Repeal the 8th Amendment: now is the time for change in Ireland

10.05.2018 | Culture , Thoughts | BY:

Ireland. The country famed as the Land of Angela’s Ashes, of Beckett, of Tayto crisps and of one of the oldest documented skeletons. It is also home to one of the most outdated legislations in the Europe.

Twin contributor Isabella Davey explores the realities of the existing abortion laws in Ireland and what the referendum on May 25th could mean for the country’s future. 

Abortion in Ireland is illegal. The only exceptions are if there is a threat to the life of the mother, either medically or through suicide. In any other case there are prosecuting consequences for women who choose to have an abortion through uncontrolled and potentially unsafe methods. Often women have no choice but to put themselves at risk.

On the 25th May, a review of this archaic situation will come into play. The national response to the Referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment will hopefully reflect a modern Ireland of contemporary and democratic values. Repealing the 8th Amendment would see Article 40.3.3 removed from the Irish constitution.

This would then pave the way for legislation that would allow for free, safe and legal abortion procedures for women in the country, and return the right of bodily integrity and self-determination.

Speaking to Hannah Little from London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign on the importance of the referendum:

“No one under the age of 52 has voted on access to abortion in Ireland so this referendum is an overdue opportunity for Irish citizens to have their say. With our #HometoVote campaign, were calling on vote-eligible Irish abroad go home to vote to remove the 8th Amendment. Irish citizens overseas may retain full voting rights for a period of 18 months before the referendum so we’re asking the Irish diaspora to visit our website www.hometovote.com for further information.”

The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution Act was introduced in 1983 after a referendum that asked Irish people to vote on the State’s abortion laws (which held abortion as illegal) and resulted in a 53.67% majority in favour of the right of the unborn child.

This saw the following amendment entering the country’s law:

The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

In 20th Century Ireland, this wasn’t the only backward decision shaped by Catholic opinion. There is an alarmingly long list:

Divorce: only made legal in 1996. Contraception, inclusive of condoms: illegal up until 1979, where it was only made legal under doctor’s prescriptions who must be satisfied that the contraceptive is sought for family planning purposes. Condoms: only made legal to purchase in chemists in 1986. Marital rape: legal until 1990 when the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act abolished the clause that stated a husband could not be found guilty of raping his wife. Homosexuality: decriminalised consensual homosexual acts in 1993. These above examples illustrate the extreme delay in civilian rights in Ireland.

The fact that Ireland still serves abortion as a criminal offence only furthers the exasperation: why is Ireland stuck in such a backward law?

 

Ireland lies in a state of polarisation. On the one hand are the old laws, influenced by Catholic State rulings and on the other, a new Ireland that has embraced medical and technological advancements alongside its strengths in the arts. 

The reasons for the necessity of the 8th Amendment to be repealed are globally clear:

The main argument for the necessity is in the fact that the illegality of abortion removes the right of the woman’s own body and the right of choice from the woman. Her body is under the decision of the state, of which has had its laws deeply shaped by allegiance to the Catholic Church.

The secondary argument is that abortion has swiftly moved on from being a clerical abomination to its denial being a severe health risk, mentally, physically and emotionally.

In 2012 Savita Halappanavar died after being denied an emergency termination whilst miscarrying. As a result the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 was brought through. This stated that:

It shall be lawful to carry out a medical procedure in respect of a pregnant woman in accordance with this section in the course of which, or as a result of which, an unborn human life is ended where— (a) a medical practitioner, having examined the pregnant woman, believes in good faith that there is an immediate risk of loss of the woman’s life from a physical illness, (b) the medical procedure is, in his or her reasonable opinion (being an opinion formed in good faith which has regard to the need to preserve unborn human life as far as practicable) immediately necessary in order to save the life of the woman, and (c) the medical procedure is carried out by the medical practitioner.

This ruling extended to include the risk of suicide on the pregnant woman’s behalf, but also enforced a prison sentence of up to 14 years of ‘unlawful abortions’ that don’t adhere to the above exceptions.

Destruction of unborn human life 22. (1) It shall be an offence to intentionally destroy unborn human life. (2) A person who is guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on indictment to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years, or both.

Considering that the SAVI (Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland) Report of 2002 ratified the distressingly high figures for women below, the survey weighed up the low indictments against female abuse, and the high percentage of Irish females exposed to it:

Women: More than four in ten (42 per cent) of women reported some form of sexual abuse or assault in their lifetime. The most serious form of abuse, penetrative abuse, was experienced by 10 per cent of women. Attempted penetration or contact abuse was experienced by 21 per cent, with a further 10 per cent experiencing non-contact abuse.

If 10% of women in Ireland, based off the study’s figures, are experiencing penetrative sexual assault, this would allow victims of rape who fall pregnant to fall through the cracks of the law, leaving them vulnerable to the state and forced to carry a crisis pregnancy as a result of rape to term of an attacker.

In the X case of 1992, which saw a 14 year old rape victim having her case taken to the Supreme Court, the High Court initially instigated an injunction against her plans to secure an abortion abroad having had suicidal desires.

The X Case brought about the removal of limitation of one’s freedom to travel to secure an abortion, however the case brought through the proposal to remove suicidal desires as legal grounds for an abortion, known as the Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1992, which was rejected in a referendum.

In 2002 the Twenty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy) Bill, 2002 which further looked to remove threat of suicide as a ground for abortion and increase the penalties for helping a woman have an abortion, held a voting result difference of 0.84% of the population against the amendment passing. That is a controversially low figure for a constitutional amendment imploring further punishment and further removal of medical reasoning.

The question the Referendum raises is about trusting women: trusting them with their bodies and the decisions that they choose to make.

 

In 2010 an Irish woman with terminally ill cancer sued the Irish state for violation of human rights after she had to cease her cancer treatment due to an unplanned pregnancy interfering with her treatment. Her obstetrician in Ireland was left unable to perform an abortion, leaving her arms tied due to the laws in place. The patient had to fly to the UK to secure one, despite her severely ill condition.

Today it is estimated that up to 12 women travel to the UK every day to access abortion clinics.

“Our best chance at winning this referendum is if people are willing to have those ‘tricky conversations’ with family and friends about why this issue is so important and why their vote matters.” Adds Hannah Little. “Abortion is still a very divisive subject, even in countries with less restrictive laws than Ireland. This referendum serves as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take healthcare out of the constitution and legislate for compassionate care for pregnant people in Ireland.”

The right to choose an abortion is one that is a deeply personal decision to many, and one that is not aiming to secure one answer, but give the control of that decision back into the hands of the women who currently have their decisions dictated by the State.

The results of the Referendum on May 25th will hopefully reflect the values of an Ireland ready to shed its past. Should we face a rejection of repealing the 8th Amendment, we will not be just facing a prohibition on our rights, we will be faced with the realisation that Ireland is failing to accept positive progression.

For further information visit Together for Yes and London Irish Arc

Feature image credit: Robbie Lawrence ‘The Road to Tyninghame’ for Twin magazine.

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Bethany Williams: Menswear In Search of Social Change

11.01.2018 | Culture , Fashion | BY:

When one thinks of Bethany Williams’ brand, it is not necessarily within the confines of fashion. Encompassing sociological issues, political arenas and cultural quarters, to talk about Bethany merely within the limitations of fashion would be doing the brand an injustice.

Having released her brand less than two years ago, Bethany Williams has been constructing menswear that is embedded within charities and communities, hoping to cause a real effect in the social space we engage with. Working with the charities San Patrignano and London College of Fashion, UAL’s Making for Change programme this season – two pioneering rehabilitative programmes which work closely with vulnerable women and supports their path to rehabilitation through equipping them with craftsmanship and manufacturing skills and qualifications – and the model agency TIH Models, a new modelling agency supporting youth in London affected by homelessness, Bethany’s points of reference and areas of focus lay a typically socially attuned and sustainably-led focus on her third collection to date.

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The menswear designer showcased at the DiscoveryLAB this London Fashion Week Men’s January 2018 through both a film created in collaboration with Crack Stevens entitled ‘Women of Change’ and the collection alongside, ‘Attenzione’.

The film is a poetic narrative that celebrates the strength of the communities of San Patrignano and Making for Change, and explores how fashion can incur social and environmental change. 

Throughout the film, the theme of ‘second chances’ was explored, drawing parallels between the second chance given to the discarded materials from which Bethany created the fabrics at San Patrignano, and the second chance given to the women involved in both of these innovative programmes.  

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Through these social responsibilities that carry through the ethos of the brand, Bethany showcased a range that was less collection and more collective: shaped by the communities and charities involved, culminating in a selection of looks that tied together as a diverse multimedia display.

The presentation held an atmosphere of steadfast serenity, the models standing straight and majestic under a strong and direct spotlight in their ensembles, allowing for the audience to inspect the techniques and the fabric. The music emanating from the film was disarmingly enveloping: you were welcomed into the space, relaxing your senses in order to explore the film presenting life in San Patrignano and the resulting work they have created with the Making For Change community, Chris Carney Collections (a recycling facility where Bethany’s raw materials are sourced) and cottage industry hand knitters on the Isle of Man.

Bethany’s clothes are more than clothes – they are supportive measures, they are projects in itself. The garment design is led by sociological injunction and followed up with design rationale: recycled fabrics and the focal charities leading the shape, texture and function.

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Speaking of her design process, Bethany notes: It always starts with the charity or community that I am working with, then it goes to the waste materials that I want to use, then it goes to the fabric and then from the fabric I work out the form: it is initially inspired by the charity I choose to work with from the start.

Bethany chooses to show one collection a year, due to the prolonged process involved in each collection, the level of external organisation and support expected, and the bespoke nature of the garments. Presenting around the London Fashion Week Men’s dates allows her to capitalise on audience, and frees up the year to focus on projects with various partners and institutions.

Sustainability is steadily growing as one of the key issues the fashion industry is choosing to address. Being a consultant and lecturer alongside her brand, Bethany has seen the approach others are taking: “I think sustainability has become such a big concern at the minute. I consult for bigger brands as well as doing my own projects, and companies are thinking about it, and thinking about the future. I work with Kering and they have their sustainability department and its massive. All kering brands also need to have a sustainability manager at your brand. They are looking at processes for luxury across the entire supply chain: people are really looking at it and thinking about the future.”

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There are things that can make the heart beat faster – we all have our own hit list – but for London Fashion Week Men’s what will be a focus moving forward is the celebration of brands that are looking at the picture that far exceeds the fashion frame: brands where integrity and social responsibility is one of their first salutations.

And what would Bethany like her brand to stand for? Through her delightfully positive, softly spoken lilt “creating a solution through innovation”.

A toast to that for the brand that’s in it.

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In celebration of sexy: Twin meets Amélie Pichard

10.11.2017 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Amélie Pichard celebrates sexy. Her shoe brand does too. Presented with her footwear, you meet a brand that has titillating sensuality at the core, partnered with the somewhat odd bedfellow of comfort – not necessarily a predictable alignment but refreshing nonetheless. Here is someone who is making a damn good stab at constructing the feeling of sexy, rather than simply the look of it. Aiming to exact empowerment and pleasure to women through artisanal technique and a certain retrograde sensibility, Amélie has opened her first shop, in the wake of her successful online business and a celebrated Pamela Anderson collaboration. Locking herself into bricks and mortar signals something new for the Parisian designer: cementing herself as part of the modern heritage of her city. Amélie wishes to be the female version of Hugh Hefner, to praise the natural sensuality of women. Her aim? To herald the woman: to celebrate sexy for the self.

AMÉLIE PICHARD / RECLUSE from BERTRAND LE PLUARD on Vimeo.

Who is the Amélie Pichard woman?

She is free. This is the very first thing to realise. My girls, the Pichard girls, know what they want, when they want. I don’t do things because there are rules – I don’t care about that. Pamela Anderson was my first muse: for me she is the perfect Pichard girl because she is complex, a woman, a mother, an activist, a girl boss: exactly what I love. I don’t like girls who don’t work. What​ ​does​ ​sexy​ ​mean​ ​to​ ​you? Sexy for me is everything. For me it is so important, but it must be a natural sexy – it’s not about clothes or makeup, it is about attitude. When I look at your shoes, it is like you are trying to change what sexy means, and twist how it is traditionally a male-dominated word. Your​ ​brand​ ​seems​ ​sexy​ ​for​ ​itself… Before, to be sexy, women wanted very high heels. For me it is the opposite, because if you cannot walk properly because of your shoes, you are not sexy. For me, women wearing trainers can be more sexy than women who can’t walk in their high heels. I do shoes for the girl who has her bicycle, who needs to go food shopping, who needs to live and work.

What​ ​type​ ​of​ ​atmosphere​ ​are​ ​you​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​create​ ​in​ ​your​ ​new​ ​shop?

In my shop, it is a lot of things, because I am obsessed with Hugh Hefner – I want to be the female version! I want the most beautiful guys working in my shop, at the door of chez Pichard. I put a bed in the shop because I wanted to make a shop not just for shoes: a place where people can stay and live, chill, and the bed was the way of doing this. The shop is a mix of the 70’s and a bar tabac, because the French spirit is very casual, and I also love contrast. That is why the front of the shop is green, like the bars of Paris, while inside the first thing you see is a bed dressed in Pink, in varying textures.

Amelie Pichard basket bag

Amelie Pichard basket bag

In​ ​the​ ​wake​ ​of​ ​the​ ​passing​ ​of​ ​Hugh​ ​Hefner,​ ​what​ ​is​ ​your​ ​opinion​ ​of​ ​the​ ​image​ ​of​ ​the​ ​playboy​ ​bunny​ ​that​ ​he​ ​created?

Hugh Hefner made something crazy. He enjoyed sex, he enjoyed women, because women are the most beautiful things on the earth. I have a big collection of Playboy at my place – for me it is my favourite magazine.

Why​ ​were​ ​you​ ​interested​ ​in​ ​shoes​ ​in​ ​the​ ​first​ ​place​ ​as​ ​your​ ​medium​ ​of​ ​creativity?

I make shoes to tell stories. Before this, I was making clothes, but I felt a bit lost as it wasn’t very artisanal – I love artisanal creations more than fashion. I love the way you make something. One day, I discovered the last shoe factory of Paris, and I fell in love with what they were doing. I saw one of the workers working in an atmosphere of the smell of glue, of dust, making these tiny and delicate shoes, and I just thought this is so cool!

Amelie Pichard Rodéo Glitter Gold

Amelie Pichard Rodéo Glitter Gold

Who​ ​or​ ​what​ ​else​ ​are​ ​your​ ​inspirations?

It is always women of the past, who aren’t in our world anymore – they are from a time long gone so I can’t meet these women, I don’t know these women: it gives me simply fantasy, and everything starts with fantasy. Sometimes I just need to see an image – you know the movie Paris, Texas ? For five years I fantasised about this movie, despite having never seen it, just pictures – after that I designed a whole collection around the images I knew. For me it is all about fantasy, and telling a story I want to tell that is always between the past and the present. Once I have finished designing, shaped by the past, I will imagine the shoes on my friends who are modern and contemporary: if the shoes appear right then I am happy.

What​ ​was​ ​the​ ​last​ ​thing​ ​that​ ​made​ ​you​ ​excited?

The launch of the shop – it was crazy because we made a fête au village, so all the street was totally full! We partnered with the bar opposite us and had a Claude Francois impersonator perform.

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Dr. Valerie Steele: On the Art of Fashion Curation

17.10.2017 | Blog , Culture , Fashion | BY:

The fashion curator is a role that has risen in recent years to that of a modern bard: a storyteller that can enrapture audiences and obsessives with their informed and accessible spins on the past. Much like the ancient bard travelled from town to town, the fashion curator moves their visual tales through varying cities, through exhibitions, talks, conferences or publications. The responsibility the bard held was to leave their audience with some enlightenment, be it through words of omens and warning, history re-told, or deliberation on the times: future, past and present. The fashion curator is no different, leading their audience through discussions on the past, comparisons to the present, and reflections on the future. The bard was heralded as a spiritual guide – the fashion curator has become a reputable pond of cultural relevance. No one is in better company to deliberate on the realities and the responsibilities of the fashion curator than Dr. Valerie Steele – Director of the Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology and a published author of multiple titles. Her books have explored the influence of fetish in fashion, to her exhibitions ranging from Shoe Obsession to Gothic: Dark Glamour. Reviewing and retelling from a fresh perspective: the art of fashion curation can both delight and discover.

What​ ​do​ ​you​ ​feel​ ​is​ ​the​ ​role​ ​of​ ​the​ ​fashion​ ​curator?

I think that fashion curation is much more than what most people think it is. I feel that most people think it is just choosing a selection of pretty dresses and putting them on display. In fact the whole word ‘curation’ is used so casually – this beautiful curation of cheeses at the supermarket etc. Being a curator is like working on a film or a book. You do research and tell a story, only you are using objects to tell a story. Hopefully you are going to do it in a way that is both educational and entertaining; that you are going to bring something new to the whole subject of fashion.

Does​ ​the​ ​fashion​ ​curator​ ​hold​ ​any​ ​responsibilities​ ​to​ ​the​ ​audience​ ​or​ ​to​ ​the​ ​subject​ ​they​ ​are​ ​exploring?

Of course – they have responsibility to both the audience and the subject matter. I wrote the mission statement for the museum here, which is to educate and inspire diverse audiences through innovative exhibitions that advance the knowledge of fashion. So yes, I think that you are responsible to educate and inspire your audience while also making a genuine contribution to the knowledge about fashion.

Stella Tennant @ Eclect Dissect, Givenchy F/W 1997 Haute Couture by Alexander McQueen

Stella Tennant @ Eclect Dissect, Givenchy F/W 1997 Haute Couture by Alexander McQueen

What​ ​are​ ​the​ ​considerations​ ​you​ ​take​ ​into​ ​account​ ​when​ ​deciding​ ​upon​ ​a​ ​new​ ​exhibition​ ​or​ ​a​ ​book?

I am fortunate in having a really great team of curators here – when I first came to FIT I had to curate 5 exhibitions a year myself, which is insane, and now I do one every year or so. Nowadays the other curators will present proposals – I will look at the proposals and see if they are plausible, and try to figure out whether it can be done with what we have here, or would it require us to buy or borrow a lot of things. For example, if someone said to me they would like to do an exhibition on the influence of 18th Century fashion on contemporary haute couture, I would have to say that is going to be a hard one to do, as we only have a small selection of 18th Century pieces. They are very fragile, so we can only show them once in a while, and we don’t have a lot of couture that was inspired by the 18th century, so it is going to be an expensive show to put on. Then two, we would want to be looking at having a range of exhibitions over the course of a year, so we wouldn’t want to have four shows about 1960’s fashion, as that wouldn’t be fair to our audience who might want to look at contemporary fashion. We sometimes have shows about a particular designer, but biographical shows tend to tilt towards the hagiographic – you have to beware of claiming the designer as the greatest to ever walk the face of the earth, so if we do a show on a particular designer, we try to contextualise the designer, to show how he or she fit into the context of other designers. On the whole we prefer to do thematic shows, such as the theme of the corset, or the theme of gothic in fashion – how did it influence high fashion designers like McQueen or Rick Owens.

The​ ​in-house​ ​archive​ ​of​ ​FIT​ ​is​ ​approximately​ ​50,000​ ​pieces:​ ​what​ ​influences​ ​the​ ​decision​ ​of​ ​a​ ​new​ ​acquisition​ ​into​ ​a fashion​ ​archive?

We try to get pieces which are artistically and/or historically significant, so when we are looking at things, we are looking at which designers have been most influential, which of their collections, which of their individual looks. For example, I am working on a show at the moment about the colour pink in fashion, so many of our acquisitions are made with a view to a show we are working on. That said, sometimes it’s a question that if an auction comes up and they have a piece that we feel is very important in the history of fashion we will try and acquire it. Hence, some of our purchases are opportunistic and others are planned ahead. I am working on another show for 2019 – Paris: the capital of fashion. When a Jeanne Lanvin evening coat that was made during the Nazi occupation came up, it was such a rare find that we wanted to have it and we got it for a very good price. We are always thinking ahead about how we will show an object, and will we show it more than once. Most fashion history collections in museums like the V&A traditionally had more 18th & 19th Century pieces while we have more 20th & 21st Century pieces. Because we want to continue to show people the history of fashion we do look and buy 18t &19th Century pieces too. Once we were shopping at auction in New York and Hamish Bowles saw me bidding on a particular Madame Grès piece and let me have it: he then sent over all his research on it; while you have lots of competition you also have people trying to help the museum collection advance.

John Galliano for Christian Dior, SS'98

John Galliano for Christian Dior, SS’98

Do​ ​you​ ​ever​ ​take​ ​on​ ​extremely​ ​new​ ​designers?

We do! We absolutely do! It’s very much like buying contemporary art – it’s not a known entity. You don’t know if that designer will disappear in three months or become extremely important. We do feel that it is important to buy from new designers, so if we see somebody who is really doing something interesting and new, we will try and buy from them. Who​ ​are​ ​your​ ​heroes​ ​of​ ​the​ ​fashion​ ​industry,​ ​past​ ​and​ ​present? Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons is an incredible talent. The late Alexander McQueen also.

What kind of mixture do you have? Do you choose exhibitions ​that​ ​reflect​ ​current​ ​societal​ ​interests​ ​and ​subject​ ​matter​ ​that​ ​hasn’t been​ ​deservedly​ ​explored​ ​enough?

Yes you have a mixture of that. Our young fashion curators tend to work in our fashion history gallery because thats easier to do, then the more senior curators tend to work in the special exhibitions gallery, where we hold bigger exhibitions and you can borrow things. In the fashion history gallery, exhibitions have to have some chronological framework, and draw from objects that are entirely our own collection – which doesn’t mean we cant buy things for it – but the curators have come up with very creative ideas, like how nature has inspired fashion, which is the current show, or politics in fashion, or eco-fashion, or seduction as it traces through the history of fashion. So those are very clever ideas. Patricia Mears is doing an exhibition on expedition – fashion and the extreme, which will look at how explorers to the arctic, the deep sea, outer space, wear protective clothing that has influenced fashion. She will show a real explorers parka that he would wear to go to the north pole, then she will show that next to Balenciaga parkas, Chanel outfits etc.

How do you​ ​feel​ ​the​ ​new​ ​breed​ ​of​ ​designers​ ​from​ ​the​ ​fashion​ ​capitals​ ​and​ ​beyond​ ​are​ ​exploring​ ​new​ ​territory​ ​in​ ​fashion?

Some designers from alternative fashion cities are taking new approaches. Maki Oh from Nigeria and Masha Ma from China, for example, are exciting talents. Education​ ​is​ ​becoming​ ​more​ ​and​ ​more​ ​important​ ​to​ ​young​ ​creatives​ ​to​ ​try​ ​ensure​ ​a​ ​future​ ​in​ ​the​ ​industry.​

New designers find themselves in a position of having vast pressures on output and financial strains from expensive education, but also work in an ever-expanding landscape – how do you see the situation for young talent? ​

The landscape of fashion is becoming ever-more competitive, and young, independent designers are kind of squished between the big companies, with LVMH at one end, and H&M and fast fashion at the other. I do worry that what with the cost of training for BA’s and MA’s in fashion a lot of talented, young people aren’t getting as much as a chance to study fashion. I think it would be a dilettante thing if only the super wealthy could study it, but those that aren’t wealthy were locked out of it.

What​ ​was​ ​the​ ​last​ ​thing​ ​that​ ​made​ ​you​ ​excited?

I was thrilled by the recent Rick Owens show.

Explore fashion books by Dr Valerie Steele here. 

(Featured image: Stella Tennant @ Eclect Dissect, Givenchy F/W 1997 Haute Couture by Alexander McQueen)

 

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Rosaline Shahnavaz: Friendship through a Photograph

20.08.2017 | Culture , Fashion | BY:

The relationship of a photographer and a model has long been documented to live beyond the flash. Love affairs, marriages, betrayals and betrothals have long been mapped out, but what about the friendship of a photographer to her subject?

Rosaline Shahnavaz is a photographer whose work holds a unique elegance in its informality, often capturing her subjects in a limbo between self-reflection and personal expression.  Her clients range from Coca-Cola to Urban Outfitters, her youth-centric approach editorially gracing the pages of i-D to ES Magazine.

The women she has photographed appear aware of their own elements, basking in a modern innocence – not so much picnics on the lawn, but more playing with their environments through a decided void of limitations and playful potential. Toothy smiles, cowboy stances, sunlight squints and legs akimbo. The women Rosaline has photographed feel like they own the frame she has caught them in: their selves and spirit bigger than their own image.

Rosaline has just published her first photo-book: an out-of-hours report with the model Fern that steps Rosaline’s photographic approach further. The result is a publication that pulls into question the relationship between the vision and the voyeur, and what happens when a friendship is formed on both sides of the camera. A lesson in capturing a two-sided relationship when only one side is visible.

Fern is the first photography book that you have released, how did the project come about?

I first met Fern after I casted her for an ad campaign I was shooting. We had this spark immediately and I loved photographing her. I kept casting her for everything when I decided to step away from fashion and spend some time photographing just her. She was thrilled and so it began. I had initiated the project however there was a role reversal and Fern would get in touch with me to shoot whenever she was in my area too. We got to know each other a lot during the process, and as our friendship bloomed the photographs did too.

© Rosaline Shahnavaz

© Rosaline Shahnavaz

What sparked the idea to make this project into a book?

The photographs are really personal, and I think the tactile nature of the book suits perfectly. You physically look closer and the narrative woven into the sequencing reveals a lot about Fern and our relationship. I love the editing process, I always print out all of my images and plaster my studio with them before I start to make the book. It’s a laborious process and I’ll go away and come back to it numerous times until I’ve got it.

Why did you choose one year to document Fern?

I didn’t. I honestly think I could continue to shoot the project forever. I don’t think the book marks the end and I’d like to revisit Fern with my camera further down the line.

© Rosaline Shahnavaz

© Rosaline Shahnavaz

How would you describe the resulting book? A documentation, an exploration, a study?

All of the above! I’d say it’s also a celebration of femininity, friendship and coming of age.

What are your thoughts on the concept of muses? What does ‘muse’ mean to you?

I think the concept of the muse has shifted, and that’s happened with the emergence in female photographers. I am more drawn to the sensibility of a woman depicting another woman.

© Rosaline Shahnavaz

© Rosaline Shahnavaz

Would you consider Fern a muse to you?

She could be a muse, but I found that photographing Fern wasn’t just about her, but more about our relationship and the connection we shared as photographer and subject.

Fern was 17 when you started photographing her – do you feel the images capture Fern the young woman at a turning point in her life?

Fern was at a particularly pivotal time in her life. It doesn’t stop with age but I recall the extremity of it as a teenager. She’d described being in a limbo state between girlhood/ womanhood, her sense of home/place and the shift between education / career. Over the duration of the book we both went through changes and found solace in each other.

© Rosaline Shahnavaz

© Rosaline Shahnavaz

Do you feel it is important to gain a connection with the subjects you photograph?

Definitely. I first got into photography by documenting my friends like a ‘fly on the wall’. It was naive and I didn’t really have an intention. The intimacy and closeness of those relationships enabled me to photograph the way I did. This approach marked my interest and subject matter. I’d love to spend a sustained period of time getting to know and photographing all of my subjects. I never give much direction, I would rather share an experience with my subject and capture them candidly. I don’t want to take ‘perfect’ photographs, I am more compelled to the in-between moments.

Fern will be available in a selection of bookstores in New York and London from the end of August – check @rosaline_s for announcements. Fern is currently available online: http://rosalineshahnavaz.bigcartel.com/product/fern-by-rosaline-shahnavaz

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Jackie Nickerson: On Portraiture

24.07.2017 | Art , Culture | BY:

Portraiture has the power to envelop a subject, and the ability to absorb the viewer through one mesmerising shot. The quiet poignancy of the work of Jackie Nickerson aligns these two traits, her photography exploring the spatial relationships of faces to places and expressing the interaction of identity with function and form. Speaking to Twin, Jackie discusses ownership, collaboration and female representation.

What does identity mean to you and how do you try to explore this in your imagery?

Identity is quite a dangerous word. It’s used to create an otherness but I don’t look for otherness – I just look at the person. I want to see the ‘personness’, not the box they fit into. In fact, I want to break them out of the box they’ve been put into. So you are not merely looking at the likeness of someone. I guess for me it’s about having a uniqueness, a selfhood, and a self-possession that transcends the intervention of the artist. In effect, it’s about making the artist invisible and having the sitter take ownership of their own image.

You discuss your work as portraiture: what do you believe a portrait should present to the viewer?

A great portrait should stop you in your tracks and have you spellbound – like a deer in headlights. It should ask all kinds of questions.

All photos © Jackie Nickerson. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

‘Ruth, 2012’ © Jackie Nickerson. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Do you have the same desires for the outcome of your personal and commissioned fashion-orientated work?

Fine art and fashion are two totally different applications of photography, so although you’re using the same medium you need to use an entirely different approach. In fashion you have an end use, a specific use and you’re collaborating with a team of people to create this. In fine art you’re working on your own and trying to ask questions.

In your conversation with Brendan Rooney for the UNIFORM exhibition catalogue, you discussed the issues of photographers in art today: they seek inspiration from the real world yet don’t feel comfortable using the real world itself. What role do you think reality has to play in commissioned fashion editorial?

I think we all look for inspiration from things outside our immediate practice so for example a designer might look at architecture or industrial design, painting, sculpture and other art forms. But often they’re not looking for a literal translation of one thing to another, but a kind of wider context of an aesthetic or opinion. So in collaborations we can build up an impression or atmosphere that will help the designer to portray his or her vision. So for me, each collaboration is a separate conversation and working out how we can make images that respect that, and although you need to use an entirely different approach, (we’re talking about two totally different applications of photography) it would be difficult to separate the artist because I think about imagery all the time. I’m obsessed. Its just part of my everyday life.

All photos © Jackie Nickerson. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

‘Catherine, 2013’ © Jackie Nickerson. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

What are your views on the representation of females in fashion photography today?

I recently bought a couple of vintage Vogues from the 1950s and apart from the clothes, and apart from a stylistic difference, I don’t think the imagery has, in essence, moved on because

you know we are looking at a commercial application and there’s obviously a formula that works. Saying that, in those old Vogues, there was only one way for a woman to be. Now there’s much wider representation of different types of women and lifestyles. I think the attitude and personality of the model is becoming more important and we are seeing a broader definition of beauty.

Do you hold a particular affinity to the women you photograph?

It depends on who I’m photographing and what I’m photographing them for.

Can the female gaze be reciprocal? Is that the most important link between the female photographer to her subject?

I don’t think of myself as a female photographer. I’m just me.

Communication is the key. When I photograph women I want to show the strength in them. I’m not interested in models flirting with the camera. I really hate that shit.

'Monica 1997' © Jackie Nickerson. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York'

‘Monica 1997’ © Jackie Nickerson. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

What photographers do you admire, and what traits do you admire about them?

Well there are loads of them but a couple would be Dorothea Lange, Lee Miller, Joseph Koudelka, Cindy Sherman, I love these photographers primarily because they are great photographers but I love them because they all had something to overcome – Lee Miller, Dorothea Lange, Cindy Sherman – women in a man’s world, Koudelka – Czechoslovakia in ’68.

Featured image: ‘Chipo, 1997’ © Jackie Nickerson. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

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Paula Knorr: Painting Power

09.06.2017 | Fashion | BY:

Paula Knorr paints power. Through molten textures and engulfing energy, striking clashes and forthright form. The brush she paints with is of a modern sensibility, dappled by her emotive translations through evocative fabric and stylistic fluidity.
The womenswear designer, currently supported by the British Fashion Council’s support scheme NEWGEN, initiated her interest in design with a naturalised association of fashion as an art form: as her artistic explorations developed, so did her desire to place the female at the foreground of her inspiration, with the presentation of femininity and strength colouring her collections each season.
From her emphasis on movement and sway in the shapes she cuts, there is something quite mesmerising about a Paula Knorr piece in motion. For Paula, clothes create a synergy between the wearer and themselves – seen in how her garments appear to mould around the body’s lines and horizons. Through her methodology – draping first on the figure before sketching out her ideas – the woman is the leading instigator in her inspirations. Her February 2017 showcase at London Fashion Week, Collages of Herself, took shape from excerpts of conversations Paula conducted with inspiring women, the figure and the female psyche informing the results. Her premier collection, ‘Her Wet Skin’, injected the power of contrasts between fabric choice to react and cause an emotional response to the collection. Discussing the challenges and responsibilities of design and the role of reality, the emerging designer is creating more than collections, she is aiming to capture expressions.
Paula Knorr AW17

Paula Knorr AW17

 

As a young woman of the 21st Century, what influenced your decision to study fashion?

I knew that I wanted to create clothes from a really young age on. I was always sketching and sewing outfits for my little sister. Growing up in a very artistic household – my parents are both artists and illustrators – I naturally saw fashion as an art form and for a long time not the commercial side of it.

How did your design process and inspirations change from when you began your studies?

When I started to study it was hard for me to source inspiration in personal subjects. Especially during your studies you have to talk about concept and inspiration on a daily basis in front of various people – I was too self-conscious to really work through my inner heartstrings. It was during my MA in London at the RCA that I realised there is no time to hide behind fashionable subjects – that it’s more worth your time when you work on something that truly defines you.

Paula Knorr AW17

Paula Knorr AW17

What is your design process now?

My main intention in my design is to put the woman in the foreground, not the cloth. It´s all about her body, her movement and her personal beauty. This interaction and balance between the body and the garments is essential . Details, prints, etc. come second: that´s why I never start by drawing my ideas. I have to drape and preferably create them directly on a real body to explore how they interact.

How does the female voice shape your seasonal collections?

To support and illustrate female identity is the core of my designs. In fashion you sometimes get the feeling that the superficial vision of a girl and her clothes on the runway is getting more attention than the real woman that wears the garment later on. Every season, I try to define a method to reverse that and remind of the actual purpose of fashion.

What does being a designer mean to you? Are you a translator of femininity and power?

As a womenswear designer it is absolutely necessary to challenge yourself and what femininity means to you. Your sole field of work is to dress women, so you have the responsibility to be progressive, powerful and a fighter for their wishes. In your small area of reach you have the chance to contribute and absolutely change something for women.

PaulaKnorr_HWS_Look14-2

You describe your most recent collection as a complex collage of attributes – what are they and what lends to their complexities?

I wanted to showcase the diversity and complexity of the female psyche and appearance. Like in a collage all those emotions and characteristics don´t belong or fit together, they come from all sorts of places. Fashion tends to showcase this one dimensional, fictive girl as a muse. This makes the collection easy to understand, but also not relevant as an inspiration to reality.

How do you unite abstract emotion with material expression?

I wanted to transfer the interaction of sometimes conflicting emotions directly into garments by choosing fabrics which are not easy to understand and trigger your haptic impression. For example the AW17 silk and foil mix chiffon, which can look like glossy transparent latex in pictures, but moves like super thin chiffon, which creates a beautiful antithetic effect.

Your mission statement discusses creating an identity that allows a balance of strength and vulnerability – how do they feed into each other?

In reality a personality is never one dimensional. You can feel strong and vulnerable at the same time and tons of things more. To influence my design with reality, with a realistic female identity, is important in my process. What does femininity mean to you? My own picture of femininity is not the most unconventional one per se, but I have no problem with this. I think the main goal of feminism nowadays is to create room and acceptance for all concepts of feminine identity equally.

In an age of social anxiety, pressure and responsibility, where does your brand sit amidst the uncertainties surrounding women of our generation?

I want to connect to women of our generation which feel lost between gender neutral and over-sexual. I want to show that to be a feminine woman is equally important and needs the same attention than to be anything else. I was never the coolest kid and I always loved to feel really feminine. My main goal is to create a wardrobe for those women, which are not afraid to be strong and powerful but equally feminine.

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