this designer questions what 'measurements' really mean
Sinead O'Dwyer's fiberglass shell moulds are inspired by the female form.
Images courtesy Sinead O'Dwyer.
How well do you know your measurements? How much meaning do you ascribe to them? All they are, practically speaking, are a list of numbers designed to help us decide what clothes to wear. But, thanks to wider societal expectations about the perceived beauty and importance of thinness to women’s bodies, our measurements often take on a much more profound meaning. Designer Sinead O’Dwyer wants to change that.
In her recent graduate collection Sinead uses measurements to deconstruct the importance we place on our size, and to examine how we use fashion as a tool of both self-love, and self-loathing. The collection is titled 23:19:26, after the measurements of her model and muse, Jade.
Sinead does so with innovative techniques; rather than put her models in traditional clothing, she’s created her collection using a series of fiberglass shell moulds, which were lifecast around Jade’s body. The result is a comment on the fragility of the female body and how fashion has the power to make us feel more exposed than covered.
The delicate folds of each mould encasing her models’ skin was something Sinead took great pains to get right. “It was such a challenge getting the pieces thin enough in order to have the fragility I was seeking”, she tells i-D. “I wanted to do that while keeping the compressed silk folds under the surface. It took me a long time to figure out.”
Clearly though, she managed it. One purple piece, a wrinkled and textured mass of compressed patterns looks almost like the nervous system running under the skin, while another lime green back piece is so impossibly delicate it almost folds into the skin of the body.
Sinead goes on to explore the alienation of female-identifying bodies through fashion in the zine 115:95:130, which accompanies her collection. Produced in collaboration with photographer Ottilie Landmark writer and editor Mahoro Seward, artist Jolien Van Schagen, and graphic designer Monika Grūzīte, the publication comprises episodes of image and text that mirror and develop issues broached in the collection.
Printed on three different paper types with a nod to materials used in the collection, the zine explores the alienation of female-identifying bodies through fashion through a series of fragmentary testimonies given by 115:95:130’s models and muses, Jade Bruce-Linton, Pelin Pelin, Berivan Cemal and Love Bailey. The complementary imagery depicts their bodies in varied states of detachment and presence, clothed in 23:19:26, as each assesses fashion’s status as a critical instrument of self-fashioning, self-loathing and self-love.
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This article originally appeared on i-D UK.