Sunday, 13 February 2011

Up'n'at 'em in Manhattan

This post is being brought to you from New York City but we shall rewind to the beginning of the week, back in London to the scene before we set off. As you can perhaps imagine those days were snuggly filled with activity. Mark assembled the screen printing machines in our workroom on the Clapham Road and a happy bi-product of that industry is that the heater used to dry the freshly inked tee shirts raised the temperature in there above freezing for the first time! The Bedlamites were then most marvellously augmented by Tim'n'Ian, two dear friends who live across the street from HQ and whose souls are so perfectly matched that they are only ever referred to as one fused entity. Between them have a fine design pedigree. One of Ian's more notorious and hugely successful graphics is "FCUK" and Tim was senior menswear designer there at French Connection for many years. In Paris, where I first got to know them, Tim had the same gig consecutively at Balmain and Daniel Hechter. So that's a pretty cool pair of interns we're sure you'll agree and I will return to post photos of their intense apprenticeship once we're back in England (now we have the big desk top i-Mac I got overexcited and uploaded the photos to that so now they are there and, dur, I am here).
Tim Chapman - from Balmain to Bedlam, proving you're never too grand or too, um, mature, to learn a new skill

Over night on Monday the photosensitive ink dried naturally on the screens in the cupboard under our stairs (incidentally, where my old charges Sneaker Pimps recorded arguably their finest work, in the cupboard under the stairs at Liam's dad's house). Tim presented himself for duty the next morning and first watched Mark print the acetates of the graphics that André had Mac-ified. Together they exposed the screens to halogen heat and light for one minute and fifty seconds and a more assiduous time keeper than Tim you could not have conjured. Heaven helped out by providing a beautiful day on Tuesday so we could put them in the back garden to finish drying.
Our first screen is prepared
Then we decamped to the studio to get printing. It was quite a goose bump moment when the first Earl of Bedlam garment came off the presses and soon a rail was full - hotdiggity and Hallelujah! We only had ourselves a studio, a shop, and stock! I alerted the waiting world to this news via Twitter and it was perhaps appropriate in the light of the shared production secret shared above that it was one of the Pimps themselves, Joe the Bass, who replied within seconds to bag the first one.

Posh apprentices Tim'n'Ian dedicated themselves to following the production process

Little Ian lends a hand
Hands clasped in wonder we beheld the images  manifest

There was an important technical reason for this, it just escapes me right now

On Wednesday evening I returned to Tian's underground workroom to collect the trousers and pinstripe-suit-with-a-twist. It was humbling to be presented with such wonderful tailoring then to be asked with genuine concern if I was satisfied. Classic Cuts deserves to be regarded as a bastion of classic quality. It suddenly occurred to me that should we get some orders we'll be needing more of the fabric (!) and called up Crescent Trading, that sits on the other side of the Whitechapel Road. Flirty Philip answered the phone saying I was lucky to find him there at that hour, he was loading a van. We know that we are lucky. He promised he'd wait and I bumped down the cobbles of Brick Lane to find him standing in the middle of the road looking out for me. He put some bolts aside and wished us Godspeed. I leapt back aboard, excited to get to the studio lickety spit to show Mark, Tim'n'Ian and Andrea who was on her way over from the Victoria & Albert Museum:
The lovely Andrea pays us a visit from the V&A and carries off, as #1 Centurian, the first Bedlam book bag!

I shall pause here as we must get to dinner with Stefan who last year took us into Vogue where he worked before he started presenting a TV fashion show here in the US:

The Earl hits Manhattan
The Lady loves New York

Back in a bit Bedlamites!

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