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LCF PhD Researcher Profile: Elisa Palomino – indigenous arctic fish skin heritage

Profile picture of Elisa smiling on a hillside.
  • Written byLCF Research
  • Published date 01 March 2022
Profile picture of Elisa smiling on a hillside.

Continuing our series of PhD spotlight profiles at London College of Fashion, UAL, we spoke to Elisa Palomino Perez, who is in the final stages of completing her PhD at LCF.

Elisa is a Senior Lecturer for BA (Hons) Fashion: Fashion Print at Central Saint Martins, UAL. She is a recognised fashion designer and an experienced educator with extensive experience working across educational institutions including international universities, museums, and galleries. Elisa has worked in the Luxury Fashion industry for 25 years, including 8 years as Head of Studio at John Galliano. She has also worked in the studios of Christian Dior Haute Couture, Roberto Cavalli, Moschino and Diane von Furstenberg.

What is your PhD thesis title?

My PhD title is: Indigenous Arctic Fish Skin Heritage.

Fish skin leather design by Elisa Palomino.

Can you describe a typical week for you?

The main focus right now is on the preparation for my VIVA. Before this, I would have been correcting a chapter of my PhD and finalising the layout of the images in my thesis. My week would start quite busy as I would need to prepare an abstract for a paper or a conference. It would be of great importance to check the deadlines of available scholarships for the final stages of a PhD and look in to applying for them. I would also be working on my fish leather prototype - developing new printing or embellishment techniques. A daily walk in a local hillside at the end of the day is always a must.

What is your favourite quote?

“To make intricate fish skin garments, Arctic seamstresses needed numerous skills, such as tanning, dyeing, cutting, and sewing patches of fish skin. A great seamstress in the Arctic was at once artist, designer, biochemist, zoologist, climatologist, as well as wife, mother, and daughter.” (MacDonald, 2018)

Elisa kneeling at a barrel dying material.

What TV series/book are your currently reading/watching?

I have recently watched The Constant Gardener, a 2005 film by Fernando Meirelles and am reading The Way We Genuinely Live by Ann Fienup-Riordan.

What would be your dream research project?

An international project with several anthropology museums, researching indigenous raw materials and their correlated contemporary textiles.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

To always follow my dreams was advise given to me by my father at an early age.

Fish skin leather purse designed by Elisa Palomino.

Any recent research stories that have inspired you at LCF or elsewhere?

I am very much inspired by fellow Alaskan artist and researcher June Simeonoff Pardue, who won a fellowship from the Rasmuson Foundation. The Foundation provides economic possibilities for Alaskans and local support of the grantee’s work. The award will allow June to focus her energy for a one-year period on creative development. June will study ethnographic fish skin pieces and traditional stitching to improve her sewing skills. She will harvest willows to tan fish skins into leather, to then sew a contemporary Alutiiq garment - reflecting designs created by her ancestors.