Finally after two intense weeks of working day and night (and in my dreams too, seriously!), the outfit I’ve been working on is finally done! Just three weekends ago, I was beading the sleeves of the garment with white buttons in our hotel in Shanghai and now it has been cut and sewn into my garment.
To bring you up to speed (since I actually have not), the name of my collection is Fishing in the dark. It brings together the abstract topic of blindness and the sport of fishing in a collection. Frankly speaking, I wouldn’t have chosen to put these two together if I could, but our assignment required us to pick both an ethnic group and a sport. Somehow I immediately went with fishing but my initial choice of ethnic group was Indians. However upon further research, I was convicted to change it because Indians believed that unstitched garments are more holy, which explains why the iconic sari and dhoti are both draped.
I immediately went on to pick something I felt for- blind people. Although it was not an obvious option, it fulfilled several elements of an ethnic group, other than geographical proximity. These people had a language and a culture. It was very hard to research into their world but I stumbled upon a whole bunch of videos from a school for the blind in Washington that brought me to tears. They had video lessons to train helpers to blind people with videos on how to zip a jacket or button a shirt. These simple things to us were such hard tasks for these people and it never occurred to me how precious my eyesight was, beyond just seeing the beautiful world out there.
The project was very tough for me because blindness was a completely abstract subject. At the same time, I was also designing menswear and when I put these two together, I really wanted to create functional clothing. However, I kept making ‘work wear’ rather than ‘fashionable clothing’ and had to rework my looks a lot.
To cut the long story short, the final garment which is a look from my capsule collection of 6 plays a lot on textures. Rather than having basic simple pants, I played with fabrics like corduroy and suede which had a different feeling. I also manipulated the suede and punched in sentences in braille which only the blind could understand. On my top, I sewed braille in the form of buttons and for the main area, I weaved suede ribbons through holes to cover those I didn’t want, in order to create my braile form from a different manner.
The fishing, on the other hand, inspired the silhouettes of the garment. The waders, crazy amounts of pockets, nets and waterblock zips. I added my ‘fashionable’ fishing touch with fish shaped pockets on the top and fish flies with feathers on the zips.
By the way, if you’re wondering what the braille said, it’s “I am not blind.” This was inspired by a quote by Helen Keller, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
The pictures from my photoshoot on Saturday will be out soon so keep your eyes peeled for that!