Friday, 24 September 2010

Behind the Until Death Do Us Part collection

The idea for collection of four dolls was born right after I won the Couture Doll Design Challenge (CDDC) competition on January 2010. I had enjoyed my time with CDDC, to be honest it consumed my life so utterly I actually postponed my graduation because of it. However, being given a theme and creating commercial fashion week after another for a half a year did take it's toll. I wanted to rebel, do something very non-commercial and unorthodox. Then Tonner's Alabaster Antoinette was launched and I knew exactly what to do with it. I bought four on preorder and wrote down all the ideas that had swarmed in my head.
The dolls took months to arrive, during which I finally finished my final thesis and, shaken by the suicide of my favourite designer Alexander McQueen, I created the "Tribute to Alexander McQueen" five piece collection of OOAK avant garde fashions for Sybarites. The collection should be published in the November issue of the now integrated Doll Reader / Haute Doll magazine.

The designs I had made for the "horror dolls", as I called them then, were not drawings or fashion sketches, but short fragments of stories. Originally the underlining theme was suppose to be just plain horror, but as I realised I wanted each to have an elaborate gown it occurred to me to make it a wedding collection instead. The holy matrimony was just the thing to push these everyday horrors to another level and I was enchanted by the idea of making a beautiful gown and then destroying it with wear and tear. At this point the collection got it's name: "Until Death Do Us Part", which has always held a sinister ring to my ear. 

Perhaps it was the suicide of  Alexander McQueen and the loss I felt that made me address the issue of suicide in particular with these dolls. The first doll "Honour" was just about to take her life in the storyline and the last doll "Shame" has already done so. These two are the different sides the same coin. Honour escapes her prison and saves her honour by her choice; Shame falls into a despair that consumes her body and soul. The difference lies in the people they left behind: Japanese culture has historically embraced suicide as an honourable deed and the remnants of this paradigm are still visible in their modern culture; the Western culture and religion condemn it and leave the close ones of the deceased feeling responsible - a stigma they may carry around the rest of their lives.

 The second doll "Hunger" also has suicidal tendencies. She is a young girl who falls in love, and marries, a vampire as is "fashionable" in the TV nowadays. However, the story doesn't get a romantic happily ever after ending, but far more real one. It is also a potential ending to any girl who in real life falls for a guy with the "I don't know whether to kiss you or kill you" pick up line. I think the trend of romanticising danger is not a healthy one, though admittedly it is not the first time murderous rebels are idealised in the media. 

The third doll addresses another "fun and trendy" topic of our age: zombies. We are so gorged with TV violence and gore that the real violence and horror we witness in our everyday lives leaves us callous and unfeeling. What zombies really symbolize is the fragility of our modern social order. We are only three meals away from a total chaos where our civilized pretence is trashed and the savage within in revealed. It doesn't have to be zombies; it can be war, hunger or pestilence -or even global warming. The bottom line is when there won't be enough resources to go around it will be the survival of the fittest.

These gruesome creatures were never meant to be commercial and I did want them to shock, but I must say I was still surprised by the intensity of some reactions they raised. It was only natural people found them sad and disturbing, but I never believed they would get banned from internet forums and such. The important message is that domestic violence, suicide and other taboos do not seize just by keeping them wrapped away. We need to be able to talk about these issues openly, or the victims of the crimes will only feel more alone.


Dani said...

This collection is gorgeous. I can't believe they've gotten banned from forums and such. With the amount of glamorous vampires out there, even Tonner has zombies. As long as they're not realistic it's acceptable? Is that it?

I think Decay is your best yet, and not just because I adore zombies (well not the zombies, but the idea of surviving a zombie apocalypse). I love how you address these issues without losing the beauty of the dolls themselves.

em`lia said...

Thank you for your comment and encouragement.

I think if I had simply posted photos it would had been ok, but since I wanted to give them stories to send a message it was too much for some. It's a pity because the whole point was that these crimes keep happening just because we ban the issues, keep our silence and punish the victims instead of the perpetrators.