Traditionally embellishment is defined as a decorative detail or feature added to something to make it more attractive (Oxford Dictionary, 2015). It is a way of beautifying a piece of cloth or adorning an individual’s appearance. This body of work questions the role of adorning oneself to perfect and rather focusses on the imperfect as a way of beautifying and transforming the body.
This body of work examines imperfection through an exploration of the relationship between body and time. Modifying and distorting the body and skin through the use of embellishment to create a warped formation where the body becomes a vessel in the deep sea for natural embellishment to occur. Through mimicking the effects the ocean has on its inhabitants in a hypothetical experiment that explores the possibility of the body and cloth sustaining and maintaining an underwater presence over a period of time, the garments are to challenge the pre-conceived notion of what it means to embellish.
The pieces produced this semester have been informed and influenced by the work of practicing fashion designers, artists and theorists which have lead to the outcome of body modification over time. Hussein Chalayan’s The Tagent Flows collection, Lucy McRae’s exploration of body and space, and Lauren Kalman's skin embellishment have all informed the way these pieces approach embellishment.
Through collaboration with artisans, the textures produced reference the everyday, mundane seascapes, the bottom feeders of the ocean. The embellishment on each dress mimics the textures of skin contrasting between mammal and fish and by analysing the skeletal form of humans compared to that of sea creatures, the exoskeleton accessories are a hypothesis of how humans would evolve and interact with their surroundings if they could sustain life underwater.
Working with the hypothetical as a basis for research, the embellishments created ultimately demonstrate time and the process of augmentation in natural transfiguration which could not be demonstrated without the use of embellishment to prototype sustained life in the depths of the ocean.