Mica Keating’s graduate collection ‘Coal Queens’ compares the narrative between the hard-working Georgian female miners and the beauty pageants held in the early 80’s. The conceptual womenswear collection focuses around the importance of Northern women, past and present and highlights this particular group as unrecognised and misrepresented in the area in which she grew up. Mica’s collection is all cream quilted cotton to mirror the hand-made uniforms layered and styled by the female workers.
Using historical referencing she has developed the core items worn by the pit brow lasses. Corsets were always worn, even when working, as well as a floor length skirt often tucked up at the front to adapt for work life. The corsets importance to the era and to the collection means that this became a main layering piece to be on show at all times. Often the corsets were hand-made with old fabric therefore mica has used scraps from pattern cutting to develop a raw hemmed, hand finished design with loose rugged threads. Mica made valuable trips to the Nation Coal Mining Museum archive to take a closer look at the layers made by the women.
As the collection is all cream Mica found it imperative to develop different textures through fabric manipulation. The stripe became the main objective as this was predominantly made and worn by the women. Exaggerating the volume of each piece also was important to keep the classic Georgian look with the added workwear pieces under neath the layers.
Mica’s final line up shows each woman receiving a crown with some laughing and crying. In the original photography many of the women were often joking around and as she found out the women at work became their family as they were not accepted by society, hence the linking arms. The line-up has a mixture of high detail drawing on the faces to highlight their expressions with line work and collage to enhance the silhouette of each look. The women were the real influence behind the collection and each piece has its own story.