10 years of collective collaboration

September 21, 2015

So 10 years ago I had this dream about making this coat, it was a dream very unique to me but it's been very far from a solo project, journey or experience, it's been a massively collective experience in very many ways. From the dreamers who've contributed to their dreams that we can all relate to, and also in the actual physical creation of the coat, the dreamcoat is a huge collective collaboration.

This is how the first incarnation of the coat looked at Burning Man, 2005. I hand-stitched it together myself in the weeks before the festival. It was pretty shoddily done, I only expected to be using it for that festival. Little did I know. The first lot of dreams had been collected from friends, colleagues and a few strangers I'd met that summer to put in the empty pockets and start the whole thing off, the beginning of the collaboration.

The following year a second incarnation came about that was just a slightly adjusted version of the first, but by the next summer I was in deep and knew that something more suited to the job, and to me, had to be created. I moved to Berlin around this time and on my way there met with some performance artist-costumier friends in Amsterdam who suggested the whole coat be made entirely of pockets which lead to this sketch…

So now what I needed was a skilled tailor who was excited to collaborate on this dreamy project. Within 3 weeks of moving to Berlin I was introduced to Agnieszka, huge hearted and hugely talented and the most perfect person to realise this picture. She and her best mate had just started their business a 10 minute bike ride from my apartment, I helped with her logo and web design in a small return for her design and fabric consulting, fittings, pattern cuttings, jacket tailoring and intricate, patience-wearing pocket sewing. But she really 'got' the coat and the whole collaboration was a massive pleasure, every visit an inspiration in how to do business from your heart.

Oh, and I also needed an ENORMOUS amount of colourful, shiny fabrics, buttons and bows. This took a lot of collecting, I kept sending the word out, asking everyone I knew and some I didn't to send me offcuts or contributions and packages of treasures were sent to me from friends - and strangers - from all kinds of places. Mexico and Ibiza....










...as well as Thailand, New York, Italy, Greece and many places all over the UK, even from my accountant in London...


Sara in London packaged up a whole load of pieces of fabric and trimmings into possible pocket combos...


Some people sent ready made up pockets, like this one from Jayne in France....


...and this one from Tereza in Manchester (via Czech), who missed the concept slightly and made a gorgeous and ingenious pocket with a dream permanently attached inside it. Worked out pretty well as the dream was 'Free as a bird'.


 ...and this beautiful human is the grandmother of my Greek boyfriend at that time. He asked her to make me a pocket and she made me this...


All of this took quite a while to gather, and then I had the enormous joy of spending days on my hands and knees putting all these pieces together in a colourful collage of coat pockets....

We started work on the coat in May 2008, it was ready in December that year, just in time for Christmas. Agnieszka and her partner Christophe invited us to their Christmas Eve celebrations, which is the main event in Germany and lots of other parts of the world that do the baby Jesus thing. Our Greek friends Vasillis and Christos dressed as Santa and das Christkind and gave out presents, we played Pictionary, which is interesting when you don't speak the language, and my contribution was for us all to christen the new coat by giving specific dreams to each other. I got this one from Christos….

What's kept me in love with this project all the way along is the connection it brings when a dream is shared, the recognition and support we give each other, the little communities we build around it that make them possible. I'm so enormously grateful to every  single person who's been part of this particular dream so far, it's been an honour building dreams together with you.


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