Los Angeles-based designer Laura Estrada handcrafts sustainable jewelry pieces that are conceptually driven, sculptural adornments for the body and face. She uses ancient metalsmithing techniques to create timeless, wearable heirlooms that merge fashion with art. “From a very young age, I have been building little objects with my hands, ” Estrada explains. “This obsession manifested itself when I took a metalsmithing class in college.”
Metal is the designer’s chosen medium, and she describes it as a fierce, unforgiving, stubborn, resilient, and enduring material. “It reminded me of myself,” she explains. After receiving her BFA, Estrada undertook an apprenticeship with a master jeweler, an experience that refined her skills before she launched Laura Estrada Jewelry in 2018.
The designer finds her inspiration from diverse influences—whether observing nature while out on a hike or the images she comes across in art history books. “My ideas also thrive in a collaborative environment, and my conceptual work often starts with conversations or projects with other creatives, that then evolve into a deeper, more experimental direction for the work,” Estrada explains.
When creating her body-spanning pieces, the designer’s artistic process is sometimes chaotic, and she initially starts working and modeling with metal. “I have found even if I sketch it out before, everything changes when it becomes three dimensional,” she explains. “The metal takes on shapes and forms that I piece together repeatedly until it feels right, then I solder it all together. I work very intuitively and do my best to trust the flow of my creative process.”
Estrada’s jewelry evokes a sense of resilience, empowerment, and confidence. The physical and conceptual construction of her pieces merges the innovation and integrity of ancient design practices with future technologies, and she finds unique methods to harmonize the two. As she explains, “With a focus on the intersection between art, technology, and identity, my recent exploration of masks and face pieces as ritual adornment aim to empower the wearer in their chosen form of identity and individuality.”
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Oghalé Alex’s stunning new project is centered on the desire for “escaping the noise… Each picture is meant to look like something out of your imagination or something you might have seen in a dream,” the Nigerian-American photographer says.
Currently living in London, Alex’s serene series was shot for Cold Laundry, a fashion brand led by Ola and Cerise Alabi, in locations worldwide from Los Angeles and Scottsdale to Sicily, Milos, and San Pedro. “One of the things we thought about when it comes to escaping is a vacation,” Alex tells Colossal. “This can be to the beach, a resort, or simply anywhere a person considers to be peaceful.” The neutral tones of the natural landscape serve as an unobtrusive backdrop for the soft-hued clothing.
With models perpetually embodying impending action, whether through rigidly resting on beige sands or jogging with both feet in the air, the ethereal images explore the tension between movement and inactivity.
The touching, posing, and movement all comes from what our idea of freedom is. Sometimes we’ll have the models laying down in a formation. Other times they will be walking out of the frame towards something unseen. Whatever the models do, we often have them do it together because we believe there is comfort and freedom in companionship.
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At first, the garments look as though they’ve been spun with a traditional medium—wool or yarn—but on closer inspection, it becomes apparent that the thin and springy mesh-like material is composed of thousands of elastic bands that have been knitted together. Made by Japanese designer Rie Sakamoto, the handmade collection includes a jacket and dress, each of which illustrates the diverse functionality of stationery items like rubber bands.
Sakamoto’s “rubber collection” initially was exhibited at Tama Art University in Toyko as part of a graduate exhibition and the garments, which took Sakamoto half a year to make, reflect on how overlooked materials and objects can have diverse uses in fashion, contemporary design, and art.
The flexibility of the soft bands allows Sakamoto to stretch the rubber to make different-sized garments that are adaptable to various bodies. Similar to how wool garments are created with needles, Sakamoto makes each garment by knitting the rubber bands together. When closely observed, the materials are a matte, sand-like color, but when thousands are merged together into textiles or fashion pieces, an earthy orange emerges. When Sakamoto’s garments are held up in the light, they become almost iridescent
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A recent launch by Threadless is an impressive, multifaceted initiative to combat COVID-19 that’s a win for consumers trying to stay safe, health-care workers on the front lines, and artists and creatives who’ve lost income. The Chicago-based eCommerce company announced this week that it would release artist-designed face masks, with a portion of proceeds going to MedShare, a nonprofit that delivers medical supplies to communities in need. Featuring work from Rob Sheridan, Alex Norris, and Mukta Lata Barua, the cloth face makes comply with CDC guidelines but are not medical grade.
Jake Nickell, the founder and CEO of Threadless, told Colossal that in just six days, the company raised $100,000 and has increased its target to $250,000. “When the CDC released guidelines for wearing cloth masks, we knew our artist community would be clamoring to design them and that we could raise a lot of funding for frontline workers through mask sales,” he said. “Masks are looking to be a part of our culture for the foreseeable future so (we) may as well express ourselves a bit through art and design when wearing them.” The move coincides with Threadless’s decision to give artists 60% of apparel sales from their shops, although the company said many are donating their face mask profits.
Artists and small businesses are encouraged to participate in the initiative by uploading their designs and logos. Purchase your own face covering from Threadless, and follow the company’s progress on Instagram. If you don’t need a mask but still want to help, you can donate on MedShare’s site.
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Consumers are paying closer attention to the ethics and business practices behind the products they buy, and animated documentarian Samantha Moore is shining a light on one company creating everyday essentials. Last year, the Shropshire-based creator released “Bloomers,” a short film that chronicles the history of the Manchester-based lingerie company Ella and Me, which began production in the United Kingdom before moving abroad and back again.
From flowing silk to lace-trimmed underwear strung up only to be snipped apart, the detailed project colors mostly the garments, swaths of fabric, and spindles of string. The workers and machines remain black-and-white line drawings throughout the film as it walks through the manufacturing cycle from design to consumer purchases.
Moore helps illuminate the impacts rising production costs had on Ella and Me since its beginning as a mom-and-pop business. She documents its inception and even the employees’s familial connections to the textile industry. The animation is set to a diverse soundtrack that includes interviews with the company’s team, in addition to noises commonly found on the production room floor, like scissors slicing through soft cotton and the repetitive tick of sewing machines.
Since its release, “Bloomers” was nominated for the Best Short Film at the British Animation Awards 2020, was the winner of the Best British Film at London International Animation Festival 2019, and took home the top prize as the Best Documentary at ReAnima International Film Festival 2019. Keep up with Moore’s animated documentaries on Vimeo and Instagram.
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Nicole McLaughlin (previously) ensures she always has a snack at her fingertips—or stashed in a puffy vest or lining the top of her sandals. The former Reebok graphic designer creates upcycled clothing, footwear, and household items from pouches of gummy candy, old fleece jackets, and even inflated bags of popcorn. Often prominently displaying logos, McLaughlin’s projects provide a humorous take on branding and fashion trends.
The playful pieces also are part of the designer’s years-long efforts toward creating environmentally aware fashion. “I would go to thrift stores and try to find something that I could make something new out of,” McLaughlin told WWD of her initial desire to create her converted, and now edible, apparel. “This inspired my philosophy to be more sustainable and I adopted being sustainable into my practices as a designer, because there’s so much to be done here.” To see what she thinks up next, follow McLaughlin on Instagram.
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An admirer of Pablo Picasso’s and Henri Matisse’s single-line drawings, Ayça Ozbank Taskan of Mara Paris has developed an elegant jewelry collection influenced by the two artists. The Paris-based designer portrays the personas dominating her work through simple profiles with few facial details. Although the noses and mouths differ throughout the series, each figurative piece features a prominent eye. The delicate collection includes earrings, rings, and necklaces, in addition to a more uncommon piece: Designed to sit at the front of the ear, the Dina Ear Cuff is billed as “a gentle ode to art that is always found in unexpected places.” You can purchase the minimalist adornments in Mara Paris’s shop. Head to Instagram to follow the brand’s latest designs and to keep up with Ozbank Taskan.
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.