My womenswear collection is inspired by the creeping descent in to madness through the intricate illustrations of rattled artists and the frenetic nightmare of gothic horror films. I have always had a fascination with the horror trope of my muse, the 'Final Girl'. She is the last character alive, ordinary, underestimated, and left to confront the killer alone.
Each outfit is bound to a theme that reflects her journey. These themes are symbolised by the garments embroideries and colour palette, specifically ordered from the bright Verdigris through to the blood reds and the deepest black to visually represent this fall in to insanity. The collection is driven by layering sheer silk organza with heavy, dark velvets that create a tension within the garments between the vastly different weights of the fabrics and the modest versus the exposed. As fashion reference I began researching Victorian nightgowns, lingerie dresses and veils for styling.
Upon further research I discovered that both illustrators became quite paranoid and tried to destroy their own life’s work. From this I became intrigued with the idea of madness and whether the intricate nature of their work was a cause or a symptom of their mental illness. This then influenced the collection as the designs became almost suffocated or entangled with detailed patterns and embroideries. From this, I then fell in to watching old gothic horror films that played with this idea.
For example ‘The Haunting’ (1963), blurs the line between reality and paranoia as it increasing becomes unclear whether the house is haunting them, or if they are imagining the whole thing. This lead to the use of sheer fabrics and veiling within the collection, the way they blur what is beneath them and how layering these fabrics would give a ghostly, apparition like look, almost appearing hallucinatory. Whilst Dario Argento's 'Suspiria' (1977) directly influenced the dramatic colour palette.
The embroidery on the dresses are symbols of the themes they represent. For example, the pomegranates on the velvet sleeves of the second look symbolise lust, fertility and entrapment. To hand embroider the organza dress I built a 2x1.5m wooden frame that I sewed the fabric to and then applied tension using twill tape. After each 3 panels were embroidered, I attached the next section of fabric. The embroidery method was inspired by historical Blackwork stitches and due to the transparent nature of the fabric, Holbein stitch was used to ensure the motif was the same on both sides of the fabric. For the pomegranate embroidery I learnt to use silver passing thread to emphasise the torn areas of the fruit that had burst open to reveal its jewel like seeds. The garments have been French seamed with hand covered buttons, rouleau loops and small rolled hems to maintain a high quality finish to match the delicacy of the silk velvet and organza.