Harrods & The Green Man
Monday 5th of March
Today in class I was initially questioning my idea for the live project. As we had to collect images before the Monday class, I came across a picture of a woman that had replaced the iconic green men - this was due to mandatory army service for men in 1916. As this caused many men to leave the workplace, they had to be replaced by women to keep the everyday running of their country.
Harrods fell into this category as there was no men left to greet customers at the entrance of Harrods' doors. As Green men are highly important for the identity of Harrods, (as they have been a constant feature of welcoming customers since the beginning of the 1900s).
Furthermore, doing more research into the ways in which women started being present in the workplace, female identity and purpose within society started being questioned by many of these women. One woman I came across that was highly important within Harrods was Pelegrina Pastorino - a influential fashion reporter as well as model for Harrods, she was one of the many figures that started placing ideals of female equality as well as equal pay compared to men. Known as a 'flapper', her attitudes reflected those of a post war world of the 20's where women adopted more freedom, nuances that were seen as 'non ladylike' (driving, drinking, being sexually open).
Looking at these aspects I want to start experimenting with the idea of female identity and female empowerment to be equal that was a prevalent thought in the 20's. Harrods plays a pivotal role as it replaced the green men with women, however then quickly changed back to men, where workers were sacked and replaced without any hesitation. Unfortunately this idea is still prevalent within Harrods due to the iconic characters still being only men.
Wednesday 7th of March
Initially experimenting with the idea of women replacing Green Men, I have been stuck in what I actually want to convey in my final outcome. Therefore in my sketchbook I started looking at images I had found of the Green men as well as trying to join posters that were issued by the government for women to join the workforce. During my research I came across one poster that has bright pastel pinks and yellows within the image. I thought this colour combination was quite fascinating as the colours do not represent war or the current attitudes of the time. The soft colours remind me of a soft tranquil sunset, sort of voicing a comforting attitude. This may have been done to push women to join the workforce and uphold stability of England, when eventually men would come back from war.
Therefore I started using the heat press and make simple prints with the pastel yellow and pinks. I have just been experimenting with colour use as I have never used a heat press before, therefore I have been trying to familiarise myself with the process. Taking this idea of printing into consideration, I might try to join the idea of the masculine shape of the uniform with aspects that give insight to the past and how women with-help the iconic positions of Harrods Green Men when they were absent.
Looking at the colour palette it is obvious that the soft colours may have been used to attract females. This may be due to the stereotypical idea that soft pastels and pinks go in accordance with femininity and the female gender. Especially during the early 20th century (1910-1920), ideas of female power and equality to men had never been fully questioned.
Thursday 8th of March
Wednesday I did more research about female roles within other important department stores within London. I believe it is important to understand in what ways similar businesses did to include women in the workplace during WWI.
A competing rival of Harrods, was and still is Selfridges. Seen as one of the luxurious department stores in London, I thought it was interesting to see in what ways women where hired to upkeep their own image. Soon enough, I found out that when elevators were installed in the department store, (similarly to Harrods installing escalators), they had Lift Girls dressed in uniforms to allow customers be directed to which ever floor they wanted to. Creating some lino prints of the women stood in a line next to elevators, quickly reminded me as if they themselves were soldiers in a single file line. This correlation I made, expresses how the women even though seen as a 'fill in' whilst men were gone were as important and pivotal within the War. Their everyday running of the system allowed a certain degree of stability within society.
Looking at the lifts that Selfridges installed, I was drawn to the strong aesthetic they had. Expressing iconic art deco feels, the lifts also had a touch of Japanese inspiration. Trying to express the symmetrical lines, that resonate with art deco perfectly, I would like to create a final garment with an art deco feel as it depicts a turn in the century for women, attitudes, technology and architecture.
Members of the Women's Police Service pose during World War One