pattern myself, and created it using fabric paints and embroidery.

I wanted my waistcoat to have a kind of gambling theme and so incorporated in the repeating pattern for the back of the waistcoat are spade and heart images. As well as this I wanted to use the image of the king of hearts on one of my lapels. As the waistcoat was to be double breasted the lapels would be a big feature and I wanted one to be particularly bold. I painted the image of the king of hearts onto the white fabric for this lapel by hand and I think it looks really effective.

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