Background:Without going into too much detail, I've been researching, in general, the sound of clothing. Most analyses of fashion are related to the visual (with good reason), discussing what and how is communicated through the visual elements of dress. I was interested in looking at what role the sounds of our clothes play in communicating, but I also wanted to understand how sound could lead to a more holistic appreciation of our clothes, to a fuller sensory experience. Sounds kind of hippie dippy, I know. Anyhow, if you want to know more, you can read my final paper (I know you won't.)
In addition to a major research paper on the topic, I have also been hard at work creating a small collection of fashion pieces. Each piece was designed with a focus on the sounds they would produce (without ignoring visual aesthetics), as a means of encouraging greater interaction with and self-expression through the clothing. How can the wearer use the sounds to communicate, and what is being communicated? How do the sounds change the ways in which the wearer interacts with and experiences the piece? These were some ideas I wanted to explore through this collection.
Production:Earlier in the year I was awarded the ELLE Canada Fashion Graduate Award. This generous award helped me to produce this collection, which uses a lot of costly materials including leather, copper, and phosphor bronze wrapped guitar strings (at least 150 of them). Also, a ridiculous amount of taffeta and organza.
Each piece is inspired by a section of the orchestra: woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion, and I have included voice as well.
My dear friend Landon Speers helped me record the sounds of each piece. In addition to being a very talented photographer, he also produces music under the moniker Headaches. In his in-home recording studio I "played" each piece, exploring the various sounds the garments are capable of producing.
These sounds were then sent to another dear friend, Cecil Frena, who is currently producing music and touring as Born Gold. He is so awesome, that while on tour he took the time to create an original music track from the sounds I sent him. This track is the score for a fashion video we shot in March, and it's kind of crazy. Listening to this piece you would never know that the audio samples came entirely from pieces of "clothing."
Filmed by the talented Greg Biskup, the video features two "models": Eleanor Espiritu (of Toronto band Mirror Phase) and Cosima Friesen (part/parcel). I was adamant that the video should feature musicians in the garments, as musicians greatly understand the importance of self-expression through sound. These two ladies looked amazing in my pieces, and really put on a good show.
The editing was done by the talented and lovely Natalie Sirianni.
Gratitude:I am so incredibly thankful to all those individuals who have contributed their talents to this project. In addition to the aforementioned friends, I have a few more people to thank for their help and participation so far. Here they are:
My dear mother: gave me two weeks of endless help and support with sewing, beading, cutting, cooking, and cleaning (Super Mama).
Leigh: my loving partner, who puts up with my enormous mess as I play the role of a creative person and runs errands for me when I'm freaking out. He also played a huge role in the creation of an integral piece in the collection (the Strings skirt).
Jodinand: my creative sounding board and super hilarious stylish stylist. He also helped with some hand-sewing and can do pretty much anything you ask him to (which includes procuring take-out beers at 2am from a neighbourhood restaurant...).
Matyi: my bro, he helped with just about anything I asked of him, and graciously let me take over his apartment for the shoot.
Annalie + Adeline: lovely ladies who donated their time to prep elements of the collection and help keep me sane.
Cora: amazing hair stylist for the shoot.
Melissa: came through last minute to do the beautiful makeup for the shoot.
Hanah: snapped some awesome behind the scenes shots for me.
Erin Macnab: took the time to act as mannequin for the photos in my thesis paper.
Jennifer Toole: snapped some gorgeous shots of my pieces for ELLE.
Victoria Ellingham: my lovely model for the aforementioned shoot.
Vinny Tang: hair and makeup artist extraordinaire for the shoot.
Daniel Laxer: edited my paper and provided some great insight and suggestions.
And of course my whole family who is rooting for me, my friends for their constant support, and my fellow grad students who empathize with me and understand what madness this is.
Behind the Scenes Photos (courtesy of Hanah Chung)