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Design

Earthrise: A Striking New Collection by Iris Van Herpen Recycles Plastic Waste into Sculptural Garments

July 6, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Iris Van Herpen, shared with permission

Iris Van Herpen (previously) continues to blend fashion and science in her latest collection of dizzying garments that explore the fragility of marine ecosystems. Earthrise, which debuted at Paris Haute Couture Week on July 5, is comprised of 19 gowns teeming with the Dutch designer’s signature layers and structural flourishes. Exquisite and elaborately constructed, the garments seamlessly merge aquatic motifs and colors into a dynamic collection focused on preserving the environment in both aesthetic and material.

Five of the designs, including the hand-cut gradient dress shown below, are made entirely of recycled plastics sourced from Parley for the Oceans (previously), which is working to protect the planet’s bodies of water from pollution and further degradation. Other pieces in the collection are the product of collaborations with artists like Rogan Brown (previously), who brought his laser-cut reliefs resembling coral reefs and microbial structures to the lace-like gowns, while Casey Curran (previously) produced kinetic stripes that ripple across one dress in a mesmerizing blue-to-white gradient. Artist James Merry (previously) is responsible for the futuristic metal jewelry, while Eichi Matsunaga created the long, bulbous nails designs.

Van Herpen shares more of the meteorological and biology-based designs on her Instagram, and you also might enjoy Phillip Lim and Charlotte McCurdy’s algae sequins.

 

 

 



Design

Algae Sequins Embellish a Petroleum-Free Dress Designed by Phillip Lim and Charlotte McCurdy

February 25, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © One x One, shared with permission

“Sequins are synonymous with plastic waste,” says renowned designer Phillip Lim about an endeavor to combat the egregious amount of pollution generated each year by the fashion industry. He’s part of the 2020 cohort for One X One—a Slow Factory Foundation initiative that matches scientists and designers with an eye toward regenerative technologies, equitable production, and circular economy models—in which he collaborated with Charlotte McCurdy, a researcher who’s undertaken a variety of sustainable-fashion projects. Together, they created a luxe A-line dress covered in algae sequins that’s free from petroleum and other synthetic materials.

In their partnership, the duo drew on McCurdy’s process of pulling carbon from the atmospheric reservoir and binding the organic substance together with heat, a method she used previously to create a water-resistant raincoat made from marine micro-algae. The bioplastic then is poured into custom molds and emerges in sheets that the pair cut into long, arced sequins. Because the algae-derived substance wasn’t suitable for the dress form, Lim and McCurdy sourced a mesh base from PYRATEX, a Madrid-based brand specializing in a seaweed-and-bamboo fiber called SeaCell that’s both an antiperspirant and thermoregulating.

 

Algae sequins in sheets

Speckled near the neckline with mother of pearl, the resulting dress is covered in the translucent green fringe, a color McCurdy derived organically from minerals. “The majority of our modern dyes and pigments are petrochemical in origin,” she told Dezeen. “But we had a huge, rich vocabulary of color before the Industrial Revolution that was not taking fossil fuel out of the ground, so I looked into traditional approaches to producing oil paints, which involved mineral pigments.”

Lim and McCurdy’s design isn’t for sale commercially but rather serves as a prototype for garment production in the future. For similar initiatives, check out the two other projects generated by the 2020 cohort, which include leather sneakers grown from bacteria and an apprenticeship in sustainable fashion for women from low-income and immigrant communities, on One X One’s site.

 

Sheets of the algae-based substance in molds

 

 



Art

Clothesline Farm Animals Graze the Countryside in Playful Illusions by Helga Stentzel

February 23, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Pegasus.” All images © Helga Stentzel, shared with permission

Instead of tossing an old pair of pants or T-shirt, Helga Stentzel puts her tired garments out to pasture. So far, the London-based artist has added Pegasus and Smoothie, a pair of clothesline equine and bovine, to her herd of playful interventions hung in bucolic landscapes. Stenzel’s practice, which she terms “household surrealism,” is derived from her childhood in Siberia, where she spent hours surveying her grandmother’s carpet, birch logs, and random objects for recognizable forms, including “a stack of buckets resembling the tower of Pisa,” she tells Colossal.

Prints of the laundry creatures are available in Stentzel’s shop, and you can follow additions to the drove—the artist currently is creating a few more farm animals while braving the -32 degree weather in Russia—on Instagram, where you’ll also find a variety of quirky food-based characters. (via Laughing Squid)

 

“Smoothie”

 

 



Art

Natural Elements Emerge from Vintage Garments in Trompe L'oeil Sculptures by Artist Ron Isaacs

December 15, 2020

Grace Ebert

Left: “Up and Up” (2019), acrylic on birch plywood construction, 43 × 14 × 4 1/2 inches. Right: “Aviary” (2019), acrylic on birch plywood construction, 42 1/2 × 23 × 4 inches. All images © Ron Isaacs, shared with permission

Vintage clothing and nature collide in the trompe l’oeil works of Ron Isaacs (previously). Autumn leaves flow from a pastel pocketbook, songbirds emerge from a dress seam, and branches extend the length of formalwear. Despite appearing as fully formed sculptures complete with layered textiles and organic ephemera, the illusory works are constructed as reliefs with Finnish birch plywood that’s painted with matte acrylics.

Isaacs’s oeuvre is poetic and deliberately evasive as the Lexington-based artist renders vintage garments that represent an imagined figure. Whether appearing to be lying flat or slowly drifting to the floor, the slips and blouses evoke a “vivid human presence, as well as their own histories and mysteries,” he says. Brush, withered leaves, and raw elements further enhance the lively qualities while drawing connections between people’s lives and nature.

In a note to Colossal, Isaacs shares how his art and experience intersect:

My work evolves slowly, mostly as a matter of increased and prolonged stages of refinement, and perhaps of concept. The passage of time continues as an undercurrent to the work; as I am now seventy-nine, I have to consider things like what constitutes a life-time supply of plywood and paint—and that I have to make proverbial hay while the proverbial sun shines.

Isaacs is represented by Momentum Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina, and you can view more of his elegant works on Artsy.

 

“Calla,” acrylic on birch plywood construction, 33 × 57 × 3 inches

“Passerines,” acrylic on birch plywood construction, 23 × 42 3/4 × 6 inches

Detail of “Aviary” (2019), acrylic on birch plywood construction, 42 1/2 × 23 × 4 inches

 

 



Design Photography

In a Celebratory Series, Photographer Toby Coulson Documents the Eccentric Fashions of Designer Oumou Sy

August 19, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Toby Coulson, shared with permission

When photographer Toby Coulson met iconic Senegalese fashion designer Oumou Sy in Dakar, they decided to photograph some of her most distinctive garments. “The city has an amazing energy especially as the sun goes down. I thought it would be an amazing accompaniment to Oumou Sy’s theatrical and outlandish couture pieces,” Coulson shares with Colossal. Together, they observed the area for a few days to chose spots and time the sunlight.

The result is a captivating series of photographs, which were originally published in Document Journal,  that captures the myriad textures and patterns of Sy’s unorthodox designs: A woven accessory envelops a model, lining her arms, head, and torso in circular sculptural forms. Created as a tribute to Issa Samb—a Senegalese painter, sculptor, performance artist, playwright, and poet—the patchwork-style jacket is so large that the wearer appears to be balancing on stilts as he towers above rooftops. While focused on the garments, each photograph also frames the beige architecture and sandy streets of Dakar.

Sy finds inspiration everywhere, opting to see creativity in all aspects of life and to communicate her ideas through the mundane. She explains in an interview:

I take what I can and make it my own. I enjoy working with different materials, things that surround me, that I come across in my everyday life. I’m a self-proclaimed hunter and gatherer of things; I look for natural elements to work with [such] as plants, herbs, barks, and natural dyes, using either traditional or modern techniques. I choose a material and look for a way to highlight it. I’ve never learned to read and write, and so my fashion is the most important vessel for the expression of my creativity.

The designer’s penchant for bold, dramatic fashion is informed by Senegalese culture, which prizes style and clothing as a mode of expression, beauty, and power. Coulson’s photographs translate those traditions and values through visual documentation. “It was very fulfilling to do a fashion shoot that wasn’t about selling the latest clothes and more about celebrating the work and influence on Senegalese culture of Oumou Sy,” he notes.

To follow Coulson’s photographs capturing the lives of people around the world, head to Instagram.

 

 

 



Photography

Trendy Octogenarian Couple Sports Stylish, Eclectic Garments Left Behind at Their Laundromat in Taiwan

July 29, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Chang Wan-ji and Hsu Sho-er, shared with permission

Many of us fret over the loss of a beloved sweater or discovering a lone sock, but we can at least find some solace in knowing that the garments abandoned at Wansho Laundry in central Taiwan are being worn to their full potential. The laundromat’s owners, 83-year-old Chang Wan-ji and 84-year-old Hsu Sho-er, have been fashioning the skirts, blouses, and trousers left behind into adorable, eclectic styles. Just last month, their grandson Chang Reef began sharing photographs of the octogenarian couple modeling their fashionable outfits—which often include matching shoes, graphic tees, and a range of accessories like hats, big sunglasses, and small leather pouches—on Instagram, where they’ve since gone viral. For more of Chang and Hsu’s backstory (they got married in 1959!), dive into this New York Times profile. (via Kottke)