All Bodies - Developing the Concept
Updated: Aug 20, 2020
'All Bodies' is currently the working title of my AW21 collection inspired by the human body and inclusivity. The entire Masters has been about Feminism and Equality, using these morals and needs to fuel my design work. So much of the last 4 months has been about exploring my body, my relationship with my skin and how this relates to other women. From this, I realised that my work as a designer is part of the larger cycle of stigmatising the human body, standardising beauty and creating environments which degrade and harm women's relationships with their bodies. This needs to change. I wanted to base my concept around embracing the human body in all its beauty, focusing on the way our skin moves, grows and ages with us. We spend our lives worrying about wrinkles, stretchmarks, scars, cellulite, freckles and moles. We see these things as imperfections. This collection is inspired by the skin, allowing us to look at ourselves differently. The movement, elasticity, breaking, cracking, healing and ageing process our skin goes through during our lives almost reminds me of the things we can do with fabric and texture. Elasticity and the ability to cross body sizes, heights and shapes is integral to this collection so fabric manipulation is everything.
As well as this, I cannot talk about diversity by simply talking about ageing, about body size or body shape. True diversity and inclusivity needs to address race, particularly right now. Many designers often forget to think about diverse skin tones when choosing colour palettes and fabrics, and I am ashamed to admit I have done the same in the past. Instead of trying to choose a palette that 'suits' skin tones, I want to allow the wearers skin to be the colour palette. By using basic black, white and grey as a backdrop, the beautiful rainbow of skin tones the human body has to offer is able to shine through. The wearer becomes part of the story.
It feels like the Fashion Industry just keeps promoting empty tag lines on Instagram to appear like they are a part of the Body Positivity movement. But, I can tell you from experience, an Insta pic telling me to 'Love Myself' doesn't help when jeans don't fit in the shop, or when I'm staring at my body in the mirror. And fashion moves on quicker than we realise, often creating fresh things to be insecure about along the way to promote whatever is the next 'in' trend. (I hadn't even HEARD of 'hip dips' until 2020, and now people are telling me I need to get rid of them, or embrace them? I didn't know they were a thing I needed to think about!) It all seems empty. It's time to strip it all back and go back to basics.
My usual aesthetic is one of joy, one of sarcasm, one of loud colours and bright attention-stealing vibes. But I am angry, I am fed up and I am in need of change. My mood has bled into this concept, I am experiencing both sides of the story: both as a designer seeing the issues within my process and the industry, and as a consumer, a curvy woman in society made to feel ashamed of the skin she is in.