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Phase II - Empathy, Reconnection, Play
The starting point for this collection was a workshop. And a sunset.
For Empathy, Reconnection, Play, presented last summer as a graduate show from Central Saint Martins, designer René Scheibenbauer invited his friends and contemporaries to come together, swap items from their wardrobes, and think about the way they interact with items. In these art-therapy workshops, the blindfolded participants considered their physical and emotional sensations through clothing. The process raised questions about why people wear these certain clothes and how they experience wearing them in public spaces in the process.
Phase II - Empathy, Reconnection, Play develops this idea further. René re-invited the participants of his first community group, as well as welcoming some new people in. Each were asked to bring clothes which make them feel, on the one hand, comfortable with themselves and grounded, and on the other hand attractive and confident in being seen. The workshop considered why the different garments made them feel this way. Crucially it helped answer questions around clothing as a tool of communication, how it relates to sexual attraction and whether it creates visibility and invisibility.
Phase I explored the body in an abstract, emotional way - the clothes had no correct way of being worn and became fully interactive. Phase II is far more concrete. The abstract space has been given a physical shell, which is informed by the wearer’s identity. As the community brings together people working within different fields; fine arts, performance, dance, design, they relate differently to the choice of clothes. Different garments make different people feel comfortable and anchored. The resulting collection brings together a mixture of workwear, tailored details, smart evening clothing elements, and emancipate the wearer from dress-codes.
A collaboration with the choreographer Bakani Pick-Up has allowed a space for improvisation, working with movements and gestures that encourage self-care and connection-building within the community. The choreography grew in parallel with the collection’s design development, where components like hidden zips and elastic cords guides the movement of the wearer. These elements creates a natural but performative motion when opening and closing each item.
The research and choreography workshop’s guideline and focus is inspired by sunsets, a perennial source of optimism for all of us. Experiencing the awe of a sunset has a very therapeutic quality to it, it almost gives us an emotional reminder of being part of something much greater than what’s being experienced individually. Feeling small, and connected, can have a very humbling sense resulting with a desire to connect with others. This is the ethos of the brand. The aesthetic of Phase II - Empathy, Reconnection, Play, aligns with the energy of a sunset.
It all began with a workshop, a sunset, and a gong bath.