Rosy-hued shells of organza encase the wearer of these garments by Rhode Island School of Style (RISD) graduate Violet Zhou, which explores various mindsets experienced during individual battles.
Inspired by her own personal experiences and “psychological turbulences”, Zhou sought to translate certain sensations into concrete items.
Her style collection, titled Within, comprises 6 appearances, each representing a different stage in the process of going through and conquering different psychological and psychological challenges.
These consist of upset, weighed-down, injured, sinking, numb and emerging.
Created to produce a sense of “confinement”, a number of the pieces literally seal their wearer inside the garment with an outer layer of material.
Each look progresses onto the next, until lastly “emerging” from the chaos into a lighter state of mind, where the user physically breaks free from the product casing.
” I wanted it to appear like the design is vacuum-sealed in between two plastic sheets, with her silhouette protruding from the flat sheets and the rims of the sheets extending beyond her body,” Zhou explained. “I desired a sense of helplessness and paralysis to seep through.”
The RISD graduate went with translucent materials like gauze, chiffon and organza as she felt they gave a “sensuality” to the garments.
“These products likewise allow the collection to play with the tension in between visibility and inaccessibility,” she included.
In order for the designs to be able to stand up on their own, Zhou chose a product called stiff polyester organdy, as it is both see-through and stuff enough to be self-standing.
She integrated this with a millinery product called sinamay– a loosely woven straw fabric that can be formed with moisture and heat.
Classified by the designer as “interactive sculptures” as opposed to practical garments, the designs do not take comfort or energy into consideration.
To make each look, Zhou employed the assistance of some buddies to create a duct tape form of her entire body, prior to stuffing it with second-hand Poly-Fil. She then covered pieces of wetted sinamay around this life-size body cast and used fabric support.
After this, she cut the sinamay material along the back of the structure and pulled it far from its stuffing, leaving the external human-shaped casing.
“Anger is an edged feeling, and while it can be explosive, I wanted to portray the more oppressed variation of it as if somebody is attempting to hold back the rage,”
The very first look, called Angry, includes a series of spikes pointed inwards towards the user. These were made from semi-transparent, frosted polyurethane, which Zhou cut into circles and rolled into cones.
She used red organza and yarn to add various blood-colored accents to these light-weight spikes, prior to hand-stitching them onto the misshapen shell made from pink-hued organdy.
“Anger is an edged feeling, and while it can be explosive, I wanted to portray the more oppressed variation of it as if somebody is attempting to hold back the rage,” Zhou informed Dezeen.
” We may cause harm to others when we let anger take control of, however, the person who is injured the most is ourselves, hence the numerous spikes pointing towards the wearer.”
“Like all other appearances in this collection, the user is sealed from the external world by a clear shell,” she included. “My objective is that the translucency would make the viewers even more familiar with the distance in between the external world and the user.”
” The audience can glimpse through the barriers to slightly see all the spikes and their red ideas, however they will never ever see what it in fact resembles on the inside, nor will they know how the user sees through this garment and how the spikes feel on her skin.”
In the second Weighed-Down design, a “ghostly” human-like figure is attached to the wearer’s bodysuit, hanging from one side of their body.
As Zhou explains, this fabric figure represents “the other self within” who is an invisible weight that drags the person down.
In the 2nd Weighed-Down design, a “ghostly” human-like figure is connected to the wearer’s bodysuit, hanging from one side of their body.
As Zhou describes, this fabric figure represents “the other self within” who is an invisible weight that drags the individual down.
For the third look, Wounded, Zhou wanted to create a “physical symptom of emotional injuries”, which she embodied in a naked bodysuit used under the organza shell featuring red organza appliqués.
As Zhou informed Dezeen, the places of these “injuries” on the garment were intentionally selected according to her own experiences. There is also a “bleeding” aspect placed under the crotch, which alludes to the discomfort– both physical and emotional– that is associated with bodies that menstruate.
The fourth look represents a “sinking” sensation, which she represented using lightweight fabric to emulate the movement of slowly wandering downwards.
The fifth look, entitled Numb, positions concentrate on hands and their capability to communicate a sense of fear or tension, particularly when covering the face.
Zhou made 2 bright red, life-size resin casts of her own hands that include shreds of organza fabric. She connected this to a wire structure that was used to secure them onto the model’s head.
The sixth and last appearance, Emerging, portrays the wearer physically coming out of her material shell. It is the only look in the collection that shows parts of the user’s skin aside from the feet.
Zhou took motivation from both Chinese professional photographer Ren Hang, who works almost specifically with portraits and bodies, and French-based, Chinese-born fashion designer Yiqing Yin for the graduate collection.
Yin’s Spring/Summer 2013 collection, called Sur le Fil, and Fall/Winter 2012 series, titled Spring of Nüva, especially resonated with her– both address themes of the body and its internal organs.
“I was so struck by the fluidity of the lines in the garments and the sensuality of the shapes– how they are unrefined and delicate, hard like bones but soft like hair at the very same time,” said the designer.