Starting from a peach and the words delicate, fuzzy, freckled, lumpy, and crusty, I was lead to explore the contrast of fragility and coarseness. The peach symbolically relates femininity, which led me to explore flowers as another carrier of feminine symbolism. “When an object or motif is universal, there is a tendency to trivialize it. This is undoubtedly the case with the theme of flowers in its relationship to fashion and textiles.” (McNeil) McNeil’s statement brings up a convention in fashion that my project challenges: how to create another floral textile without it being redundant. Nature is often idealized and symbolic of rebirth, but is overlooked once it begins to age and die. The garment I constructed challenges the concept of beauty in death.
I was inspired by the Fiber Reactive dress created by Donna Franklin, made of Orange bracket fungi, silk organza, and wood. It explore the concept of a garment that grows with you and eventually become dependant on you to survive. It challenges how fashion production sacrifices and commodifies living entities. (Rackham, 2009) The flowers on my garment are all dead, but it raises the question of of the possibility of a living garment that can be an extension of the body.
The initial goal of the finished execution was to create plant-filled fleshy pockets, to then construct into a wearable piece. The pockets would get topped up with more fresh flowers to create layers of old and new. The piece would speak to the fragility of nature and the progression of time as the garment turns brown and rots. Pieces of nature will be preserved within the fabric and paint, suspended them in time. Other flowers will be able to die naturally breaking apart in the pockets. The structure of the piece is made of interfacing, which is thin and delicate, but is used in garment construction to create a stronger structure. This contradiction relates to the original inspiration, the garment in delicate yet at the heart coarse and structural.
I have been referring to the garment as a ‘fancy poncho’. It is a symmetrical geometric shape that fits over the wearer's head and flows loosely over the body. The shape was designed to reference the form of the peach, but it is also similar to a flower or butterfly. If the wearer flops to the ground they look like they are a part of pile of petals, blending the body and the environment.
Working with delicate fabric meant nothing stays in place as I worked. I created the poncho structure after struggling with creating pockets. The fabric is tacked in place with thread and the flowers are attached with glue and paint. The loose flaps allow new plants to be added, and as the garment ages the older flowers in the pockets will sink down making more room for new flowers to be added on top. Eventually the garment may become too heavy and start to rip apart. I plan to create a video to preserve the garment. The video will show details of the poncho, the movement of the fabric, and then the wearer collecting and adding new plants to the pockets.