Guest blog by Bahji Cochrane
My parents were hippies, not the weed smoking or LSD tripping type from the 60’s, but the 90’s new aged spiritual type… believing in ‘love not war’, ‘world peace’, ‘Unity and equality’ Blah Blah Blah, right? Lol, no I’m extremely thankful to have crazy hippies as parents, quite the hilarious upbringing I must say! As a child my 4 siblings and I were encouraged to follow our dreams, and from an early age (like we all did) I began to dream…
As part of my dream process I would always doodle and sketch, although not really having a clue as to what I was doing or whether or not I was any good, I just LOVED it. Creating stories through pictures was the way I would escape the reality of life and create; characters, alternate worlds / dimensions and what I really love sketching is abnormally tall female figures with unrealistically cinched waistlines wearing eccentric and provocative outfits!
Now don’t get me wrong, sketching is not a necessity nor is it a prerequisite in order to create clothing, however, for me, it’s a base that I like to work from. A story line or a script I like to follow.
I never like to discuss my past but I feel I need to rewind just a tad here; It was the year 1997 I had just turned 16, an open gay boy from a tired beach town (Gisborne) with far too much 90s grunge fashion sense for my own good and obvious influences from famous super models, movies, pop stars and deep from within the pages of fashion magazines.
Now living as a female impersonator in a small town isn’t fun! So, I decided to quit school and make my way to “the big smoke” (Auckland) in order to fulfil my dreams of being discovered… Maybe as the first ever transsexual supermodel or actress and that possibly Alexander McQueen himself would call my “agency” and I would be the star in one of his outrageous 90s fashion shows.
I quickly found out I didn’t have the looks or talent, so instead I got a job as a telemarketer during the day and as a stripping, pole dancing tranny by night, great times!
Oh! And… The transgender/female impersonation part of my life, filled with sequins, sleazy back streets and pole dancing was just a phase only lasting 2 years although I still experiment with the pole I’ve had recently installed in the lounge. Lol, no just kidding, AS IF!!!
So 15 years later – Not having done anything within the industry of art, instead, working within the fields of customer service, beauty therapy and also, my most recent role of 5 years (recruiting and promoting for a tertiary college) brought me to a realization! These types of jobs are not satisfying my hunger to EXPRESS nor quenching my thirst to CREATE.
Which now brings me to (after attending a recent Madonna concert Rebel Heart in March of 2016) making the best decision of LIFE! I decided to follow a dream I once had, still have and will strive to achieve, I enrolled in a Fashion Design College called New Zealand Fashion Tech! I’m now in my second year at Fashion Tech (Certificate in Pattern Design) and LOVING every second! My imagination is truly running in overdrive as the more I learn the further my imagination stretches. I’m sketching and applying those ideas into my pattern designing, I’m so thrilled with my accomplishments so far. For example:-
Smashed Denim Beach Couture Vest:
The Black and White Mini Bubble:
And being inspired by the GREATS like:
Madonna and her infamous and provocative costumes worn in the world tour Blonde Ambition, paved fashion trends for years to come with the new generation of female pop stars.
The work of Alexander McQueen has always been and will always be a “go to” providing ample inspiration, especially if you’re considering a career designing Haute Couture.
The Armadillo Boots Collection, made famous by Lady Gaga, where, in the video clip “Bad Romance,” Gaga struts through one scene wearing a gorgeous Alexander McQueen beaded garment and outrageously high boots made from the skin of real armadillos.
Guo Pei, a brilliant and fabulous Haute Couture Designer created this amazing gown worn by Rihanna at the Met Gala, all hand stitched, years worth of work by this astonishing Chinese couturier.
Michael Jackson with his iconic androgynous looks sending fierce fashion statements and the way those looks now influence todays fashion trends.