Posts tagged fashion
Concrete Catwalks ~ When Art Meets Fashion

Designing the new collection is not only about creative expression but trying to use this platform to represent women ~ women of colour.

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The original images come from American Vogue, which I buy in September as it’s their major release for the up and coming seasons. The magazine is more like a book, full of advertisements by brands showcasing their latest products.

Love Inclusivity - pencil drawing with digital manipulation.

Love Inclusivity - pencil drawing with digital manipulation.

What has always struck me is the lack of diversity of women of colour in this publication, to be fair this is not the only one. Even though it is seemingly high on everyone’s agenda, there is still a clear lack of representation. It is improving but slowly.

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Flicking through the pages made me reflect on my own childhood and that of my mum and Aunty, who are both mixed race. They were adopted so any cultural alignment was severed so the only sources they could potentially align with were role models within the mass media. Sadly this was not the case. And made me think where are the role models now? Where can women of colour look? Where can they see someone similar in film, in magazines or on tv?

Girl with a Pom Pom Hat - mono print with acrylic paint.

Girl with a Pom Pom Hat - mono print with acrylic paint.

Now I am under no illusion, I know I am not able to change the world on this front. I am a solo person hoping to use my creativity to shed some light on this issue.

I hope my drawings and digital illustrations, that are printed onto t-shirts, allow this message to be communicated on the streets, creating a concrete catwalk if you like and not only held within the confines of a gallery. So the visual narrative is out there for everyone to see and support the visibility of women of colour.

To BAME or Not to BAME - The Trouble with Labels

We love labels we detest them, why do we even need labels? Let’s all be one, be united, we are all humans after all. However for some people, identity can be a political statement. Bringing various movements to the attention of the worlds stage. Hash tag nation.

One moment it seems that we are moving forward, striving towards equality and respecting others and then it feels like we take huge leaps backwards. BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) replaces the late BME (Black, Minority Ethnic) acronym. Discussing this with various friends and colleagues has brought mixed responses with most people either favouring the inclusivity element or in direct contrast, exclaiming ‘NO MORE LABELS!’. Which side you sit on to be politically correct now is like navigating a mine eld, albeit with a dictionary.

All these elements had to be considered when I was creating my brand. The unique selling point or the message needed to be succinct whilst encompassing the ethos of the artwork and my brand, celebrating wome of colour. The difficulty was how to be totally and holistically inclusive. Naturally I started with looking at Asia due to my own mixed Indian British heritage and the different terms for different regions, which was very interesting. In the UK when we talk about ‘Asian’ people we mean people from India and the surrounding countries. Whereas in America the term refers to people from China, Hong Kong, Japan and again, neighbouring countries.

Living with women of colour I asked for their views on their own identity and how they determine their own ‘label’. Interestingly culture plays a big part too. Han Yan identifies as Chinese. But moving to study in America encountered a whole new world of labels. When asked to join the Asian American Society, she questioned the purpose. However discussing the experiences of Asian’s in America, the need to be in a supportive network was important due to ingrained discriminatory factors within American culture both historically and now. In direct contrast, another friend views culture as an identity as opposed to colour in the first instance due to her mixed heritage.

So nothing is set in stone, depending on your location and era, different labels interchange depending on a number of factors: personal, political and or cultural. The main point is to ask what individual preferences are and respect their choices with regards to their ‘label’ as opposed to imposing them. 

 

Voguing

Many artists seek inspiration from the fashion world and Vogue is no exception.  What I find interesting is not only the motivation of each artist but the aesthetic of each final outcome. 

Andrea Mary Marshall    

Andrea Mary Marshall

 

Graham Dolphin   

Graham Dolphin

 

Artist unknown

Artist unknown

Andrea Mary Marshall appropriating the cover of Vogue using the image of Frida Kahlo, is a particular favourite of mine, not only due to the subject matter being an artist herself but because she is of Mexican heritage, which apart from her country of origin, may not be a common ethnicity to grace the cover of Vogue, making quite a poignant but artistic statement. The painterly quality is very gestural and the text, not in keeping with traditional magazine type or layout creates a more alluring 'cover' in my opinion.  

The second piece, by Graham Dolphin, is one from a collection of covers he has appropriated.  I find this one particularly intriguing due to the mask like nature of the punctured holes that is both alarming and fascinating.  Usually the model/celebrity would be enhanced, creating or reinforcing negative expectations of what beauty ideals are.  Here the model is almost censored with a mask that is beautifully decorative in many ways however the holes create an aggressive statement perhaps referencing the negative impact the fashion world has on many women.

Lastly, the final image is the most poignant in terms of linking to my brands USP.  The layering up of many covers demonstrates the magazines integrity to its layout being firmly applied every issue.  However the models on the cover blend in to one as they are seemingly of the same ethnicity, caucasian.  Highlighting the lack of diversity in celebrating woman from a variety of backgrounds is particularly alarming for a country such as the UK whose capital city, London, prides itself on being cosmopolitan along with many other cities and towns.  Making the lack of representation not acceptable.  How are young women meant to feel empowered and inspired if no role models, akin to themselves in terms of ethnicity, are shown in mainstream media?

Art is a powerful platform to showcase these ideas and open up various discourse to raise awareness.  And with the continuing collaboration of the art and fashion world transcending many boundaries, I hope, will draw peoples attention to yet another worthwhile cause, that ethnicity and the fair representation of it is fundamentally important.

 

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