Gemma Correll is a UK based illustrator and creator of What I Wore Today (Drawings) - a favourite website of many a Wornette. Here, we chat with Gemma about outfit illustrations, zine making and tie-dyed leggings.
How did you dress in high school?
Well, at school itself I didn’t have a lot of choice, since we had to wear a uniform. But outside of school, I was into the “indie” style of tight band T-shirts and flared jeans- although I did also go through a hippy phase (tie-dyed leggings!) which I’d rather forget.
What is a typical workday like for you?
Well, it kind of builds up slowly. I am not a morning person, so I start the day checking my e-mails and guzzling coffee. After that, I run errands, walk my dog, go to the post office… After lunch, I’m ready to work. I’ll usually work from 2pm until 1am, with breaks for food, coffee and pug cuddles.
Designer Josiane Perron recently launched her eponymous label, and has now launched three collections of elegantly constructed vintage-like women’s garments, all made entirely in Montreal.
How and when did you get into making clothes?
At the age of ten, when I would amuse myself tracing Betty & Veronica comics, I decided to make a job of it. I was fascinated by Betty’s ability to make her own clothes and by the scope of Veronica’s closet.
What was your personal style like in high school?
I passed through a classic phase, a vintage phase, and a designer brands phase. In high school my personal style was marked by a transition from grunge style to skater, but there was always a touch of Britpop. My biggest influence at the time was music, especially Elliott Smith and Blur.
What’s your favourite item in your wardrobe?
My Second yoga jeans! The slightly tiedyed wash is superb, and they’re incredibly comfortable. It’s a real addiction, it’s impossible to wear other jeans once you’ve tried yoga jeans. The only thing that beats my yoga jeans is the pleasure and lightness of wearing a dress.
Artist Jessica Bartram first showed her watercolour portraits of Notable Victorians (all of whom happened to be animals) at Industrees Gallery (now defunct) last year. She is currently creating portraits of a fresh set of characters and searching for a new gallery, but she kindly contributed a few designs of ascot-wearing lions for WORN’s Pin Party. Whether they are members of high society or the Dickensian fishmongers, chimney sweeps or strumpets of the streets, her characters are always fabulously dressed.
Clothing and props play a significant role in the establishment of character in your work. Do you get as much inspiration from hats, ties and monocles as you do from animals?
Yes, I’m most definitely attracted to the ornate and slightly mad elements of Victorian fashion – the crazy hats adorned with whole taxidermied birds, the mammoth sleeves, bustles. It’s a rich field from which to harvest all kinds of inspiration! I’m always trolling Flickr, Google images, and Tumblr old photos to use as reference, and it’s inevitably the crazier outfits that catch my eye. There’s a printout on my bulletin board of a portrait of a lady wearing a striped silk dress (with a tightly cinched waist sash and enormous mutton-leg sleeves) and a heavily feathered hat – she’s probably my next dress reference.
Canadian artist Sonja Ahlers is no stranger to WORN: we loved her when she jazzed up a pair of Keds for us that appeared in issue 8. Recently, she came out with a new book entitled The Selves. Part zine, part scrapbook, the Selves is the result of what happens when Kate Bush lyrics and images from Degrassi collide, creating a visual presentation of feminity’s role in pop culture.
How did you dress in high school?
I made art as a child but once I rolled into high school, all my ‘art’ went into my clothing. Grade 8 was my favourite year. I planned out my outfits every night after I did my homework. I would iron everything and lay it all out the night before. I was excited to wake up just to wear my new outfit. My mother was my inspiration. We shopped in thrift stores which were goldmines then because it was the eighties and nobody shopped in them. She had a divining rod and could find the most beautiful clothing you can imagine. She could cruise a row of sweaters with her eyes alone and the vintage Pringle cashmere sweaters would cry out to her.
We had a room off the kitchen which was ALL CLOTHES piled high. I would go in there and dig through the piles and see what I came up with. I wore a combination of Laura Ashley/La Cache/80s Esprit sportswear/new wave/victorian. I had this pink jean vest that I lived in. I’d also sneak clothes out because some of them were off limits (too precious). I have a strong memory of this gold metallic tote bag I carried around. It was a preppy time so this bag was out of control. I had a few jobs (babysitting/paper route) and I spent all my money on ‘designer’ clothes. I remember spending $25 on a pair of pastel-coloured Christian Dior socks. I combined this with the vintage and used pieces.
Do you ever base your first impressions of people on what they wear?
I don’t think so. I like what my friends wear. They are all individuals.
What were the main sources you used to find images for your book?
From my personal library that I’ve been amassing for years. I’m not a hoarder and I move around a lot so I edit my stuff constantly. My friend Brooke Nechvatel is my main source. She is a truly gifted illustrator. I have a lot of her work in The Selves. She did the Olsen Twins watercolour, the 80s Heart pencil drawing, the banger girl holding her pet boa constrictor (from a newspaper clipping I found), Jerri Blank/Amy Sedaris in sick yellow pajamas and the Madonna leg with the beautiful turquoise shoe that I’m obsessesed with (sidenote: I joked to myself that I was Anna Wintour art directing myself in The Selves.).