Imagining the Narrative
My design DNA is rooted in the clash of cultures referencing traditional Indian silhouettes and techniques and combining them with Western clothing archetypes inspired by my immigrant experience and intersectional identities. I explore this through corsetry/suiting techniques and fashions often used in an array of Indian garments.
The aspect of Surrealism I relate to most is the feeling of lost subconscious emotion, isolated experiences and how so much can be articulated through symbolism, I wanted to express the mental turmoil that is experienced with negative body image, Salvador Dali’s ‘The Anthropomorphic Cabernet’ inspired my exploration of fat deposits as ‘drawers’ of intersectional identities exaggerated through corsetry. Frida Kahlo expressed her pain in such a raw yet beautiful way which reminds me of the self-harm I inflicted on myself during a dark time in my life, I soothed the empty feelings with binge eating that resulted in weight issues leading me to become disgusted with my body, the uncomfortable feeling of binding my stomach with medical fabric tape every day for school soon became comfortable giving me control over my vanity.
The body that I wanted to hide I’m slowly beginning to accept and appreciate, this collection celebrates lumps, bumps and curves that have been forbidden for so long using a juxtaposition of ultimate beauty standards and real bodies. The use of sharp lines in geometric form symbolises dress-making mannequins and societal expectations while the organic flow of draping references the escape from expectation and rebel against societal structure through a surrealist, playful, painful, queer and immigrant lens.
This toile is from my Cruella Partnered Project with Disney, I was learning corsetry for the first time and loved the way I was able to manipulate my silhouette.
I aim to continue using corsetry techniques and explore more traditional details such as the cording I have in my toile.
This "Love Handle Corset" is from my Adhoora collection in which I celebrated my intersectional identities by combining the body image issues I face due to the modern body standards, this corset juxtaposes the traditional purpose of the corset which was to manipulate the body to remove lumps and bumps, here I exaggerate them and give them space to be seen.
I aim to continue this commentary on body image and use corsetry techniques as a medium to refine my concepts and recontextualise the archetype.
This project is experimental and was created to push my skills to "off the body" and the panel pattern pieces remind me of my experience with binding my body as a teenager to appear smaller, this may have been the start of my obsession with manipulating silhouettes using corsetry.
I aim to further this "off the body" panel technique and merge the idea of lumps and bumps within my design to represent my experience.
The way Salvador Dali interpreted Sigmund Freud's notion that the body is full of secret drawers that only psychoanalysis is capable to open, resonates with the way I want to showcase lumps and bumps of the human body, not as unsightly deposits of fat but extensions of who we are and our multifaceted beauty. Simply put to celebrate the fat we are so often told to hide or disguise.
Dali, Salvador. The Anthropomorphic Cabernet. 1936.
Within the surrealist theme, Elsa Schiaparelli explores lumps and bumps in an interesting way through protruding bones, I want to expand on this padding method to express fat deposits onto clothing.
Schiaparelli, Elsa. Skeleton Dress. 1938.
Frida Kahlo communicates her experiences and emotions through a graphic and poetic method which is an element I hope to expand on with my designs, I find it hard to show my emotions through the medium of fashion where the visual elements are different from painting and photography in which I have previously trained.
Kahlo, Frida. The Two Fridas. 1939
Michaela Stark's designs are simply breathtaking, literally. Her commentary on body image, fat deposits and societal standards are amazing, the use of corsetry as a framework to celebrate lumps and bumps is an element I want to adapt in my own way.
How can I use this method to display my intersectional identities with the intent to celebrate them.
Photography Sølve Sundsbø. Image courtesy of Michaela Stark