Sunday, October 31, 2010

experimental design final concept

First of all, I apologize for my lack of time commitment this week - I have been so busy! Since I don't have any particular trends or topics on my mind, I'll show you what I've been working on all week long - developing my concept and five designs for my experimental mini collection. We will execute two of the final looks.

The collection is titled Defaced; the research behind it was a little extensive so I'll sum it up in a nutshell. I started by thinking about the concept of the human soul (the mental and emotional house of the body) and the spirit (the animating component of the body) and how without them, we are nothing more than lumps of flesh and anatomical parts, something strictly physical. Then I began thinking about what defines us as human anyway, and how humanity is something that cannot be learned, it is innate. And that one of the most defining features of a human being is the face - in terms of communication, that is. Without a face, it is hard to read emotions or even converse with someone. We put faces on everything - pareidolia is the name for when we find faces in clouds, discovered the "man on the moon", or try to anthropomorphize inanimate objects by giving them faces. We automatically identify with a stuffed animal more than a chair, yet both are simply physical objects; but because the animal has a face, we feel a "connection" to it. Babies innately learn feel an attraction to faces - a circle with a triangle in the middle gets no reaction yet a circle with two dots and a straight line does, even though it doesn't exactly resemble a detailed face.

Then I started thinking about people who have facial paralysis, or even face transplants - something I find horribly creepy and fascinating at the same time. There are only four completely successful full facial transplants recorded, and this amazes me that this exists. Patients often feel "different" after a full face transplant, because what they see in the mirror isn't the person they have been used to seeing and even though they are the same person, they look different, and have trouble identifying themselves after. And then there are disorders with the fusiform component of the brain that identifies faces, so some people cannot recognize a face at all. I stumbled upon a French film then called Les Yeux Sans Visage (Eyes Without a Face), a black and white movie about a woman who needs a face transplant after a car accident, her body rejects the face, and has to wear a white plastic mask with holes only for her eyes for the rest of her life. Here is a condensed version of the movie, with a perfectly creepy song in the background. I'd love to watch a copy of the full thing one day.

So that lead me to my ultimate concept, about how we are simply physical entities when we don't have the humanizing features of a face, eyes, a soul, or spirit. For my five designs, I chose to do a series of bodysuits that will be constructed with neoprene, to preserve opacity and create a sort of smooth "skin" over the body. I will distort the common human figure by adding sheer webbing between certain limbs and neoprene webbing between others, and then covering the faces of some figures with a thick knitted bodysock or oversize turtleneck. The knitwear will be done with unspun roving, to achieve huge two-to-three-inch stitches. All fabrics will be in varying, unmatched shades of nudes and skin tones. The bodysuits will have invisible zippers in the back for removal, and the suits will cover the face, hands (like a mitten, so no fingers are showing), and the feet (in a way that the heels the models wear will fit into the bodysuit so they have a covered high-heel shape instead). I don't think my models will like this because they will not be able to see, but that was sort of the point.

The two looks I will end up executing will most likely be the last two. I was originally going for the first and third, but during the critique my classmates mentioned that they look a little too human, and they are absolutely right. This is why critiques are so helpful! The fourth body suit has one arm enclosed within, and the fifth has both enclosed with the knitwear on top.

I am very excited to start this project. The neoprene will be an investment, but it will definitely achieve the look I want. I will keep updates on this!


  1. i love this! and the last one looks oddly cozy.

  2. I can't wait to see the finished products! Just for kicks, stick a twilight-zone-esque piggy nose on each face... just kidding. But I LOVE your concept and although if I were your model I'd be honored to flaunt this look, I'd be absolutely terrified.

  3. Hi

    I love these designs and have been experimenting with my own creations on a similar theme (all just a photo art rather than in the physical world, alas). Mine comes from an obsession with hoods and the delight of disappearing totally inside a garment. The concepts of de-individualisation, anonymity, hiding, escape and so on are all tied up in my thought processes and wacky parallel universe. I also have associated fiction, in my Yahoo group, accessible via my flickr account. For me the important themes are the choice to be restricted and confined, rather than any compulsion or religious dogma.

    I'd love to see any images of your completed works on this and indeed any other theme


  4. Hi Again

    Just thought I'd draw your attention to my old user account. I have more of my more sculptural work here, such as

    this seems in keeping with your theme and takes a step in modifying the silhouette, especially of the head.

    Hope you find these interesting



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