Bianca Saunders’ new zine explores the common ground we all share
Produced in collaboration with Joshua Woods, Matt Holmes and Jess Cole, ‘We Are One Of The Same’ touches on themes of identity, gender and community.
Photography Joshua Woods
We last saw Bianca Saunders’ work in her AW20 presentation back in early January, a time of bleary-eyed optimism for the year that lay ahead. The young London designer’s presentation -- a bolshy testament to 90s dancehall culture, and the grainy VHS films that documented them -- reflected that same spirit of chipper confidence in what tomorrow may bring. Six months on, the mood couldn’t have shifted more dramatically. Still, in times that call for deep reflection on our world, our communities and the roles we play within them, the work Bianca is presenting this weekend as part of London Fashion Week’s digital platform couldn’t be more apt. Titled We Are One Of The Same, a zine the London-based designer produced in collaboration with photographer Joshua Woods, stylist Matt Holmes and writer Jess Cole, she describes it as “an exploration of our similarities as people, of community,” says Bianca, “of how we are one and we have far more in common than what sets us apart”.
Despite the immediate relevance of its themes -- themes that Bianca has explored ever since her time on the MA Menswear course at The Royal College of Art -- the team first started work on the project back in April 2019. Bianca was on a trip to New York, where the now-Paris-based Joshua was living at the time. “We were going to work on a project together but couldn’t quite match up with timing and planning,” she says. “Then luckily, I was going on a trip to New York, so I thought it would be the perfect time for us to meet and also work on something special. Joshua's work has a documentary style and I really like how his images connect with people on the other side of the lens.”
Seeking to articulate the constant flux between individuality and commonality, Bianca worked with Arielle Berman to cast twins Mecca and Faheem, who feature in the zine’s imagery. “The zine explores themes of gender identity and community, concepts that have always been central to my work, but in this instance, I wanted to delve more deeply into the similarities between each of us,” Bianca says. “Casting twins helped us to showcase two people that are both individuals, that have their own thoughts, feelings… and yet there is so much that they have in common too. This is true of all of us.”
The resulting images capture the twins in moments of quiet introspection -- solitary reflections caught in mirror fragments, for example, or moments where the sense of companionship between two souls that know each other so well is on frank display. This sense of poetic flux is mirrored in the words contributed by model and writer Jess Cole, whose free verse musings on the tactics of identity construction and the solidarity to be found in difference dovetail with the flow of imagery.
Though, when they first set out, the team behind the zine couldn’t have foreseen the climate they’d be releasing it into, it couldn’t be a more poignant capsule of what’s needed at this point in time. “Now seems the perfect moment to take a closer look at human connection,” Bianca says. “Hopefully we can realise that what binds us is far greater than that what divides us. We are more similar than we know.”
Photography Joshua Woods
Styling Matt Holmes
Words Jess Cole
Design Bianca Saunders